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Claire Byrne: I don't care about the cost - I will never go back to the dreaded dry cut

So the Consumers Association of Ireland wants women to be offered the option of having a dry cut in hair salons.

Well, thanks but no thanks.

I'd rather spend the money. Sure, these are more austere times, but the spectre of a scissors hacking blindly through my dry locks is not something that I want to revisit.

You see, I have bad memories of the dry cut.

When I was old enough to go to the hairdressers on my own, my mother would send me off, armed with instructions.

The salon owner would dampen my hair with water from a spray bottle and in between drags off her cigarette, would chop away, aiming for a straight finish. It never, ever worked.

Itchy

The 'style' would soar on one side to a peak and travel down to an angle on the other. For what seemed like days after, there were itchy pieces of hair trapped around my body causing discomfort in unreachable places. It's the type of back-itch that never seems to happen in the aftermath of a proper haircut, ie: one that entails a wash, cut and blow dry.

It's not just the possibility of a hair disaster that freaks me out about the Consumers Association's proposal, there is something about going to a salon that should involve some element of a treat. What is the point of going to a place designed to make you feel special if all you are getting is a person spraying you down with a water bottle and slicing bits of your hair off which will end up under your collar?

A huge part of a salon visit is the glossy look that you have when you walk out -- didn't they have a whole ad campaign based around the promise that you would look like you just stepped out a salon?

Now the Consumers Association wants to force us into believing that we should feel guilty about this simple pleasure.

Your hair is something that you have to wear every day. It's not an optional extra and it's something that unlike, weight, height or facial beauty, we can control with relative ease.

When I worked on television I had the luxury of having my hair done every single working day. It was part of my job and, as such, I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should have done.

Now, I would jump for joy at the prospect of having a hairdresser on standby to attend to my every stylistic need. But the advantage of not having that hairdresser on tap means that I see a trip to the salon as a treat again and not as part of the daily grind.

Do I want to reduce it to a penny-pinching exercise just because the consumer watchdog says that I might be overcharged? No, is the answer; it's not something that I am prepared to give up.

There was a time when I had no qualms about paying ridiculous prices for hair cuts, highlights and up-styles.

Thankfully, I have left that all behind in the glistening Celtic Tiger past and I am happy now that the service in my local salon is just as good as that in the place that charges twice the price.

Mantra

One of the stylists in the reasonably priced salon told me that she could happily dance around my head for hours and charge me a small fortune, but chose not to.

It's a statement that I use as a mantra now when I am tempted to pay too much for a salon trip.

It should be a little luxury, but not expensive enough to make you wonder whether the mortgage repayment will have to sacrificed this month.

When we discussed the dry cut on the radio show, we had great swathes of text messages from people boasting about how cheap their dry haircut was.

As each message popped up on my screen, I grew a little more despondent.

We all know that we have to save money and cut back on the things that we carelessly spent wildly on in previous times.

But the trip to the hair salon is one of the last vestiges of luxury that we have.

If we promise not to go overboard on what we spend on grooming, can we please be spared the danger and indignity of the dreaded dry cut?


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