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  • Writer's picturePippa

Les cheveux courts

Living in a part of the world where most women have long hair, the challenge for those of us with short hair is finding a hairdresser who can make us presentable every few weeks. When I met an Australian volunteer with short hair at dinner one evening I had to ask her where to go in Vientiane for a hair cut. Her recommendation turned out to be The Good Hairshop.

Cue Darlene’s comment:

“Do you know the name of a good hairshop?”

“Why yes!”

Annie the Aussie then texted:

“The hair washer did such a good job the hairdresser had to tell her to stop.”

Intrigued as much by the promise of a thorough shampoo as the business name, I blocked a chunk in my afternoon because appointments at The Good Hairshop are first come first served.

As I entered the hairdressing shop all prepared to mime a hair cut, the young man behind the counter greeted me in French. This was the first time anybody in Vientiane has started a conversation with me in French despite that fact that Laos is a former French colony. I guess there’s an assumption nowadays that English is the lingua franca when you encounter a Westerner. Anyway, it wasn’t until after he’d explained that the hair washer was off running an errand and invited me to take a seat until she returned that I got to ask him about his use of French.

He grew up hearing older family members speaking French and currently studies three evenings a week at Vientiane’s Institut français. Apparently, he speaks English too but likes to practise French when possible so I was flattered to oblige him. By this time, the renowned hair washer had returned and I could hear water running on the other side of the wall.

Now my experience with having my hair washed in beauty salons around the world is that if there is a washer that person is only washing hair as a step towards something more important in the world of hairdressing. More often than not, dedicated hair washers have been replaced by the stylist. Where I get my hair cut in Victoria, the stylist prefers to cut it dry. At The Good Hairshop, the hair washer takes hair washing to a whole new level.

First she wets your hair in order to lather it. And then she works the shampoo into your scalp one section of scalp at a time. Each wash cycle, of which there were three, takes approximately 5 minutes to complete and includes a full head and neck massage also. I remembered Annie’s text message to me and kept my fingers crossed that the hairdresser wouldn’t come and tell the hair washer to hurry it up. He didn’t and there was even time for a thorough ear washing! Well, my mum would have agreed. If you’re going to wear your hair short, your ears had better be clean.

Entirely deserving of its name, The Good Hairshop boasts not only a good hair washer but a good hair cutter too. I didn’t get much of a chance to learn more about my French speaking stylist because he got very focussed on his cutting technique while he had me in the chair. For me, the true test of a great haircut is that you can wash your hair afterwards and it falls into place as it dries. It did. I’ll be back. À la prochaine!

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