Disabled While Getting a Haircut

I (finally!) got my hair cut at the end of May, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to share a little bit about what it’s like for me to get my hair cut as someone who uses a wheelchair. This will be kind of similar to my Accidentally Adaptive post about Drybar, at least for part of it. When I want to get my hair cut, I have two major considerations – the salon (for the hair washing part) and the cut itself. Both parts have disability considerations for me.

Finding a salon is actually the most challenging part for me. Just like at Drybar, I don’t want to have to get out of my wheelchair to get my hair washed – it’s just too challenging to have to worry about being situated comfortably out of my chair. So I have to call ahead to make sure that the salon I want to go to has a removable chair at the hair washing station. This is trickier to find than you might think! Many many salons have the chairs attached to the sinks, or the hair washing stations on a separate (inaccessible) floor of the building.

Transferring in and out of my wheelchair used to be more manageable for me, but over the years it’s gotten harder. So I was really excited when one of my old favorite salons, Studio Booth, swapped out their sinks with attached chairs for new, detachable ones! You can see how it works – they take the chair away, I take off my headrest and tilt waaaay back, and then carefully line up with the sink. It usually takes a few attempts – have to move a tiny bit left, a tiny bit right – but I get there eventually, and we throw a few extra towels around my neck just to be safe. It works out really well.

The other consideration is about my hair cut itself. I have to have a pretty in-depth conversation with my stylist – even when I want to be able to say “do whatever you want,” I just can’t. I have to explain my limitations with styling especially carefully. With my limited strength and mobility, I can pretty much only rough dry my hair (though my Shark FlexStyle is helping to change that). So any style that would require round brushing while drying, or curling it every day, are out. I need something that works for my mobility needs, for my hair, and that isn’t too plain and boring, either.

I also have to warn my stylist to be extra careful while they’re cutting and blowing out my hair – my neck muscles are pretty weak, and if you tug too hard with a round brush, my neck can fall backwards! It doesn’t hurt, but it can be alarming if you’re not used to it. So I make sure to warn my stylist ahead of time and let them know that a lighter touch is best! I’ve never had anyone be too rough, but I figure it’s always better to let them know ahead of time.

I know this isn’t the most exciting, but just with a lot of other things, it’s all about the logistics. Finding a salon, making sure it’s accessible in the ways that I need – it just makes everything a little more complicated. My hope is that slowly, more and more salons start making small changes, like detachable chairs at hair washing sinks, to make basic things like haircuts a little bit more accessible.

Leave a Reply