A hairdresser with a reputation for being brutally honest to customers has revealed how her sharp tongue earned her a legion of loyal fans.
Wendy Ha, who works from Randwick Beauty Spot, an understated salon in Sydney’s east, told FEMAIL clients travel for hours to sit in her chair.
‘It’s not about my benefit, it’s theirs. You are the expert you need to tell them the truth,’ she said.
Wendy claims she will never lie to her clients, even if the truth hurts to hear.
The mum’s talent has been spreading by word of mouth, until recently her salon didn’t even have a website.
Wendy believes she has soared in popularity because she cares more about her clients’ final look than making money.
‘I don’t care if they’re asking for more expensive products or treatments, if it wont suit them or if it’s bad for their hair I won’t do it,’ she said.
‘A salon usually tries to sell products no matter what, but I will tell customers if their is something cheaper from the kitchen they can use for their hair instead.’
Wendy Ha (pictured) is the cult secret hairdresser who has clients that travel hours to hear her brutal honesty
She has built a loyal following of clients as she says she will never lie to them, even if the truth hurts to hear (pictured with a client). The mum (pictured with her daughter) said she owes her following to the fact she doesn’t act like other salons, she cares about the final look and the health of her clients hair rather than making money
This approach stems from the stylist’s impoverished upbringing.
She explained she raised herself from age six in Vietnam after her parents fled war.
But it isn’t just about money – her popularity is fueled by her blunt cut approach to service.
‘Customers like me because I don’t lie to them, I will give them advice, and tell them which style or treatment is best for them,’ she explained.
One time Wendy admits she refused to cut the hair of a woman who requested a very short style.
‘She was very upset when she asked me to cut it, I tried to convince her not to and then I refused.
‘She went somewhere else and chopped it very short, and now every month she comes to me and I cut a little bit off so the hair grows longer,’ she said.
Another time Wendy warned against a treatment was when a woman who was beginning to lose her hair asked for a permanent straighten.
Before and after: Wendy is particularly passionate about healthy hair and has even refused to do treatments or styles that would damage a client’s hair. She tries to focus on giving the client the treatment which will be best for their hair, rather than the most expensive one
She explained that this would exasperate the issue and she had to tell her client the effects it would have.
Despite her strong opinions the mum admits no customer has ever gotten angry or upset with her for her brutal honesty
‘I told her the truth and she appreciated that, then we worked out a better treatment to suit her.’
The mum claims no customers have ever been left angry or upset over her brutal honesty or strongly expressed opinions.
‘No one has ever had a bad reaction because they like and trust me,’ she explained.
‘They are surprised, as most hairdressers are not as honest and want to sell the product or most expensive service.’
The stylist said there are several damaging treatments she often advises against because they are bad for your hair.
Bleaching is a big no-no for her as it doesn’t suit every type of hair and can cause certain hair types, such as dry hair, to become very unhealthy.
She also often recommends against perms and permanent straightening.
A big pet peeve of hers is when people decide to carry out home treatments from watching YouTube videos.
The worst things you can do to your hair according to a beauty therapist:
* Getting a perm
* Permanent straightening
* Doing a treatment on yourself after watching a YouTube video
She says the most common cause of hair damage she sees is from people who bleached their hair at home.
She warns people against using at home kits to give themselves a lash lift, outlining it’s one of the most dangerous things she has seen as the solution often gets into the eyes.
Wendy offers a multitude of beauty services, including hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and nails. It’s clear from her collection of five star reviews that her clients do love her.
‘The service is fantastic. I had eyelashes extensions, manicure, pedicure and even hair colour. Wendy is so friendly and professional,’ one woman said.
‘Wendy did an amazing job with my hair waxing and eyelash extensions. I had so many compliments at the dinner I attended. She works so hard, it’s hard to find a one stop shop of all these services so I will be returning,’ another wrote.
‘So nice and nails look so pretty. Wendy gave us food because we had to wait a bit nicest lady I have ever seen,’ another wrote.
Wendy has a close relationship with her clients due to her honesty (pictured left with a customer). She has a massive collection of five star reviews and even receives handwritten thank you notes (right)
The mum said she always tries to make a haircut an ongoing conversation to ensure clients are happy.
‘I take time to do it and take photos halfway through on the back so they see. I do it step by step to confirm they are continually happy with it,’ she explained.
‘If they’re happy with it and I’m not I’ll advise them how to do it to look more healthy. I don’t mind my tongue.’
Wendy shares hairdressing tips with her clients that most stylists won’t share.
She advises people with blond hair never to use purple shampoo, which she says causes your hair to become very dry, brittle and dull.
She also recommends only washing your hair twice a week to maintain healthy oils.
However, she warns that you should always wash your hair after swimming in a chlorinated pool as it can strip your hair of its natural oils, she advises her customers to put a silicone or oil based product such as a serum into the hair before swimming.
