After yet another hair mishap (a ridiculously short bob that was impossible to style, when all I asked for was a trim) I was sent by a sympathetic PR to Ethos Hairdressing in Manchester, to experience a hair make over with Sharon Peake, a three time award winner (North West Hairdresser of the year 2008, 09, 10).
I wasn’t nervous going in for a hair make over, but I did wonder if my hair really would be sorted out, or if I would end up in my usual cycle of get a bad cut and colour, then spend time and money trying to fix it, just to end up where I started…
There are two Ethos Hair Salons in Manchester, in the City Centre and Chorlton. I visited the City Centre branch which is on Oldham Street and easy to get to. The salon itself has a relaxed feel, is well presented without any glitz but is very comfortable. I went on a very hot day so we had the fans on!
I met Sharon, who is a very easy going lady, the kind of person you could sit next to on a long train journey and you wouldn’t feel the need to force conversation for 5 hours to avoid any awkwardness. We talked about my hair and what I wanted – I had a selection of images which were basically wavy bobs that had an ombre type finish to them.
I have had an ombre at various times and nearly every time has turned out to be quite a disaster – my ends go orange right away or the hairdresser gives me lighter hair ‘underneath’ rather than blended well, so I look like I have two layer hair! Urgh.
Sharon quite clearly is a colour expert and knew what to do right away. First she did a strand test to see how my hair colour would lighten. As my hair is already dyed, the only option to lighten was bleach it but keep a careful eye on the colour as it was developing.
Sharon started using the bleach in my hair, blended it in carefully to avoid harsh lines. She used a highlighting paper which is plastic and see through on one side, so she could watch they colour as it developed rather than having to open up a foil again and again. She did this all over my hair.
This process probably took longer than it felt (I was in the salon for around 4 hours and it didn’t feel it).
What you realise having your hair taken care of by Sharon is that it’s a very very personal experience. New bleach was being mixed up all the time and the strength of it was being adjusted constantly, it wasn’t a cardboard cut out visit as it usually is (ie. hairdresser plops dye in your hair, has exactly 35 minutes to do the cut etc.)
Sharon is a watcher, a checker. When she is doing your hair she is constantly monitoring you and making sure that everything is ok. She’s not going to put colour in your hair then disappear for half an hour for a cuppa and to check Facebook. Even though she had another client after my colour had been put in, she came back all the time to check the development of the colour.
What was really interesting was how she washed out different sections at different times – makes sense when you think about it, different areas will develop differently, especially as there might be a significant time between the first application and the last. Therefore to get a uniform look, you might have to wash some parts out before others. I spent some time between the sink and the chair, going back and forth! I didn’t mind, because obviously, the result is the important thing!
Can I just mention that I had about 4 glasses of Elderflower and sparkling water drinks in the salon?! It’s my favourite cold drink, ever!
Once the colour was done, came a cut. The last cut was a bit of a mess and I found it so hard to style as I am not used to shorter hair. Sharon neatened everything up for me, and added some layers which actually made my hair look LONGER than it was before (I do want to grow it again).
Anyway, here was my before hair:
My after hair – the cut is perfect, subtly so, but perfect for me. It felt so ‘bitty’ before.
The colour is perfect. I love ashy blonde type highlights when done RIGHT and this was spot on. I love the lighter shade I do feel like it makes me feel more alive than drab.
Of course Sharon gave me a mini styling lesson too because I told her I just couldn’t make my hair presentable (plus I have so little time). The routine she suggested to me has actually worked really well because it’s easy, and it stays put for 2-3 days so I only have to do this 2-3 times a week!
To get that natural tousled hair look:
1. Blow dry the hair – using one of those hot brush tools if using a round brush and hairdryer is hard (yes I find this extremely difficult!). The important thing is to ADD A BEND to the end of the hair, so curling inwards. This is not too hard, just hold the brush at the ends for a bit to get a slight curl. This will stop the hair looking flicking in weird directions later on.
2. Once the hair is dry and smooth, get your curling tong. I don’t use wand tongs very often as I burn myself but Sharon showed me a really good technique for a loose look that’s really quick.
Take the curling wand, and wrap your hair around it ONCE. Now, move the curling tong up and down the hair for a few seconds then let go. The hair will have a very natural looking soft wave! EASY! Even for me!
Because you’ve added the bend to the hair in step 1, the ends won’t look messy for flick in a weird direction!
3. Set with hair spray
It took me 3 goes to master the above and now I have been making an effort to do it every time I wash my hair because it does last for a few days and then I don’t look like a bum.
Sometimes I let my hair dry naturally then whilst it’s nearly dry, then smooth it out with a brush. If I am in a rush I will use a big hairdryer then the hot brush at the end.
I will do a post later on with the hair tools I use and products too.
To care for my new hair, Sharon recommended an intensive treatment for the ends, and colour protecting shampoo. I have a selection of blue toned shampoos and treatments which I will use to keep the brass out too! Inevitably, ash will always fade eventually.
I am in hair love! It’s the first time in ages that I haven’t gone home after a cut / colour and immediately looked for a way to fix it! I felt 100% confident and assured of Sharon’s skill throughout, I wasn’t ever worried about the result and it’s just perfect even a week or so on, I can still style it and it still looks good!
Sharon’s prices are above – she is not the cheapest person to see (by Manchester standards) but she is an award winning hairdresser and is really quite exceptional. The fact is, if a cut and colour costs nearly £200 with her, but she spends hours with you and you only need your hair doing a few times a year then it’s pretty good value for money. I have already warned Mr C that I will be returning to her now so better add it to the household budget!
Visit the website here.
Address & Number:
97 Oldham Road,
Tel. 0161 835 1111