I met my hairstylist Owen Gould at a high school party in 2003.
I was wearing ripped fishnet stockings, chunky platform Mary Janes and hideous sparkly eyeshadow.
Pimples were scattered across my oily forehead, and eyeliner was smeared across my face.
But, I didn't care. I was 16, and the world was my oyster.
"So, what do you want to do with your life?" I asked this mysterious boy creature with the amazing punk-rock spiky hair.
Owen took a long, meaningful drag of his clove cigarette and dreamily gazed into the starry nighttime sky like he was looking into the future.
"I'm going to do hair," he quietly answered, while grey clouds of smoke delicately danced out of his lips.
The hairs on my arms stood up. I had the chills. I had never met someone so young and so sure of their life's purpose.
Later that year, Owen went to hair school.
My friend Ruba and I were his greatest, most willing hair school experiments.
He cut my tattered, bleached-out hair into a chic bob. He sewed hair extensions into my scalp when I decided I hated the bob.
He gave Ruba a badass fashion mohawk that made her the coolest, most feared 17-year-old girl in town.
Owen eventually moved to New York City and became a top celebrity stylist, styling the heads of Kate Hudson, St. Vincent, Bjork, Gigi Hadid, Jessica Alba and yours truly.
I might not be a celebrity, but a hairdresser's loyalty is far thicker than fame or money, baby.
And in the past 10 years, a lot of stuff in my life has drastically changed.
I moved back to New York. I had a scary bout of manic depression. My career changed again. I fell in love. I fell out of love. I fell in love again.
But the one constant in my life has always been my hair stylist, Owen, tending to my head, snipping off the dead-ends parts of my life with his silver expensive scissors and transforming me into the freshest, most glittery version of myself.
And I think that many women go to the same stylists for their entire lives because we have these wildly intimate connections to our hairstylists.
The bond between stylist and client is far deeper than beauty, you know.
We trust our hairdressers with every fiber of our beings. It's one of the most blazingly honest and sacred relationships we'll ever have in our lives.
The bond between stylist and client is deeper than beauty.
When my mother moved to Florida from New York City, she flew every six weeks to New York to have her hair done by the legendary colorist Louis Licari, who had been transforming her mouse brown hair into the perfect shade of honey blonde for two decades.
I recently met a girl who lives in New York City, and when I asked her what stylist was responsible for her awesome ash-colored hair, she told me she gets her hair done in Nebraska.
Meaning, she hops on an airplane every few weeks, flies far away from glamorous Manhattan and trudges to Nebraska to get her hair done.
I get it. I would follow Owen to Mars.
Not only do we emotionally latch on to the people who make us look and feel beautiful, but there are also some very specific secrets only our hairdressers know about us.
And deep, embarrassing, gross, intimate secrets are the foundation of unbreakably strong bonds, babe.
1. They know about the (shhh) grey hairs that have been springing out of your head since you turned 26.
Know one else knows that grey little sprouts of hair have been popping out of your head since you turned 26, except your trusty stylist, who lovingly paints those silvery strands with the finest hair color in all of Beverly Hills.
Best part: They don't dare ever mention it.
The onset of grey hairs is a wildly vulnerable issue for some of us. For me, they've been my first sign of aging, and I feel physically sick when I spot one taunting me in the bathroom mirror.
(Disclaimer: I love women who embrace their silver hair, and I think it's actually chic AF. But, I'm not one of those women, babes.)
And my hairstylist knows this.
So without any discussion, he lovingly paints over them and pretends he didn't even notice them himself.
It's a secret we'll both take to the grave (and I'll shamelessly post about on the internet, but the internet isn't, like, the real world).
2. They know how you really get all that epic VOLUME.
"Wow, Zara, your hair looks fantastic!" a bitchy PR girl clad in a leopard-print coat, clutching a cold glass of Champagne, purred to me at an event last week.
"Thanks," I purred back. I met her hungry eyes.
"I'm taking supplements," I whispered into her ear, before strutting away in my heels.
And yes, I'm taking supplements. We're all taking supplements. It's 2017, so who isn't hopped up on Vitamin B capsules?
Supplements might help encourage an increase in your overall hair health, but let's get real: No amount of biotin is going to take you from having a thin little bob to a glittering sea of waist-length, Giselle-like hair.
But you know what will? Extensions, honey. Extensions that your stylist discretely either tapes, bonds or sews into the roots of your tender head.
