Yes, you CAN look 10 years younger in three hours

Yes, you CAN look 10 years younger in three hours: You’ve had more than 100 bad hair days and now salons are finally open! Four writers show you how to make the VERY most of your longed-for appointment

  • Four writers revealed the hair treatments they’ve had for a youthful appearance
  • Rachel Johnson was given honey blonde streaks at a South London salon
  • Rosie Millard opted for a subtle trim and a complete colour overhaul 

When someone tweeted at the beginning of all this, would you like to self-isolate with A. Your Husband or B. Your Hairdresser, I was one of many who ticked B without hesitation.

Given I ended up in the West Country with A, I haven’t had a good hair day since early March. Something about Somerset turns it into a woolly mop. (My friend Fiona calls it ‘sheepy’.) By April I had gone full Planet Of The Apes. My cockapoo puppy has had more grooming than me — I hand-shampoo her in the sink and blow dry her fluffy white curls. I usually go to the salon once a week to tame the shag into Rachel-from-Friends sleekness. But that has not been possible.

Yes, I know you have to take the rough with the smooth in a pandemic, but I want straight shiny hair again, and I want it three months ago.

Four British writers including Rachel Johnson (pictured, after), revealed the treatments their hairstylist used to make them look younger as salons reopen 

So as soon as my brother Boris gave the green light, I was on Zoom to top hairdresser Paul Edmonds. He contemplated me without speaking as I whined, ‘I look like Dougal in The Magic Roundabout! The sides and top are too heavy.’

He did not disagree. ‘You need more sex put into it,’ he advised. (If only!) Then Joe the colourist chipped in: ‘It’s very blonde, but a bit samey, I’d like to break it up and give some depth with some honey blonde streaks,’ he said.

So this weekend I went to his South London salon to see if Paul could, in his words, ‘banish Dougal and bring back sex kitten’.

The whole salon has been made Covid-secure at vast effort and expense, and everyone was gowned and masked to the nines.

Rachel (pictured before) had her hair snipped and shaped by top hairdresser Paul Edmonds, before being given honey blonde streaks

The Golden Fleece was washed and then Paul snipped into the heavy bob and shaped the back before Joe the colourist striped some light streaks to tone down, yet brighten, the lurid yellow shade I’d developed, like a photograph, from three months ‘romping’ on Exmoor in the sun.

I sat in a mask with my hair draped in cling film with a PPE gown on and the photographer raised his lens. ‘Not now!’ I snapped. It was only after Paul (pictured) had given me a blow-dry and tousled my newly sunshiny hair with his fingers and I’d tousled it once more myself that I allowed the new look to be photographed.

Paul took barely an inch off but I felt as if I had returned to the world after hibernation.

It’s definitely not sex kitten (we leave that to Brigitte Bardot), but it’s not Dougal either. And I left thrilled I no longer look like an extra in 100 Days Later — that soon-to-be-made horror about the impact three and a half months of lockdown can have on the female appearance.

Rachel said she left the hair salon thrilled to no longer look like an extra in 100 Days Later. Pictured: Rachel having her hair cut by Paul Edmonds 

Good hair makes me feel younger and thinner — I cried with joy to get it back

By Daisy Goodwin, creator of ITV’s Victoria

‘Would you like a head massage?’ asked Jade, the colourist at Daniel Galvin, her voice muffled by the mask and visor she was wearing. All I could do was nod, as I was actually crying with joy. I was getting my hair back.

What has been the worst thing about lockdown? Apart, obviously, from the tragedy of lives cut short, children missing their education and grandparents missing out on family life?

I suspect, if my experience is anything to go by, that for any woman in the prime of life it has been the forced separation from her hairdresser.

I didn’t think I would feel this way, I have pretty good hair — it’s straight and thick and I mostly wash and go, but I do have it coloured to cover the grey and when my fringe gets too long I feel like a pit pony.

Daisy Goodwin (pictured, before) said that she had a tint to cover her greys, a vegetable rinse and a cut before lockdown 

A couple of weeks before lockdown I decided that if we were going to be shut up like the Italians I had be prepared, so I had the full works — a tint to cover the greys, a vegetable rinse for shine and a cut.

‘Be brutal with the length,’ I told the stylist, ‘God knows when I’ll be back.’ It took about three hours and cost more that I want to admit, however in that first grim month of lockdown I was at least able to look at myself in the mirror without shuddering.

But by the end of April, nature had taken its course and my hair was no longer my crowning glory, but a matted tangle that had to be scraped back in a ponytail or hidden under a hat.

