Hair today and gone tomorrow

Columnist Claudette Sandecki on the merits of learning to thread and cut hair

Last February the town of Norman Wells, N.W.T. was so desperate for a barber or hairdresser to professionally cut, style, and dye their hair residents in the community of 800 were taking scissors and box dyes to their shaggy, dark-rooted friends and family, reported CBC News. Some results suggested they had fallen asleep among goats.

Following the town’s story on national news, the town’s economic development officer fielded a flood of phone calls and emails from news media and interested applicants from around the world.

Applications poured in from hairdressers in China, Japan, Germany, Greece, Egypt, Morocco, Alaska, all over the States, and of course some from Canada.

William Chicksi, with a salon in Edmonton, chanced to be cutting hair in a friend’s kitchen in Inuvik 400 km from Norman Wells when he heard the CBC Radio report.

A hairdresser for 27 years, born in Inuvik where he lived to the age of five, he checked out the possibilities in Norman Wells and within days spent a week working out of a salon space in the Yamouri Inn with its available chair, mirror and sink. In that first week he cut, styled, and dyed hair for 100 customers. He hopes to return every six to ten weeks to keep everyone looking their best.

Hairdressers and barbers are in demand not only in Norman Wells.

Last fall a Syrian refugee with 17 years experience as a barber arrived in Corner Brook, Newfoundland with his wife and two small children.

Mohammed Almaidani was promptly hired by the Silver Scissors salon where he is busy improving his English while he clips. Men seldom give their barber instructions, the salon owner says, so his limited English is no barrier. Male customers are happy with his styling, let him style the way he feels best suits them.

Both male and female customers appreciate his skill in removing facial hair by threading, a specialty skill replacing waxing and other painful hair removal methods. He uses the skill to trim men’s moustaches as well as eyebrows and maybe nose hairs.

Oprah once mentioned she flies clear across the U.S. every few weeks to have her eyebrows shaped by a special aesthetician who removes facial hair by threading. No plucking. No painful hot wax ripping out hairs the way some furry person like Robin Williams is shown screaming as his chest is denuded in some sit-com.

Almaidani describes this unique skill, part of Syrian culture, as a type of hair removal that people with sensitive skin prefer.

He uses a cotton polyester thread, cuts off a length about 15 cm long (according to a YouTube video), brings the two ends together with a knot, to form a cat’s cradle over both hands.

One hand is then turned five times. This creates a half inch wide tight twist in the thread in the middle of the cat’s cradle.

The twisted section is brought alongside the unwanted hair or line of hairs.. By manipulating the fingers, hair tangles in the twisted thread and is pulled out by the root. A treatment can last from two to three weeks before it needs to be repeated.

The YouTube demonstrator advises practising this for no more than ten minutes a day until calluses build up where the thread rubs inside the manipulating thumbs.

Refugees awaiting immigration to Canada might do well to learn the art of threading, even hair cutting, while they wait. Upon arrival they could instantly earn a good living unlike doctors and other professionals who end up driving a Uber cab until they can re-qualify in this country.

This YouTube video illustrates threading: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jITqHkTU8_s