Russian Haircut

Sounds scary doesn’t it? Maybe something like a Glaswegian Kiss? Well, thankfully it wasn’t that bad, but we were both a little nervous beforehand…


Andrew was first. By the time we got to Petrozavodsk (where we spent 3 days between St Petersburg and Moscow), we’d been on the road for nearly six weeks and his hair was getting pretty long. We looked up the word for barber/hairdresser (parikmakerskaya) and soon spotted a sign in the centre of town. We went into the row of shops and walked to the end, getting funny looks all the way. At the end we asked the woman in the last shop ‘parikmakerskaya?’ and with a certain amount of sign language she told us that it was shut and then enterprisingly tried to sell us some socks! Next we tried the modern looking shopping centre where we found a fancier looking salon, when we asked the price we were told 700 roubles (about £15) Too much for 10 minutes with the clippers we thought.

So, defeated, we returned to our hotel. But on the bus on the way back we noticed a few more parikmakerskaya signs and with hope that there might be a local option, we asked the lady on our hotel reception. Yes, there was a barber just 100m away. Great, we had time the following day before our train. Our ‘mini hotel’ was on the ground floor of a fairly new apartment block along with a supermarket and several other businesses, one of which was a barber as it turned out. Unfortunately, this one was closed as well. The area around was very residential, consisting mostly of quite deprived looking apartment blocks, and as we walked through to the bus stop, we spotted a sign over a corrugated iron porch and decided to investigate. Despite the less than salubrious exterior, the shop inside was nice enough and the girl who greeted us was friendly. Andrew mimed clippers and asked her how much – 100 roubles (~£2) was the answer – much better!

She then tried to ask what size guard he wanted on the clippers, but we couldn’t manage to communicate to her and eventually she gave up, put on the largest guard that she had, shaved a small patch, and then went down through the guard sizes until Andrew was happy with the length…

20130604-233431.jpgAndrew under the clippers

20130604-233445.jpgAnd afterwards outside the entrance


I’ve been going to the same hairdresser, Vicky at Fine Cuts in Dunston, for about 7 years and was very worried about going somewhere else. I’ve found that it usually takes hairdressers a few appointments to get used to my curly hair. But after 10 weeks my hair was really starting to frizz, and I was even more worried about getting my hair cut in Asia where it is likely that the hairdresser will never have cut curls before, so I decided to bite the bullet…

I’d spotted ‘Salon Okay’ around the corner from our apartment in Yekaterinburg. It started well, the price was comparable to what I paid at home (~£13), we had a bit of a conversation about (I think!) whether my curls were natural and what product I used on them – fortunately, I’d read ‘muss’ from the bottle. She washed my hair, clipped up the sides, and started at the back, indicating the amount to take off, just like Vicky does. She cut away, and when she reached the front, she parted my hair, and indicated a much shorter cut than I usually have. I shook my head and made the parting with the hair to the sides as usual, to which she wrinkled her nose and shook her head. So, unable to communicate in more detail and not wishing to have an argument in a language I don’t speak, I shrugged and nodded. She seemed to take this as agreement for a complete restyle, and started chopping chunks away from all over… By the time she got out the hairdryer I was nearly having a panic attack. Using the hairdryer and a brush, she tried to style my new “fringe”, but it just frizzed up. My hair always needs a wash after it has been cut to put the curls back properly, but by the time she had finished I was desperate to get back to the apartment and have a shower so that I could check the damage. As we left, Andrew said that he really liked it, and it was nice to see me with a new hairstyle, but I wasn’t reassured.

20130604-230845.jpgThat’s a lot of hair coming off…

20130604-230857.jpgAfter the hairdryer and brush treatment… I’m only smiling because we’re still in the salon!

20130604-234653.jpgWell, it’s not so bad after a wash. Much shorter than I would normally have agreed to, but I think I can live with it.

8 thoughts on “Russian Haircut

  1. Jo

    It’s less drastic than when you were in Belize … it looks fine in the second picture! Evidently your Russian hairdresser wasn’t used to curls either. I suppose at least you won’t have to worry about it for a while! :)

    1. Julie Post author

      That’s true. If she’d got the clippers out, I definitely would have started an argument with her :). I think maybe she wanted to use me as a guinea pig.

  2. Emma Slater

    Well at least you got your money’s worth for your haircut Julie,! it looks fine and jo’s right – cos it’s nice and short you won’t have to go through that again for a while!

    Am enjoying reading all your updates, keep them coming! X

    1. Julie Post author

      Yes, I think the cut is OK, just not what I was expecting! And you’re both right, I might be able to put the stress off for a bit longer before the next time :)

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog – it’s really good to know that people are reading it xx

  3. Malcolm & Joyce

    Well, both of you seem to have come through this major ordeal with no blood loss so that must be a bonus! ;) Photos in and around the ‘salon’ really set the scene and I compliment your bravery at entering the shed (sorry, Salon), to put your hair in someone else’s hands/scissors/clippers ;) You both look great and, even if it’s a little shorter than usual, the style means you fit right in with the locals! Looking good you two. Love and Hugs Mum & Dad xxxx

    1. Andrew

      Thanks Dad :o)
      Julie was definitely braver than I, as it would take a very creative level of incompetence to mess up a buzz-cut using a single guard.
      If we were better at conversational Russian, I do wonder what we’d talk about with the hairdressers as the usual “going anywhere nice this year?” would be somewhat moot.. ;o)

  4. Steph & Tom

    Well after laughing for the last 5 minutes we reckon you should go there again!!!! The blowdried result definitely aged you about 15 years. Tom was wondering if you fitted in with the locals?! xx

    1. Julie Post author

      Hmm, thanks… At least I know I can rely on you for an honest opinion! I haven’t seen any locals with quite the same style, but there are quite a few who use extremely red hair dye so maybe I’ll go for that next time – what do you think?


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