Wednesday, February 13, 2008

dc salons or butcher shops?

Of the gazillions of style-, fashion- and attractiveness-related criticisms I have offered up here on this glorious little blog, there is one issue I have let stew in my sick and twisted mind for quite some time -- the haircut. Well, my friends, the time has come for me to declare: Salons in DC suck a lot of ass. (It's called eloquence. Take notes.)

And, as with 85-90 percent of all the witty observations made here on The Anti DC, this post will also be based on my incredibly narrow experiences and on no way, shape or form on any sort of "scientific research." I mean, having only lived here since May, I've had the occasion to have my hair butchered by just two local salons. Anyway, let's just cut (get it?) to the chase.

I should've effing known with this one. I mean, any salon with "Lab" in the title cannot be a good thing (as those of you in Moscow familiar with the mullet-tastic Persona Lab could testify), but I read a few online reviews and decided to give it a go. M-I-S-T-A-K-E. Those are the only seven letters that I think could even begin to describe the overall USL experience in one brief word.

The mistakes were twofold: It was my mistake not to trust my instincts about the whole "Lab" thing and it was several of my stylist's mistakes for not knowing how the hell not to make my hair look like a retarded squirrel taking a four-month nap on my scalp. Put simply, my hair was a serious gnarly mess after I left that place.

But let me break it down even more because I'm sure those of you who just LOVE my mentions of SHOES on this blog will equally love to hear about my hair type and texture and the corresponding instructions that make for a good cut. (You know who you are, ahem, TDF.)

Anyway, I keep my hair long. More importantly, I have a sh*t-ton (two eloquence points!) of it (ON MY FACE! LOL! J/K!), which means if there's one style my hair should never endure, it is a blunt cut (i.e. when all of your hair is one length -- think Supercuts). That is, if my hair isn't layered or chipped or razored or some other slightly advanced cutting technique, it will be huge, unwieldy and downright wig-like, especially with bangs, which I also have. To give you a visual, I left "Urban Style Lab" looking a bit like this, but blonder:

So, I pulled back my bangs for four months while I saved up enough money to get another haircut at a different place. (Oh, my bad, did I forget to mention I paid someone roughly $100 to f*ck up my hair? Yeah.) Having settled into Washington a bit more, I did some word-of-mouth research and found numerous recommendations for Andre Chreky's eponymous salon. What clinched my decision to give AC a go was my BFF Rose L, who gets her hair cut by Chreky himself. However, being the impatient (yet charming) bitch that I am, I couldn't wait the two-plus weeks to get an appointment with him so I settled for whatever bottom-of-the-barrel stylist was available. And that's exactly who I got. Worst. Haircut. Of. My. Life. What Urban Style Lab is to Supercuts, Andre Chreky is to hobo with a hacksaw.

Not only did I get a blunt cut, but I also got the other big no-no for long, naturally big-ass (three eloquence points!) hair -- a blow-out followed up by volumizing mousse. I had some serious helmet hair. We're talking Peggy Bundy (see above) times two. That sh*t was not tight. But what really gets me is that the woman (whose name for the life of me I can't remember) was so proud of herself. I (politely as possible) disagreed with this seemingly blind stylist, pleading with her to put in "at least a couple" of long layers. She failed.

After the trauma was over, I debated whether to actually pay the $90 (!) or just make like the victim I was and run. Alas, crime apparently does pay, as I settled the bill. And making the whole experience even more mortifying, nearly everyone in the salon told me my hair looked "amazing" or, worse yet, "divine" as I made my way to the door. I begrudgingly acknowledged their compliments, but refused to accept them as the women doling them out were all middle-aged lobbyist types with shorter versions of my new politically correct 'do. Ugh.

But Jebus! I get the aesthetic here, DC. I understand everyone actually wants to look like a tool and strives to become that middle-aged douche, but honestly, is it too much to ask to have just one go-to salon for those of us who don't enjoy looking like assholes? Seriously, are their any?? Anyone???

My hair situation has gotten so desperate that I decided to jet-set up to Boston to get my hair cut by a man who not only attended, but actually graduated from beauty school. (It seems some stylists in DC have yet to enroll.) Of course, I'm not so psychotic about getting a good haircut that that's the only reason I'm flying up there at the end of this month, but, hey, why not kill two birds with one stone? Or, more appropriately, why not pick up your Master's dilploma that's been sitting in the registrar's office for nearly a year (zoinks!) and get a haircut in one big ol' bitch of a trip? (Four eloquence points!)

*While the cut was ghastly, I also had my hair colored here. The colorist, Johannie (sp?), did a fabulous job (I say this with no sarcasm -- her sh*t seriously is tight), which made getting the horrible cut even worse. The cut did nothing to highlight the, well, highlights. Anyway, for serious, if you want an excellent colorist, call Johannie. For a cut, I'd steer clear unless you can go directly to Chreky himself, apparently.


Shannon said...

Try Tyler at VSL. My hair is short, fine and wavy, which is the opposite of yours, but Tyler is still awesome. Plus, only $38.Damian-who-used-to-be-at-Bang is another big name around here, but the few times he cut my hair (back in the Bang era) he cut it all wrong for my man-jaw. My head looked like a cube of cheese. Awful.

I-66 said...

Gahhh... and now I want an entire DVD set of Married With Children. See what you've done?

"I see deadly red tarantula, but I sit here with my hand in my pant-ula..."

And Shannon, if we're talking about a cube of pepperjack cheese it might not be such a bad thing.

Shannon said...

