Toni & Guy Experience China Style.


Going to a different hairdresser always involves a little bit of a gamble.  Putting your hair – and with that your looks for the foreseeable future –  into the hands of an unknown quantity, however much recommended and bestowed with accolades, is not without risk.  How to translate your mind’s vision of the sleek appearance that must be shaped from your shock of unruly hair?  And will the hairstyle that is so befitting the woman in the picture you are brandishing in front of the stylist  really transform you into the next Marilyn Monroe????  Add to this the language barrier and you get some small idea of the monumental task facing me last week when a glimpse in the mirror through the gaps in my over-long fringe revealed the time had come…

Still haunted by the memory of my first unfortunate haircut experience in India, I was filled with dread.  There  I had ventured to the hairdresser’s without chaperone, and trusted that my hand gestures would be sufficient to explain I wanted a mere half inch of the length of my hair, but please don’t ruin the cut…   But what I envisaged as a minuscule fraction turned into an elephantine inch as she fashioned a haircut that my fellow Indian teachers ‘politely’ described as a ‘monkey haircut’.  Needless to say that my blog was devoid of any selfies or photographs of me in the weeks that followed, and the only evidence of my existence was through a headless picture in a sari…

Whilst on my travels, I could of course take the sensible route and let my hair grow at leisure, long and flowing; pin it up in a fashionable bun; let it dangle freely over my shoulders in a wild ‘devil-may-care’ style.  Haircut sorted, but covering up the signs of time??? Somehow the grey stubbornly refuses to blend gracefully with my darker strands…  Uncertain about which shades best compliment  the tint of my locks and hesitant about DIY hair colouring, I have always shied away from the boxes lurking on the supermarket shelves and put the fate of my hair into the hands of a hairdresser…  So where to turn here in China…??

No shortage of hairdressers in the vicinity, I had stolen looks through display windows at night when the salons are buzzing with action: men and women back from work cultivating the immaculate coiffured appearance of modern ‘Chinese man’, no strand of hair or dash of mascara out of place.  I also put out feelers with fellow teachers about where to find a reliable hairdresser, but their hairstyles – long and unkempt – and youthful complexions suggested that hair salons and stylists did not feature highly on their list of priorities.  ‘Make sure you take someone with you who speaks Chinese.  Someone who can translate for you…’  sage advice sounded.

In the end, I turned to Maggie who runs a little English language school in the area and as a business woman with a business nose seemed to be good source of mostly reliable information.   And indeed, she came up trumps.  She offered to take me to her hairdresser, an excellent stylist with excellent credentials who recently set up his own salon, so prices were still reasonable.  And I could even use her discount…. on top of that, she would be able to explain my wishes in plain Chinese…  It sounded as if I had landed on my feet and my hair would be in good hands… Plus I had arrived in China armed with pictures of my last cut and colour in the UK.  I am indeed becoming wiser…


I arrived at the salon on Tuesday, clutching a healthy dose of scepticism and my iPad with pictures, and kept my fingers crossed.  I needn’t have worried; boy was I in for a surprise!  After a brief discussion with the ‘chief stylist’,  studying the unsightly grey roots, glancing at colour swatches and my photographs, I was led to the place of transformation: comfy seats opposite a row of black, gleaming mirrors inset with television screens…  TELEVISION SCREENS???  ‘Did I care to watch an English movie whilst they mixed the colours and dyed my hair?’ ‘Or would I rather play a computer game or maybe listen to some soothing music?’  ‘Did I prefer coffee or tea?’  When I finally read the print on the hairdresser cape, it all fell into place: I was having the Toni & Guy experience, Chinese style!!  I did not have just the one person plastering on the colouring paste, but two men brushed and preened and prodded and coloured ensuring every strand was neatly daubed.  And my ears???  They were carefully protected with some little covers to stop them accidentally turning a shade darker and blending in too much with my new hair colour.  And when it was finally time to take off the paste and wash my hair??  No such discomfort as craning and bending my neck over a too high washbasin:  I was lying down, flat, resting my head easily just on the edge of the basin so water flowed gently and effortlessly over my head and hair with not a single drop being spilled on my clothes….   Even the haircut was a smooth affair.  With just a  few snips and tucks, a couple of different pairs of scissors and brushes and hey presto, I was greeted by the new me !!

Am I pleased with the result??  You bet I am.  No one has mentioned a ‘monkey haircut’ so far, and although my darker hair may make my skin look paler, the sunshine will soon rebalance that:  darker skin and fairer hair…. What is there to complain about?  Maybe the price of the haircut???  Luxuries do not come cheap, not even in China…


4 thoughts on “Toni & Guy Experience China Style.

    1. lievelee Post author

      So far it still looks good… but I am sure the colour will fade once I go out and about in the sun too much – which is bound to happen. We are in for a few days of nice, hot weather. Hooray….. but where to go?? No beach near here and I am living in a flat on the 10th floor without a garden or a balcomy….



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