CAN YOU CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN ONE DAY?

Four Cos­mopoli­tan staffers’ hair­rais­ing at­tempts to do just that…

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Contents -

“I didn’t recog­nise my­self in the mir­ror”

THE BLOW-OUT

WHO: Sairey Stemp, Se­nior Fash­ion Edi­tor WHAT: Curly to straight BY: Kiki Koh at John Frieda, May­fair, £95

On the morn­ing of my ‘be­fore’ photo shoot, our pic­ture edi­tor asked me,“How are you feel­ing about hav­ing your hair straight­ened, Sairey? I love your curls, they’re your trade­mark.” She was right.

Peo­ple I know can recog­nise me in­stantly be­cause of my sig­na­ture curls. Can’t find Sairey? Look for the hair and I’m eas­ily spot­ted in a crowd. Grow­ing up, my sis­ters were blessed with straight, silky hair (my mother’s side), yet I had un­ruly curls (a throw­back from my fa­ther’s). Over the years, I’ve em­braced them, so I was ap­pre­hen­sive at the thought of hav­ing them ironed straight.

Kiki at John Frieda took on the chal­lenge gal­lantly. First, he ran a leave-in con­di­tion­ing treat­ment through my wet hair, then set to work ex­pertly dry­ing, brush­ing, blow­ing and straight­en­ing my mass of curls, fin­ish­ing with a good dose of serum to seal my sleek new look and add shine. I didn’t recog­nise my­self in the mir­ror. Kiki po­litely ad­vised, “I wouldn’t do this all the time…”

I felt I looked suit­ably equipped to present a po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion on Sun­day-morn­ing TV. And when I went back to the of­fice, opin­ions were di­vided. Some peo­ple laughed, some ex­claimed,“You look so dif­fer­ent!” One shouted, “You look 25!” (Thanks.) How­ever, one close friend said it made me look “too old”, while an­other said it looked “too cor­po­rate” and not like Sairey at all.

When you have curly hair, the one thing you never feel is “groomed” in the tra­di­tional sense. I know a lot of peo­ple with curls opt to straighten them, but I’ve al­ways em­braced mine, de­spite find­ing them very frus­trat­ing at times. Fi­nally, I got to feel groomed. I even en­joyed brush­ing my hair (I can’t brush my curls or it would be a frizz fest) and it felt so dif­fer­ent walk­ing down the street with my hair lightly flap­ping in­stead of vis­i­bly bounc­ing! A big sur­prise was the colour. I have high­lights, but ironed straight they looked so much lighter.

One thing is for sure, my curls are my iden­tity, and I’ve grown to love them, even on bad-hair days. Straight is great if I want to feel se­ri­ous and very Up­per-East-Side Man­hat­tan. But I’m a bit more laid-back than that, so I’ll con­tinue to live with my un­ruly, un­con­ven­tional ringlets.

“My new hair was a cape of con­fi­dence”

GET­TING A K-MID

WHO: Amy Grier, As­so­ciate Edi­tor WHAT: Ex­ten­sions BY: Jor­dan Mooney at Her­sh­esons, Fitzrovia (from £500 for a full head of Great Lengths tapes)

You have boy hair.” Four words that floored me, aged seven, in my school play­ground. David Field, the plat­inum-blond Year Three heart-throb, was the first per­son in my life to make me feel bad about my hair. But he would not be the last.

Those were the years that my wellmean­ing mother cut my hair into a mul­let and, to off­set this boy­ish­ness, as­sem­bled a se­ries of satin Alice bands. Even then, look­ing at the long, flow­ing locks of my class­mates, I felt hair envy that made my in­sides ache.

At univer­sity, af­ter years of try­ing to grow a lion’s mane from a rat’s tail, a kindly hair­dresser set me straight: “You need to work with what you have.” She cut a ’00s ver­sion of a Vi­dal Sas­soon bob and, for the first time ever, I felt some­thing akin to pride.

Now, in my early thir­ties, I have fi­nally ac­cepted my hair type. And yet… when I see a woman with moun­tains of long, shiny ten­drils spilling like lava from her head, the lit­tle girl in me feels that same stab of in­fe­ri­or­ity.

That’s how I came to sit in front of Jor­dan Mooney, na­tional ed­u­ca­tor for Great Lengths hair ex­ten­sions, at Her­sh­esons salon, who at­tached an en­tire head of eth­i­cally sourced hu­man ex­ten­sions, us­ing med­i­cal grade tape (bet­ter for fine hair be­cause they min­imise loss on re­moval). I went from Posh Spice to Princess Jas­mine, and I felt awe­some.

That night, I sur­prised my boyfriend. His face was a melt­ing wax­work of shock, con­fu­sion and – fi­nally – ten­ta­tive de­light. When I asked later why he was now so he­si­tant around me, he paused. “It’s like I’m cheat­ing on you with a long-haired girl.” I spent my week­end do­ing the things a short-haired girl does when she is sud­denly a long-haired girl: brush­ing, plait­ing, ex­per­i­ment­ing with up-dos, tak­ing self­ies, swoosh­ing my pony­tail. My new hair went drink­ing on a Mon­day. My new hair started a con­ver­sa­tion with my CEO about her­self. My new hair was a cape of con­fi­dence.

I loved how I felt with long hair. It al­lowed me to scratch a 25-year-old itch, and it’s nice to know you can try on an al­ter­na­tive iden­tity. But… I still pre­fer my old look. Yes, my hair is fine, thin­ning even. But, like an old scar or a birth­mark, it has char­ac­ter. I thought long hair would make me feel spe­cial, but it didn’t. It just made me feel like ev­ery­one else.

