Occasionally I am asked to review things. You know, like hotels or restaurants or facials or dental floss.
When asked, I generally do, so long as the thing I’m reviewing sounds like more fun than trying to write a book that doesn’t seem to want to be written, and if I can be bothered, and if I don’t fancy making a cheese toastie instead.
So here is one…..:
I’m a fairly low-maintenance lady.
This may sound like a contradiction in terms to you, but you’ll notice I snuck the word ‘fairly’ in there.
It’s all relative.
As far as those blessed with two X chromosomes go I’m virtually maintenance free…but, y’know, I do like my cleanser. And my moisturiser, mascara and concealer.
Oh, and some toner is nice. And maybe some night cream, and eye cream, and sun cream, and body lotion, and a serum of some kind, and blusher, and a face mask for the weekends.
And eye liner.
Oh SCREW IT, look I’m low maintenance where it comes to my HAIR, OK???
My hair routine goes thus: wash every few days. Towel dry. Pony tail. Good to go.
If I’m really spoiling the world I brush it, but that’s only if I can locate a brush in my handbag that’s not encrusted with granola or old chocolate.
So yes. LOW maintenance, compared with many ladies I know. (I’ve heard that there are some women who blow dry their hair every day. Every DAY?! Can it BE that wet?? I need a sit down to get over this. Hang on….)
OK, I’m back.
Now then, one of my pay-offs for this outrageously low-maintenance hair-related behaviour, is that when I DO get my hair ‘done’, which is about three times a year at the most, I like to Go For It. Take my time. Spoil my head rotten.
This is actually completely ridiculous, because all I ever ask for is ‘A Trim’. I can feel the stylist’s heart sink when I say that because it’s a bit like asking an artist to draw a stick man, or a writer to write a shopping list.
A Trim is the vanilla of the hairdressing world.
I’ve been seconds from a block fringe, The Chop, or a radical colour change many, many times but, like a failed sky diver, I baulk every time I’m about to jump and plump for the safety net of vanilla again.
(To be fair, I have done The Chop twice: went in with shoulder length tresses and came out with what they politely call an ‘elfin crop’, but my children would call a boy’s haircut. You know – proper SHORT SHORT. Both times I loved it and felt sexier than a French maid in a French maid’s outfit….for about three weeks. And then I wanted my hair back, desperately.
So I’ve sworn Never. Again.)
Aaaaanyway, the point here is that if you’re just having A Trim one might as well go to Sweaty Betty’s down the road, pay a fiver and be done with it. Right?
Well yes. One might. I suppose.
OR……one could go to the hairdresser very infrequently, save up, and then blow it all on a huge explosion of Hairtastic Luxurious Indulgence, and be as outrageously pampered as a poodle in a…erm…poodle pampering place.
And this is exactly what I choose to do.
I wait until my hair has less bounce than a pair of breasts after five children have sucked them into oblivion, the colour is….well, it’s NOT, and the ends have divorced each other, and then I make the call.
My regular salon is Daniel Galvin in London, and has been for five years. This is double ridiculous because I live….not in London. But it’s worth the trip because a) the vegetable colour they use is A-MA-ZING and it’s all, like, natural and stuff, and b) every time I go I feel like a princess who has just won the Feel Like A Princess For A Day competition – which, if we’re honest, is what a large portion of the largely proportioned bill goes towards.
But I’m happy to save up and cough up to wear a tiara for a morning. It’s a trip to a heavenly world of glass and orchids and a waterfall and leather chairs and gorgeous clients and friendly staff and posh lotions in the toilets and ‘Hello, can I take your coat and would you like a drink?’
In short, it’s as far removed from my everyday life as I can get, which is EXACTLY what I want. It’s a massive treat and I LOVE IT.
Recently I was asked if I’d like to have a free blow dry at another of London’s premier salons, Paul Edmonds. Being Not At All The Kind Of Idiot Who Turns Down A Free Blow-Dry, I said yes please, that would be lurvely, and by the way I’m free every day for the next two years, and so….can I come NOW?
Paul Edmonds, in case you didn’t know, in which case do allow me to tell you now, is not only one of the most glam salons in the country, it is also in Knightsbridge, which is the most glam part of London. It’s so glam that every time I go I have to remember not to take my lunch with me in my usual Sainsbury’s carrier bag, in case I get arrested.
It’s also so damn glam that I decide I really ought to arrive in style. So after the usual stinking train ride followed by a sweaty tube journey from King’s Cross to Brompton Road, I stick my clammy arm out and do the last 400m of my journey in a gleaming black cab.
And so my glorious hour of sheer indulgence begins.
