Getting My Hair Done in the Philippines

After almost 6 months on the road, I was starting to get really, really sick of my hair. I’m used to getting it highlighted and/or cut every 2-3 months, mostly because I love change. But I didn’t think I’d get my hair done while traveling. Here are some totally naive thoughts I had before we started traveling:

  1. I can go a year without getting my hair done; it would be good for its health and it isn’t a priority for me. After a few months of traveling, I’ll be a super-hippy-minimalist and won’t be vain enough to care what my hair looks like.
  2. Getting my hair done will be expensive, and I’ll be sticking to a tight budget.
  3. It would be too difficult to find a reputable salon that I trust enough with my hair.

As it turns out, reasons 1 and 2 aren’t true. I can’t go a year without getting my hair done, mostly because I crave change, and my hair was starting to look very ratty. As for reason 2, hair salons are extremely cheap in Southeast Asia. Reason 3 actually turned into a reason for why I wanted to get my hair cut while traveling; I wanted to experience a hair salon in a foreign place, regardless of their reputation. In fact, it added to my craving for a new hairdo.

Back in the good ole days when I had long locks
Carefree, back in the good ole days when I had long locks #longhairdidn’tcare

Where it Happened

Boracay is an extremely developed island in the Philippines. When we went out to dinner our first night there, we passed by a few different salons that all looked pretty decent and advertised prices ranging from $20-30 for a hair cut & color. That really stoked the “I-need-a-hair-change-fast” fire.

But what really put the nail in the coffin (too many metaphors?) was when we passed a super cute, tiny shop called Happy Salon. It only has 3 chairs and 3 workers. When I went in and asked how much it would cost to get my hair dyed, the adorable, flamboyant stylist asked me to take my hair out of its braid. After inspecting it, he showed me a few hair samples to make sure he understood what I wanted (“I’m sick of my mixed-hair color. I’d like it to be all one color, close to my natural color”). Being totally sold by his enthusiasm and professionalism, I made a quick appointment for 2 hours later (giving us time for dinner at Munchies).

How I Almost Backed Out

I spent the next couple hours freaking out to poor Pete over our fajitas, worrying this was a decision I’d come to regret. Being a mostly type-A person, it made me really nervous not to read any reviews (which I usually do pretty intensely before choosing a salon). I was also nervous that this man probably had most of his experience dying Filipino hair, which is pretty different from mine. But since this was something I’d been wanting to do for months now, and because I like getting out of my comfort zone, I decided to stick with it.

Glorious fajitas from Munchies on that fateful night
Glorious fajitas from Munchies on that fateful night

Panic Mode

I decided to go for it. Everything was great for the first 15 minutes or so, until the moment when I thought I’d made a horrible decision. This moment started when the man working on my hair got silent and his eyes widened as he dried my hair. I’m aware of how vain this sounds, but I almost had an anxiety attack when I saw that the bottom half of my hair was blue. Very, VERY BLUE.

Pete, who was watching this whole thing from a chair behind me, texted me, “I think it’s the blue that you got once that is causing issues.” Yes, one time in the not-so-long-ago past, I intentionally got a few blue highlights. But this was a whole new, uninvited blue. He proceeded to shampoo my hair, then dye it, then wash it again, then dry it. It was still blue. But – third try’s a charm, right?! He dyed and washed my hair once more, for the third time.

Crisis Averted

When he was dried my hair after the third shampoo, I was in awe – my hair was a normal, brown color! I told him he was a magician; he told me I wasn’t the first person to call him that.

In total disbelief? Yes. Relieved? Absolutely. Satisfied? Sure.
In total disbelief? Yes. Relieved? Absolutely. Satisfied? Sure. Sweaty from panic? You betcha.

I’m realizing there’s not really a point to this story. Maybe – try something new, and you probably won’t regret it? Or, don’t be high maintenance and wait until after your travels are over to get your hair done?

Have you ever gotten your hair done in a foreign country? Or just had a similar terrifying hair experience?

8 Comment

  1. Mary Ellen says: Reply

    Your hair looks beautiful! ????????

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      Thank you! 😀 It all worked out, thank goodness

  2. Carrie McNamara says: Reply

    This was very entertaining to read . I was laughing I’m not a hairstylist but there are about 4 in my family. And I worked in one of them . blue. Yep that’s not supposed to happen , washed and dried 3 times yep he messed up. However I have had to go back many times to my hairdresser here in Arlington heights cause she highlights my hair n the color washes out and it’s a brassy orange . That’s what my jet black hair does when you stipr it of its color. First couple of times I felt bad calling her and telling her it needed to be fixed but know I don’t care I’m paying a good amount of money and I want it to look nice and my hairdresser want it to look good and that I’m happy. But if I was in a foreign country with someone new I don’t think I would have the guts to go back and have them fix it. .
    I would have just cut it and skipped the color. I figure hey it will grow back . And after being bald I don’t freak out about my hair The color looks nice. I think next time you should consider cutting it a little shorter . Somewhere to lay on your shoulders but enough to pick it up . You look great and man does your sister Carly look like you. Now what ever will we do with Petes hair?

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I’m glad it entertained you! Yeah, definitely not supposed to happen… My hair does the same thing and gets super brassy after a while. I’m scared to cut my hair short again – I’m loving it long, mostly because it’s easier to deal with, but I think I will follow your advice as soon as I get back and can keep up with it!
      The craziest thing Pete might do is….shave his head! Probably not, but perhaps 😛

  3. says: Reply

    This post kept me on the edge of my seat! Thank goodness there was a happy ending! I love your new hair! Your willingness to try new things sure makes for some great stories!! Miss you, Love, Auntie Caren

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      I’m so glad there was a happy ending too! 😀 I’m loving my new hair, thank goodness! Miss and love you too 🙂

  4. Awesome! i’ve been in boracay too.. and yes you can go to salon for $20-$30.. even at the malls too.. they have a good customer service too…

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      It’s such a great deal! I miss Boracay, the Philippines in general, and all the friendly people there 🙂

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