Compared to all the other things going on in my life — not being able to see my beloved dad, running a girl-heavy household that, with my two daughters and me, felt like a cross between St. Trinian’s and The Bell Jar with someone always in tears somewhere — the crapness of my hair was not at the top of my anxieties, but it was always in my thoughts like the dull throb of an infected tooth (and yes, I had one of those, too). I don’t think of myself as old (I am 58), but when I looked at myself in the mirror, grey-rooted and shaggy, I saw what can only be described as a crone.

Daisy (pictured, after) was told by her agent that she looks ‘ten years younger’, after emerging from the hair salon 

The crisis came when I was asked to a series of online pitch meetings to Hollywood studios.

Now, I have done these in person and they are gruelling — you talk about your idea for 40 minutes while the executives look at you with dead eyes.

It takes every ounce of confidence I possess to get through one of these pitches, and in the past I have always gone into the room straight from the hairdresser. Going into a pitch is like going into battle, and if my hair is sleek and shiny I feel that I have my armour on.

Standing in front of a computer screen, desperately trying to adjust the angle so that my roots were less conspicuous, is not the way to feel invincible. As I made my pitches to bored-looking executives on the other side of the world, I felt underpowered.

When I emerged from the salon after three glorious hours and got home I had to do a Zoom call with my agent — another woman in the prime of life. She took one look at my hair and said: ‘You look ten years younger, b***h!’

I wish I could say my lockdown lesson was that appearances don’t matter, but actually I have learnt that like Samson, my hair is my secret weapon.

When it looks good I don’t act like a woman of a certain age, I feel powerful. In these desperate times, a visit to the hairdresser is essential business. 

Wave goodbye to the brassy bird’s nest 

By Rosie Millard

He’s a lovely man, is Michael Van Clarke, wreathed in smiles and dapper in a navy Gucci suit, but he was a bit stumped on being presented with the Millard Mop at 9 am on Super Saturday.

‘Do you actually have a hairbrush?’ he asked me at one point. Was he going to cut it all off? He was not. ‘I am going to reduce it while keeping the length,’ he said. ‘This is the trouble about short hair. If you don’t cut long hair, it just gets longer. Uncut short hair however just gets . . . bigger.’

It was big, and it was brassy.

Rosie Millard (pictured before) revealed hairdresser Michael Van Clarke, asked if she has a brush when she entered the salon 

‘Have you been using . . . box dyes?’ asked colour technician Jodie Searle. I nodded miserably. She nodded miserably. ‘It’s all one colour!’

In the expert hands of Van Clarke and his team, my big bird’s nest was transformed into something silky, elegant and ‘dynamic’, thanks to a subtle trim and a complete colour overhaul which triumphantly banished the residue of my own cack-handed attempts.

As hairdressing experiences go, it was all there; the gown, the foil, those weird combs with long handles, bits of hair flying everywhere, even a bit of chat about holidays and boyfriends.

Yes, Van Clarke and Searle were in visors or masks, but that has become unremarkable. The salon was deliberately half full, with hand sanitiser everywhere. Being Central London, it was bespoke Michael Van Clarke sanitiser. Plus, there was no cheesy playlist to shout over. Hoorah! The whole experience was as luxurious and relaxing as it should have been, and the line of grateful clients practically racing in through the Marylebone door only reinforced the pleasure vibe.

Had Van Clarke been inundated with needy women pleading for a trim throughout lockdown? ‘I had clients suggesting they drive past and stick their head out of the car window so I could cut their fringe,’ he said. ‘I also had clients offering to come in secretly at night and suggesting I operate with all the lights off. I mean, how was that ever going to work?’

Rosie (pictured, after) said being pampered after months of DIY beauty, made her feel like a million dollars and years younger 

When Haircutting Liberation Day was announced, his staff made 3,000 phone calls to the entire client list. Van Clarke has opened the salon seven days a week, and is running two shifts between 7am and 10pm, to service the lot. He estimates he will get through the backlog by the beginning of August.

‘A lot roped their husbands in to help with colouring and cutting, and used binliners as hairdressing gowns, but it wasn’t easy,’ says Van Clarke.

What a day. The almost forgotten sensation of having my hair cut (MVC always cuts dry), coloured, washed and styled was so lovely. And being pampered after months of, DIY beauty, made me feel a million dollars, full of energy and years younger.

I am lucky; I haven’t had Covid, nor have I had to endure self-isolation. But seeing my barnet descend into unkempt madness has been depressing, particularly as I seem to be on a screen in Zoom mode most of the time.

