Residence: Highland Park, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: February 22, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
” *whispering* You can totally tell if someone does hard drugs just by bleaching their hair. Like your hair is processing normally and if I leave it in long enough, all the color will come out and you will have this fabulous platinum. But, like for example, I had this one client who clearly seemed out of it– like could not make eye contact and was slurring his words. Ok, first, I was worried and we got him some cookies. We only have sugar-free cookies here so I’m not sure it helped much. *laughs* But his hair, and this is true for anyone who takes hard drugs, not like marijuana, but like real drugs, just would not bleach out. It gets to this highlighter yellow color and no matter how long the bleach is in there, it stays this horrible color. Like, I’m not saying he was using drugs, but like… It can also happen on certain types of strong antibiotics.”
Context: This piece of folk science was collected at a hair salon in Studio City during the collector’s experience bleaching their hair with their regular hairdresser. This information was brought up while the hairdresser, who identifies as gay and has been living in Los Angeles his whole life, looked at the processing of the bleach in the hair to note how much longer the bleach had to stay on. After hearing the folk science from the informant, the piece was then asked to be recorded.
Informant Analysis: He said that this is common knowledge among any hairdresser who has dyed hair for sometime, noting that he had experienced a handful of clients who were upset with the final bleached color when the brassy highlighter yellow color was the lightest color they could achieve. The hairdresser did not know the science behind why the color would not lift from the hair, only that it is hairdresser’s gossip about their clients if the color does not lift.
Collector Analysis: Although I cannot speak to the science behind hard drugs or antibiotics effecting the bleaching process of hair, I can say that there are two main reasons I can think of that may be the reason for this piece of folk science to be carried on between hairdressers. The first reason is the perhaps unacknowledged botched up hair dying job of a hairdresser. It seems possible, and I have seen in other hairdressers, that when the client becomes enraged with the end product of the hairdresser’s work, the blame will often go on the client instead of the hairdresser. Since these stories are often shared to different clients as entertaining gossip, it seems as though hairdresser’s would be more likely to tell new clients that it was not their fault, but perhaps some chemical problem in the other client’s hair. Another reason for this piece to be shared is in part do to the environment of a hair salon. Much of the talk at hair salons is gossip or hearsay that can either be racy or somehow make someone else look bad. A client will often hear their hairdresser gossip about the other hairdressers they work with, but the client will not usually hear the gossip the hairdressers speak to each other about the client.