With the salon cape over my shoulders and my hair as wet as a drowned cat, I see myself as if for the first time: “Why wasn’t I drowned at birth?”
I literally don’t want to touch my own hair
Hairstyles, like clothing, look great on models. But, Samson aprés Delilah, I am defeated by follicles. Not Trump’s or Hillary’s but mine. Since I live in London, I must maintain the status coif. But my lack of skills mean I can’t even wash my own head without creating the look of an impoverished eccentric. And I mean crazy lady, not a chic homage Grey Gardens.
I literally don’t want to touch my own hair. Brushing it is an electric nightmare. It tangles on buttons and branches. It clings to towels. For some, hair is a concerto. Mine is the eerie visual equivalent of a theremin playing somewhere far away. Every night, after I get it unstuck from the grooves in my cheap bedframe, I think: “If only I had the hair magic that others possess.” I fixate on those women with their braids, plaits, curls and waves. I stop in my tracks for volume, gasping the torridly wholesome thought of what I wouldn’t do for haystack hair – yellow, warm, big and soft.
But why can’t I “tease it to Jesus”? Hair is a ritual pest. It plagues us, men and women, making us hate what we have and long for what we have not. I have long straight hair and my mother decreed I looked better with curls: so I slept in rollers, sharpened barbs in their cylinders for traction.
Where lies the magic? Francesco Boi, treatment manager and senior stylist for DryBy, 74 Mortimer Street, W1W 7RZ has got a bunch. Fitzrovia’s prime dry bar sucks you in ugly and spits you out pretty. Francesco says that men and women have different problems. Men tend to have flaky or oily scalps. “I can fix these problems with a scalp treatment and I like Philip B’s because it works. It keeps its promises. It has a lot of botanical elements in it, from nuts, plants and flowers.” He introduces me to a product I can actually use: “Philip B’s dry shampoo has no powder inside and it actually rejuvenates and adds thickness. The feeling is like nothing else I’ve used.” I’m still trying to get over the smell of this dry shampoo: even after being trapped under my stinky riding helmet, my hair smells like… oooooh nice. For those who want it wet: Philip B Oud Royal Forever Shine Conditioner is luxury. Francesco says: “It helps repair damage and the shine you see in the product, is the shine you see on your hair.”
Another master of the locks is Jordanna Cobella of Cobella, a salon that has played a key role in stopping me from shaving my head. “Women need to understand what their hair is capable and incapable of doing,” she says. “A good hairdresser should give you a cut that can be worn in a few different ways.” Mid-length – arguably the most flexible – loves Loreal Tecni Art Super Dust or Sea Salt Spray. Applied upside down, they bulk up and showcase layers and shape. For curly hair, it’s the diffuser on your hairdryer that counts. To track down different curls, Jordana suggests visiting the British Curlies website and using Vidal Sassoon Curl Form, which is like whipped cream for your locks. Apply it to the tips of your roots, then diffuse. For blokes, Jordanna loves the Clay Definer by Shu Uemura, a versatile paste. It adds depth and colour, holds thick curls together and textures the limpest mop.
While we all have hairdressers we swear by – and what works for you may be utterly awful for me – if you’ve ever gone out with a hair, scarf, hoodie or turban because your head fur wasn’t playing the game, then you understand. When your hair looks great, your face looks great, as Iris Apfel knows, “If your hair is done properly and you have on good shoes, you can get away with anything.” Speaking as someone who can’t ‘do’ herself, still I concur. C