Collum Hair Company, Pimlico
“So what are we going to do today?”
This is the question every hairdresser asks as you sit yourself in front of the mirror and squirm as they examine your less-than-preened locks.
Out comes Instagram photos and Pinterest boards showing girls with glorious barnets, all effortlessly styled and pristine, at which point the hairdresser usually rolls their eyes and tells you all the reasons why your hair will never look like that.
So, imagine my surprise when I sat in front of the mirror last weekend at Collum Hair Company in Pimlico and showed my hair inspiration image to Owner Sarah-Jane Collum, who immediately got excited and exclaimed “Oh beautiful, let’s see how we can make this work!”
Positivity is pinnacle at Collum Hair – it’s no wonder many of their clientele travel from outside London time and time again to let Sarah-Jane and her team work their magic.
I’ve never been one for high maintenance hair – a simple boho wave and maybe a curl here and there for special occasions is as far as I go, but I still want to look chic and on-trend.
“It’s all about balayage,” Sarah-Jane told me. “People don’t want regrowth or really uniformed styles these days. A simple sunkissed look is perfect”
Balayage is a French word, which means to “sweep” or “paint”. Stylists sweep colour onto sections of the hair, allowing a natural sun-kissed look, which avoids those dreaded roots when the hair starts to grow. It’s a much softer and more natural looking style, favoured by celebs such as Jessica Alba, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez.
With over 15 years of experience and sporting a Wella colouring expert title, Sarah-Jane talked me through the balayage process before she began her painting masterpiece.
The process begins with the free-painting of “Magma” colour – a formula that lifts colour and tones at the same time. I watch as Sarah-Jane examined piece after piece of hair, stroking and flicking her brush, spreading the colour to create a sun-kissed effect.
She pauses for a moment and bites her lip… “I was always taught that the hair speaks to us,” Sarah-Jane explained. “You just have to wait, keep looking and eventually you’ll know what you need to do”. Sure enough, a minute later she was back to painting.
After the magma, my hair is washed, rinsed and dried and I’m amazed at the results – subtle and soft golden tones that looked completely natural. But I was after something with slightly more “oomph” – a little more lift and a little more blonde – they do, after all, have more fun!
So, round two commenced. Here, Sarah-Jane selected small sections of hair to be highlighted further. She explained to me how careful hairdressers must be when doing this process, “Hair can be badly damaged when it is lightened too fast or too aggressively. We need to make sure we do it gently and safely to avoid breakage”.
Sounded like a good plan to me! I watch as she moved her hands through my hair, flicking it one way then the next, searching for the places the sun would naturally catch. The hair was clearly speaking to her.
After ten or fifteen minutes and a cup of tea, I was ready for the final rinse. Here I met the “holy grail for hair” as Sarah-Jane described it – Olaplex. Designed to permanently rebuild “damaged disulphide bonds” within the hair, Olaplex works to restore elasticity and strength to the hair. In short… it takes brittle damaged hair and restores it back to how it should be.
I’m always a little sceptical of lotions and potions – I tend to spend a fortune and see little, if any, results. But as soon as I’d had the treatment, there was nothing for my sceptical mind to argue with. My hair felt strong and actually a little thicker – amazing considering it had just been coloured.
So time for the final phase – the snip. I’m a big fan of the “Lob” (long-bob) and again, turned to my trusty Pinterest photos to show Sarah-Jane exactly what I was looking for. She promptly demonstrated that her skills were not limited to the paintbrush and began chopping away dead ends and excess weight to lift and shape my style.
It’s all well and good leaving the hairdressers with a beautiful style but, I find, once in the comfort of my bedroom, that style is near on impossible to re-create by myself. Sarah-Jane dried my hair straight at first, before working it through with some large tongs to give it a rough curl and movement, demonstrating how easy and diverse the style could be. Simple enough for even a style-phobe like me to recreate.
And the best bit…. she was right. The hair whisperer had worked her magic on yet another satisfied customer.