The Salon – By Bernadette Araba Adjei

The Salon or Saloon (owner’s signboards always confuses me)

The experience a woman or man get at a hair dressing salon may shape you for life. In our Ghanaian society, when a girl is born, hair braiding is a symbol. If a baby girl does not have braided hair, the poor mother may on many occasions have to correct people that “she is a girl!” to comments of “oh what a nice boy!”.

In the past, girls hair was braided at home by the mother or an older relative, in modern times, the children are taken to the salon to undergo the same process (or should I call it ordeal) that the older of their species got through to get their hair done.  But of course our modern times also see boys and men going through the process of “hair dressing”.

So as you grow up, you aspire to “perm” your hair. During school vacations, you get your hair done only to cut it or always keep it braided when school reopens.

And if as a child you were flower girl for some wedding, you will have endured some hair making in one salon or the other.

For the girls who did not go through the painful ordeal of braiding kinky hair and went through school with low cut hair, the occasion when you are “allowed” to perm or braid your hair is very much looked forward to. As many girls got to the end of the final term of school, hair “shall not be cut”. The hair is grown and patted down awaiting the perming days. As soon as term is out and final exams are written and arrival home is safely attained, mother has to part with some cash for any of the following procedures;

  1. Perming (which because of the short nature of the hair is called “akoko perming” – literally “chicken perming”)
  2. Braiding of long braids with hair extensions – that process hurts and will quite pull on the scalp but will be borne cheerfully for the sake of beauty
  3. X-curls –  a process to curl up the hair and a replacement of Gerry Curls of the 1980 and 1990s.

What the girl does not realize is that for the rest of her life, she will have to do something to dress her hair and really there is no hurry. But who will listen to such advice?

Then starts the weekly process of going to the hair dressers. If you have a free week, a weekday visit is almost hassle free with almost no client and thus almost instant attention from the salon madam.

But if you are a worker and can only make time to go to the salon on weekends, then “welcome to the world”!

You are sure to meet a queue of some ladies impatiently awaiting their turn to get their hair dressed. Remember in this salon setting, there are favorites – those who are long standing clients, those who tip and the gossipy clients.

There are unspoken rules and you must know them;

  1. If you have ever come in and snottily asked for madam, remember when there is a queue, the apprentice will ignore you. Please wait for madam.
  2. If you have complained about the conduct of a worker remember she will never willingly see to you.
  3. If you have complained about the price of the service, you are likely to be ignored sometimes especially when there is a queue.

Remember the salon products may be a big chance on your hair, and if you carry your own products, you are “obroni” and are treated nicely.

Beware of the “scratchy scalp” hair washers, they can be quite unpleasant on your poor scalp. Then the body odour of some are a threat to your nose for a while – as they serve you.

But a good wash is always very welcome. Then the process goes on to get the hair dressing preparation you desire. If you have an encounter with the hair dryer, I wish you well. The final stages of hair styling is quite nice as you end up looking as beautiful as can be. If the style is not to your liking, changes can be suggested because you are paying for this service and you need to look beautiful indeed.

You may however be going for braids and you must be prepared for a duration of anything from one hour to three hours, some hair snipping into your clothes and other preparations which men will wonder at including hot water treatment. Oh and when the braider gets to the crown of the head that never seems to move on? Hmmmm?

I do feel sorry for little girls I see in the salon, they go through all that the older women go through and some can really fret and moan!

Ah, but some men also do go to get their hair permed and some old men go to get their hair dyed and it is interesting to see them with towels around their necks.

Oh and there is the manicure and pedicure sessions too, but that is another issue altogether right?

Now some ladies do want a change and cut down their hair completely but as one teacher of mine once said, it is not everyone who will look good in that style because the head shape matters. And for the ladies keeping natural hair, not every hair texture can hold that style. So basically, “Lady know Yourself”.

So all the best to my sisters as we seek to look beautiful! It’s not Easy!

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