Is Hairdressing An Art Form?

Yet another blog post that has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. Initially inspired by Salon Evolution (@salonevolution) and egged on by Hair Hour (@Hair_Hour). Actually this is a blog post that I’ve wanted to write for ages.

Grayson Perry - Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGrayson Perry – Guerrilla Tactics: (2002) Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. NAi(010) Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The first time I saw Grayson Perry’s artwork was in June 2002 at the Stedelijk modern art museum, Amsterdam. And I was totally bowled over. And I felt an affinity with his work. You see, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of an artist. A lot of hairdressers do; because we’re working with our hands and there is a strong sense of sculpting; we are working with shape and form, each hairdo being individual. At this point I could start rambling on and on about my education, art influences and my days as a trainee architectural and industrial model maker, but I won’t. You’ll thank me for that.

training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm ModelsMe, 18, training to be an architectural and industrial model maker at Paradigm Models.

Yeah, well, anyway, it was 1976 and the client I was standing behind said, “You hairdressers are now like pop stars.”
“Am I like a pop star?” I asked.
“Yes, very much so,” she said, and that’s where it ended. And I’ve never really understood how she meant it; was it good or bad to be like a pop star? In reality, I felt as though I were like an artist because I was trying to express myself through my work. And for me, my creations had a narrative behind them, they still do; it’s why I found Abandoned Suitcase Reveals A Love Affair so fascinating – I felt a million miles away from what I visualised as being a pop star.

Over the past year (in 2015) the Bank of England asked for nominations for ‘people of historic significance from the world of visual arts’ – they want to put an artist on a twenty pound note. And yes, as one would expect, the wonderful world of hairdressing offered up the bloody obvious – the old maestro himself, Vidal Sassoon! A little embarrassing I thought. Let’s face it, hairdressing isn’t really a visual art, is it – even though I and most other hairdressers would like it to be. Hairdressing is a craft. And a transient craft at that!

In 2013 Grayson Perry gave BBC Radio 4’s Reith Lecture, entitled Playing to the Gallery. As a devotee, I listened and actually took some notes (of which I’m about to use). In one of the three lectures (Beating the bounds) Perry presents eight tests to mark the boundaries of art to establish if it’s art that one is looking at! Here I will sort of apply Perry’s tests to hairdressing and see how we fare:

Is it in a gallery or an art context?

Artist Cornelia Parker, in a collaboration with Tilda Swinton (British actress, performance artist, model, and fashion icon), created an art installation called: The Maybe (1995), where Swinton lay ‘asleep’ in a glass vitrine display cabinet at the Serpentine Gallery, London. There is no mention of Swinton’s hair anywhere – You can take a hairstyle into a gallery, but that doesn’t make it art!

For me, art is about ‘expressing an original idea’ within a context (a body of work) and a narrative. Take Pablo Picasso’s artwork: Bull’s Head (Tête de taureau – 1942), simply assembled from an old leather bicycle seat (the head) and a rusty pair of handlebars (the horns). It’s one of those artworks that you can easily diminish by saying, “I could have done that!” However, it expresses an original idea, it sits well within today’s art context and was intended by Picasso to be art – pushing your old bike into a gallery wouldn’t have the same effect.

Hairstyles struggle, in my opinion, to fit within an art context because of their ‘intentionality’ and lack of ‘meaning.’

Is it a boring version of something else?

Even though the fashion industry, coiffeurs and their clientèle take hairstyles seriously, in my view there is far too much acclamation. There is a falseness in the fashion industry that ‘hurts’ hairdressing – the hair at the Paris fashion show was unoriginal, drab, boring, but the fashionistas applauded it enthusiastically.

Hairdressing can be both original and aesthetically pleasing (yeah and it can be funny too G.Perry), but however it appears: divine or disgusting, ordinary or extraordinary, it functions within the bounds of an aesthetic framework – Sounds quite a lot like ART to me – Oh Dear!

Is it made by an artist?

“Art historian Ernst Gombrich said, ‘there is no such thing as art, only artists.’ So you have to be an artist to make art.” Grayson Perry, 2013, BBC Radio 4, Reith Lecture, Playing To The Gallery, Beating the Bounds.

Ai Weiwei The Artist Barber of Caochangdi, Beijing

The Chinese Contemporary artist, activist and Lego bandito Ai Weiwei, is known for cutting hair. Does this make his haircuts a work of art? Absofuckinglutely NOT.

Photography. Problematic!

Yeah, photography Is problematic. I’m not sure Perry got this boundary marker right? He asked a photographer friend of his for a definition of a photograph as art, and his friend said, if it’s bigger than two metres and costs more than five figures! There was no mention of the visual artist Man Ray, who contributed so much to the Dada and Surrealist movements – his photographs usually make five figures or more.

Obviously hairstyles and photography go hand in hand, for how else are we to see hairstyles from the 1930s, 40s, 50s… or ‘Trevor Sorbie’s wedge?’ Is a photograph of a hairstyle in a gallery representative of hairdressing as an art form? Surely the answer has got to be ‘No’ – isn’t that artistic entitlement by proxy?

I suppose what I’m saying is, even though the National Portrait Gallery are celebrating one hundred years of Vogue, ‘A Century of Style’ (1916-2016), by putting on an exhibition, the hairstyles therein are not art.

