Last weekend I got my hair cut and permed. Let’s pause for a silent, personal “hurrah!” for me, because it was long overdue! Several factors contributed to that.
Factor 1: I had my hair done just before moving to Canada (that’s right, I’m in Canada, but we’ll get to that in a second) so in the craziness of settling in a new place, the last thing on my mind was hair.
Factor 2: I’ve always had low-key hair. I’d simply focus on trying to get a stylish cut…and then depend on it for months on end. I used to happily brag about how I only cut my hair twice a year (I know, it sounds ridiculous to me now too).
I never got into coloring (although there was that one brief “red” period freshman year of college), and stopped entirely when Steve, my hairstylist in NY, said to me once, in a mildly threatening manner, “don’t you ever, ever dare color that hair.” He was a fabulous black man expertly wielding a pair of shears, so I guess I was a little scared.
The only time after that was during my internship with Redken a few years later when I caved to the promise of getting a free color treatment if I volunteered to be a model in a class for experts at the academy.
Anyways, that was the extent of my relationship with treatments until last fall when I conquered bad-perm-fear and decided, in determination to revive my lifeless locks, I’d give it a go. Loved it. Did it once more before leaving Hong Kong as I knew I’d be parting with the deft and able hands of Ray, my stylist in Hong Kong. Long story short, I suppose it was due to my limited experience with treatments that I just didn’t expect for it to get unruly so quickly.
Which brings us back to March in Canada.
I left Hong Kong mid-December and I moved to Toronto on January 3rd. I waited until Mid-March to do my hair. At which point, I realized, I had no idea where to even go. I wanted a place that understood Asian hair, and more importantly, knew how to perm it. On the other extreme, I also needed a place that wouldn’t give me a “trendy” Asian pop-star cut.
So, I turned to a fellow rep, who is not only Asian and beautiful, but also has fabulous hair, for advice. She had a few recos, and eventually, told me about her friend who, “had a great perm…in a basement in Koreatown…don’t know the name…the stylist’s name was Hannah.”
Somehow, I was sold.
I typed the keywords “Hannah,” “Koreatown,” “Toronto,” and found Goa Beauty Salon. Through my “extensive” research on community forums, I learned that Hannah was supposedly the only one in the salon that spoke English and that you had to book her way in advance. But you know what: the reviews were solid, all referred specifically to Hannah by name, and one of the girls in one of the online articles had a cute hairstyle.
Fast forward to last week. Hannah asks me a few questions about what I’m looking for, and very quickly just “gets” me. And I kid you not, I have never sat in a chair and seen my hair literally be transformed, in front of my eyes, inching closer to fabulousness with every snippy snip. I mean, I’ve had great cuts, but usually, the fabulousness is revealed after the blow-out. She put me in rollers for a digital perm and told me she was creating tighter curls than what I had before so they’d last a bit longer, but would still be medium-loose.
In all honesty, I didn’t love it at the reveal. The blow-out hid and took all definition out of both the curls and cut, and I was like, THIS is supposed to last me for the next few months? I would need to return NEXT WEEK! But all was redeemed when I waited to wash it out, ran some curling product through it, scrunched it up with my fingers, and left it to air-dry. The curls were indeed tighter than I had ever had them, and my cut was shorter than I had realized in the salon – but you know what, it looked amazing.
Verdict: While I’m not likely to go back for a blow-out, I’m certain I’ve found the perfect spot for everything else (at least until I’m gone in a few months), cut & perm included!
Goa Beauty Salon
Address: 714 Bloor Street West
Tel: (416) 516-9292
Ask for Hannah. Yes, she’s talented, but a real sweetheart too.