Summer’s finally arrived in Switzerland, and I’ve been too busy trying to enjoy the nice weather to write any blog posts lately. But now I’m home alone on a Friday night, and I really don’t feel like working on any items from my to-do list, so it’s time to write a blog post!
Today I got my first-ever keratin hair treatment. My friend E- was telling me about it for some time now, recommending it to bring some shine to and to tame my frizzy, damaged hair. My natural hair is a bit wavy and quite dry, although I do have an oily scalp. E- did the keratin treatment years ago in Hong Kong said it gave her fantastic results, so when I saw a Zürich Groupon offer for Keratin, wash, haircut, and blowdry for only CHF 159 instead of CHF 610, I jumped at the opportunity to try it out.
The first sign of trouble occurred when I called Amazonia Cosmetics to make an appointment. The woman who answered the phone didn’t speak English! 😦 I tried to ask for a Saturday appointment using broken German and understood enough to comprehend her response that Saturday appointments were all booked up.
Then I started stumbling when they asked for alternate days, the phone line had bad reception, I heard a word of Spanish in the background (Sabado, Sabado), and then the line went dead. Doh.
At the time, I had on purposely made the call from an office with a German colleague, in case I needed to enlist his help in scheduling the appointment. However, upon hearing the Spanish in the background, I decided to ask another coworker from Spain to help translate when I called back.
Perfecto! We put the phone on speaker and he was able to translate beautifully. I asked for the latest appointment on a Friday, which happened to be 4:00 pm. And the treatment would take 3 hours. WTF?!
So today was the big day, and I showed up promptly at 4:00 pm… only to be greeted by two women who did not speak a word of English. Uh-oh, not good.
It took me a couple of tries to figure out that the receptionist was asking what I wanted to drink, before I responded, “Wasser.” In retrospect, I probably should have said, “Wasser, bitte” to be more polite, but oh well. Too late now.
Then by a series of gesturing, the hairdresser got me into the chair and washed my hair and coated it with some stuff before tucking my hair into what looked like a silver shower cap and putting me under the dryer. My ears were also tucked into the cap, and I kind of wondered if I would end up with silky ears.
Boy was it hot under the dryer hood. Today was a bit cooler than it was yesterday, but it was still about in the mid-70’s. I should have done this treatment in the winter instead of the summer. I settled in to draft some Yelp reviews while I waited for what I thought was the keratin treatment.
Suddenly, the blow dryer stopped after about 10 minutes, and I was motioned to get into the chair. Wow, I thought the keratin treatment was supposed to be way longer?
Hmm… turned out that it was actually only a deep conditioner or something before the haircut. But then my real troubles began. I tried to gesture on my hair while speaking English to explain what style cut I wanted. “Keep long, cut little, layer side, side bangs.” The hairdresser looked completely confused and said something to me in German… which of course I didn’t understand at all. 😦
I actually pulled out my smart phone and tried to look up the word for “layer” in German using my Google Translate app. “Schicht?” Is that right? Then the woman said something in Spanish, so I looked up the same word in Spanish. “Capa?” She still stared at me blankly. I had no idea if I was even using the correct words. I tried to do chopping motions against the side of my face with my hand. This was pathetic.
Then she said, “Stufe.” I had no clue what that was, but okay. “Stufe” it was. I assumed it meant “layer“. “Ja, Stufe.” Doh.
This whole situation was a mess. I went through the haircut using gestures and bad German and bad Spanish. At one point, I said, “menos” because I couldn’t remember how to say “less” in German, and the hairdresser looked at me and said oh you know Spanish! To which I promptly answered, “ein bisschen” . :O OMG, what a disaster. My terrible German and my terrible Spanish were getting me nowhere.
After the ordeal, I ended up with a weird bowl cut for bangs and a lot more hair chopped off at the ends than I originally wanted. Oh well.
At that point, it was 4:50 pm, and I kind of wondered if that was it and we were done. But then she took out some white paste and put it all over my hair. I guess that was the actual keratin. It looked and felt quite smooth and silky.
