The Creative HEAD Timeline

As Creative HEAD celebrates its 20th birthday, we’re looking back over those two decades to select some of the key highlights from our hallowed history. What’s been your favourite moment…?

JUNE 2000

Alfol Ltd, the publishing company behind Creative HEAD, is formed on 6 June.

The business is named after the co-founders’ sons, Alfie and Oliver.


The first issue of Creative HEAD magazine is published, with a cover image by Gary Hooker, then style director at Clynol, and a coverline that states: IT’S ABOUT WHAT GOES ON. Inside, we report on the launch of OSiS; the trend for salon conglomerates, formed with mergers and acquisitions – as an example we quote Philipsharon’s merger with the Haringtons group; and Josh Wood’s four-page feature in the Telegraph Magazine. He’s pictured alongside celebrity clients including Jerry Hall and daughter Elizabeth with a brilliant quote: “I don’t do expensive-looking highlights – it bores me to tears. Big highlights are like wearing a flashy diamond ring. I don’t do big.”

We also urge readers not to ignore the rise of the World Wide Web, quoting research by Mintel that shows that Internet usage in the UK rose to over 15 million people by November 1999 (in 2019 virtually all adults aged 16 to 44 use the internet). “As a business man or woman, you cannot afford to be left behind,” we state, somewhat solemnly. “Use your website as a marketing tool and to promote your image. But be cost-conscious and make your site work for its keep.”


The inaugural Most Wanted awards Grand Final is held over lunch at the Sugar Reef restaurant in London, with Radio 1 DJ Nemone on hosting duties. Awards are handed out to Bliss Hairdressing, Loughborough (Best Salon Team), Jamilla Paul, Rochdale (Best Local Salon), (Best Website), Lawrence Anthony Cole (Best Look), Zoe Irwin (Directional Look) and Anthony Mascolo (Influential Hairdresser).


We launch the Smart Card, which entitled readers to discounts, special offers and free prizes… oh and it just happened to be attached to our Sex Aid issue, featuring the Karma Sutra alphabet. Because of course.

APRIL 2005

Our hand drawn cover (because we didn’t have a cover). Thanks art editor Nick, who’s been with us since pretty much the beginning.

MAY 2006

What would it take to make your business dream come true? Would £25,000 do the trick? Yes, that whopping cash prize was up for grabs in the Dream Factory, our Dragons Den-style competition to find the best new business idea in British hairdressing. Entrants could choose from the themes of Innovation, Expansion or Education, with two finalists from each category competing head to head in pitches to a panel of judges, including Rita Rusk, Rush’s Andy Phouli and beauty marketing guru Michelle Feeney. Our overall winner? Shaun Pulfrey with his Tangle Teezer brush (the one who famously “got away” from the Dragon’s Den dragons…)


Our four part staggered cover with TIGI.
So complicated we never did it again…


Creative HEAD Ireland is born, with a Dublin-based team led by editor Sarah Manley reporting on the exciting creative and business talents operating in the Republic of Ireland. A launch party, held at The Champagne Bar @ Ron Blacks, is attended by the elite of the Irish hairdressing scene, including Robert Chambers, Paul Davey, Katherine Sweeney and Paul Hession. A bumper first issue includes profiles of Toni&Guy’s Sean McGee, a showcase of Ireland’s leading colourists and a Clockwork Orange-inspired fashion collection created by Michael Leong and Kieron O’Gorman.

JUNE 2007

We hold our first Salon Smart business networking event at the Guoman Tower Hotel in London’s Tower Bridge – a unique opportunity for independent salon owners and managers to get together and “talk shop”. Among the 100-odd attendees is Paul Cook of Hair Concept in Banbury; he’s attended every Salon Smart since – all 19 of them!

Today Salon Smart has an excellent reputation for bringing together brilliant people and exciting brands, sharing real stories and new ideas and providing unique opportunities for salon owners and managers to learn from, and spend time with, a host of respected industry innovators. It’s a chance to re-energise body and business mind with inspiring presentations, practical workshops, topical debates and creative performances – all hosted in four-star luxury. Salon Smart 2020 takes place in London on 29 & 30 March  and in Dublin on 1 November.


Already established as key part of the hairdressing calendar, Salon Smart ‘pops up’ in Glasgow for a sell-out session, with speakers including Dom Migele, Anne Veck and Trevor Sorbie. Salon Smart Regionals follow in Glasgow and Bristol – and in November 2019 we move overseas for the first time with the launch of Salon Smart Dublin, featuring a brilliant mix of Irish and UK salon owners like Richard Phillipart and Dylan Bradshaw, and including Percy & Reed duo Paul Percival and Adam Reed, who make an emotional appearance onstage after announcing their decision to part ways. They are met with a standing ovation that reduces both hairdressers to tears.


Responding to overwhelming demand, the Most Wanted Grand Final for the first time becomes an evening event, held at Banqueting House (a Royal Palace, no less) in central London. Andrew Barton is crowned Hair Icon…

MARCH 2009

Creative HEAD joins Twitter.

