I was a working hairdresser for 40+ years and loved every second. The last 5 years of those 40 years I worked part time in my salon The “Mane Event” here at the house. I retired about 10 years ago but I still cut my husbands hair. But with arthritis in the shoulders, elbows, back, knees and hands it is getting harder to even fix my hair.
When I was young and starting this career I didn’t think it was going to bother me down the road, but I was wrong. Take a look at your family tree, if there is arthritis in the family you need to heed this 1st warning; quit after 25 years and find something that you can sit to do or you are on the move; walking around during the day.
Even with soft mats on the floor around the chair, the best shoes I could buy and learning how to stand behind the chair and how to shampoo at the sink to keep my back straight, I am paying the price today. The hours of doing what I loved took its toll.
Every doctor will tell you that this is the worst job there is on the body because we don’t move that much and stay in the standing position behind the chair for too many hours. I wish I had known that when I was behind the chair 10 hours a day. I learned that after I retired form working every day.
I need those going to school to be a cosmetologist and those still working to listen to a retired hairdressers warning and not work to many years. This is a profession that was a passion for me as it is for most that do this job. I didn’t want to give up spending time with my clients and doing what I loved to do.
Would I have heeded the 1st warning if I had received it back then? Probably not because I loved the job so much and did until the day I closed the salon. But I am telling you; all hairdressers should listen to this warning and quit after 25 years.
I worked on my feet with my arms up at shoulder height; cutting, rolling perms, coloring and backcombing hair for 40+ years. Now my shoulders, elbows, knees and back are paying the price for the job that I dearly loved to do.
2nd warning: when we start working as hairdressers we become our family’s favorite person. Well, actually they just want us to do their hair cuts, color and perms free. I have never figured out why they think we should do their hair free, but trust me they do. Another lesson I should have learned early on but didn’t. .
My husband put a stop to the family that lived out of town, and they wanted me to cut their hair free on the weekends. One family member asked me one weekend when I was visiting my mother if I would cut her hair. My husband asked her (she was a bookkeeper) if she would take our check book and balance it up. She said NO it was her day off. My husband told her it was my day off too. That was the last time I was asked to do it free on the weekend.
But, if you don’t carry your scissors with you when you go around family you won’t have to do free stuff, because trust me they will not offer to pay you for it like they would the hairdressers where they live. They are family and they think you should be happy to do it free and never think about it being your job you have done all week and it is your day off just like it is theirs.
The last 15 years before my mother passed away she lived in Hutchinson and I fixed her hair every week and her hair was free. I figured it was the least I could do for the woman that raised me and put me through beauty school. Plus, we could spend an hour or two together
The last 4 years I worked in my salon I went to part time. So the income was half what I had been bringing in but the bills to keep the shop heated and cooled continued. I told my family living here I would have to start charging them for haircuts, perms and color for that reason.
After 30+ years of getting free hair cuts, perms and color I thought it was only fair that they could pay for the services then. I never saw them again for a haircut, color or perm, or rarely at all. They were paying someone else to work on their hair. That told me they came around all those years only because I had cut their hair free and not to see me.
My nephew did think about me once in awhile when he came out to get a haircut. Even though he didn’t pay for his haircuts, he would bring me a cherry limeade. That was something no one else did. And I really enjoyed one of my favorite drinks.
When I was still working I donated my time and talent to Hospice patients that were house or bed bound and couldn’t get out for a haircut or hair set. It was a very rewarding use of my time and talent. They really appreciated it and always offered to pay me but I wouldn’t take anything.
I am sure it is too late for those that are already working in this profession. Most of you probably made the same mistake when you started to work. But for new hairdressers: don’t give your talent away free to family; they will pay someone else when you can’t work anymore. They should pay you for what you do for them.
I wish I had quit after 25 years on my feet but I didn’t. We all think this vocation won’t hurt our bodies or it won’t happen to us but it can and probably will. Please don’t stand behind the chair too many years. Hopefully this will be a word to the wise for the new hairdressers out there to take care of you and your health first. To contact Sandy: [email protected]