Archive for the ‘Hair’ Category

Seven Days of Postive – Day 76

In Friends, Hair, Moon on December 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm


Yesterday was a surprise high day and holiday, today was the opposite. Nose to the grindstone, bum up, head down, crack on to it.

I’m doing the copy edit of the printed pages of my book and desperately need to get it finished, but things keep coming up which make me have to break off. It’s driving me nuts.

Today I had full day of it which was great, even though it meant I didn’t get my head outside until it was already dark.

When I did finally open the front door to sniff the air and get a feel for what manner of day it had been (very cold and rainy as far as I could tell from my position at the desk), the moon was just coming up over the easterly hill which rises steeply up across the road from my house.

There’s something very special about a moon rise.

This evening I went to my dear friend Nicki’s house (two streets over) to get my hair colour done in her kitchen.

I love getting my cuts from the brilliant Giles Robertson at the glamorous John Frieda salon up in Mayfair, but my highlight foils sessions in Nicki’s kitchen, talking about our kids (they’ve known each other since there were two and Archie and Peggy are now at school together) are an equal joy.

She’s one of the funniest people I know and we have such a laugh.

We have been known to accidentally drink a lot of wine while it’s happening, but tonight we were both on a pre-Christmas detox, so I sipped my beloved mugs of hot water, while she sipped the chilled version.

I returned home smiling and blonder at the edges.

The root of the problem

In Grooming, Hair on November 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm


This post is not sponsored, PR generated, or in any way influenced by anything except my own recent experience. Now we have that clear I can get on to the fun part.

It isn’t very often you encounter an absolutely new genre of beauty product – an idea so clever and new it blows your mind and makes you go WOW! But that happened to me last Thursday when I was getting my hair cut by my treasured stylist Giles Robinson at the John Frieda salon in Mayfair.

When I first met Giles on a magazine shoot about six years ago, he was a young gun at the salon, who did the odd bit of editorial. Impressed by his work on the magazine story and his lovely personality I went into the John Frieda flagship in Aldford Street for a cut and I’ve never been anywhere else since.


With his talent and intelligence, he has quickly risen up the ranks so he’s now the king of demonstration – officially ‘Director, Training and Education’ – for the latest brand dreamed up by John Frieda and his business partner (and fellow genius) Gail Federici.

The first life-changing product those two came up with was Frizz-Ease and since then they’ve dreamed up the Sheer Blonde shampoo and styling range, quickly followed by Brilliant Brunette and Radient Redhead, and the Luxurious Volume products (which I find give brilliant root lift on home blow dries).

Read more about them here:

Now they’ve done it again with ColorWow.

It came up by chance when I was chatting to Giles about what he’s been doing since I last saw him and it turns out he has been gadding around the States with legendary hairdress Ken Pavés (who does Victoria Beckham’s barnet among many other stellar heads) and in the QVC studios demonstrating the product with him and with Kevin Moss, the UK-based John Frieda Creative Director.

This legend (a very funny and very nice legend…) was cutting another lady’s hair in the chair behind mine in the salon that day, so by lucky chance I had an intro to the range from two gurus and all I could do was sit and say: WOW.

This is basically, make up for hair. At first I was bit – meh – about that as a concept. It looks like an eye shadow compact: a sleek black box with brown compressed powder in it (there are six shades from platinum to full black), a brush lying along side.


OK, I thought, that’s clever. I’d dab the lightest blonde shade on my roots where my highlights are growing out and it will make them look light again – but won’t it come off all over my clothes?

No, said Giles. It sticks to the hair so well it’s waterproof. But not shampoo proof – you wash it out – but waterproof. So even if you are covering up grey roots on jet black hair, you can use the product and go swimming without the pool looking like a squid attack.

I was quite impressed with that – then the big reveal happened. I had a go with it, dabbing at my roots with the powder and that’s when I said WOW… because not only does it make the dark roots disappear, the reflectors in the powder bounce the light off each hair shaft, so it looks exactly like shining, freshly highlighted hair – and not at all like hair with eye shadow on it.

As Kylie would say, wow wow wow wow.

At £28 ($49.95 in Aus) for a one-colour compact it’s not cheap – but it could seriously extend the time before you need your colour doing, so you’d make it back.

