Just pronouncing the word is a struggle: O Cabeleireiro. Meaning ‘the hairdresser’ in Portuguese, to be pronounced as Ooh Caa-be-ley-Réy-roo.
I needed to go to this tongue twister again, but that’s not something I’m looking forward to. I am the type of person who would rather go to the dentist than to the hairdresser.

Natural hairstyle

It’s my luck that a natural hairstyle is most practical, living in the Portuguese countryside. During the more than 4 years that we have lived here, I have only been to the hairdresser 7 times. It has grown long, the color treatments have grown out. The sun lights it up a bit in the summer and I usually wear it in a braid or a ponytail under the construction helmet. Without frills, that’s my style.

Mijn eerste kapperbezoek in Portugal (2018)


Could it be because I was in the Netherlands to work for four weeks? Or because I’ve been on this planet for half a century? Or because my gray hairs are becoming too visible? Or because deep down there’s a little fashionista inside me? I think it all triggered my sudden desire to highlight my hair again and get a good haircut.

Hairdresser Ivan

schoolgirl’s haircut

It certainly had to do with hairdresser Ivan. At first, I went to another hair salon, where they also cut my hair well, but very basic. Because of them, I wore my hair one length, forming a point in the back. They could never get my long fringe right, though. It remained a bit of a schoolgirl’s haircut. So I asked around for a hairdresser who could give me a more modern haircut.

A tip leads me to Ivan. He has a nice spacious salon, one that I would otherwise stay away from because it doesn’t look anything like ‘natural hairstyles’. There is space for three hairdressers working. But Ivan works alone, with the support of one assistant. She washes, combs, dyes, dries a little, and cleans up. But anything involving the ‘master skills’ is Ivan’s job.
You regularly have to wait in your chair until the master has time for you again. Because Ivan works on at least three clients at the same time. It’s great to watch. With my ears wide open, I try to follow the conversations. He cuts my hair fantastic. So after two visits to his salon, I dared to fantasize about highlights again…

Grey hair from the hairdresser

To my surprise, when I come in for my highlight appointment, I can sit down right away. After 20 minutes the master comes to dye my hair locks and hide them in aluminum foil. Then the waiting begins. In the meantime, he blow-dries the hair of three women and cuts two men and a little girl. He checks once whether my highlights are already good, but they can stay in a little longer…
But when my hair is rinsed in the sink, I can already feel: They have stayed in my fine hair too long. It feels like straw…. Another thingie is applied for a golden glow (douradinho) and in the meantime the master can cut another man and blow-dry another woman’s haircut.

When I am allowed to sit in front of the mirror again, I can almost cry. My hair looks gray! The highlights are white! I want to go home, to my place where no one can see me…
But the master still has to cut my hair. However, he first cuts another boy, so the assistant can blow-dry my straw hair. Which she does so clumsily that I can keep looking angry and sad with good decency. After that, Ivan is very enthusiastic about my beautiful highlights and immediately waves away my muttering about ‘too light’. Luckily, he cuts a nice hairstyle. At least that’s something.

End of story

After 3.5 hours (!) I am outside again. The streets are dark and when I get home, I immediately take a shower to symbolically rinse the hairdresser off. I find an old bottle of hair balm to soften the bunch of straw hair. And in the following days, my hair finds its natural fit again.
And I have to admit: It looks pretty good and my grey hairs are indeed camouflaged by the grey hairs the hairdresser gave me.

Beautiful fine hightlights, don’t you think?

Portuguese words for at the hairdresser:

the hairo cabelo
the hairdressero cabeleireiro
the haircuto penteado
bob haircutum corte bob
short cutcorte curto
a ponytailum rabo-de-cavalo
very fine haircabelo muito fino
straight fringefranja direita
side fringefranja lateral
to the righta direita
to the lefta esquerda
straight (cut)direita
in layers (cut)(corte) em camadas / escalado
high bunum coque alto
blow-dry into shapebrushing
grey hairscabelos brancos
10 dec 2021


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