And before the pandemic — during which the station was reduced to essential personnel (that did not include a hairstylist) — Sutherland was in the unique position to spend one-on-one time with just about everyone: She worked six days a week, often filling 14 appointments a day. “Before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and redeployment it gets extremely busy. I will usually do upwards of 25 haircuts a day,” she says.
No matter the style, each of those haircuts costs just $10, which goes back into the U.S. Antarctic Program. (Sutherland works for a salary.) The station’s 800-ish residents (the count before the pandemic) are about 65 percent men, and Sutherland cites fades, layered cuts, and even “the fashion mullet” as popular styles.
To get the job done, Sutherland relies on the skills she learned while training at Gary Manuel Aveda Institute in Seattle. But cutting hair in Antarctica presents a unique set of challenges. “The [dry] air just sucks all moisture right up,” she says. “A lot of times wet hair will dry super fast and I’ll just have to keep spraying water.” Also: static. “People’s hair will stick straight up.”
Using hydrating products helps; Sutherland likes the KMS Moist Repair line. “They get shipped down so they are not a part of my weight allotment,” she says. (Each resident can travel to the station with only 150 pounds of goods — and parkas and boots really add up.) “Unfortunately, if I run out, then I run out. Sometimes you just have to wing it.”
Speaking of winging it, Sutherland says one of the most unique experiences she’s had in Antarctica is visiting a penguin rookery, where she saw hundreds upon hundreds of the birds. It’s one of the memories she’s holding dear until she can safely return to the station, hopefully in October 2021. “I 100 percent consider McMurdo home.”
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