THEY may be experts at small talk, covering everything from your upcoming holiday to the weather – but Britain’s hairdressers also regularly find themselves caught up in some shocking situations.
Just recently a salon owner expressed his shock when a woman nipped out of his salon to “get some food” half-way through her appointment – only to never return.
James Clarke, who owns a studio in Plymouth, revealed how the customer walked out in foils in the middle of her colour session.
And now hairdressers are spilling the beans on some of their most unforgettable encounters.
From having to serve a husband’s wife and mistress at the SAME time, to being hired to cover a prince’s bald patch daily, they’ve been handed some truly bizarre requests over the years.
Here they share all with Sun Online…
‘I was in charge of hiding a prince’s bald patch’
Ricky Walters, 28, is a celebrity hairstylist and founder of Salon64.
He says: “Where do I start! Having been based as a hairdresser within a five star hotel means a bit of mischief was always taking place.
One of my clients was a Middle Eastern prince, and I was in charge of hiding his bald spot at 5pm every day.
I would knock on his hotel room door, which was easy to find as it had dance music blaring down the hall, and he’d often open the door in nothing but a dressing gown with a young lady in the background.
He’d then ask me to come back later – putting a few wads of notes in my hand and saying, ‘go for dinner’ – before I’d return at 9pm to style his hair.
By this time he’d have consumed a huge amount of booze.
I have also had two clients that were both having an affair with one another. I cut the hair of the lovers, the wives and the husbands!”
‘She accidentally dyed his hair green’
Dennie Smith, 58, is owner of Vintage 62 hair salon in South Croydon, where she’s been for nine years.
She says: “There was one guy at a previous salon I worked at who used to have blonde highlights. He always reminded me of Rod Stewart!
One time he came in and the colours had somehow been mixed up into the wrong boxes. That should have been checked, of course.
A staff member put his colour on and when she washed it off it was literally green! I just thought, ‘oh God’.
He did actually laugh, but we had to rectify that quickly.
Then there’s a mum that comes in with her son and daughter… the son has got really long hair.
They normally come in on a day when I’m not there…
This time I looked in the book and said, ‘oh, isn’t Ryan (not his real name) in today?’ They both went, ‘yes, that’s Ryan having his hair cut’.
Oh my God, the ground could have swallowed me up. I quickly said, ‘oh my son’s got long hair too!’”
‘She wanted her hair to match her dog’
Andrew Barton, 53, is creative and communications director for Headmasters.
He says: “A new client once brought her Afghan Hound into the salon and explained that she’d seen me on the TV doing makeovers.
[She said] she knew I was the one stylist that would understand… she wanted her hair cut to match her dogs fur, the exact same length and the exact colouration.
It goes without saying that 10 years later she still feels 10 years younger, and is still a client today sporting the same hair do.
However, on a completely somber note… I was once called by a regular customer’s husband to be told she had sadly died.
Her dying wish to her husband was, ‘Please call Andrew and ask him to do my hair in my coffin’.
Despite feeling very apprehensive, I agreed.
It was a bizarre situation as I styled her hair… the only way I could deal with the awkward conversation was to chat to her as I would have normally.
The funny thing was, despite the sadness, her hubby joined me in the conversation. I still miss that lovely client.”
Andrew’s hair products are sold in Asda.
‘The wife and the mistress were on opposite sides of the salon’
Debbie Goodlip, 58, is a former hairdresser from Derby.
She says: “When I was an apprentice, I was training in a really up market salon and people came from the same social circles a lot.
I’ll always remember walking into the salon one day and saying, ‘what’s going off?’ I was really young and naïve.
There was a lady having her hair done on one side, and her husband was having an affair with the lady on the other side.
That sort of thing wasn’t unusual as I got into the industry!
Then I had another one… One of my managers had a regular client who had a husband on one side of the town and a guy she supposedly lived with on the other side of the town!
She used to work away. I remember us asking her what she did at times like Christmas once, and she had some story about family or something.
It’s not a big city, but she managed this double life!”
‘She came in repeatedly and undressed me with her eyes!’
Award-winning hairdresser and founder of Lee Stafford products, Lee Stafford, 53, has had several very memorable encounters in his years in the industry.
He says: “The most memorable mistake I made was when I first went on the floor, cutting hair.
It was a busy Saturday so I said, ‘get the guy shampooed’. These days, of course I’d have a consultation with the client first and have a look at the hair when it’s dry.
I got over to this new client afterwards. He’s bald, with a bit of hair round the sides and back…
I started trimming and I noticed there’s these big long bits. The guy had taken his thick glasses off for me to cut his hair, so he couldn’t see a thing.
I started cutting the long bits down to the same length, and then when I finished he put his glasses on and he tried to comb over the top.
I’d cut off his combover!
Then there was another one when I was younger.
I had an older client, she was probably around 60 when I was 30, and she’d always come in an hour before her appointment – then sit in the waiting room and look at me as I was cutting hair.
It was like she was undressing me!
I’d give her a consultation, and she’d say, ‘I love watching you cut hair!’ Then she’s be very flirtatious throughout.
After about a week, she’d ring up the receptionist and say, ‘You know I don’t think Lee cut quite enough off my hair, can I come back for a re-do?’
I’d give her a free re-do, she’s sit there undressing me with her eyes – and she did this about three or four times on the bounce!
In the end we had to tell her that I was fully booked.”
Lee Stafford’s products are sold in Boots and on his website.
‘She was having her tongue cut off the next day’
Caroline Sanderson, 48, is owner of Ego Hair Design in Inverness. There is one heartbreaking encounter she’ll never forget.
She says: “When I was a young hairdresser, I was working on a client who told me that the next day she was going to have her tongue cut off.
She had cancer, and I remember just being rooted to the spot with the shock, thinking how horrific it was that next time I saw her she wouldn’t be able to speak.
Imagine knowing you were going in for that – I was only 16 or 17 and I was quite traumatised by it afterwards.
As a hairdresser you get used to people confiding in you and you develop something akin to a bedside manner, because you need to be able to absorb revelations about all sorts of things, take it on the chin and support the client.”
‘She called me and said, he’s burning me’
Ahmet Uzun, 55, is founder and manager at Park Hair and Beauty in Battersea. Sadly, some of his memories are very traumatising.
He says: “I’ve had a lot of people that are gay but living a straight life. That’s actually the most common.
There’s a lot of people out there that are married or in long-term relationships with families, but are gay… a lot of women in particular.
You can see the relief when they tell you.
Then there’s also a lot [of clients] who are pretending to have a lot of money, but they’re actually deeply in debt. It’s a real shame.
But I do remember one awful story in particular. There was a young woman who just wanted to please her other half.
She came in, we gave her a fabulous look, but her other half didn’t like it.
She called me shortly afterwards and said, ‘he’s burning me’.
I pressed the emergency button and called the police… they did come back to me in the end and said this guy was pouring boiling water over her head to get rid of the colour that we put in.
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Luckily I had her address to give to them.
I haven’t seen this woman again. I don’t know if they moved her into a different area.
The police reassured me he was arrested and it was being sorted out.”