JULY 2009

A double-whammy month. First, we are named Business Magazine of the Year at the PPA Awards (The Oscars of the publishing world). Second, we publish a landmark 36-page feature, Rock & Royal, charting the new influencers in British hairdressing. Enfant terrible Charlie Le Mindu, photographer Alex Barron-Hough, salon owner Bradley Taylor and session stylists Paul Hanlon, Philippe Chicheportiche, Claire Rothstein and Louis Byrne are among the names featured. All the artists, together with their agents and crews, gather at a nightclub in central London for a Rock & Royal party…


We launch The Coterie (it’s a French word meaning ‘a meeting of like-minded people’), a networking club designed to allow professionals from the worlds of hair and fashion to come together to share ideas and experiences, discuss topical issues, and to connect with one another. Speakers to date include Neil Moodie, the singer and mental health activist Will Young, designers Henry Holland and Bora Aksu, Vogue beauty director Jessica Diner and WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid. As the club grows, The Coterie launches regional pop-ups in cities across the UK, and a spin-off event, The Coterie: In Session, where fashion-led stylists work and talk onstage in front of a live audience.


We showcase the session talents of Fashion Weeks around the world with the launch of Runway magazine – 116 pages of unprecedented access to the S/S10 shows, including key looks and definitive trends, the backstage big-hitters, the rising stars hot on their heels and a stunning collection of looks created exclusively for Runway by Eugene Souleiman and Josh Wood.


The It List, shining a spotlight on emerging hairdressing talents aged 30 and under, joins the Most Wanted awards, hosted by Jimmy Carr at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. Our five It List winners include Christopher Appleton, whom judges, including Professor Louise Wilson from Central Saint Martins, interior designer and author Doris Lockhart, fashion historian Caroline Cox and the beauty directors of ELLE, Marie-Claire and Tatler, award the title One To Watch. With Christopher now based in LA as hairdresser to the Kardashians, they clearly knew what they were talking about. At the same Grand Final we also celebrate Most Wanted’s 10th birthday with a parade of winners from the last 10 years.

And on the cover of our 10th birthday issue, we celebrated with a stunning shoot styled by Mr Appleton, along with Jonathan Soons and Carly Aplin for L’Oreal Professionnel. It was a fabulous fusion of beauty, grace and motion – total birthday magic!


Creative HEAD joins Facebook.


The Coterie stages fashion shows for designers Jane Bowler, Liberum Arbitrium, Fanny & Jessy, Ellenora Moroso at St Lukes Church in Clerkenwell during London Fashion Week (it’s where the London Symphony Orchestra rehearses). The arriving fash pack mingles with 100 hairdresser guests, sipping champagne while enjoying open-plan views of the backstage teams in action, prepping the models to perfection.

MAY 2012 in its current form is born.


Our original cover shoot showcased a trio of young talents (all under 25) – the Matrix Destination Fame 2012 winners Raymond Bottone, Ashleigh Hodges, Georgina Mucklin and their project mentors Paul Falltrick, Hooker & Young and Jamie Stevens. It was raw but glitzy, paparazzi-style photography – a really cool and modern approach that jumped off the page.

MARCH 2013

Creative HEAD joins Instagram.


After many months of development and testing, we launch Layered, our online magazine site that shares the knowledge, advice and skills of thousands of hair professionals with consumers to ensure readers never need suffer another ‘bad hair day’. Whether that’s a blow-dry tutorial, details of a breakthrough new product, or coping strategies for thinning hair, Layered’s insider tips are always practical, no-nonsense – and, most importantly of all, they work. To celebrate the launch we also publish a print copy of the magazine that’s distributed to over 40,000 commuters at London Underground stations.

JULY 2015

@creativeheadmag reaches 25,000 followers on Twitter.


We launch The Big Hair Do, a nationwide, in-salon “experience” event offering the  opportunity to treat existing clients, win new ones, make A LOT of retail sales and be part of the UK’s biggest hair party. 100 salons sign up for a fun-filled, Prosecco-fuelled evening of curl classes, shade shake-ups and reviving rituals at the backwash, with guests getting a glimpse of the incredible services available at their local salons and a chance to meet the fabulous teams behind the salon doors.

And at the Most Wanted and The It List Grand Final,
#MWIT15 trends on Twitter in the UK!


@creativeheadmag reaches 25,000 followers on Instagram.


Sam McKnight invites 60 Creative HEAD readers to a private guided tour of his landmark exhibition at Somerset House celebrating his 40-year career. After talking us through iconic photography, couture garments, wigs, hairpieces and (the most popular exhibit of all) the contents of Sam’s kit bag, the evening concludes with Sam signing copies of his coffee table book – also called Hair by Sam McKnight – and the queue stretches as far as the eye can see…

Watch our exclusive video here

JULY 2017

Hello, Mr.Q! Creative HEAD’s new quarterly magazine is all about the booming men’s grooming market – each issue is packed full of insight, trends, debate, personalities, the coolest barber shops, the hottest boys’ toys, stunning photographic work and exclusive access to London Fashion Week: Men.


