Hairdressers are rather like husbands. For the first few years they do exactly what they want and you always feel good afterwards. Then they get a bit lazy and complacent and suddenly you don’t feel so special any more. So when that happens, it’s time to start the nightmare search for a new one. So where do you start? Is there a Tinder for hairdressers? Hinder, maybe? And how do you tell the incumbent that you’re moving on to a younger, trendier salon? It’s not you, it’s me? And if you don’t tell them, you end up trying to avoid the area for fear of bumping into them sporting a new ‘do’. It’s a huge dilemma – one I’ve encountered on many occasions over the years. I knew the false beard would come in handy one day.
There isn’t a high street in the UK now that doesn’t have at least 2 or 3 salons peddling their hairs. It’s an industry that has grown steadily over the years and currently sees no sign of declining. It was sometime around the end of the 1800s when we slowly started to see the transition from men only barbershops to salons across the civilised world. In those early days, wealthy women were having their hair styled by their servants. All a bit Downton Abbey. The rest of the classes probably just used some carbolic soap and some rusty shears.
The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the US. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryers, perms and hair colour became more and more popular. It was the age of Hollywood movie stars, Jazz and Coco Chanel. Everyone wanted to look like their idols! By the 40’s and 50’s, beauty salons became the go-to-place for the housewife to escape from their mundane lives, get pampered and indulge in gossip. Gradually, the hairdressing salon became affordable to the masses and not just the upper classes, eventually combining other beauty services to pamper and preen it’s clientele.
“SO WHERE ARE YOU GOING FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS THIS YEAR? BUTLINS? OOH POSH!”
Nowadays, our high streets are awash with them. Some part of a chain, others with quirky fascias such as ‘Hairport’, ‘A Cut Above’ and my personal East London favourite, ‘Jack the Clipper’. But how on earth do you choose a good one? Today it’s easier with social media, reviews and online recommendations but what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the hairy old gander. My own personal start point is that, if the hairdresser has bad hair, quite frankly I don’t want them anywhere near mine. They are basically a walking advert for their profession. Like I don’t want a dentist with bad teeth or a doctor with weeping sores. I’m also rather seduced by a cool interior. 1970’s pictures on the wall, office furniture or rubbish towels are also a bit of a sign of apathy. Not always indicative but first impressions etc. I also like hairdressers to be honest. If it won’t suit, then please have the decency to tell me. A stark reminder never to show them a picture of a poodle ever again!
So on a whim, I booked into a trendy Shoreditch salon for a cut and blow. I’d read the reviews, scoured the website and gallery and wandered past on more than one occasion. I could even book online which shows both innovation on their part and total laziness on my part. Tick! Nothing worse than booking over the phone to a fairly dopey receptionist who gets just about every part of the booking wrong. Most annoying to find out you’re booked in next Tuesday with Cilla for a perm when you’d asked for a Saturday appointment with Donna for highlights! That’s happened! Anyway, I was politely greeted, ‘gowned up’ by a nice young man and promptly offered a cocktail. It was after 6pm so why not! Who doesn’t love a Espresso Martini full of hair! Anyway, a chat with the Senior Stylist and a rather nice (and faintly disturbing for various reasons) wash and head massage from that nice young man, I was set about with sprays and scissors. Oh and another Espresso Martini or 3. Rude not to! They were friendly, they’ve got dogs, alcohol and nice towels. By the end I was hair cut, half cut and £65 out of pocket! But you get what you pay for and I’d definitely go back.
Probably when I’ve won the lottery!