A Final Review of Tides Salon

Nov 16, 2010

Earlier this year, I decided to start cutting back on my spending.  To save money, I decided to make my beloved $110 haircuts at St. Germain, Penn Quarter a quarterly occurrence.  It wasn’t an easy decision (because I am obsessed with my hair), but it was the fiscally responsible thing to do.  So given the rise of the Tea Party, I had no other choice.

Thus, I was in need of a new stylist to fill in the gap between visits to Teri at St. Germain.  

Because it was so close to my office and reasonably priced, I decided to book an appointment with Vince at Tides Salon in the Cannon House Office Building.  I really hoped that this convenient solution would work out, but it was a bigger mistake than the Great Airbrushed Spray Tan Fiasco of 2003.

My first appointment with Vince was in early August.  The appointment was going well until a miscommunication left me with what could best be described as “baby bangs.”  Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw my 14-year-old self staring back.  Even my Mother agreed that the resemblance to my 8th grade doppelganger was uncanny and somewhat unsettling.

As the hair started to grow back in, my negative feelings about the haircut began to disappear.  After all, how the hair grows out post-haircut is almost as important as the cut itself.  So last week, when I noticed that my ends were starting to get a little ragged, I decided to give Vince a second chance.  

That was a mistake.  

Blow It Out.  While I have only had one haircut at Tides, I’ve had several pedicures there.  During those appointments, I have watched Vince cut hair at least five times.  I have never once seen him blow dry a head of hair.  

When I got my haircut, he sent me back to the office (in the middle of my workday) with a damp head of frizzy hair.  I asked for a blow out, but was told that he hadn’t alotted time for that.  I would’ve thought that this was a unique occurrence, but I’ve watched him send other clients home with wet heads as well.

There is no excuse for sending clients home with wet hair, especially when the salon menu says that haircuts include a wash and style.

The Golden Rule. Also, my interactions with Vince were not positive.  I don’t expect my hairdresser to be my friend or my therapist, but I do expect to be treated cordially.  At Tides, I was treated with a lack of respect usually reserved for TSA screeners and Comcast cable technicians.

Being neck down in a shampoo bowl while your stylist tells you how oily and dirty your hair is is not my idea of customer service.  Telling a 28-year-old that she has a head full of grey hair and that men don’t find that attractive is just plain rude.  And chastising your front desk employee in front of your customers is not professional behavior.

But by far, the most upsetting encounter of all occurred when I asked Vince to cut my hair while it was dry.

I made this request for three reasons: 1) I didn’t want to head back to the office at 3pm with wet, unstyled hair, 2) I’d watched him cut my co-workers hair while it was dry just the week before, and 3) I was running a bit behind schedule and thought that this would save me a bit of time.  

In response to my polite request, Vince snapped back “No, can’t be done.”  When I asked why he couldn’t just trim the ends with the hair dry, I was told that he couldn’t do “a precision haircut” dry.  When I explained that I just needed a light trim, he told me that I needed a real haircut not a trim.

And from the angry face that he was making at me, you would think that I’d just asked Da Vinci to paint “The Last Supper” with a sharpie and crayons.  I deal with enough diva attitudes at work, I don’t need a hairdresser who is a certifiable primadonna.

Listening is Key. A former intern of mine went to see Vince over the recess and also had issues with his listening skills.  She went in for a last minute trim before she left for the campaign trail only to have her shoulder length angle cut turned into a chin length bob.  

When she complained that he was cutting more than she had requested, he told her that her style needed an update and that it was too late to stop now anyway.  To say that she was upset would be an understatement and a half.  She’s now eating prenatal vitamins like they’re candy hoping that they will turn her into a human Chia Pet.

I don’t want to take away from the other stylists at Tides or the nail technician who I’ve always had good luck with, but I would shave my own head before I would go back to see Vince again.  If I want to deal with a bad attitude, irrational behavior and poor listening skills, I’ll walk outside and have a conversation with the folks from LaRouche.  

So what will I be doing for my interim haircuts going forward?  Eden at Bang Chinatown does a solid job for a reasonable price.  Sure it’s not as convenient, but unlike the head stylist at Tides, Eden’s always happy to listen to my requests and act accordingly.  No bad attitude required.

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  1. Stephanie says:

    Vince sounds completely terrible! He should probably get a job that doesn't require much human interaction. So sorry to hear about your awful experiences, but thanks for sharing the details—I'll be sure to send this post to my friends who live in the area so they know to avoid that rude hack.

  2. a says:

    If Eden is ever booked, I like Jai at Bang Chinatown. Takes appointments until 7pm some days, cuts exactly how you describ and is friendly.

  3. Meg says:

    As someone also obsessed with her hair, I can feel your pain. Further, going to the salon should be a relaxing experience! I am curious though about the story behind the Great Airbrushed Spray Tan Fiasco of 2003… : )

  4. CR says:

    That's terrible. I'll second Bang in Chinatown. I had awesome experiences with Jennie before I moved out of DC (sadness); she listened to what I wanted, gave constructive advice on changes before cutting my hair, and was all around really sweet. Also, Michelle does great waxes – very quick and clean. Miss that place so much!