Two icons, one stage – an incredible evening. On a chilly autumn night in deepest East London, two MASSIVE names hosted a unique Coterie event as Guido Palau and Josh Wood, each stratospheric stars in their own right, came together to chat careers and collaborations for one sold-out night. And what a night it was.

Providing a unique glimpse into both their creative processes and personal journeys, the pair walked their friend, ex-Vogue beauty director Nicola Moulton, through key moments in their individual (and shared) hair histories.

Here are some of the gems:

Josh on Guido: “As a colourist, I’ve worked in basements for 18 years – I didn’t see sunlight! I wanted to take colour out of the basement. I wanted to be like Guido, to be recognised as an expert in a creative way… I felt that if you worked really hard and challenged yourself, there was no reason why colour couldn’t have equal status.”

Guido on being backstage: “When I was in the salon, I didn’t really feel right. It was only when I went on my first shoot that was where I felt at home, felt very comfortable in that environment. You have to go where you feel right and that felt very comfortable working with other creative people.  When I discovered that, it was when I found hairdressing to be really exciting.”

Josh on the rise of colour on the catwalk: “Styling has been more recessive in the past few seasons, and it’s given us a chance to bring colour forward, but we need to be ahead of the curve. There are other things we can do other than bleach the hair and put a pastel on it… Technique is what’s driving the hair, and in particular, the colour world right now. Maybe in this industry, technique is what we will end up left with – what we can do with our hands sets us apart.”

Guido on Instagram: “I’ve had to delete it from my phone as I’d be sat there on the day of a show, just stuck scrolling in the bathroom!”


Roll up, Roll up! Ladies and gentlemen, our first-ever Featured Artist LIVE event was a bonkers, brilliant, buzzing occasion that left its audience open-mouthed in wonder 20 November 2017). Dreamed up by the night’s ringmaster, Most Wanted 2017 Session Stylist award winner Syd Hayes, the event followed a twisted circus theme that saw guests pushing their creative boundaries at a range of Syd-devised ‘stations’ ranging from a warped ‘pin the ponytail on the donkey’ game to a life-drawing class that used hair colour instead of paint.
This truly was “the greatest show in town”, an invitation from one of the UK’s greatest session hairdressers truly to explore his creative mindset – and it sparked the first of a series of stylist-led events from Creative HEAD that would turn traditional hair education on its head.

Remember how Nick Irwin ushered a group of 100 hairdressers into the infamous studios of his photographer friend Rankin – and unleashed a night of wild creativity that included a live shoot as Rankin took the portraits of 20 lucky guests (13 August 2018). We still pinch ourselves at the memory…

A few months later we entered the surreal world of Johanna Cree Brown, drifting through sets featuring shimmering mermaid-esque strands, a quartet of see-through wigs, thread-adorned styles and an abundance of braids (19 November 2018)…

And then, we built a #badsalon with Ky Wilson (18 November 2019) – a brilliantly quirky, tongue-in-cheek black comedy that saw the audience on the receiving end of unsavoury standards in the hairdressing industry – a hideous carnival of bad service, ridiculous product claims and exploitative employment practices. By cleverly putting real hairdressers into clients’ shoes, appointments at Curl Up & Ky certainly achieved their aim of prompting conversation. And of course, drinks and cool tunes were served throughout…


They work hard, they deliver astounding hair, they are always en vogue! Creative HEAD’s first-ever Fash Bash, in partnership with BaByliss PRO, celebrated the incredible talents that form the LFW backstage hair teams for the world’s leading designers. Finally, a time to take five, applaud their creative genius and enjoy a cocktail, or two…

MARCH 2018

Celebrating professional hair colour and the artists creating it, PAINT makes its debut both in print and online. It’s a celebration of colour and the artists creating it, and a forum to encourage a frank and open conversation about salon colour including how it’s represented online and handling client expectations of salon colour appointments. We particularly love working with our PAINTERS, a group of colourists who report from the front lines (or should that be backwashes?) of the UK’s salons, sets and shoots, sharing images, experiences, formulas, opinions, videos, favourite looks, worst mistakes, headaches and challenges.

MAY 2018

@creativeheadmag reaches 50,000 followers on Instagram


An exploration of street style, made real by a trio of contemporary artists (Paula McCash, Richard Phillipart and Josh Goodwin) and photographed on the streets of East London, ensured out cover shoot with BaByliss PRO made a real impact. This was seriously cool styling (hair AND fashion) all captured with the excitement that venturing outside the studio beings…

JULY 2019

For the first time ever, more than half of UK hair professionals are self-employed, meaning they need to know about tax and insurance, how to market themselves and how to find clients. Creative HEAD’s new SELF/STYLED channel within is packed with all the information they need to set themselves up in business, including a range of handy SELF/HELP guides, a GIG LIST of freelance opportunities and salon chairs to rent, plus regular updates on new products and kit they can buy, ideas for new ways to earn money and a diary of upcoming courses and events they can attend.