The stylist stressed that conditioner should never be left on for more than three minutes, and it shouldn’t touch the scalp.
The mum said she always tries to make a haircut an ongoing conversation to ensure clients are happy. She loves that can has the ability to ‘make people feel beautiful.’ Wendy also shares the hairdressing tips most stylists won’t share that she gives to her clients
She always recommends giving your hair an overnight mask with coconut oil every so often, and she advises adding an oil like Argan to your hair when it is wet before blow drying.
She says you should never apply any heat to your hair without heat protection serum.
The mum now has 26 years of experience working in beauty and hairdressing, a job she dreamed about when she was growing up in poverty in the wake of the Vietnam war.
‘When I was six years old my parents left Vietnam to escape the new government after the war,’ she said, explaining that she grew up on her own with some help from her grandparents.
‘I was very hungry all the time, we had no clothes, no food, most of the time I didn’t have shoes.’
Wendy was eventually able to move to Australia and reunite with her parents when she was 18, but arrived with no English and had to learn whilst working office jobs.
Secret tips not every hairdresser will share:
* Never use purple shampoo, it causes your hair to become very dry, brittle and dull
* Only wash your hair twice a week to maintain healthy oils
* Always wash your hair after swimming in a chlorinated pool as it can strip your hair of its natural oils, and put a silicone or oil based product such as a serum into the hair before swimming to protect it
* Conditioner should never be left on for more than three minutes, and it should never touch the scalp
* Give your hair an overnight mask with coconut oil every so often, and add an oil like Argan oil to your hair when it is wet before blow drying
* Never apply any heat to your hair without heat protection serum
‘I loved to speak English, but English didn’t love me,’ she laughed.
‘People didn’t understand what I was talking about because my accent was very strong.’
After nine years working and studying beauty in Australia, Wendy realised her dream and opened her own beauty salon in Fairfield, Sydney.
She ran her business for 16 years and became an integral part of the close knit community, a local newspaper even coined her the ‘queen of eyebrows’.
‘In Fairfield, if you say ‘Wendy queen of eyebrows’ they know me,’ she laughed.
However, she had to sell the business in 2016 after going through a divorce, and was ‘devastated’ to say goodbye to her clients.
The mum said it was a very difficult few years for her, she went back to college to further upskill and eventually made the move to buy her current salon in Randwick, Sydney.
She found a family salon run by a couple in their seventies and immediately fell in love.
Before and after: Wendy is particularly passionate about eyebrow styling. She recently visited Vietnam to see family and friends, and whilst on holiday undertook training for a new eyebrow technique, nano hair stroke (pictured)
‘First time I saw the business I put down a deposit. The second time I came was the day I took over the salon’ she said.
‘I had to start a new business in an area I never knew or had any connection in, but it didn’t take me long to trust the people here. They are so nice, my neighbours are so helpful and it is a lovely, welcoming community.’
Just as she was finished renovating the business Covid and lockdown hit and she went through a very difficult time.
‘In my childhood I cried a lot, but in lockdown I cried more than I ate or slept. It was the hardest time of my life,’ she said.
However, she was encouraged when the customers she met before lockdown came back and brought their friends and family, and some clients from her old salon started travelling hours to make an appointment.
Wendy offers a multitude of beauty services, including hair styling, eyebrow styling, eyelash extensions and nail art
Wendy is still working in the simple studio in Randwick, which is full of people everyday who heard of her skills by word of mouth.
She admitted the salon didn’t have WI-FI for a long time so she had no website or social media until one of her clients set up accounts for her so other people could hear about the secret.
‘One day someone said “I love your new website” and I said “what website?” Wendy laughed, explaining that she wasn’t even aware her customer had made one for her.
‘IT doesn’t like me,’ she joked.
Her particular passions are hair and eyebrow styling, and she constantly makes an effort to stay up to date with the latest techniques and learn more about the beauty industry.
She recently visited Vietnam to see family and friends, and whilst on holiday undertook training for a new eyebrow technique, nano hair stroke.
Wendy was encouraged by customers who brought their friends and family after she set up a new salon in Randwick after Covid related lockdowns
Wendy prides herself on keeping her prices suitable for everyone, so no one is deprived of a hair cut, she currently charges only $25 for a first haircut.
She said growing up in poverty makes her appreciate that not everyone has money for things that make them feel beautiful so she tries to make it as easy as possible.
‘I can relate as I was hungry as a child. I was like the homeless kids raising myself.’
Wendy said hairdressing fills her with more joy than she could imagine when she was younger.
She loves that can has the ability to ‘make people feel beautiful.’
‘I usually take before and after photos and to see them see the difference makes me feel me feel my day is good,’ she explained.
‘I really like this job and I want to keep going even after I’m retired.’
‘To be honest with you to see the reactions of people who didn’t think they could afford such a transformation, I think I am very blessed, so I don’t mind not having more money.’
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