Adventures with haircuts in Spanish

“You can survive it! No matter how bad it is, you’ll live through this and you’ll be fine!”

This is my mantra whenever I’m getting my haircut in Spain. I know it’s not the end of the world—it’s not even that serious! But what strikes the most fear into my heart living here in this city is not the spiritual oppression, or any threat to my personal safety (after all, I’m more than a conqueror through Christ!), but what truly scares me is getting my hair cut one more time in this country.

I still remember--and have the painful photos to remind me--of my first haircut in Spain. With less than a year in this country, I decided it was time to get my haircut. So armed with my eight months of Spanish studies and some photos on my phone, I set off for the local Spanish version of Hair Cuttery and sat myself down in the chair.

I explained what I wanted: basically a trim.  At the time, my hair was shoulder length, and I wanted it to go up about an inch. I had learned that here in Spain people use their fingers to measure about how far they want it to be cut off: the width of one finger or two, for example.

So I explained exactly what I wanted and felt confident that the lady understood me. She then picked up a hunk of hair off the crown of my head and proceeded to chop it about 3 inches from my scalp. I watched in shock as about 4 inches of brown hair fell to the floor. And what was I going to do at that point? She pretty much had to finish from there even though my eyes kept getting larger, rounder, and more dismayed as she went on. I ended up leaving that day with my hair almost as short as a man’s, particularly in the back although she left the front kind of floppy (photo).  

first Spanish haircut -

And then I cried all the way home; I cried for the next six hours. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Until that very moment, I didn’t know how emotionally attached I was to my hair!

I remember for days after that looking in the mirror and feeling like a total stranger was staring back at me – one whose hair was not wavy because all the curls have been cut off. It took awhile for me to adapt to the hairstyle, and it took *much longer* for it to grow back out. All of my friends were so kind; they all assured me that my dramatic eyes could carry any hairstyle, or that I was pretty enough for any hair style. But the damage was done. I resolved never ever to get my haircut in Spanish again!

I started researching English-speaking hairdressers, and for a while found one that I really liked. Our relationship had to end unfortunately when she adopted several dogs, and I was too allergic to continue going to her salon. But then I found another hairstylist at a location who advertises that they have English-speaking stylists. And I’ve been going there ever since.

Which brings me to today.  While I was away from Madrid, my usual stylist moved on.  So I got a new hairdresser today, a young Spanish Andaluz who spoke English the way I speak Arabic – extremely limited but certainly still willing to make the effort when I know the right words.


He was very conscientious; he used his phone to show me various photos and continually asked, “Is this okay; is this what you want? Do you need it shorter anywhere?” After I realized how limited his English was, we continued in Spanish, but I felt like he was really trying to listen to me and not just do his own style. In the end, it’s still a little shorter, and a little different than I expected, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We all need a little spice from time to time, and the haircut he gave me is certainly a little more euro-trendy. 😉 So in that, he did me a favor!

But you never really know what you’re going to get! And that’s the adventure of getting my haircut in Spain. I just reassure myself with my little mantra,—that whatever happens, I’ll live through it, and my hair will grow back again. And it always has. 😉