Kurt Cobain or this picture of him to be exact…
It was 1994, and as a 14-year-old boy and huge Nirvana fan, looking at this picture I was transfixed. I was looking for a new direction to take my style, and decided this was THE hair I wanted.
I tried everything: marker pens, mascara and even food colouring. Then I heard the word ‘bleach’. That got my brain box whirring and I quickly ran to the bathroom cupboard, poured Domestos into a mug and dipped my hair into it. After 30 minutes nothing had happened – what was I doing wrong?
Telling a friend about my attempt at home hair colouring, she informed me that I needed hair bleach, not toilet bleach, so after school I hot-footed it to the chemist and the Nanna behind the counter showed me everything I needed.
Armed with my Jerome Russell bleach powder and 40vol developer, I was just about to exit the shop when she called me back. That’s when she gave me a brilliant piece of advice: “When you think it’s done, leave it on for another 20 minutes.” Classic!
One hot bath, one KwikSave plastic bag to keep the heat in and four hours later I unveiled my new ‘do to my mum. I thought I was the bees knees; she thought I looked like Mira Hindley!
So it came to pass over the next few years I experimented with more markers, more food colouring and eventually came across Crazy Colour. I knew that this was the job for me, and on leaving school, aged 16, I managed to bag myself a job in a small but creative salon in the city centre.
This was a real learning curve for me. For a start they tried to make me cut hair! I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to do colour – and only colour.
Remember, this was the mid-90s and colourists were few and far between. Colouring consisted of a few foil highlights and grey coverage. I wanted to change this.
I remember seeing a picture of Saffron from Republica sporting a black bob with red pieces. This blew my mind. This was where I wanted to be, doing this! So I set about figuring out how it was done and experimenting on my friends until I perfected it. I loved that look, and it still looks fresh now.
Fast-forward 20 years and the 90s are back, and it seems everyone wants to be a hair colourist!
Hair colour has been dragged out the back rooms, summoned up from the basements and brought to the forefront of the industry. We’ve been busy, technique is king and it’s big business.
Over the last 10 years we haven’t had a ‘mega cut’ like The Pob or The Rachel – it’s all been about long hair. Now, what better to show off colour than a mass of tumbling tresses?
‘Beaujolais’, ‘bailage’, ‘beagleage’ – however the client tries to pronounce it, balayage is huge. Along with social media, it’s changed the way we work.
No longer to we look at our columns at 9am and see three full-head foils, four half-heads and three root tints, each following set section patterns and previous notes, robotic in our applications. “Same again?” has gone for good, and every client now is a creative colour.
Clients are savvy to what’s going on in hairdressing; gone are the days of the hair press being for hairdressers only. Today, the client has the same access to the same media as we do, and they know what they want.
They arrive in the salon armed with Pinterest boards full of pictures of the back of people’s heads showing you what they want, and YouTube videos showing how they want you to do it.
We need now to approach every client’s colour application as a creative colour application, tailoring it to complement their complexions, and looking at the haircut to emphasise focal points. Condition is key, and we have state-of-the art products to achieve what we want.
In order to move forward, we must instigate change, one client at a time. I always try to encourage this with my clients, whether it’s a change of tone with each passing season, or working towards a goal. We need to keep our clients modern and evolving – this will keep them coming back to us and stops us from getting bored and complacent.
But really, when you think about it, isn’t this what we should be doing anyway?