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6 Weeks of Self-Care — Week 2: TRIM AND BALAYAGE

This is the first post in our “6 Weeks of Self-Care” series — written by guest author Amber Daley, who will be blogging about her experiences at Amethyst Salon and Opal Blow Dry Bar in the weeks ahead. Enjoy!

There are a few universal truths about hair that most, if not all, women know: the life-giving magic that is dry shampoo, the regret that often comes after cutting bangs, and my personal favorite, Coco Chanel’s infamous words:

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” 

For many of us, our hair isn’t “just hair” at all (contrary to the consolation we receive after a trim or color gone wrong). For all genders, it’s a defining characteristic, a symbol of our personhood — providing us with opportunities for self-expression, sex appeal, and sometimes protest. 

Is it really a surprise that the average woman in the U.S. will spend over $50,000 on hair care in her lifetime?

My Visit to Amethyst Salon: A Long Time Coming

It’s this reason — cost — that has kept me out of the stylist’s chair unless absolutely necessary. Over the years, I was more likely to experiment with sunlight and lemon juice or a Frost & Glow highlight cap in my own bathroom than I ever was to seek out the help of a professional. 

But after 30, ill-conceived hair decisions aren’t as forgiving. And I needed some serious help.

Recently out of a seven-year relationship and having just experienced a major professional shake-up, my hair looked how I felt — tired. Damaged. And a bit neglected. Like most women preoccupied with career and family, I had played a shell game at the expense of my own well-being — putting clients, loved ones, and friends first (and myself last). Relatable?

So, six months (to the day) after I’d had a proper trim, I jumped at the chance to help my friend Kristin Kuborn, owner of Amethyst Salon and Opal Blow Dry Bar in Downtown Boise, tell both her story and my own — and in so doing, hopefully help other women to rekindle a forgotten love affair: one with the self.

And so begins the first of six weeks of mini-stories, tips, and inspiration for self-care — starting with one of the most significant ways we show ourselves love: through our hair.

Two-and-a-Half Hours in the Chair

While the stylist’s chair is a far cry from that of the dentist’s, I was nervous. Anyone with long hair knows how often a healthy “trim” turns into an unanticipated chop. But my dark brown hair — although it reached to my mid-back and my highlights from years before were long gone — was a mess of split ends.

But right away, Kristin surprised me — by not jumping at the chance to hack off allll of my hair.

“I like your length,” she said, and got to work snipping away at my frayed ends within minutes of my sitting in the chair — before shampooing and conditioning my hair.

“Dry cutting,” as this trend is called, is great for people with curly and wavy hair (me) and this approach gets busy people (also me) in and out of the salon faster. It’s also gentle on fragile, thinning hair. The best part: there’s no shock factor that tends to come right after wet cutting, when the hair is blowdried and springs up far shorter than you expected.

Because summer is just around the corner, Kristin also suggested adding depth and dimension to my hair with some subtle highlights. She opted for a balayage, which creates a soft and natural look because highlights are hand-painted into the hair. (It’s different than an ombre, which requires bleaching all of the hair at the ends and often results in a noticeable fade line between the two colors.)

After Kristin had sufficiently removed the damaged ends of my hair and lifted its color to be just a few shades lighter, she brought me to the washing station. Just when I should have been at my most relaxed, I was starting to feel that old familiar anxiety about how long the process was taking. (It hadn’t really been that long, but I was perplexed about my work schedule and started to wonder if this appointment hadn’t been a little too self-indulgent.) But as warm water washed over the back of my head and Kristin began sudsing and massaging my scalp, I realized it had been far too long since someone had pampered me.

When we returned to the stylist’s chair and Kristin started combing out and blow drying my hair, the warm, “sun-kissed” highlights she had been after started to appear. It sounds silly, I know, but I almost started to cry. She had lifted literal weight from my shoulders and gave me a brightness I hadn’t seen in the mirror in a long time. 

Making Self-Care a Priority

At the start of the year, I’d made resolutions that were transformative, but these improvements took time to manifest in my life. However, this one appointment boosted my self-confidence almost immediately. I walked in the salon feeling stressed out and melancholy, but walked out feeling like I could take on the world — in a matter of only two hours. So why had I waited so long?

If you’re like me, you need reasons to justify both the time and expense required for a trip to the salon. For some of us, this can feel like an unnecessary indulgence. But when you look good, you feel good. And for a business owner, feeling good is a must. The meetings, deadlines, and long hours that invariably come with any demanding career can take their toll.

With the help of Kristin and the Amethyst team, I’m starting to think differently about self-care (and I’m realizing what a priority it needs to be). I invite you to follow me on this journey. Or better yet, join in! Summer’s coming — let’s make it a beautiful one.