It’s in store now – check on Google – so go have a play and tell me what you think. I’m still thinking WOW.

Here’s a video showing the product in action.

The good oil

In Hair on January 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm


As a child in the 1960s I developed my ideal of womanhood from watching television.

My perfect woman was Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds. She had it all. A mansion, a chauffeur (who could pick safe locks with one of her hairpins – handy), adventures and a pink Rolls Royce. She also had great hair.


Another lady pin up was Alexandra Bastedo in a spy series called The Champions. She tended to go the up do, but I thought her unutterably glamorous. I also had a big crush on the dark-haired man in the series (centre, below), Stuart Damon, who I now realise looks rather like my husband. And dresses like him too…


Even in those pre -Female Eunuch days I never felt comfortable watching the Bond films, just as I always hated Benny Hill (and don’t even start me on the creepiness of Gigi…).  But I used to watch them for the Bond girls.


Ursula Andress in the bikini, of course, but my favourite was always Honor Blackman in her suede jodphurs as Pussy Galore (FFS…). She had seriously great hair. My favourite doll, Sindy (preferred her to Barbie) had similar hair.


But my all-time number one hair inspiration was always my mother’s can of Elnett hairspray. The chick in that drawing has the best hair of all time. I still aspire to it.


Which is all by way of saying that I was a little hasty when I dissed L’Oreal’s Extraordinary Oil, the other day. I’ve been using it for over a week now and I think it lives up to its name.

I think it was the John Frieda Full Repair range which cured my traumatised fright wig hair, but the Extraordinary Oil – combined with my precious Big Hair dryer – has taken it on to another level.

I apply it lavishly before every wash, but the real genius comes when you use it the next day on dry hair. It gives it the kind of body I’ve only achieved before the day after doing a massive hairdo for a party with rollers and setting lotion.

For a moment just now, my hair was so big and high I felt a little like the lady on the Elnett can…

PS I so love all your comments on this I had to add this picture of TRESSY. I had a Tressy too, but she broke very quickly and then the long hair extension was just weird. She was a novelty, Barbie was a freak – Sindy was the It Girl.


Hair mares

In Age, Grooming, Hair on January 16, 2013 at 11:22 am


There are all the things that you expect about ageing: The thickening of the waist. The loosening of the inner thighs. Bingo wings, wrinkles, reading glasses, senior moments.

Then there’s all the other stuff you don’t find out about until it happens to you. Strange whiskers on the chin being the first of those that I experienced. Pluck those bastards right out. The lastest of these is hair weirdness. Hair that’s permanently in a mood, won’t do as it’s told at all.

I’m finding this particularly hard to cope with as my hair has always been the one body part I took comfort from. As a stump-legged short arse with no waist and joke shop boobs, hair I could rely on was my saviour. I’m not being up myself – everyone has something like that. I’ve got one good friend with legs as long as the M6. Another with a tiny waist which never increases no matter what happens to her hips. One of my best pals has breasts of such spectacular gravity-defying perfection I’d walk around topless if I had them.

My saving grace has always been hair with body and sheen that never goes lank or frizzy. Until now, when I’m living with a fright wig. Even with the excellent cuts of my wonderful hairdresser, my rug won’t play fair.

It looks wonderful when Giles (of John Frieda, Alford Street, London W1 – tell him I sent you…) blow dries it – and it used to look just as good when I did it. Then suddenly, bam, no matter what I do – leave it to dry naturally, blow dry it upside down – it sticks out like triangular candy floss.

This led to the day in a ghastly motorway café when my mother said to me: ‘Your hair really is awful. You look like Jimmy Saville…’

I have never been so offended – and if you follow the news, you’ll have an idea that there really isn’t anyone on earth you would less like to resemble. I don’t even like typing his name. Making matters worse, my husband agreed with her, the crawler. My darling daughter then sprang to my defence saying: ‘Don’t be so mean to Mummy!’ Then reaching out to squeeze my hand, she put on her best spaniel expression, looked up at me with huge eyes and said, ‘Don’t worry…. Jimmy.’

My husband and mother fell about laughing. I stormed off in a huff that took 24 hours to subside. And the hair hasn’t got any better since.

