After spending forever trying to get into my personal Instagram account (I totally forgot my password, which just goes to show how often I actually use the app lawl) to frantically hunt down something appropriate to wear during Ramadan, I kept on receiving those annoying notifications from Instagram on my phone afterwards. I spent weeks ignoring them, but on July 12, I’d finally had enough and tried to disable the notifications through the app itself, which is when an ad for Belleza and more Salon & Spa popped up. I clicked the ad (which took me to their insta account) and immediately my eyes were drawn to the photo shown below.
Translation: Ammonia-free Dye and Bleach… Extra Strength Protection used with every Hair Coloring Session… so the hair does not get damaged and the color remains… vibrant and rich with a beautiful shine to make the hair appear healthy and fresh
As soon as I spotted that gorgeous ash-blonde color (in the After photo) I was obsessed! Seeing as how I’d just chopped off all my hair (pics, here), I was less hesitant about messing with it. Plus, they straight up advertised “ammonia-free dye” and “extra-strength protection”. It seemed legit. Being the impulsive creature that I am, I quickly called them up and made an appointment (30 mins from time of call) to dye my hair!
I’d inquired about the price during the call (‘cuz I wasn’t gonna’ go if it was something ridiculous), but they said they had to see me first, as the price would depend on the length of my hair. I referenced the photo (shown above) and asked to get the same person to do my hair. They assured me that Madame XYZ (apparently, she was the one who oversaw all the dye jobs) was available to dye my hair. So I quickly hopped in the car and used the Location via their Instagram account… which led me to the general vicinity of the Belleza and more Salon & Spa, but not to the actual salon itself. Thankfully, I’d asked our live-in driver to take me. That’s why I could afford to take a quick photo of my hair (just to have a before and after of my own) which I’d thrown into a messy bun. After about 45 minutes of wandering aimlessly around Sha’ab, I finally found Belleza and more Salon & Spa!
I had to wait for about 15 minutes or so, for Madame XYZ (obviously I’m not gonna’ use her real name) to come out of the back room. I showed her the photo and complimented her on her work, and told her it was exactly what I wanted. When I let down my hair (to show its length) and asked her about the price, she literally said, “Don’t worry about it” (it meaning the price), which did not bode well for me.
She asked if she could take “before and after” photos of my hair, to put up on the the Belleza and more Salon & Spa account on Instagram, to which I agreed (this woman was going to dye my hair so I wasn’t about to refuse her anything). While she was doing all that, I explained to her that regardless of how dark my hair might look, bleaching it would be unnecessary, because my hair dyes (changes color) quite easily. I’ve been told so, by several hairstylists (which was… whatever), but when the Nina (locally infamous Russian hairstylist) said it too, I was convinced! That’s why I specifically asked Madame XYZ not to bleach my hair! She told me to relax and just trust her, before disappearing into the back room (to mix the dye or whatever), while someone else prepped me.
Once she returned, as soon as Madam XYZ was close enough, the eye-watering fumes quickly tipped me off that she was going to bleach my hair, which was the exact opposite of what I’d just asked her. Before I could protest, she’d already plunked down a generous amount on my hair (meaning there was no going back). Still, I voiced my thoughts saying “I did not want you to bleach my hair”. She assured me it was necessary and that it was only for a little bit and that it would make everything go faster. She told me that by doing that, the color would be naar (which literally translates to fire) which I thought was odd because why was a woman pushing 50 using teenagers’ slang? Basically, nothing she said convinced me nor made me feel reassured.
Shortly after Madame XYZ had applied the bleach to my hair, my head started to burn (not tingle, but straight up burn)! My hair felt like it was literally on fire! I’d been dying my hair blonde ever since I was 17 years old, so I’ve grown accustomed to the slight burning sensation that comes with using bleach (they tell you that it’s just the product working), but this was something else! I figured maybe it’s because I hadn’t changed my hair color in about 4-5 years, I might’ve forgotten how much it actually hurt. So I tried to stay quiet and just deal with it, but the pain kept getting worse!
