Celtic Hair

My sister spent a year in Italy getting her hair persistently cut into a mullet. She went to a different salon every time and begged them for a “Little crash helmet” (caschetto), which is what Italians call a bob cut all one length. But apparently every hairstylist in Milan had signed a secret pact to give her this:

Imagine my fear, therefore, when I became a Sicilian Housewife and had to find an Italian hairdresser to cut my own locks.

Not that I’ve ever been tranquil about going to a hairdresser anyway. I’d rather get a filling at the dentist than have my hair cut. It all starts with their trick questions. They pick up a crispy, dry lock of my hair between the tips of their disgusted fingers and ask,

“So, when you wash your hair, then what do you do?”

Why do they want to know that? I usually eat a bag of crisps and watch TV while I wait for it to dry, yet they never seem satisfied with that answer.

They want me to name hair care products and styling techniques. Since I grew up like an Amish, having my hair cut once a year with Mother’s sewing scissors, I can’t. My mother styled her hair into a beehive from 1962 to 1989, and has worn it in a bun since then.

Next I have to tell them the cut I want. I say, “I want two inches trimmed off please” and they hear “Cut off the whole damn lot but leave a freaky long bit over one ear.”


By the time we’re onto styling, even the hairdresser is getting stressed. I suffer from a genetic condition known as Celtic Hair, which means the hairdresser can make me look like this:



But then air movement (however feeble), or mild humidity, or in fact any kind of weather whatsoever, turns me into this:

Irish comedian Dylan Moran explaining – and demonstrating – the phenomenon of “Celtic Hair”


I can spot Celtic people a mile off anywhere in Sicily because we all look this way, but also with sunburn.

I’ve spent my whole life being envious of Latin Hair. Italian women have glossy, dark cascades of stuff like 13 amp fuse wire coming out of their heads. I’m telling you, a hurricane couldn’t fluff it up. They can dye it a different colour every week, blast it with air as hot as a solar flare, douse it in chemicals that could dissolve granite, or swirl it in the sea till it’s a mass of sodium chloride crystals, and it still looks like flowing satin.

Well, I cruised around town in my Fiat Punto and found a hairdresser called Gianni, with a tight T-shirt and a belt where he holstered his hairdryer like John Wayne with his Smith & Wesson. He had bristling biceps and whisked combs and scissors in and out of the back pocket of his jeans like a motor mechanic switching spanner sizes.

He did the lifting up sad bits of hair thing, and the key word that dominated most of his observations was “spaghetti”. That’s the standard Italian descriptor for lifeless, lank hair with no substance whatsoever. But…..OH! When he lifted up the straight bits, it was all curly underneath!!!

“It’s always been fusilli under there,” I reassured him. 


He didn’t ask me any tricky questions at all because he was following the football on the salon TV in the corner. He just promised to rectify this dog’s dinner of pasta shapes immediately, clenched his biceps, and swiped his scissors above and around my head about eight times. Split ends flew in all directions.

Then he commanded me to bend right over, so my head was upside down, and squirted me with something that made me sneeze wildly. When I say squirted me, I do mean all of me: I felt like a car at the body shop getting a total respray.

When I was instructed to sit up again, I was amazed! I looked like other people! I didn’t just have hair, I had a hairstyle!

He discharged another couple of cans of hairspray onto my head just to be on the safe side and, delighted, I stepped outside singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty…”

And then a slight gust of wind blew up, and I was Celtic again.

Yes, it even happens to billionaires


39 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh gods, yes. This Friday is parrucchiere day. Please think of me in my time of need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck, May the force be with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Celtic hair, LOL!

    Mine’s not too bad, but it does not withstand any contact with hairdressers. Every quarter, when I have to have the mats cut out, I plan my salon visits very carefully to coincide with the onset of dusk. It’s both in mine and their interest that nobody sees me on my way home. After I get there, I can usually coax it back into some sort of street-legal configuration.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha hahaaaa! That’s a top tip, going to the hairdresser under cover of darkness. Luckily for me, my hair grows so slowly so I only need one cut a year, which I time for 31st October each year!