I don't think I'd like to look like cheese, thanks. Even really awesome cheese.

Square jaw plus chin-length blunt-cut bob? Equals Cubehead.Cubehead cubed.

Velvet said...

Jesus christ, why didn't you email me? I could have helped! You don't have to go to Boston. I have the golden ticket, but I keep it a secret b/c I too hate waiting two weeks for a haircut. Email is coming...

BAD said...

Maybe instead of saying "That sh*t is not tight" you should try "That stool is loose." Just a thought.

Marissa said...


What is VSL? Mmmm...cheese...


"Married With Children" truly is an American classic. And, mmmm...cheese...


Huh-what?! I will check my E-mail imminently. But Boston is already booked. My stylist there once gave me the second best haircut of my life. The best was in Bangkok. But alas, jet-setting to the Eastern Hemisphere for a haircut is sadly out of my price range.


Were you born this much of a genius or is this something you had to work for to attain? I <3 you.

capitulatenow said...

Say, I keep my hair long and layered and bangy (and rare is the stylist who resists the urge to poodle-out my hair, too -- wtf), and I've had satisfying, last-minute appointment experiences with both Camden and Christopher at Bang. Also only $38!

Also, thanx for yer blog; I likes it

Righteous (re)Style said...

Ugh. This just brought back SO MANY haircut disasters over my 15+ years here. Oh. My. God. This is the best town for haircuts that look good on middle-aged lobbyists and the worst town for any haircut that is, um, I don't know, interesting, attractive, hip. And, why in the world does anyone color hair BEFORE cutting it? That makes no sense at all (esp. with highlights) and no self-respecting hair stylist, who has any skill, would do that. (Don't get me started.)

My hint on finding that needle in sh*tty salon haystack: I always ask a new stylist if they know how to cut hair dry. Cutting hair dry is harder and takes much more precision. If they say "no" - I cancel my appt. My latest find just left Trim to work in Bethesda for, like, a million dollars a cut. A few more paychecks and I'll finally be able to afford a bang trim.

Shannon said...

VSL is a hipster walk-in joint on Connecticut Avenue, just north of Dupont Circle. But if you have a particular stylist you like, you can make an appointment.

And I want some cheese.

Marissa said...

capitulate now--

Well, thanks for the compliments! Also, thanks for the tip. I'm set for the next couple of months thanks to my upcoming jaunt north, but I may look into that.


You know, I've heard about Trim. One of my friends goes there. That was going to be my next try before I decided to squeeze in a haircut with my Boston boy with the magical hands. And, you're right, he cuts my hair dry.


Interesting...I will do a little recon. Ugh...I'm so disconcerted that there are actual options in DC!

I'll have to blog about this again in 3-4 months...

Peter said...

Why the fuck did you decide to * out all the cunting swear words on your goddamn site? Shit = not tight. Let it rip.

Marissa said...


Shut the F*CK up. I guess I'm just not as motherF*CKing vulgar as you. I mean I'm just not as uncouth as you, you B*NER-BITING, D*CK-FART, F*CK-FACE, C*CK-SUCKING, A*S-LICKING UNCLE-F*CKER. Just sayin'...

(Ahem, I'd like to thank South Park's Terrance & Phillip for the bountiful swears. Although, I don't know why I just virtually bleeped out "boner," that's a proper name, after all...Boner Stabone, anyone?)

Anonymous said...

I go to Elena at Bang (who, incidentally, is from Boston), and I think she's really good. At $38, you're not risking much by going. Judging by the tattoos, piercings, and wild fashion and hair colors being sported by the stylists at Bang, I am sure that no one there would give anyone the middle-age lobbyist haircut unless they specifically asked for it.

Marissa said...


Thanks for the tip. Bang seems to be coming up repeatedly as the go-to place for cheap, non-douchey haircuts. Wow, I can't believe this blog may have produced a useful discussion! Thanks for reading, by the way!

Anonymous said...

u people have no clue what you're talking about regarding hair:

to "righteous"-
obviously we color hair before cutting it for a reason, since we ALL do it that way. it has much to do with dry cutting (which you clearly know so much about). you want to dry cut with the color done to do blending, etc..

and for all of you bang lovers-
it's the best chop shop around...literally. they are all about booking as many appts per day and making you work fast rather than what kind of work you put out, it's disastrous really

usl haters-
don't know too much about this salon except that they actually have an amazing reputation in the salon professional world...known for doing quality, progressive work in a chill environment. for whatever reason, everyone i know has wanted to work there. weird that you had such a bad experience there, but i guess all the hype is too good to be true?

Marissa said...


Sorry for the late reply here, but I'm back on my own blog to research hair salons as I am needing a cut and dye BADLY. Yeah, I don't know what happened at USL, but it was not good. I did see other people getting cute haircuts though...they were much shorter than mine, however, so maybe that's the trick if you go there...

But I guess maybe I was spoiled by my stylist-love Darren in Boston at g2o. He's just too incredible, it's hard to find someone equally as awesome. But we'll see...I'm keepin' the faith.

Anonymous said...

AAAAAAH yes, I've been to this very salon before and I found that the one person who worked for Hugo Salon before it changed hands named John was the sh!t. I went back months later, new ownership and had a chainsaw hackjob to my hair that left me mortified and scared to leave the house and look in a mirror. I wanted to go back and demand a fix-up but that may result in further disastrous results.

If you catch them on a good day it's alright, if you catch them right before vacation, not so much. It's inconsistent at the shop. Sorry folks.

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