What lengths will people go to now we are legally allowed to have our hair cut? Suzanne Baum opts for the cream of the crop as the first journalist in at the salon!
My lockdown locks have come to a sharp end. 140 days, 19 WEEKS, almost FIVE MONTHS and they are finally face-to-face with a pair of hairdressing scissors in the hands of the expert who is about to cut to the chase in giving me the most memorable haircut of my life.
This may sound a tad dramatic but as someone who is used to having a monthly cut and colour, and a weekly blow-dry, my hair is in fact my crowning glory.
And once the salons were forced to shut their doors on March 23 – I, along with everyone else, had no idea just how long they would remain closed. All I knew was that I would just have to trim and bear it.
And then the epidemic grew worse, the stories of people falling ill and knowing of several who were in hospital with the virus, made my hair woes seem insignificant.
In fact, I began to realise – with my three sons stuck at home and eating through the contents of the fridge every day- the money I usually spent on a trip to the salon could feed their increased demands instead!
As my barnet grew, so did the grey hairs, and as I attempted to straighten my unruly locks, they began to singe. And don’t get me started on the split ends. Yes, the fact my hair was such a mess began to play havoc with my head.
I am not normally a strict rule follower but I suddenly took on the role of queen of political correctness, refusing to break the law and reprimanding the hairdressers contacting me for a cut on the black market!
As well as being aware that it could put my family at risk, I also had my own reputation at stake; as a media personality I would have been called out if anyone had noted the journalist who is relied upon to tell the truth had in fact got a sneaky cut on the side.
And then there is the matter of being married to a lawyer – one who after 21 years of marriage had suddenly been forced to work from home - trust me, after 14 weeks holed up with his beloved wife, he would have happily shopped me to the authorities in the hope that I may be carted off to jail and he could finally get some peace and quiet!
So – with my integrity and hair intact – I needed no excuse to cut and run to the Daniel Galvin hair salon in Marylebone, to have the first legal chop and colour before they opened their doors to the public TODAY!
Yes, it involved a very, very early start – but I literally couldn’t wait to get my hands on the salon door (which incidentally had been wiped so clean it shone) and my hair into the wonderfully talented (and gloved) fingers of artistic director Nick Peters and director of colour Anna Short – who were as eager as me to start the job!
First up though, let me warn you – the salon experience has changed, a lot. Forget rocking up early to hang out – or late because you can’t find somewhere to park, timing is crucial!
The reception area is no longer a place where you can greet your stylists, friends and have a catch up – at Daniel Galvin, and others no doubt - you will be alerted by text to your appointment, when to arrive, and when not to. This system will enable no queues to build up and to ensure everything runs like clockwork.
I am known for being an early bird – so obviously the first hair cut in five months had me racing to the salon, but – take note – however euphoric you are to get your long awaited appointment you will not be allowed inside until it is your allocated time.
Having my temperature taken on arrival didn’t faze me one bit, neither did being asked to sanitize my hands, – I’d already become accustomed to both having previously been sent on other work assignments– and my arrival pack of mask and gloves was to be expected.
That is where everything kind of newly “familiar” ended. Who would have thought there would be such a thing as a salon “host” to guide me to my chair and be responsible for everything from checking me in and gowning me up to paying and placing any hair products I needed into a bag to take home.
I can imagine some people may be daunted by the new salon experience. It didn’t feel clinical – although every surface was shiny and spotless due to the fact they were being constantly cleaned - but having all staff and clients in facemasks with stylists also sporting visors to give maximum protection does change the ambience.
My colourist may have had her face covered but I could tell she was smiling from the way her eyes lit up – and I presume this kind of gesture is something we will get used too. With either side of my chair empty (the salon has a set seating plan to ensure nobody sits next to anyone else), I wanted to fill her in on all my gossip but the masks prevented us from having a natter.
As anyone having highlights knows, it can be a very long process – three blissful hours drinking coffee and reading magazines– both of which are no longer allowed. Instead – I tried to read my kindle on my phone, only to find myself dozing off; not a great thing when highlights require you to sit still! BUT, after having no one, other than my family, touch me for so long, the gentle handling of my hair was clearly therapeutic or maybe it was the face mask causing me to over-heat.
Forcing my eyes open, I was able to take a good look at the salon and take in all the changes. I note the smart new perplex glass screens at reception, I spot hand sanitizers everywhere and the hair products left on display have been spaced out. There is also some signage dotted around to remind you to keep socially distanced.
The back wash was pure bliss. I loved the Perspex screens used to divide the area up as they gave you a sense of privacy and safety. It also meant that as my foil highlights were removed I was able to doze off again without feeling embarrassed that anyone would see.
Having my hair shampooed felt so good, even if the face mask was particularly stifling with my head tipped back into the basin – which I noticed was instantly disinfected, along with my seat, as soon as I got up.
There have been rumours of hair salons not being able to give access to toilets but I was allowed to use one, but I was reminded to sanitize my hands before and afterwards.
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As far as hygienic measures go, my stylist didn’t need to reassure me that his products were freshly cleaned; I could tell right away everything was nice and shiny, just like my hair, finally blonde after months of turning gradually a dark shade of slush.
Then came the cut! SIX inches to be precise. Whereas I would once gasp at the mere thought of a hairstylist getting scissor happy, I encouraged it. The frayed ponytail that had become attached to me since lockdown was cut off first and I felt elated. Even looking at the pile of hair on the floor gave me some sort of bizarre pleasure: it was by far a cut above the rest!
As with most things nowadays, the new salon experience will take some time to get used to. Gone are the fancy side-trimmings which added to the experience but after months of closure with the hair salons given the go ahead to work, love is certainly in the hair!
For more details, visit Daniel Galvin.