But my stylist won't ever utter a word about the pounds of Virgin Remy hair he tapes into my hair. He won't even let out a sheepish smile if he overhears me talking about how amazing my "supplements" are.
He'll proudly run his fingers into my fake head of hair as if that hair is all mine, babe.
And thanks to my stylist, I sort of believe I was born with that lush mane, too.
3. They know you're terribly prone to dandruff.
Not only do they know about your winter time dandruff issue (and give you the proper medical treatment), but they also know about the strange mole on the left side of your skull.
They know when you're stressed the fuck out because of the clumps of hair that fall out of your head and clog up the drain when you're getting a professional wash.
They might even give you a recommendation for a therapist! If only to get your hair back on track, you know?
Healthy hair, healthy mind: that's my motto.
My stylist knows more of my gross secrets than my gynecologist. And my vagina has lived hard, sister. (Just not as hard as my hair.)
My stylist knows more of my gross secrets than my gynecologist.
4. They know you only wash your hair twice a week.
Your friends: "I don't know how those girls wash their hair twice a week! How disgusting! Especially when they WORK OUT like we do."
You: I know, it's horrendous. I wash my hair every single day.
Your hairstylist: You've only been washing your hair twice a week, huh?
Your hairstylist: Good girl.
5. They know all about the ugly boxed-colored hair you used to shamelessly rock.
We weren't the fierce, professionally-tended-to women we are now.
Chances are, when we first met our hair stylist, we were a hot mess.
A terrible boxed, reddish-brown hair color adorned our weary heads. We had split ends for days and days. Unflattering baby doll bangs skimmed across our foreheads.
That was all until our fairy godmother (our stylist) put their talented hands on our trembling little shoulders and magically transformed us into the fierce queens we are today.
We've never looked back, and neither have they.
But, they know where we come from. They know our roots, girl (literally and figuratively).
6. They know you once insisted on having a stacked bob.
There was a dark time in your life, babe. It probably right after a breakup when you insisted you wanted a soccer mom-looking stacked bob.
Your beloved stylist refused. You insisted. They still refused.
Their unwillingness to compromise forced us to get it together!
And when you came out of the darkness and stepped back into the blinding, naked bulbs of reality, you realized, "Holy shit! Thank god I never did that to my hair. I must've been in a screwed up place to have wanted that hairstyle!"
7. They know about the asshole you can't seem to quit dating.
You might not tell your friends. You might not tell your family. You might even lie to yourself about that fact that you've had a relapse with your toxic ex.
But you know who you will tell?
Your hairstylist, baby.
The moment you sit in that steel, silver salon chair and gaze at your reflection in the mirror, you'll spill your HEART OUT.
Your guard falls down the moment the foils come on. Your stylist is, after all, your real best friend.
The stylist is the therapist to the modern girl. Only it's better than therapy because you leave with glossy, bouncy, freshly blow-dried hair and a Champagne buzz.
8. They know you're prone to snipping your own bangs when you're drunk.
"Uh, have you been cutting your own bangs again?" your hairdresser will ask you, raising a knowing, perfectly-arched brow in the massive, gilded salon mirror.
"Yes," you'll say because you can't lie to a hairdresser. They know everything. (They know you haven't been using that super expensive hair mask they got you for free, too.)
"It's time to cut back on the booze," your hairdresser will firmly tell you, knowing you tend to hack at your own bangs when you've been hitting the bottle too hard.
9. They know the real reason you're getting a blowout tonight.
"Oh, I'm just getting a blowout for FUN," you'll chirp to the girls.
Meanwhile, your stylist knows the truth.
The real reason you're paying $50 for a professional blowout is actually because your ex and their new significant other are going to be at the same party as you later that evening.
And they know you're feeling super emotional about it, and that nothing will provide you some much-needed, temporary self-esteem like a fierce blowout.
So, they give you the most incredible power hairstyle ever.
You saunter out of the salon like a queen with big Texas hair. Because only your stylist knows that when you're feeling vulnerable, big Texas hair will make you feel strong.
So yes, babes. Our stylist knows all about our greasy heads, our real un-glam natural hair colors, our hair extensions, our emotional downfalls, our drinking problems and our love lives.
Because there is nothing in this cruel, cold world more loving and more vulnerable than another human being sticking their hands into your dirty, broken hair and washing those nasty tresses so they — and you — feel clean and shiny again.