I told Madame XYZ, but she reiterated that “it’s just the bleach working”. Dude, it felt like being eaten alive! After about the millionth time of sharing my discomfort, Madame XYZ asked me when was the last time I washed my hair. I told her that I’d just gotten’ out of the shower, right before coming to her salon. She told me that was why it was extra painful and that normally, you shouldn’t bleach freshly washed hair (ideally, it should be second or third day hair when you bleach it). I thought it was hilarious how she was lecturing me, as if it was my idea to get my hair bleached LOL I’d straight up asked her not to bleach it, several times! In any case, she did nothing about the pain, so I just had to tough it out. The smell of bleach (or as they refer to it in this area of the world “oxygen”) was God-awful! I couldn’t decide which one bugged me more, the smell or the pain!
Eventually, someone took me over to the sink and washed my hair. Then the darling assistant who’d prepped my hair earlier (holding my hair up in the photo above), checked my hair for unbleached strands or something before blasting it with a blow-dryer, so it could dry and Madame XYZ could finally apply the hair color to my freshly bleached hair. The woman who prepped my hair (you can partially see her holding my hair up) was such a sweetheart! Talking to her made time go by much faster (I’d forgotten how tedious getting your hair bleached can be)! I mean, I had my phone with me, but still, the whole process was so boring! Plus, I’d much rather have a conversation with someone, instead of sticking my head in my phone the whole time.
The last time I dyed my hair was around I wanna’ say January 2013 or 2014 (Hair “Journey” with pics, here). I mean it sounds so dumb and pretentious to call it “a journey”, but if you’re into makeup and that sorta’ thing, you’ll know what it entails and also, calling it that, just gets the point across much faster. Anyways, she was the reason I was smiling (we kept giggling the whole time) in most of the photos. Plus, it’s embarrassing to take selfies in public (it makes me feel like I’m being vain), which was also why I was cracking up in most of those photos.
Once it was fully dry, I ran my hand through my freshly bleached hair… and my hand got stuck! My hair had been so severely damaged, to the extent that I could barely finger comb it, let alone run a brush through it! It felt like someone had taken a sticky wet lollipop straight out of their mouth and just rubbed it all over my head!!!! The texture was awful! My usually soft hair now felt so dry and brittle! You could see how crazy frizzy it was in the photos. Clearly, it had been over-processed. So much for “ammonia-free” and “extra-strength protection” lol Clearly the ad on Instagram was a complete lie.
I’m not a girly-girl, so I’d never get upset over a bad haircut or dye job, but I’d at least like to run a brush through my hair and not have the brush firmly lodged in my now extra tangly and knotty hair! Usually, I tend to shower and walk out the door, letting my hair air-dry in natural waves/curls (low maintenance). Also, I’m always playing around with hair styling products that contain some form of alcohol (which can be drying) or straight up Sea Salt Sprays. With my hair now utterly destroyed, I could kiss all that goodbye! It would take a lot (and I mean a lot) of extra care and effort, to nurture my hair back to health. Plus, it meant I had to ease up on the hot tools… except my hair was crazy frizzy now, so I kinda’ needed the help of hot tools to tame the frizz. Ugh, all this was so unnecessary and easily avoidable if only she’d listened to me.
The icing on the cake, was when Madame XYZ ran her hands through my now fully dry and freshly bleached hair (before applying the hair dye to it) and proclaimed that my hair was “tired” and proceeded to rattle of a list of hair repairing treatments (from Keratin to BB to whatever else) that they offered at Belleza and more Salon & Spa. This woman had just completely destroyed my hair and now she was listing hair treatments to fix it (all nonchalant, mind you) as if she wasn’t the cause of my now severely damaged hair. That’s about when I felt the urge to strangle the woman so instead, I just seethed quietly (she was applying the hair dye at the time). After that, it was just a waiting game, for the dye to take.
After a good long while, two of the assistants hurriedly washed my hair (it was getting late and they were about ready to close up shop) and one of them managed to get water in my eye! I felt my blood run cold! For some reason (I don’t even know where, when or how, I even developed this fear), but ever since I was a teenager, I’ve always been deathly afraid of hair dye getting in my eyes… and consequentially burning them (I’d imagine it would hurt quite a lot) and then losing my eyesight because of the hair dye. Extreme, I know, but irrational or not, that’s one of my (many, many) fears.
