I finally took the plunge at the end of December and went back to the colour that I feel the most comfortable with, blonde. As a child I had blonde hair, started to colour my hair in junior high school, and all throughout university I stayed blonde. Only before I moved to Japan I decided to change up my look and colour my hair darker.
When I moved to Japan, my hair was close to its natural colour with blonde streaks. I didn’t speak Japanese well enough upon moving here, so for almost two years I had let my hair grow out. My hair took on the ombre look and thankfully for me, everyone was all about ombre at the time.
Having natural hair and not having to worry about the monthly root touch-ups and applying purple shampoo was very refreshing. I was able to have a relationship with my hair that I don’t ever remember having. The best part was that fact that I didn’t have to worry about poodle (frizzy) hair as much during the rainy season.
Around the end of August, I started to feel bored with my hair so I chopped it all off to a “lob” (long bob). After a couple of months, I still felt like I was missing something so I talked to my best friend of 18 years and came to the conclusion of “just do it”.. and do it I did…
I went to a salon in Tokyo that caters to “gaijin” (foreigner) hair with English speaking staff. I showed to the photo of what I would like to achieve. To make an extremely long story short, the bleach was left on my scalp for way too long under a heater and I received massive chemical burns. I told the staff while under the heater I was in extreme pain and eventually they let me wash it out of my hair. I noticed my hair was steaming… I had the chemical burns for about two weeks. Every time I washed my hair, the burns would puss and my hair would stick to the back of my head. The results of this salon = chemical burns and overpriced.
The second time around, I chose a different salon in Yokohama that the owner and stylist was in Los Angeles for about 10 years working with Americans. I expressed what happened last time and that I would like to not have not many chemical burns and I walked out of the salon an extremely happy customer. Platinum blonde, toned hair, without a chemical burn, and an appointment books for the following month.
The high end, overpriced salon in Tokyo cannot even compare to the quality and service I received in the small personally owned hair salon in Yokohama. The lesson I ended up learning the hard way was that not all the glitters is gold. Sometimes we tend to think that bigger brands and companies are better. The price tag is more expensive because it is high quality etc… This was not the case with these two hair salons.
I do have to state though, if you are a foreigner living in Japan and already feel uncomfortable with the stares you most likely receive on a regular basis, don`t change your hair to blonde or red. These hair colours are not naturally the norm here in Japan so： 1.) You are bound to standout even more and 2.) Your company may ask you to change your hair. Luckily for me, FROZEN is a big hit here in Japan and my students love the Disney movie. Instead of them reacting badly and giving me negative attention, coined me “Elsa 先生 (sensei/teacher)” for about a week and a half. After the week and a half of buzzing, I went back to being just regular old “Jennifer 先生 (sensei/teacher)”.
If you plan on taking the plunge to a dramatic hair colour in an Asian country, I suggest you be careful, possibly ask your boss if the colour or cut is alright, and good luck with the language barrier!! 頑張って！！
Ta-ta for now,