Then it was back under the dryer hood, where I was literally burning up and was wondering if it was possible to get first or second degree burns from the machine. It was HOT. Uncomfortably so. I was kind of glad that my ears were tucked under the cap (and they did start to feel kind of silky-smooth by the way), but the back of my neck was painfully burning, and I kept shifting in my chair to try to redirect the hot air to another spot.
I had a towel draped over my shoulders, so I slouched down in the chair and tried to bring the towel up to cover as much of the back of my neck as possible. I was literally being cooked alive and could feel the sweat pouring down my body.
After 30 minutes, it was time to get out from under the dryer hood. Phew. Any longer under there, and I might have died. I didn’t know if this was typical, but I suppose, no pain, no gain.
Then it was time for blow drying with a hairdryer and round brush. I was shocked at the clouds of white smoke coming off my hair. It filled up the small salon like a dense fog. Was that normal?? I guess the heat from the blow dryer was causing a chemical reaction to the keratin product in my hair. The dryer was also set on high, and it was quite uncomfortable against my scalp. I have very fine and sparse hair, and this woman was literally burning my scalp. I could see it turning red in the mirror. I wonder if she noticed.
But once again, I wasn’t sure if this was part of the normal process, and it was too much effort with the language barrier to ask, so I just gritted my teeth and sat through the pain, wincing as she pulled my hair taut and directed the heat on it.
After straightening my hair with the round brush, she went over everything again with a flat-iron. I was shocked. I guess I should have done my homework on what keratin treatment entails before going to the salon. Is flat-ironing part of the normal process? I suppose so. And the way she was styling my hair with the flat-iron was also a bit weird. I don’t know if it was due to the iron, or to her, or both.
I only wanted to do the keratin to get silky hair–not for hair-straightening purposes–or are those synonymous? There were several black people in the salon, and I was the only Asian. I wondered if they thought I was ridiculous to be getting a hair-straightening treatment, since the common stereotype is that Asians already have straight hair.
My hair is fairly straight, but it’s not poker-straight and tends to be a bit wavy, especially if it dries naturally. I once had a coworker who was a former hairdresser, and she told me that hair grows in a “S” pattern. I think I can see the “S” shape in my hair. It’s more prominent when I have longer hair.
I bought a flat iron years ago but stopped using it because I think it’s quite damaging to my hair. And I didn’t like how it made my hair all flat and lifeless. And now I was sitting in a salon, getting flat-ironed all over my head. :O
Then a few more touch-ups with the scissors, and promptly at 6:00 pm, we were done. The women told me not to wash my hair for 3 days so the keratin treatment could set. And only use shampoo without salt in it. Say what? I didn’t know shampoo had salt in it.
Of course, I had taken a “before” photo at home, and I promptly took an “after” photo right after I got home. Ugh. I looked terrible. I tried to comb my bangs over to the side, and I think it looked a bit more presentable.
I sent the before and after photos to a couple of friends and to my mother for inspection. (And yay to my new HTC One phone with the front-facing camera! Woo-hoo!)
I also looked at webmd.com for more info, and it recommends upkeep using sodium-sulfate-free shampoo to help maintain the treatment. Where do I buy sodium-sulfate-free shampoo in Zürich? Good ‘ol Google Translate says it’s called “Natrium-Sulfat-Shampoo” in German. Let’s see if I can even find that here.
Webmd.com also says that the keratin effect only lasts 2 to 2.5 months?? I thought it was 6 months. Wow, was all this even worth it?
Anyway, what’s done is done. Now I just need to sit back and see if I notice any results.
It’s been 7 hours since my treatment, and my hair is GREASY. I don’t know how I’m going to last the next 3 days. And I’m a bit worried about looking hideous at work on Monday, because that’ll be Day 3 and I can’t wash my hair yet. I have two meetings with my manager on Monday, and then German class after work. I wonder what everyone’s going to think when they see my matted hair in clumps. Yikes.
Well, it’s after 1:00 AM now, and I’ve finished munching on all of my rice cakes as a midnight snack, so I guess it’s time to hit the hay and see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully I’m still presentable enough to go out in public to run my errands, and let’s see what happens after the don’t wash waiting period is over.