Finding The One

Michael-Van-Clarke-London-Salon-380

 Anna Hart on how she stopped being a ‘salon slut’ and finally settled down with her stylist

My name is Anna, and when it comes to haircuts I’ve always been a massive whore. My longest relationship with a stylist is three cuts, and even that was on-and-off, sullied by ill-advised flings on my part. In the past decade I’ve accumulated a number of excellent adult habits: daily Nutribullet concoctions, a weekly and wine session, regular 5K runs. Even a few beauty rituals: a lash lift with Beth at The London Dolls before a holiday, medi-pedis at Margaret Dabbs in Liberty. But hair has always been my beauty blindspot.

I am blessed/cursed with the most bog-standard of barnets: naturally mousy hair that I half-heartedly highlight and keep vaguely mid-length. Not curly enough to be wavy, nor straight enough to be silken. It is thoroughly average, inoffensive hair – but from the very beginning, I struggled to hoik it beyond “acceptable”. My first ever haircuts without my mum present – £5 training cuts at Supercuts at Belfast’s In Shops – bafflingly failed to make me look like Buffy. Teenage attempts at any style more ambitious than ‘up in a scrunchie’ and ‘down’ resulted in tangled tresses and tears. GHDs were hailed as a hair revolution in the mid-noughties; they made my bob resemble a mushroom. So I gave up on hair, and ploughed all my vanity into vintage frocks and bright lipstick.

As I cheerily explained to one dejected stylist (a one-afternoon-only fling in Glasgow), “All I want is for it to look, well, .” Looking back, I can see that it was my hair’s low self esteem that kept me from committing; I didn’t believe that good hair would happen for me. My hair would be a solid 6/10, no matter what. I could spend £150 on a swanky salon every six weeks, or I could put in zero effort, and at least avoid disappointment and heartache.

Then, a few years ago, I met a boy who changed everything. His name is Dylan Bray and he works at 28 D’arblay Street. I book haircuts the way I book dentist appointments, on a shit-I-need-this-NOW basis. I walked into the salon in Soho, and Dylan was free, thanks to a client who’d cancelled with tonsillitis. Hurrah for tonsillitis! It was magical. Dylan did not gaze down disapprovingly at my hair like it was a sinkful of dirty dishes. He calmly listened to my sad backstory: “I hate it when I look like a mushroom. I don’t own a hairdryer because it sounds like vacuuming your head. I want to spend six minutes MAX styling my hair.” He gave me a cunning curl-friendly cut, then patiently demonstrated a brush-free air-drying technique that meant I could wash my hair, go to bed with it damp, and wake up with acceptable hair. Hair, in fact, that was a big spangly 7!

It was too good to last. I slowly realised that I couldn’t just stroll in off D’Arblay Street and expect Dylan to greet me with open arms and open scissors. Dylan manages the salon and only cuts part-time, and his appointments disappear faster than Glastonbury tickets. After each cut he’d gallantly suggest booking my next appointment, and I’d brush him off, transfixed by my new swishy locks. “Nah, babe, six weeks is light years away – I’ll call you.” Then when I phoned with some sort of holiday/posh event emergency, he’d be busy with other girls. I soon went back to my old whoring ways, slumping into the seat of any old salon, morosely watching my hair return to a 6.

But last year, after accepting hat there is no Instagram filter that can fix shit hair, I resolved to give hair monogamy one more try. And I met just the man: Gustav Fouche at Michael Van Clarke in Marylebone. We were seated next to each other at a fancy awards bash, so I swiftly ascertained that his chat was tops. He was even complimentary about my glaringly inappropriate straggly hair. “Beachy”, he called it, and I blushed. By the end of the night, we were swapping numbers.

And this past year, well, it’s changed me as a woman. I never knew the joy of going steady with a stylist, but I’m a convert. I no longer have to do that awkward first-Tinder-date bit where I explain my likes (Cher’s hair in Clueless) and dislikes (bits in my eyes) and my perceived failings (blowdries) and minor triumphs (finger curls). Gustav already knows me! And he’s still here! We don’t talk about holidays, we talk about underground fetish clubs, seemingly-pleasant celebrities who are secret wankers, and beauty products that are a total waste of money. We make thrilling plans for the future. He’ll say, “These longer layers are pretty for summer, but in three months we’ll go for a long bob.” And last time, I even felt confident enough to try something new – the aforementioned Lob – because I know that if it doesn’t work out, Gustav will be right here to fix me. It’s taken thirty years, but finally, I’m ready to settle down with a stylist, and grow into my hair.

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