  4. This is hilarious. I feel your pain. Hair that has a mind of its own turns the parrucchiere experience into a potential trauma and can render us irrational. I’ll go wherever and pay whatever to stay with the guy I’ve found who gets it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here. I’ve been going to John Wayne for almost ten years – if he ever moves I’ll have to travel as far as I need to get my hair cut by him!


      1. Beba says:

        When my sister moved 1500 miles from Chicago, she would plan her Chicago-area visits to include a trip to her regular stylist. And she did this for years!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Isabelle says:

    Ha ha. Yes, I am she of the involuntary mullets. The other thing that has happened twice was the extra horror having half the volume of my tragically mulleted hair sort of slashed out with a razor “to bring out the natural wave”. As queen of the spaghetti hair I HAVE no natural wave. And nearly no hair after that. I just ended up with a long list of Do Nots instead of any requests! By far the best salon for me was run and manned by Japanese stylists. They totally understood my poker straight tresses and finished up with a shiatsu massage to the shoulders!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh shiatsu! I like Shiatsu!!!
      I think I could almost forgive a mullet if I got one of those afterwards!!!!


  6. Oriana says:

    Hahaha, this is hilarious! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pecora Nera says:

    LOL… At least they didn’t shear you. I had my hair cut on Saturday and kiwi fruits now have more fuzz than my head.


    1. Oh dear, the perils of Italian barbers! They routinely turn my Hubby into an Easter egg every 6 weeks. It’s depressing to see he has so much more hair on his chest than on his head. In fact he probably has more hair on his armpits alone… 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Diane C says:

    OMG, tears, I’m wiping away tears. Before I took on my (husband’s) new Italian name, I had a very very Irish last name…and the hair to go with it. There is a reason I wear a ponytail and baseball cap at the beach and, no, it’s not just to avoid a sunburnt nose. Hell, I’m going to get that anyways. I never had a name for it before but Celtic hair is what I have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We fluffies have to stick together and suffer bravely, don’t we?
      I am often tempted by a hat, though the problem then is, once you take it off, your hair looks EVEN worse!!!


  9. Beba says:

    Well you DO look very pretty in the post-hair-salon shot, so it can’t be all so bad! Hair salons ALWAYS wanted to cut my long-ish hair and give me a perm, which was every time a total disaster. So I stopped going to salons part-way through university and have never gone back in decades. Think of all the money and aggravation I have saved, plus my hair is not abused and my hair styles please me, not some stylist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. That post-salon look lasted me almost half an hour, which was my personal best! 😉
      I think my mother gave up on hairdressers for the same reason, actually. Her hairdresser phobia was worse than mine. And seeing the styles inflicted on my sister over the years would be enough to scare anyone!
      But do you have fluffy Celtic-type hair? Or do other hair types suffer too?


      1. Beba says:

        No, my hair has no natural curl at all, so I never felt ” pretty” in childhood and teen years because curls were in vogue. When I finally gave up on perms, curlers, etc I also gave up following trends in hair styles and figured out what worked for me. I keep myself amused by arranging my hair up or down in various ways with clips, barrettes, bands, etc. The color is very dark brown and I keep it that way, heh, heh.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It sounds as if you’ve got exactly the hair I’ve always wished for! 😉


  10. BerLinda says:

    Celtic hair 🙂 Genius! Gianni sounds like a bit of a find! I hate going to the hairdresser’s as well – I always lie when they ask how long it’s been – like confession 😉 Bless me Cindi, it’s been… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My hair grows so slowly that I only need it cut 3 times a year. For years Gianni was convinced I sneaked off to someone else between visits to him, but now he believes me! I told him once it’s my dream to get more hairdresser visits than doctor visits in one year, but I think if I managed that I’d have no hair left to cut!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BerLinda says:

        Being bald could be handy in the Sicilian summer 🙂 But then you’d be a lobster head 😉 Celtic skin, Celtic hair – we’re a disaster 😉


  11. I feel your pain. It took my black drag queen hairstylist to figure out that my celtic hair had multiple personalities: angel hair on top with fusilli on the bottom. Just when I thought nothing could be worse than temperamental, thin, curly hair ….