I’ve been up to see Giles and my equally wonderful colourist Cetera, neither of whom could come up with a reason for my hair mare – Cetera confirmed she never uses bleach on it – until I dared to venture it might be my age. They are both way too polite (and good at their jobs) to leap in to agree, but it was clear: I’ve got old hair and it’s gone weird.

Since then I’ve invested in a lot of product. Always one to be taken in by television advertising I paid out for the Elvive Extraordinary Oil only to find it to be pretty ordinary oil. Then I bought most of the John Frieda Full Repair range. The Deep conditioner is excellent and the Deep Infusion oily stuff is the only thing which has made my tissue paper dry ends lie a little flatter, applied before and after drying.


The inspiration struck. I blogged ages ago about the miracle of Babyliss Big Hair hairdryer – only to leave mine in a hotel room last summer. It had felt wrong to shell out another £40, when I’d been so slack and stupid to lose it, but last week they were on offer in Boots and I bought one.

Finally, my hair is looking like me again and I no longer fear the Saville resemblance. The funny thing is though, if my mum had said I looked like that other shock-haired fellow Andy Warhol (above), I wouldn’t have minded at all.

andy really big

PS A note about the appearance of this blog. Sigh… Let’s just say I’m having ‘issues’ with the design of it and trying to make it look better, it has ended up going all weird. So please bear with me until I get some professional help. xxx

Topknot Tails

In Hair on January 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm



Did you know it is now illegal for a woman under the age of 28 to be seen in public without her hair in some kind of up do?  It’s a trend I absolutely love, although I was sad when I first saw so many girls starting to wear the top of the head topknot, as it was a hairstyle I felt belonged to my niece, Katy.

She started wearing her hair like that about six years ago and it looked so cute, quite a small bun, right on the top of her head, with a long straight fringe. It was her signature look and so suited her.

So when I started to see the trickle down reaching the kind of teenage girls who hang around the shopping centre where I live, I was furious on Katy’s behalf, but I’m over it now. It’s the style of the moment; she was just ahead of the game.

Katy has a new signature style now. It started as Heidi style over the head plaits and has segued into rolls in the same formation. It’s a really good look and I’m glad she’s found it, as the hairdo she used to call her own is now even de rigeur for my 10 year old (below), who goes off to school every morning with her hair twisted up into some kind of bun.


I love all the different versions of it and so enjoy seeing young women walking around with their own interpretations. I’d love to wear it myself, but think it would be a bit trag at my age. Sob. The closest I get is wearing a little knot of hair at the base of my nape, rather than a ponytail.



The only times I’m not so keen on the modern bun is when an over extravagant use of the bun ring makes the bun the same size as the head, as here.


Or when it’s too severe, as illustrated here by Mrs Beckham.


High 50: holding your own at a 20-something wedding

In Actors, FIlms, Grooming, Hair, High 50 on October 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

Mission: how do you rig yourself out when everyone else at a party is going to be half your age?

Obviously your first response would be: ‘I’m not coming.’ It was certainly mine when my husband showed me the invitation to the wedding party of one of his colleagues and his new bride – who is also a fitness instructor.

I could immediately picture it: acres of firm young flesh – and me. The horror the horror.

But not going for that reason would be rude and wrong. You have to go. And you have to make an effort with your outfit too. Because arriving at a wedding party without looking done up is even ruder than not going.

So you have to try – just not as hard as any of the twenty somethings who will make up the vast majority of the other guests. This might be the only aspect of the evening that will be easy, as they will all have made a massive effort. Most of it dedicated to wearing as little as possible. How to look good naked – with a dress on.

There will be acres of young skin on display, much of it taut and toned. All of it spray tanned. In fact there will be no part of these people that hasn’t been chemically enhanced in some way, from the transfers on their toe nails (the new pedicure option instead of nail polish, they stay on for a month) to the hairspray on their backcombed crowns, with swathes of false eyelashes and lip gloss in between.

Really, the level of cosmetic application currently considered normal by young women is at levels not seen since the early 1960s. You’ve seen them on X Factor, made up like Danny la Rue for daywear, it’s incredible.

Dusty Springfield was an eye make-up cop out compared to this generation. Three layers of false eyelashes is not considered extravagant – if you haven’t had ‘Hollywood Lashes’ stuck on semi-permanently at a beauty salon.

