Friday 25 January 2013

Fave Friday

This week: The Blow Dry.

It's terribly extravagant, but one of my favourite things to do. I have only ever had a few, but this is more to do with the logistics of getting to the salon at a convenient time than anything else; I suppose that is why it is such a treat, because it takes a good hour and that is a lot of time to spend. Plus, it's paying somebody a fairly substantial sum of money to do something I'm perfectly capable of doing for myself.

However, it is still my favourite beauty treat. So this week after my first exam board meeting on Wednesday, I found myself with two hours to spare. I was near Covent Garden, the site of my first blow dry, which I had when Jen was getting her hair cut before an Avalon meet. I tried Aveda but was feeling confident enough at that point to reject their senior stylist at £60. So I wandered around until I found a likely salon*. It had prices for ladies on the menu, but I could only see gentlemen inside; I dithered a bit but then it started to sleet so I went for it.

"Hello," I said hesitantly to the intimidatingly cool and perfectly-coiffed ladies on the desk. "I was wondering if you had somebody available for, um, who could blow dry my hair?"

They stared at me for a moment. Was it my ancient and extremely bobbly gigantic purple cardigan? Was it my awful, frizzy, lumpy, greasy mop that looked beyond redemption? Was it a barber? Was it a front for human trafficking? I opened my mouth to take it back but caught sight of a woman having her hair washed behind the desk and she looked so relaxed, the washer girl having just got to the massage part of the wash, that my retraction died in my throat. I waited for the girls to decide.

They consulted in whispers and looked at the schedule. Then the price list. Then one of them disappeared towards the back to check, while the other said, "We're just checking - our senior stylist might be available." The first one appeared again with a Japanese stylist who looked at me doubtfully. Makeupless, in muddy Uggs and a black maxi dress with the woolly cardigan around me, I can't have looked particularly promising. But he gave a brief nod - clearly not one to knock back a challenge - and then remaining receptionist instantly quoted me a price. It was steep. But not as steep as Aveda; and I'd come too far to back down.

The second receptionist came back. I could bear the silence no longer. "It's just so awful!" I burst out, pointing at my head. "I mean, it's just so flat, and yet lumpy, and frizzy...I just want it to look good!"

It was like I'd canted a spell. "Oh, you poor thing - yes, and it's been snowed on too," comforted one, soothingly, "let me get you a robe. Can I take your" "Would you like a drink of something?" asked the other, warmly. Clearly, I had not been speaking their language at first. My doubt and frank embarrassment at asking for such an everyday thing had put them off. I'm sure people regularly turn up to ask for these things.

It was all glorious after that. A silk robe. A chair that mechanically lifted from the middle to set me in a flat position at the sink. A gorgeous lavender-and-rosemary-scented shampoo. A washer girl who asked if I wanted conditioner all over, or on the ends. A head massage. A lapful of magazines including the newest Elle which I hadn't read yet. Two people working to comb out my tangles and exclaiming over how long my hair is (I always like that, though I'm not sure they always mean it as a compliment). A stylist who artfully curled segments around clips and straightened segments and worked most of the blow dry with his fingertips until I looked like a new person; who called my hair "dark blonde" when I cocked my head to look for greys, and smoothly lied that they were invisible instead of trying to sell me an appointment with the colourist; who gave me advice on how to get the layers cut back in and told me I should do it soon; who told me I had a gorgeous natural wave. I walked out feeling a million dollars, and the magic blow dry was still working to give me confidence in yesterday's very long and full-on meeting (which I might liken to taming lions for 7 hours straight), and it STILL looked good today when I sadly had to wash it. And he used only a teeny amount of product, too, because he had a magic hair dryer where the cold shot actually worked and it did a magic thing to my hair at the end: it was fluffy, and then it wasn't. All previously stylists have said, "Gosh, it's fluffy, isn't it!" and thrown product at it, with varying but unsatisfactory degrees of success. 

It is testament to his artistry that I am actually trying to work out how I can get back there for a cut. He did ask if I wanted it cut. But the blow dry alone was worth every penny. And it was my reward to myself - the advance copy of my book arrived on Wednesday and it will be on sale very soon. Eighteen months of hard work coming to an end! Sadly the prosecco I opened in its honour was flat; but at least my hair still had bounce.

* Having found and nosed around the website a bit for this post, I understand my experience a bit better now.

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