  5. a says:

    Kim at the Bubbles Salon on K Street does an AMAZING job, she's a board certified colorist, fun to talk to, and a perfectionist when it comes to giving you the best haircut. For $40 for a cut, style and blowout, you can't complain

  6. K says:

    A Third for Bang in Chinatown – I go to Jennifer and she's never let me down! A former Hill Staffer herself, she listens well, does great color and when I was thinking to dye my blonde locks brown she talked me down from the ledge, which I cannot thank her enough for. I also go to Michelle – love that chocolate wax!

  7. Sally says:

    A friend of mine had a stylist send her home in foils. The stylist had completely overbooked herself (like always) and just couldn't find the time to wash out the highlights.

  8. LPU says:

    I'm SO glad I didn't try Tides when I was looking for a new stylist, I'm sorry to hear that Vince was so awful. If you're in need of a quick trim, I just got a great cut by Molly at Bubbles on Penn SE. I highly recommend her; and it's $30 for a cut. I usually hate how stylists do my hair post-cut, but Molly did an awesome job.

  9. L says:

    I don't know about Tides stylists– and now i never will. Thank you so much for posting this! I was considering going there for a while know and I am really glad I decided to pass. I got my eyebrows done there once and somehow she managed to turn a clean up into a demolition. They were uneven and the arch was GONE by the time she was done… Never-EVER again! Now I go to Dupont Threading for eyebrows. $12 and they do a quick amazing job.

  10. Jennifer says:

    How have your pedicures been? I had one right when they first opened and I could have had better results and a more relaxing experience doing it myself with one eye closed.

  11. Emily says:

    I love Eden! She's been great!

  12. qwerty says:

    I am SO GLAD you posted this. I was literally about to just make an appointment there. It's ride down the hall from my office. I'm going to try Bang Chinatown.

  13. Ana says:

    Since we're on the topic of haircuts, i have to ask this question that is always on my mind after a cut. If a haircut costs $40, how much should you tip???

  14. AS says:

    Eden is the best ever!!!! Very talented, listens well, and is actually fun to talk to!

  15. R says:

    While we're talking about hair– can anyone recommend a stylist who is great at cutting wavy/curly hair?

  16. Sarah S says:

    R- I have curly hair and I get mine cut by Rebecca at Parlour Salon (U St). It's a bit pricey, approx. $70, but she's really great.

  17. Meghan says:

    I also love St. Germain, but stopped going due to price. I now go to PR at Partners at Metro Center. They have a few locations in DC. Haircuts are extremely reasonable so the occassional splurge at St. Germain would still be feasible. I go to Frank. His hair cuts are $45. There's a $10 off coupon on their web site for first time clients as well. I like the salon and it's often ranked in the Washingtonian. Good luck finding a place! https://www.pratpartners.com/

  18. Ella says:

    Wow. As per usual, your blog is spot on.

    I could not agree with you more. I work on the hill and have been to Tides a few times. A quick trim, to get my eyebrows done, and a bikini wax (if that's tmi, I apologize) and each visit has been worse than the one that preceded it. Tides should be a great salon, mainly for its convenience for hill staffers. However, in reality, it's an over-priced trip to coiffeur hell. Avoid at all costs.

  19. L says:

    Amal at Bang is amazing for curly/wavy hair. She gives a great cut and is somehow ALWAYS on time. It's amazing and perfect for a lunch time cut

  20. Melissa says:

    I wonder if he has any idea how many people read this and will never visit Tides now, because of your post. You'd think that people who depend on referrals would be more aware of how quickly word-of-mouth travels now that we have The Internets.

  21. Kc says:

    Stephanie at Tides for hair is great! I wish you had seen her and not vince. I have been in a chair with S across from someone getting their hair cut by V and he was just scowly the whole time! Stephanie is great though. She fixed a botch job I got at VSL and did my hair for my wedding too!

    Nancy and Mary are also wonderful (aesthetician and nails)

    Don't write off Tides (oh so convenient!) for hair until you try a trim with Stephanie.

  22. Angie says:

    When I am broke and need a quick trim/style, Miracles in the City (in Rosslyn) has a $30 haircut/blowdry. They knew exactly how to layer my long, curly hair and get me in and out in under an hour.

    The one thing I wouldn't recommend skimping on is color; have had terrible experiences with cheap highlights. I go to Sonja at Tara Salon every four months, and the $100 price tag is completely worth it.

    Impressive though that we can get a cut/color for the same price a haircut costs in most of NYC.

  23. Joe says:

    Sounds to me like you're in love with Vince.

  24. Donna says:

    Don't judge the rest of the staff because of one rude jerk! I've been going since they opened and although there has been a lot of people come and go, everyone I've seen has been kind, professional, and very good at their craft. Don't “X” them all out:)

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