The best response to all this, of course, is not to compete, but to wear your usual best going out make up look – i.e. everything you normally use, but more of it, plus that lip gloss you never wear because it sticks your mouth shut – and to have really great hair.

You can achieve the hair ideal of our generation in an hour, by going pro for a sleek and bouncy blow dry, or – buy a Babyliss Big Hair blow drier.

This miracle gadget is the greatest invention for women since the contraceptive pill (and the rampant rabbit). It’s a hair dryer with a rotating large bristle brush attached, so you can blow dry your own hair to near salon results, while finishing the crossword with the other hand. It’s like having your own personal Warren Beatty (Shampoo era) that you can plug in and blow out any time you need a barnet boost.

The trick is to use John Frieda Luxurious Volume spray on towel-dried hair, then dry to just damp with a normal hairdryer, with your head turned upside down, to give plenty of volume at scalp level.

Then, pin up the top ¾ of your hair with those big plastic clips hairdressers use and dry the lower layers, working your way gradually up the strata, turning it under or out, as suits your style. The perky little brush turns either way – you just push the button the opposite direction with your thumb, so simple.

Pay special attention to sleek-ify-ing the crown, parting and hairline, then hey presto, a done do. There’s a really good demo on Youtube showing you how I also found this independent (amateur…) one useful

It’s really astonishing how professional it looks and more importantly, you’ll feel swishy. Because how you feel – as opposed to how you look, which we never really know about ourselves – is what matters for an occasion like this.

So rather than worrying about whether you should go long or short, trousers or dress, black, sequin or jolly print, just do your hair and wear the party outfit that you always feel good in.

And if that includes high heels you can walk in, you’ll be way ahead of most of the other guests.

Rule: It’s time to release your inner boufhead

In Actors, Celebrities, Hair on June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

My original idea for the name of this Rule was a little less catchy: ‘extreme looks herald a fundamental trend shift’. So you can see why I went down the boufhead road instead, but that rather up-itself sentence above, is the point here.

What I’m trying to say is that when there is about to be a radical and long term change to a key element of the way we all look – and to the collective aspiration for the ideal – it takes a slightly crazy version of it to help us make the mental adjustment.

That’s why the clothes we see each season on the catwalks in Paris and Milan always look so nuts. They’re pushing taste forward into new territory and it takes extreme looks to provide the momentum for change. It can take the real world a few years to catch up, but it always does.

Remember Alexander McQueen’s bumster trousers? He first showed them in 1996 and there was universal outrage at the notion of pants cut so low, you could see the top of the buttock cleavage. Builder’s bum style.

But those outrageous pants led directly to the global fad for low-cut jeans, and then to all pants being cut to sit below the natural waist, which is still with us fifteen years later.

In fact, it’s still only the most fashionable who have embraced the high-waisted pants which were re-introduced at the designer level several years ago.

Exactly the same process is going on with hair and, when you think about it, the first person to parade the new/old massive bouffant was someone as radical in her field as Alexander McQueen was in his: Miss Amy Winehouse.

She started the process that has led directly to SJP’s wild hairdo here. It’s so big it needs its own zip code – and she got ridiculed for it. As did UK singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, when she wore her massive country music legend-style bouffant in LA recently.

Well, we’ll see who’s laughing in a couple of years time, when it will be absolutely normal for us all to be embracing big rollers, setting lotion, backcombing, hair pieces, and gallons of hairspray, to get our hair the way we want it. Humongous.

When it comes to hair, big is definitely going to be beautiful again.

It has to happen. After the messy high hair obsession of the 80s (different to the more sculptured 60s looks coming back in now – fear not) the default ideal went to the extreme of smooth flatness, in what I now think of as the Hair Straightener Age.

Remember when we all thought it was absolutely normal to roast our hair (and accidentally our scalp and ears…) on a daily basis to make it lie against our head like it was laminated on? Remember the Christmas when everybody wanted ceramic hair straighteners as their present?

Watch any of the mid-to-late period episodes of ‘Friends’ and you’ll see just how dated that looks now. And as fashion is all about reaction, it just has to go to the other extreme first, to find a new sense of ‘normal’ somewhere in between.

