Help! I Have a Very Specific Request for My Hair Salon. I’m Worried People Will Think I’m Racist.

Help! I Have a Very Specific Request for My Hair Salon. I’m Worried People Will Think I’m Racist.


Dear Prudence,

I have been going to a hair salon for about two years. I am very satisfied with my regular stylist and colorist but am struggling with one of the shampoo girls. Usually, during my appointments, there are two different girls. One is a little newer (but she’s been there at least six months)—I’ll call her Martha.

The first time Martha washed my hair it was awful! (For reference, after color the shampoo girl first washes out all of the color, applies toner, washes the toner out, gives a head massage, and combs you out.) The issue is that Martha has these long pointy fake fingernails. That first time I said something to her because her nails were digging into my ears and neck. I think she is making an effort to use the pads of her fingers on my scalp, but the nails still scratch the other areas. On my next visit, I got the other shampoo girl and she was great. I have had Martha the next two times, and while she has gotten a little better it’s still a pokey, scratchy experience versus a relaxing enjoyable one.

So the big question is: How do I politely request the other shampoo girl? You don’t select them when you book the appointment, but do I say something at that time? Or when I arrive for my appointment? The other bit that makes this potentially awkward is race. It is a predominately white salon in a predominately white affluent area. The shampoo girl in question appears to be Latina and the other shampoo girl is white. Race has absolutely nothing to do with my desire for the other shampoo girl, but I know it’s a big topic these days and it is possible that long fingernails are more favored by people of color. The sad part is that for me the shampoo part has always been the best part of a salon visit, and now it’s unpleasant.

—Keep Those Awful Fingernails Away From Me

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