‘Hope you’re going somewhere special tonight,’ joked my follicle saviour as I skipped out of the salon. Does an online quiz count?

DIY dye — and a decade — be gone!

By Gill Hornby

I skipped down the road to the salon, wanting to burst in there, propelled by the joy of this homecoming. Except that’s not allowed any more. Like an astronaut boarding a space mission, the salon customer must observe certain procedures.

Temperature taken before entry —that was a sticky few seconds. Imagine being turned away now! Face covering checked. A short wait for the door to be opened by approved personnel. Astronauts probably think that’s worth it to go to the moon. It’s definitely worth it to go to the hairdresser.

At the beginning of lockdown I developed a new philosophy of the everyday aesthetic: sod it. If I didn’t look at my toenails, they ceased to exist. Hair, though — that’s hard to ignore. It’s too in your face. Literally. Worse — grey hairs have appeared, criss-crossing my scalp.

Gill Hornby (pictured, before) revealed Sally at George Northwood’s salon in London, has kept the secrets of her true hair colour for years

Sally at George Northwood’s salon in London has kept the secrets of my true hair colour for years and knows where all the pigment is buried. She’s not just a colourist but a confidante. We laugh, we share. I sobbed in her arms when my last dog died.

Yet deep in the guidelines, we’re told to keep talking to a minimum. Well, Sal was in a visor, me a mask. And it turns out that not only has she got a new puppy, but also engaged! No talking? Don’t be ridiculous.She’s got her work cut out today though. Too much sun and a cheap home dye kit have left me all the hues of a mouldering banana. Such a relief to see her retake command.

And now for the chop. I’ve never been a fan of the drastic cut — it’s looked the same for 50 years. No escaping it this time, though.

George Northwood has never cut my hair before. He is off, in a flurry of scissoring. A quick clever blow dry and suddenly: ta-da! It’s somehow just as it used to be, but with a groovy, modern twist.

Restored, unburdened, I bounce out of there: two pounds (of hair) lighter, ten years younger. One small step for me, one giant leap forward into something like normal.

Gill (pictured) explained that she’s never been a fan of drastic cuts, but because of lockdown she had no choice 

8 ways to anti-age your hair 

By celebrity stylist George Northwood

1 BEWARE THE BOB: A bob can be flattering. However they can look ageing. You don’t want to fall into the newsreader category! Go for a choppy cut. A dry texturising spray, like Sam McKnight’s Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist (£10, cultbeauty.co.uk) can help.

2 KEEP LONG HAIR GROOMED: Some older women also look great with a longer style. But a cut like this needs to look well-maintained otherwise it can look witchy. A soft, loose tong is a great way to style long hair. My go-to tongs are GHD.

3 THE MAGIC OF A FRINGE: Our features harden as we age, so the right fringe can soften them. For many mid-life women, they are a comfort blanket — ask my client Claudia Winkleman, known for her fringe, she would be the first to admit it!

4 DON’T GO DARK: If you’re colouring your hair, you want it to look natural. Our hair colour and skin tone fade with age so anything too dark will drain your features. If you’re brunette, take it up a shade.

Celebrity stylist George Northwood, recommends conditioning hair weekly with a mask such as Phillip Kingsley’s Elasticizer (pictured)

5 GREY HAIR NEEDS GREAT CUTS: It can be liberating to embrace grey hair. It’s easier to pull off if you balance it with a youthful, cropped style, like Helen Mirren’s. Plus invest in a silver shampoo with a violet tone as white hair can yellow. I’m grey and use Sachajuan Silver Shampoo (£22, lookfantastic.co.uk).

6 CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION: Our hair gets more vulnerable with age so invest in hydrating products. It’s a good idea to use a weekly conditioning mask such as Phillip Kingsley’s Elasticizer (£34 for 150ml, look fantastic.com).

7 TONE DOWN VOLUME: Too much volume can look dated so opt for a soft wave that doesn’t look too set by putting Velcro rollers in and shaking them through. Conversely, if your hair is fine, a deep cleanse can build volume. A weekly detoxing shampoo, such as Redken’s Hair Cleansing Cream (£9.55), is great to prevent product build-up clogging hair.

8 CHANGE IT: It’s important to change your hair regularly, reinventing yourself with tweaks. In lockdown we’ve grown our hair longer, so now is the time to try something new.

George suggests a weekly detoxing shampoo, such as Redken’s Hair Cleansing Cream (pictured) to prevent product build-up clogging hair

interview by FLORENCE SCORDOULIS

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