    1. I think a black, drag queen hair stylist sounds even cooler than my John Wayne guy! He layered the spaghetti cunningly so it could be lifted up off the fusilli using a few litres of hairspray… he keeps begging me to let him dye it red, which I suppose would be the tomato sauce??

      Liked by 1 person

  12. onomatopoeicbliss says:

    Gawd, you know how to finish!! How could anyone have that much money and yet look that stupid?!!?😜

    Just hang in there, you’re only a year or two away from the permanent bun anyway😄😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, poor old Donald – he could easily afford a mullet-style wig for himself.
      So, do you reckon I should go for a beehive while I wait to reach bun age?


  13. Vere says:

    I feel your sister’s pain! I asked for a caschetto and ended looking like Mowgli from the jungle book, since I moved to Sicily I have never had a decent haircut, back home I went to a great hair salon, I didn’t even have to explain what I wanted, they already knew, I miss it so much! I have tried most of the salons here and so far, no luck 😦 thankfully my hair grows back really fast, so every 6-8 weeks I start my pilgrimage to the neighboring towns to try my luck, I will find a great hairstylist or die trying.


    1. Mowgli! Oh noooooo!!!!!
      At least you have fast growing hair. When I get a bad haircut it takes at least 3 years before there’s enough hair to do something different with it!!
      Where are you in Sicily BTW? I can put you in touch with Gianni – he really is great. He listens and delivers exactly what you ask for.


      1. Vere says:

        Thanks! that’s so nice of you, but it’s turned into a quest, I will find my own Gianni, btw am in Alcamo (TP)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good luck on your worthy mission!!! 😀


  14. Sara White says:

    This is hilarious! I’m terrified of getting a haircut here in Rome since the last time I stepped foot into the salon the stylist, after assuring me he would make me look “amazing”, chopped off approximately ten centimetres too many and then applied some kind of ultra-potent chemical concoction that semi-straightened my normally curly hair into limp wisps for the next TEN MONTHS. Never again. And all I wanted was split-end-free (natural) curls that behaved themselves slightly more than usual…

    (PS I have just discovered your blog and have spent the past two hours reading through your archives. Fantastic writing!)


    1. Oh gosh, I’ve had so many experiences like that! The worst was a hairdresser in London who swiped his scissors at me while I was starting to describe the cut I wanted – he gave me a fringe one inch long which stuck up in the air adn looked like the scolex of a tapeworm viewed through a microscope.
      So glad you’re enjoying the blog! 🙂


  15. I enjoyed this story very much and I relate it to my hair as well. I am half Sicilian and half Celtic and I live in New York. In the humid summer my hair suddenly remembers it is curly and Sicilian but in the cold of winter (like now!) I could easily pass for Donald Trump!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As long as it all does the same thing, I reckon you must look OK!!!
      I always have at least 2 different hairstyles on my head!!!


  16. MarlisB says:

    I had straight hair until I got pregnant with number one. Now i have hair that is very curly the day that I was it, and considerably less so on the next day. That means I have to plan my hair style according to two lengths. I have lived in my town for 21 years and only found one hair dresser who can handle my tresses. But she is costly…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, changing hair, I know that problem too!
      I do wonder if a wig would be a cheaper solution?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ben Salario says:

    We’re much more mixed then most sicilians usually are, and my Grandma got Irish/English/Viking blood too. I just ignore the annoying hair till I can get a hair cut.

    Glad I’m not alone.


    1. Yes, I think ignoring it is the only way to go!


  18. Alberto says:

    “Celtic Hair” I have to tell my mom this. She’s Puerto Rican but she has Scottish, English roots “Duckenfield” and she would have the most beautiful hairstyle – Picture it, flowy copper red hair on the olive skin. However…… when the wind blows, she would look like either raggy Annie or somewhat like Donald Trump with one half of the hair perfectly styled and the other all over the place. Now I know why. It’s that Celtic blood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      I bet she looks lovely anyway! 😀

      Though yes, I had a major Donald Trump day today!


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