WHO: Amy Ban­ner­man, Fash­ion Direc­tor WHAT: A new fringe BY: Zoë Irwin at Tay­lor Tay­lor Lon­don, Lib­erty, £165

The only time I’d ever re­ally changed my hair was dur­ing a par­tic­u­larly painful break-up four years ago, when I bleached the sh*t out of it, lost loads of weight and started dress­ing like San­dra Dee from Grease. Other than that, my hair and I have been in a good, com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship for a long time. Then, re­cently, I needed a rad­i­cal change.

I had been Pin­ter­est-mood-board­ing fringes for about two weeks be­fore fi­nally go­ing for the chop. I made a mock fringe by fold­ing my hair over and se­cur­ing it with pins, which did not look sexy or cool.

FRINGE BEN­E­FITS

The ac­tual cut was very spon­ta­neous – maybe I re­alised that if I dragged it out any more, I would talk my­self full circle and chicken out com­pletely. I texted my dear friend (and GHD cre­ative brand am­bas­sador) Zoë Irwin to ask if I could pop to her flat for my big trans­for­ma­tion on the way home from work. Zoë has cut my hair for years, and al­ways talks to me a lot and strokes my hair to make me feel less ner­vous. It took quite a long time, maybe an hour, due to all the stroking and be­cause she cut it so grad­u­ally. I was ob­ses­sively study­ing my Pin­ter­est board mid­cut and telling her to go shorter and shorter un­til it was ac­tu­ally quite short, but not at all like Jim Car­rey in Dumb And Dum­ber. It took about seven weeks for it to get into the “good zone” of eye­lash-graz­ing, French sex-fringe ter­ri­tory, but now we are in­sep­a­ra­ble. My fringe gets more com­pli­ments than I ever have, and I like that it has its own per­son­al­ity. When I wake up, I never know what I’m go­ing to get!

I sent my fam­ily What­sApp group a photo im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards and my mum said, “Oh well, a change is fun, isn’t it?” which meant she hated it. I’ve been told by a lot of peo­ple that I look younger, which is ob­vi­ously my main aim as a 37-year-old woman, and I’ve been asked on dates by peo­ple 10 years younger than me since this fringe’s ar­rival – I’ve yet to work out if this is a ben­e­fit or not. My new hair cur­tain has made me much more open-minded to my wardrobe and I’ve def­i­nitely been more cre­ative with my styling. I’ve been wear­ing a lot more denim and feel­ing quite ’70s in gen­eral. One rather charm­ing paramour said at din­ner the other night,“You know, you look like Ste­vie Nicks,” and that can only be a good thing, right?

“I like that my fringe has its own per­son­al­ity”

“I swooshed like a glo­ri­ous show pony”

DARK ARTS

WHO: Daniella Scott, Ed­i­to­rial As­sis­tant WHAT: Blonde to brunette BY: Daniel Galvin Jr at Daniel Galvin Jr, Bel­gravia (semi-per­ma­nent sea­sonal colour cor­rec­tion, from £500)

My hair and I don’t get on. In some ways, I think it’s my fault. I’m like the boyfriend my hair should have left years ago: “Why aren’t you blon­der?”“Why so boxy?”“Um… is it nor­mal to be so greasy?” My hair was doomed from the mo­ment I was tall enough to look in the mir­ror. Which is why, aged 14, I went down the Sun In rab­bit hole (that’s right, Trump stole my look). Af­ter two years of gen­uinely yel­low hair, I started at-home bleach­ing for about four hours each time. De­spite re­peated warn­ings from hair­dressers – “YOUR HAIR IS GO­ING TO FALL OUT” – I ig­nored them all. I wanted those ash-blonde locks.

Giv­ing up on that blonde am­bi­tion felt like ad­mit­ting I’d failed at some­thing I’d spent 10 years try­ing to achieve. But, on the other hand, I was tired of be­ing con­stantly dis­ap­pointed by my re­flec­tion. So, as I made my way to the Daniel Galvin Jr salon, along­side a bouf­fant-sized help­ing of nerves, I felt re­lief. I’d al­ways wanted to be a tanned brunette, like my sis­ter.

It was dark, very dark. But also shiny, vo­lu­mi­nous and rich. It was the kind of lus­trous choco­late shade that Green & Black’s can only dream of, and I couldn’t stop star­ing at it. I lin­gered in front of shop win­dows, swoosh­ing unashamedly like a glo­ri­ous show pony. But that night, I went to meet my boyfriend for din­ner. When he fi­nally recog­nised me he asked,“Is it per­ma­nent?” Later, a dog barked at me for quite a while. The next day, at the pub, I kept catch­ing my friends star­ing at me be­fore mur­mur­ing,“Sorry, I just can’t get used to you like that.” My para­noia was hit­ting the roof.

I’ve never been one of those peo­ple with nice hair, so at first I en­joyed play­ing with my new ap­pear­ance. Most im­por­tantly I could fi­nally have the Scouse brow I’ve al­ways dreamed of. But af­ter the first cou­ple of days the nov­elty wore off, and I felt like I was play­ing at some­thing that wasn’t re­ally me. Even if it was bet­ter, it didn’t feel right. I’m look­ing for­ward to chang­ing my hair back, but I don’t re­gret my brunette foray. It was free­ing to know that I can change and it took the pres­sure off my weird all-con­sum­ing ob­ses­sion with those ash­blonde locks. I’m sure one day, when I’m ready, I’ll go back to brunette. Even if it is just for the Scouse brow.

Daniella Scott, Ed­i­to­rial As­sis­tant Sairey Stemp, Se­nior Fash­ion Edi­tor

Amy Grier, As­so­ciate Edi­tor Amy Ban­ner­man, Fash­ion Direc­tor

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