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Working as a "shampoo girl" for a day

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A look at the people behind your good hair days.

Like any other person living in the 21st century, I keep up with my personal hygiene by using products like shampoo, conditioner and the likes.

When my editor assigned me to wash customers' hair for a day at a salon, I thought it was not going to be much of a challenge.

I have been washing my own hair for almost all my life, so I would say I've had at least 10 years' experience. How hard could it be?


MAX TEACHING ME A THING OR TWO ABOUT HAIR DYES.

Last Monday, I reported to Hair Inn for my four-hour "shift". Salon manager Max, who has 12 years of experience, briefed me about the daily operations of the salon. For instance, each stylist has their own timetable for customers with appointments. Walk-in customers are usually attended by stylists who are available at that time.

After my short briefing, I observed the stylists at work for two hours. Since it was a Monday afternoon, the salon had a slow stream of customers.

That gave me more time to watch the stylists perform a range of duties, such as trimming and shampooing hair, and touching up grey roots. I even got to mix hair dye with a miniature whisk.


RINSING MY FRIEND'S HAIR WAS QUITE TRICKY, ESPECIALLY THE AREAS NEAR THE NAPE OF HER NECK.

The fun only started when a friend of mine, whom I had promised a free wash and blow, arrived at the salon. Sure, I told her she could get her hair washed at a salon – just not by the salon staff!

I rinsed her hair as Max stood by and watched. My friend and I could not stop laughing because of how absurd the situation was.

I think Max was laughing too, because I was so clumsy with my hands. At one point, I even sprayed water on him accidentally.


MAX SHOWING ME HOW MASSAGING IS DONE.

Max left me on my own for a while as I tried to remember what I had learned while watching the other stylists shampoo their customers' hair. They shampooed twice: first to wash their customer's hair, and then to massage their scalp. I tried my best to imitate them.

When Max returned, he showed me how to massage her scalp. It seemed so effortless when he did it.

Afterwards, we wrapped my friend's head with a towel turban. Max patted her back to check if it was damp after shampooing. I was relieved when he told me I had passed the first test. 

"You can come in for work again tomorrow," he joked.


WATCH MY EXPERIENCE HERE!

It was time to blow-dry, and this had to be done by me too. They showed me how to dry hair in layers and use the round brush to make curls. It seemed pretty straightforward, but somehow I just couldn't get it dry enough. 

I had to enlist the help of the other stylists again.


THE BEGINNING OF THE BLOW-DRYING SESSION.


THESE CURLS WERE OBVIOUSLY NOT DONE BY ME.

There was a clear difference between their end product and my end product. Even as we were washing hair, it was evident who the professional was, and who was not.

Shampooing and drying hair with a blow-dryer? Probably not that difficult. But, massaging and making bouncy blow-dried curls? That takes skill.

After my abhorrent job at washing and blowing my customer's hair, I think I can safely say that hairdressers definitely deserve much more recognition.

This is part one of 'For A Day', a new series that features underrated jobs in Singapore.