Wow, you've stuck with my epic novel this long? Thanks! It feels good to get it all off my chest.
The day of my appointment finally arrived. I got there 10 minutes early, parked out front, and was happy to see the double front doors to the salon were wide open on this beautiful evening. I walked in and Samantha greeted me immediately. She hung up my coat while another staff member poured me a glass of water and asked if I needed anything. There was a place card on the shelf in front of the mirror with my name on it.
Samantha reviewed what we'd discussed earlier, and I didn't need to correct her or remind her about anything. She put a cape on me, mixed up color, and got to work. She had a high round work table on wheels for her supplies, which included an enormous stack of foils. The table was interesting, with various sized holes around the edge so she could slide her combs, clips, and other tools in and out. It even a timer built right in. It was well thought out, and while small things like a table don't seem like a big deal, it meant she was prepared with everything she needed, instead of a few minutes here and there getting supplies or moving things around as she needed them or finished with them.
She sectioned my hair, clipped it up and out of the way, put down a foil, and brushed the color on. It was a lot of work, and she was careful to saturate every piece of my very thick hair this way. It took her a little over an hour (hour & fifteen I think) to apply color to my entire head. She asked the staff member who had given me the water to mix up additional color each time she needed more. I don't remember exactly which shades, it was either 2N and 3NN, or 2NN and 3NN, with a 10 volume developer. I had to stop smiling like an idiot at that. 10 volume was perfect to deposit the color without causing more damage. The red she used was 6VR, a nice violet based red very close to the shade I wanted back in June.
I processed for thirty minutes, and Samantha was no more than twenty feet away from me the entire time. She brought me to the sink in a smaller back room with two sinks, and closed the door over for privacy. The wash area smelled really nice, like soothing fresh herbs. It was clean there too, and I could see the restroom, which was also immaculate. The rinsing and washing was very relaxing, and I just sat there and enjoyed it with no talking. Her scalp massaging technique relieved the sinus pressure from my allergies, which was an added bonus. Another stylist brought in his male client to get washed next to me, and his stylist put a hot towel over his face. I wondered if the guy was gonna fall asleep!
The sinks were so comfortable, pedestal type sinks that tilted, with higher chairs than the usual wash area ones. There was a rubber gasket right at the neck, and all I had to do was sit, move my head ever so slightly, and the sink tilted up to meet my head. Yeah, I know, I sound like a geek getting all excited over a sink, but once again, I appreciate something well thought out. Low sinks suck, you have to lean back in a chair and it's uncomfortable, particularly when you're getting washed multiple times. The rubber gasket meant Sami could rinse the back of my head without me having to hold my head up while leaning back, and I wasn't gonna get a stream of water down my neck like my previous salon visit. I'd rather a salon invest in something that makes the process easier and more comfortable for the client and the stylist, rather than on decor that serves no purpose other than looking pretty.
Samantha brought me back to the chair and asked me about drying and styling (which I am far too lazy to do myself), then sectioned my hair and began blowing it straight so she could really see the color. The dryers are all on retractable cords in the ceiling, so she only had to let go when she needed both hands, then reach up and grab the dryer. The few overprocessed blonde streaks were a little lighter than the rest, but I knew this would be an issue, and we had discussed it during the consult. Given what she had to work with, I was amazed how well it turned out. The entire appointment took two hours.
She used Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Hydrocream Whip (mousse) in my hair while drying it. It smelled fantastic. I bought a container of that, as well as a PM Color Care shampoo and conditioner. I scheduled my next appointment for 6 weeks later, a recolor and cut. While I do want to let it grow, I don't think I'll let it get as long as it was originally. I gave Sami a big hug as I left - she might've thought I was a bit nutty, and some people aren't touchy feely so it can be weird to hug someone, but I don't think she realized the weight she lifted off me.
I took this picture the next afternoon, so it's slept on. The red is very visible in the sunlight, but still noticeable indoors too.
I've had this lovely color for a week (as I type this) and I've even attempted to brush it straight while I blow it dry a bit. I'll have to let it air dry & curl and take some pics to compare the before & after.
Hindsight being 20/20, this is what I should've done in the first place, kept it mainly dark and added some red. After changing my entire head to red myself a few times, I didn't think it would be such a fiasco. I feel like me again, and have realized a good many things along the way - but since this adventure has been so long already, more on that another time.
Now, who's the magician? If you're anywhere in northern/central NJ or eastern PA, I highly recommend Samantha at Salon Gratitude in New Hope, PA. I witnessed two of the other stylists (one being the owner) at work, from consultations to cuts and color, and I was sincerely impressed with everyone there. I wish I had known about this place when I started the journey, but in the end, it was worth it. I have a great new stylist!