Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Buying Professional Hair Products is like a Drug Deal

Have you ever tried to buy professional hair salon products (in this case hair coloring for highlights) as a regular, non-licensed person? It is not an easy feat. We did it yesterday and it felt like what I imagine it is like to try to buy illegal drugs on the street. I could not believe how challenging it was to buy a bottle of coloring. Please note - I have never bought drugs, but I watch a lot of TV and movies so I "know" what buying drugs on the street looks like.

I am just a girl whose hair has lost its pizazz and would like to get some highlights. I have never bought drugstore over the counter hair coloring or tried anything like that at home. I have a great guy (a licensed professional) who does my hair, and has been doing my hair for years (including highlighting which I started doing a few years back) back east in Washington, DC at a great salon in Dupont Circle (Axis). He gave me the product names and formula to give to whoever might do my hair out here in Salt Lake. The problem is that I haven't found a replacement since I moved here a year ago. I know I need to do it, but up until now it has worked out with me making occasional trips back to Washington for work. I've been able to slip in and have my guy do my hair. I even made a trip back east before my wedding last September to have him cut and highlight. I was NOT going to find some new person to do my hair just before my wedding.

Lucky for me my sister-in-law, who is a real, licensed, fabulous hair stylist is in town visiting from California for Father's Day. She has agreed to cut and highlight my hair if she gets some time today. The only loose end was that we needed to get the hair coloring for her. I thought that would be no problem. I was wrong.

Yesterday I started calling hair salon supply places around Salt Lake. I finally got a nice woman who firmly said that no one was going to sell me this product without a license. Really? One bottle of hair coloring?  I just never imagined this would be a big deal or possibly not possible.

But we have connections. My husband called his hair stylist. She graciously called in an order for us to a local supplier, using her license number. See? Like a drug deal.

We drove to the place and all the windows were covered up with paper so you can't see inside, and you have to drive around back to enter. The door has a big sign that says "Licensed Professionals Only." Riff raff keep out. This is so weird. See, again, like a drug deal.

We realize we have to pay in cash. Cash only. So we are sitting there in the parking lot scrambling to see if we have enough cash to make the payment. My husband slips into the store and walks out with the product in a brown paper bag. Again, like a drug deal.

Who knew that securing Redken professional hair products could be such an ordeal? I realize the products involve chemicals. Is this a security thing? Can people make bombs with Redken hair products?  Kids burning other kids for pranks? People trying to do their own hair at home and really messing it up and then suing the product companies? Is the beauty industry trying to keep control of the products so that you are forced to go to professional salons? I hope I don't have to try to buy these products again.

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