That’s why I began frantically dabbing at my eye with the towel wrapped around my neck (to keep my clothes from getting wet, as they washed my hair). The assistant who accidentally got water in my eye (in her attempt to make amends, I guess… ) got a piece of extremely rough toilet paper (not tissue paper, extremely rough and textured toilet paper) and started aggressively rubbing it on the most sensitive part of the face, the under-eye area. I don’t exactly know why she was effectively sandpapering my delicate under-eye area, but I asked her to kindly stop and assured her everything was fine. As far as I was concerned, my eye wasn’t stinging and even better, I still had my eyesight (crises averted), so I honestly didn’t care if my makeup was more than a little smudged (from my frantic dabbing of the towel earlier).
After they washed it, the color looked more like a warm-toned honey blonde, rather than a cool-toned ash blonde! Madame XYZ assured me that it would look differently after she’d blow-dried it. Despite everything, Madame XYZ masterfully blow-dried my hair in about 15 minutes! She straightened it, flipping the ends inwards, while managing to both give me sufficient volume (just the way I like it) and taming all the frizz! She told me not to wash my hair for a week (lol eww no thanks, I washed it 3 days later and even then, it killed me to wait that long) and said that I should come back at a later date, for her to tone it (or “rinsage” as they call it in this area of the world, pronounced with a french accent). The color was nowhere near what I had asked for and to further prove my point, I asked Madame XYZ if she wanted to take an after photo (since she’d already taken a before photo) to put up on their Instagram account. She declined and said that she’d take the after photo, the next time I came (once she’d removed all the brassiness from my hair, I’m guessing). That’s when I knew, she done messed up!
Then, she asked me to pay… a whopping KD 100! That’s not including all the tips and stuff (I think at one point, every one of the assistants had done something or other to my hair). In the past, I’ve had my hair done by Joe Raad (Lebanese hairstylist of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern celebrities) during my stay in Lebanon. He’d washed, cut, dyed and styled my hair to… perfection! Literally, everyone was always complimenting my hair and asking me where I’d gotten it done, and when I’d say Joe Raad, they’d just nod knowingly. Everyone just knew Joe Raad was magic! His work cost no more than $30 (U.S.) which was about KD 10. Meanwhile, this woman had just fried my hair and was now, asking me to pay ten times as much. By then, I was already sick of being at Belleza and more Salon & Spa and I had a few errands to run afterwards and it was already getting late so I had to hustle. As such, I happily pulled out by debit card (K-net) and payed whatever they wanted, without any complaints.
My hair’s color (shown above, impromptu pics taken in the car, hence the horrible lighting) might look okay, but it’s not what I actually wanted, which was fine. However, the next morning (in natural daylight), I was shocked by how bright and brassy it looked! Once the sun set, it looked like a more palatable brown. It felt like one of those mood rings, except instead of a ring, it was my actual hair lol
About four days later, I had an event to go to and everyone (friends + family) gushed about me going lighter with my hair. They were all saying things like “This is the LuLu we all know and love” and “Now, that’s more YOU!” which I thought was funny. Apparently, everyone really disliked darker hair on me (including my very own mother, who was constantly urging me to go blonde again). I’m already well aware that my own natural hair color looks quite fake on me, but that’s just because of my odd sallow skintone lol
Truth be told, I kinda’ miss having darker hair. I haven’t gone back to get the color toned, not even to get the roots touched up. In fact, I haven’t messed with my hair color since July. It’s gone considerably lighter after each wash and now my hair color is more of a horrible gold… with about an inch or so, of dark roots. I can’t let it air-dry anymore, because I’ll just end up with lots of knots (that are pretty painful and time-consuming to de-tangle). Heck, I can’t even brush it anymore, without the use of some Conditioner. My hair feels like straw. The frizz factor is through the roof! I keep shedding an abnormal amount of hair (I don’t really care about that as much, but after a certain point, enough is enough, I mean I don’t wanna’ end being bald, because then I won’t be able to use all those fun hair styling products)! Basically, my hair is all around mess lol Come to think of it, maybe shaving it all of wouldn’t be such a bad idea! I could maybe have a baby mohawk with some nice undercut action going on… Hmm, it’s like I learned nothing from this whole experience (still just as impulsive) lol
To sum up my whole experience with Belleza and more (more indeed) Salon & Spa in one word, I’d say “ugh!”