This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
Hairdressers have way too much power. It doesn't matter who you are, as soon as you sit in their seat – regardless of your carefully worded instructions, or any visual aids you may have brought with you – you are at their mercy. You will walk out of that salon looking either like whatever your hairdresser has decided you should look like, or whatever their skills are capable of producing.
I recently heard a story of a woman in Munich who unsuccessfully tried to sue her hairdresser for making her hair look "like an egg yolk". I wanted to hear more hairdresser horror stories, so I reached out to a bunch of people who told me about accidental green dye, verbal abuse and uncomfortable similarities to pumpkins.
"The apprentice got the colours mixed up"
"My hair is tawny blond, which I've never liked – but my parents told me that I could get cancer from dying my hair, which I believed for the longest time. Then about three years ago I decided to dye it. I wanted to go brunette, and figured that doing it at the hairdressers would be better than at home with some cheap dye. When I arrived at my salon of ten years, the only person who had time to fit me in was an apprentice, which wasn't great, but we picked a colour and got going.
"I was pretty calm and excited as I sat down. The euphoria quickly subsided, however, when I looked up after washing the dye out and noticed that my hair was now bright orange. I bawled my eyes out. The apprentice left me to cry and disappeared into a back room. I went through a few boxes of tissues by the time she came back to explain, rather emotionlessly, that she 'got the colours mixed up'. She went on to tell me that I still looked great, and that my hair was 'so new and fresh!' The sadness turned to rage and I wanted her to dye it back immediately, but she was going home for the day and couldn't do it. Tired, I just gave up.
"A few days later, I bumped into the owner of the hairdressers in a local shop and she cried out: 'Oh my god, who did that?' After I told her about the apprentice, she forced me to come back to the salon that evening to fix it. The owner was able to dye my hair brunette, but the next day, instead of my hair being red, my face was – I had an allergic reaction to the dye."
– Julia, 19
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"I looked like a pumpkin"
"I was traumatised by my hairdresser Gabi at the age of 10, a week before I started secondary school. She ruined any chance I had of getting through school without being bullied. I always wanted to be one of the popular kids, and planned on using my new environment as a chance to rebrand myself. And my long dark-brown curls were the only thing that I didn't hate about my appearance.
"My mother sent me to the hairdressers because she thought I needed to get my tips cut. While chatting to my mum, Gabi just started cutting away. Nobody said a word to me as the snipping went on and on. Gabi hadn't just taken the tips off, she'd cut me a bob so short I looked like a pumpkin. On the way home I couldn't stop crying, and for years I refused to go to a hairdressers. Even today I panic when I get my hair cut, all thanks to Gabi."
– Lisa, 29
"My hair started to turn green"
"I was blonde for years and wanted to go darker, back towards my natural hair colour. My hairdresser assured me that it wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, he turned my hair dark grey and patchy – ageing me by about 30 years. I said nothing, smiled and paid. At home I cried for hours and then went to a different hair salon. They decided to bleach it back, but the hairdresser was really busy and forgot to wash out the chemicals she put in my hair. She left it in until my scalp started to burn and I had to say something. She acted like nothing had happened and washed it out.
"When I brushed it later, I realised that the strands pulled like chewing gum and the tips were shedding onto my shoulders. Later, when I took a closer look in the mirror, I noticed that my hair had started to turn green. At first, I thought it was just the light, but my head looked like it was starting to go mouldy. I started crying immediately, but nobody cared. 'What do you expect when you bleach it several times in a week?' my hairdresser later asked. I was stunned and considered going full Britney Spears and shaving my head in utter desperation. I didn't go that far, but I did cut a lot of my new green hair off."
– Sophie, 24
"With this hair, you'll never find a man."
"I have very unruly hair, and low self-esteem. I've tried so many different hairdressers, but I hate all of them. Because I straighten my hair a lot, I'm always told that it's my fault that my hair is broken. Three months ago, one hairdresser looked at my hair in disgust and asked if I was trying to be single forever. 'With this hair, you'll never find a man.' The rest of the salon laughed. I went bright red and wanted to disappear under the gown.
"He combed my hair with a comb that was way too small and tore off a lot of hair. If you want to be beautiful, he said, you have to suffer. He continued to ask me about my love life and why I was so insecure. I didn't want to talk to him, so I barely said anything and prayed that he'd eventually notice how uncomfortable I was feeling. Then he got the razor and said that he should take everything off and let it grow afresh, that I would be 'pretty enough' without it. I finally found the courage to walk out. I didn't cry, but I did lose all hope that I could actually ever go to the hairdressers and leave feeling better than when I walked in."
– Roxana, 27
"Centimetre-long palm trees sprouted from my scalp"
"I'm a woman who proudly sports short hair. But I decided that I would give long hair another go before I turned 30. So I let it grow out, which requires a fair bit of patience and self-confidence to make it through the shit bit. But then came my mum's 60th birthday party, which I knew would inevitably involve lots of photos. My hair was growing, but sadly my confidence couldn't keep up.
"I capitulated a day before the party and went to the only hairdressers in our village that was open on a Saturday. I should have been more sceptical, really, but at that point I had on the top of my head what could only be described as a ball of brown yarn. My assigned hairdresser decided that instead of washing my hair she would just spray it with a bit of water. From there she started to grab random strands and curl them. I tried to intervene by showing her an old photo of me with short hair and explaining that that was how I wanted it, to which she simply replied: 'Then that’s exactly how it'll be.'
"It was not exactly how it would be. When she was done I had centimetre-long stalks shaped like palm trees sprouting from my scalp. I couldn't braid them or really hide them, so I cried for a few minutes, put some lipstick on and went to the party."
– Magdalena, 28
This article originally appeared on VICE DE.