Why I’ll Never Go Back To My Roots

Raeside hair

How Julia Raeside found the miracle cure to a lifetime of badly behaved hair


I was born with the wrong hair. My lovely Scottish dad bequeathed me skin the colour of frightened chalk and hair that is permanently having a fight with itself on top of my head. Like James Bond trying to strangle himself on the roof of a train. For me, the combination of apple cheeks, a bubbly personality (I hate that word) and untamable ringlets was too much for one head. My hair obeyed no master, frizzed at the first sign of moisture and boiled me in summer, such was its density. I probably lost at least two boyfriends in there over the years. While admiring the way other women carried off their curls, I always thought people with straight hair looked neat and chic. No matter what I did to my thatch, I felt a mess. I once went to a posh hairdresser, not long after moving to London, and he peered disapprovingly at the top of my head before telling me, barely concealing his distaste, “You have a very irregular curl.”


Everything changed in 2001. One weekday mid-morning Richard and Judy were gently bickering on my TV as per when Finnigan returned to the autocue and announced: “Coming up after the break, a new hair straightening treatment that permanently changes the texture of your locks”. Slack-jawed, I stayed exactly where I was until I had seen the full report about Yuko System, a new Japanese technique using scorching hot straightening irons and a relaxing solution which claimed to repair the hair while re-programming it. Your hair, they said, would be straight, sleek and unfrizzable, come what may, until the treated bit grew out like a dye. Having resigned myself to the idea that smooth hair was for other people, it was like a magic elf had landed on my hand and offered me my own talking unicorn that pissed gin and tonic.


My first time under the Yuko spell was cult-like. I went into a stark basement in central London and sat in the same chair for five hours, losing all sense of time, while Japanese hair experts bustled efficiently in the background. I survived on one coffee an hour and the promise of a poodle-ectomy: the end of frizz. (I know to bring a packed lunch now.) Then I handed them all the money I’d saved and turned to look in the mirror by the door.


I emerged into the evening sun, swooshing and swishing like Madonna during her kimono period. Rod-straight tresses draped flawlessly either side of my grinning face as I bobbed up Piccadilly, stinking of egg. In its early days, Yuko used a lot of ammonia and the smell hung around for weeks afterwards. I didn’t care though, now I was free to swim, head-bang and hang around in steam rooms, safe in the knowledge my hair would stay perfectly straight. (You keep it dry for 48 hours after treatment, but then you can style, wash and fiddle as much as you like.)


I’ve been Yuko-ing about once a year ever since that happy, eggy day. There are, of course, lots of ways to smooth out the frizz now thanks to keratin blow-dries and digital perms. But I think Yuko is the only hair torture brutal enough to sort out my crazed wig. Whenever I meet a fellow addict (it takes one to know one) we exchange the same born-again look because we know what it is to have found salvation. Some fellow poodle-heads have never heard of it and do saucer-eyes when I tell them my mane is a fake. Then they usually grip my arm urgently and demand to know where to get the good stuff, and I’m only too happy to tell them.


Like relatives, you can’t choose your hair. But if you save up and don’t mind losing all sensation in your buttocks once a year, you can buy the hair you’ve always wanted.




Related - Women We Love

SALI LOVES: Lisa Macario’s slogan sweatshirts

Any words you want, hand-stitched on a flattering sweatshirt? Sali Hughes is spoilt for choice

My Face: Rebekah Staton

The Raised by Wolves star and self-confessed beauty enthusiast spills out her desert island product stash.

My Face: Grace Woodward

The TV presenter, fashion stylist and owner of Graceland vintage boutique reveals which products she can’t live without.

My Face: Amber Butchart

The fashion historian, TV presenter, author and DJ reveals her desert island beauty essentials