The salon is, it’s fair to say, absolutely stunning. And yes, this IS important to me. If I’ve saved up for four months and this is MY TREAT, I want the kind of surroundings that take me into another Universe. A Universe without dirty socks and piles of rancid tea towels and a dishwasher that needs emptying and children who need….everything, and cellos on the floor and football boots in the hall and grey finger marks on the walls and mirrors covered with toothpaste splashes and teenage zit pus. (Sorry if you’re eating..)
I want to ESCAPE.
And that’s exactly what I did the second I stepped through the door.
Want a peek? Here you go:
This photo doesn’t actually do it justice at all because it’s taken on a phone, and it’s a shit picture. But basically it’s all WHOPPING great chandeliers that make you swoon, huge sparkly mirrors, beautiful velvet sofas, leather seats with nice square edges, and gawjuss things everywhere. Oh and oh, oh, oh THESE chairs:
I mean seriously, people, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE not to feel ohmygodamazing next to chairs and flowers like that??
Answer: it is not. And that’s the point.
I am met by the gorgeous, smiling, soft-skinned Vanessa, who takes my bags (and more bags and more bags…..I’m not known for travelling light, it’s true, but I say you never know when you might need a chocolate bar or an apple. Or a book, a notebook, a Rubik’s cube, a packet of cough sweets, some tampons, a newspaper supplement, cheese, a picnic blanket, ice skates, some Pot Noodle or an encyclopaedia. It’s just SENSIBLE to be prepared.) and my coat, and leads me downstairs to the Room Of Magnificent Hair Related Sumptuosity.
I’m not sure if they call it this, but they darned well ought to. It is beauuutiful.
After a hair wash and a brain-melting head massage, during which I may just possibly have drooled all the way down my cheek because the chair turned out to be one of those OUTRAGEOUSLY spacetastic Vibrateychairs, which sent my entire body into a dreamlike state of slightly too pleasurable undulating buzziness, I was dispatched to the Leather Chair Of Hair Delight.
Below is a photo of me looking at a small screen, on which I can see me looking into a small screen, on which I can see me trying desperately to get both my new shiny hair and some of the background ambience into the photo. Instead I got me and a half-empty coffee cup, and gorgeous Vanessa’s armpit.
I feel a bit bad about this, as she did ask not to be in the picture.
My blow dry is, without question one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s a little hard to explain WHY this is, since it’s just hair which WAS dry, then was made wet, and now isn’t wet any more, because it’s dry again. But it is. Gorgeous Vanessa did it EXACTLY as I asked her to, and this, in my very humble but absolutely correct opinion, is what matters. I hate hate HATE going to a salon and being pressured into having something I don’t want. If this ever happens I never go back. If I get exactly what I ask for, I go back time and time again.
It’s called trust. (And not knowing the number of any other salons.)
By the time she’d finished with the rollers and the tongs and the spray, and we’d put the world to rights and moaned about the lack of summer AGAIN this year and how unfair it is that Halle Berry is so sensationally beautiful and why cereal is actually WAY more fattening than you’d think, my hair was DONE: it had exactly the right amount of bounce (too big and I look like I’ve electrocuted myself; not enough and I still look like I have cooked brown spaghetti on my head), just the right amount of curl (not ghastly ringlets but more than every-so-slightly-unstraight) and just the right amount of va-va-voom (I would if I could, darlin’, but I probably shouldn’t. But thanks anyway.)
Et voila! Here I am with the new hair, and no mouth:
On the way out I’m shown what else the salon has to offer, and I meet the man himself, Mr Paul Edmonds. A striking, friendly man, he is in excited, if slightly stressed mood, because the salon is undergoing a big change at the moment, moving all the face and body treatments they previously offered elsewhere into beautiful treatment rooms in the salon downstairs.
It is now, he tells me, a hair and beauty Emporium. An EMPORIUM! I am SO in the right place. I love a good Emporium.
It’s a smart move though, and more and more places are realising that busy, tired, ZONKED people want to come to one place and get a full mind, hair and body M.O.T. rather than doing hair here, massage over there and getting their arse waxed right over THERE. (For the record, I have never had my arse waxed, and I never intend to. Three lots of childbirth was enough pain for me, thank you very much, and anyway I like my arse just as it is.)
I leave, beaming, gleaming, bouncing and swishing. If hair could make noise it would be having the loudest orgasm you’ve ever heard.
And if it takes another four months to save up for the next trip to a salon that makes me feel THIS good, I’m prepared to sit it out and wait.
Whichever place you choose, save up, treat yourself once in a while, and make it somewhere that gives you orgasmic hair.
To paraphrase a well-known brand, it is so fucking worth it.
217 Brompton Road (the one with Harrods)
Knightsbridge (ooh la la)
LONDON (the big place with the Underground)
Tel: 0844 770 9410
Big thanks to Kaylie at M&M Management for asking me to review the salon. You are a delight, and I am most extremely grateful. XX