CAN YOU CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN ONE DAY?
Four Cosmopolitan staffers’ hairraising attempts to do just that…
“I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror”
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.
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”
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