And what we are all about to rediscover, is just how flattering huge hair is. It frames the face and makes the entire body look smaller by comparison.

Now, where’s my setting lotion…?


While researching pics for this post I came across some truly marvellous big dos. I’m particularly taken with this one, below, which is the cover of a (slightly pervy) book about massive Texan-style boufhair. I want that book. And I want the hair.


These are some legendary boufs I just adore. First, Brigitte Bardot, giving Bed Hair Bouf.


Classy Bouf: hair styled by Alexandre (the greatest hairdress of all time IMHO), picture by Avedon.

Big Hair Elegante. My favourite up do of all time, in My Fair Lady.

Good roots

In Hair on February 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Suddenly it’s all about root lift. (Aussies – settle. Root root root root. OK? Can you stop snickering now? Root. Ha ha snort. Nice root lift… Sorry.) It’s the latest development in a life of gadget-tastic hair obsessions.

I spent the mid 70s wishing I had wavy hair and the late 70s trying to make it stand on end dead straight.

Farrah ruled the waves.

Siouxsie Sioux queen of girl punk hair.


The 80s were all about big hair and high hair, in particular a monstrous quiff arrangement at the front.

Madonna dressed as me in the 1980s.

Meg's perfect ruffled bob.

In the early 90s I wanted to look charmingly tousled (Meg Ryan) and then I spent the second half of that decade trying to make it cling to my head in perfect straight smoothness (Jennifer Anniston).

We really wanted Jennifer's hair. We did.

At some point in the Noughties it came to be all about looking professionally groomed and that has now segued into an obsession with root lift.

I want my hair to spring bouffily from my head before falling into bouncy glossy flips. It’s so flattering and uplifting for a face which is headed in the opposite direction.

But how to achieve it without the professional blow dry I can longer afford/access/be bothered with?

All of my earlier hair fixations required specialist equipment and product, in the following timeline:

curling tongs

hairspray (Nuclear Fission hold)

fine-toothed back-combing comb and more hairspray

mousse and gummy hair wax caca

straightening irons

professional hairdresser, twice a week.

And now I have found the gadget that enables me to achieve the newly all-important root lift in my own home. Praise the Lord!

It all started when India Knight posted about the Babyliss Big Hair on Twitter and then on her blog.

My best friend V., who knows a good thing when she sees it, immediately bought one and after the first try out sent me a text ordering me to do the same.

‘Don’t argue, just buy it,’ she said and she was so right.

This gadget is a miracle. It’s a hairdryer with an integrated rotating brush, that enables you to give yourself an almost professional looking blow dry. You get shine, you get bounce, you get that fabulous curve. And without needing three arms to do it.

(I’ve always felt the lack of that third one when trying to dry my own hair with a separate brush and dryer, which is why I never used to do it.)

It took me a couple of goes to get the hang of it and now it’s second nature. The only props you’ll need is some good protecting blow dry lotion (I use John Frieda Luxurious Volume) and a couple of those hair sectioning clips, which make me feel very professional.

My other tip is to let the hair get nearly dry before you start. If you’re in a rush, turn your head upside down and blast it with a normal hairdryer for a bit first.

But although I loved my glossy bouncing home-made hair something was missing from my Big Hair do: root lift.

The rolling brushing pulling down on the hair shaft was making it cling to the head in the Anniston stylee of yesteryear, even when I did that thing of holding it by my scalp for extended brain baking periods.

So imagine my delight when browsing in my local branch of Boots I discovered the clever folk at Babyliss have already thought of this. Enter, Root Boost. (Settle…)

This gadget is like a hair straightener, except the heated ceramic plate has ridges on it. These create crinkly sections of hair right at the roots, which lift up the smooth top layer – which you have fastened carefully out of the way with your sectioning clips.

It does take a bit of getting used to but – yes – it works. I’ve used it twice now and it passed a before and after test with my mum, who is known for telling it how she sees it. She said there was definitely a difference after I root boosted and I hadn’t told her what I was up to.

You do have to be a bit careful near your hairline, where I currently have a section which looks as though I’ve got too close to a packet of crinkle cut chips, but I’ll get more confident with use.

With a quick spritz of my adored Elnett hairspray, I reckon I look like I’ve had a professional blow job. I mean root lift. Oh you know what I mean.

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