Lost in translation at the salon

hair bleach

How was your holidays? Sorry for the silence.

There I was, thinking what to write on this blog after quite a long time and opportunity knocks – loudly. Nothing worth mentioning has come up after Christmas passed, maybe only the regrets of over indulging but bah, let’s not dwell on that. Diet starts only after the New Year anyway.

Moving on, I decided to dye my hair yesterday. Specifically, I decided to be adventurous and go to a random salon to have it dyed. It was an unplanned trip to the salon but I have gray hair. Lots. And it’s the new year. Hmmm, “new year, new you”. That sort of thing.

A friend of mine suggested a salon in Deira, it was inside an apartment building and with lots of Chinese decorations at the door. It smelled dodgy. She said, it’s highly recommended: cheap and delivers what you want. So I entered anyway. She had me at the word cheap. Sure enough, the place was packed. Ladies having their hair straightened, colored, washed, etc. There was even a lady eating KFC while having her hair treated. It was crazy. Stinky ammonia reeking all over the place crazy.

Ladies getting salon treatments like it’s the end of the world.

I discussed what I wanted, simple request, really: cover gray hair, want lighter than my usual color. The next bout of conversation that transpired between two Chinese hairdressers ensued and the Filipino staff translated it to me.

“No, she can’t have light color unless we bleach her hair!”

“See, she has dyed her hair black before, we need to take out all those dye before applying a new one. Bleach, bleach, bleach!”

I said no bleaching. I will just choose the next darker color that won’t require me to bleach. I have an appointment afterwards giving me only an hour of free time. Plus, I didn’t want to know the effects of bleaching hair so no bleach!

The Chinese lady nodded and started working on me. I then took out my phone and started Facebooking (what else you got to do sitting in the salon in the 21st century?). After a few minutes, I felt my hair got wet and damp so I looked up…in horror, I saw a muddy concoction in blue color slathered all over my hair.

It was none other than…BLEACH!!

Did I not say, no bleach!?? I almost jumped out of my seat like a startled smurf and cried, “What’s this stuff on my hair!? I said NO BLEACH!”

The Chinese lady just stared at me, murmuring something in Chinese. All the other hairdressers and the ladies who were at the salon started to pretend nothing happened, maybe even hummed a song with eyes on the ceiling.


Now, there was no way out but to wait for an hour for the bleach to be washed off, then apply color. My hair looked like this after bleaching.


Can you see that my hair has just died (not just dyed) – I was prepared to make a eulogy the minute I took this pic. And my kids would not recognize me if I went home that night looking like this.

I looked like this before I went to the salon. (You can even see a tiny white hair peeking out.)

Before dyeing

Well, if there’s anything I learned from this experience, first, it’s that, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” And, go to an English speaking salon!!

UPDATE: This is how the hair color looked like this morning. They applied color (something copper/chestnut shade) after the bleach.


It’s actually darker indoors and when there’s no sun (this pic was taken inside the bus this morning). Nevertheless, never again. I am not destined for beauty adventures. Plus, someone got really upset why I spent so much time at the salon. Three hours is not a joke and I don’t really think it was worth it.


  1. Ayayay! That’s the problem, you tell what you want and what you don’t want and it won’t mean anything. They would just do as they please! For that reason alone that other than hair-cutting I don’t let the salon people do anything else to my hair 😦 Sometimes even the haircut will be a flop. I once asked for a trim and I got a boy-cut ;(



  2. Reminds me of when I first moved to Brazil, the salons here are crazy, at least the affordable ones are. On a plus note it’s also the reason I got into business myself, because when things are that harsh, sometimes it’s just better to go it alone and do things yourself.
    Funny story tho, really well told. Thanks Grace.



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