The limited edition test

A classic example of a limited edition is that of a signed limited edition print; in the bottom left-hand corner, written in pencil by the artist, is the edition number of the print: 3/250 – meaning that this is the third print in a run of two hundred and fifty copies. I’m sure you can work out the maths, the greater the number of copies, the less each copy is worth. And I suppose you could say, the greater the number of copies, the more likely each copy becomes less of an artwork and more of a commercial object?

Apply this to hairdressing, and quite frankly you’ve got a shed load of hairdressing industry bollocks to contend with. Limited edition doesn’t really exist, even though in theory it’s supposed to – each client is a one off – in spite of the fact that they all look the fucking same!

The handbag and hipster test

The ‘handbags’ are the wives of the super rich Russian oligarchs, they waft through the streets of London soaking up culture and property. The ‘hipsters’ look a lot like lumbersexuals – beards, glasses, messenger bags and single speed or better still, fixed gear bikes (but they can’t build a fire or chop wood). It’s said that art belongs to the educated and the rich – so where ever you see a preponderance of ostentatious designer handbags and custom built Brick Lane bikes chained to the railings, you can be pretty sure something arty-farty is in the air.

Every London hairdresser knows these people, they are the wonderfully pernickety friends and clients who call us pop stars, artists and Daaarling. However, it’s also these people who I believe Vidal Sassoon was referring to when Reuters interviewed him in 2010. Sassoon said, “Hairdressing in general hasn’t been given the kudos it deserves. It’s not recognised by enough people as a worthy craft.”

I agree with Sassoon, it’s not recognised as a worthy craft; and that’s because of the transitory nature of hairdressing, a chignon, a style, a haircut are ephemeral and therefore seemingly worthless like paper cups, or a copy of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on a never-ending print run.

The rubbish dump test (my favourite)

The rubbish dump test is the test I’ve always used. I imagine the artwork hidden in a scrap yard and wonder if I could pick it out amongst debris – BTW, I used to spend a lot of time in scrap yards looking for car parts. I liked Grayson Perry’s warning that a lot of artworks would fail the test because the rubbish dump itself may be the artwork.

Do you remember David Mach’s ‘nuclear protest’ sculpture Polaris (1983), made out of thousands of used car tyres? A scrapheap challenge extraordinaire outside the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London – someone set fire to it.

What’s the equivalent rubbish dump test for hair? Oxford Street on the first day of the winter sales? Discovering a genuine artistic creation under such conditions may take a little extra artistic talent in itself. Most people wouldn’t recognise a good haircut if it jumped out and bit them.

The computer art test

The computer art test is the last of Grayson Perry’s tests. Perry asks, how do we know it’s web art, and not just another interesting Website? The question seems a little naive to me, it shows a slight lack of understanding about what the internet is. Does a ‘piece’ of web art really need to be a Website? And it’s very interesting to look at Contemporary Artists’ Websites – not an inspiring pixel to be found.

Internet art, just like art in the real world, must make us stop and think and engage.

The same can be said for hairdressing sites, very uninspiring; my desire to stop and think, and not click-off within five seconds, has yet to be fulfilled.

I’ve got to say: for me, the epitome of shitty internet hair are those unbelievably egotistical, Mirror Image App. photographs that are the excrement of social media.

This is not art because we're smiling!

This is not art because we’re smiling – it’s a Happy Snap

Obviously hairdressing could be an art form, hairdressers, like artists, have the ability to see the world differently and express it and themselves through their work – most hairdressers do that, it’s part of the job. The problem comes with value, because hairdressing it so transient, so everyday, so commonplace.

Anyway, I’ve no problem with being called a craftsman; take a trip to your local museum and see all those artefacts made by craftsman throughout millennia – brilliant.

Further Reading and Resources

1970s Shampoo Nightmares

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London – Willie Christie’s Studio

This blog post, 1970s Shampoo Nightmares, has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. They thought it “would make a very interesting read!” I’m not too sure about that, you’d better judge for yourself!

Without meaning this to be a biography of my early years as a hairdresser, or a fucking history lesson: I’ve got to say this starts in the period between 1970 and 1980, maybe it was when Jimi Hendrix died in September 1970, or when Andre Mizelas (of Andre Bernard) got shot in November 1970, or maybe when Vidal Sassoon created his line of hair-care products in the early 1970s? The thing is, there was an imperceptible wind of change gently blowing – just like there is today, and it’s difficult for me to put a date to it, let’s say the early 1970s.

It was a time when most, if not all, London salons had their own line of self branded hair-care products for sale – I’m talking mainly shampoos and conditioners. They were formulated by so called, cosmetic chemists in small laboratories come kitchen sink factories. The name David Gold rings a bell, I don’t know why – the smell of coconut comes to mind when I think of the name! Salons bought their shampoos and conditioners by the gallon (4.5 litres) from the labs who personalised it (branded it) with ridiculous flavours and the salon’s name. These shampoos and conditioners were absolute crap – or were they? If you washed somewhere between fifteen and fifty heads of hair a day, six days a week, for three months solid, believe me, it really was absolute crap!

I say ridiculous flavours: lemon for greasy hair was typical and obvious, pineapple and orange were slightly less obvious and sickly. pine for normal hair, didn’t smell toilety, but of the woods. almond and coconut for dry and damaged hair. And the colours of course were pretty vivid: yellow, orange, green, pink and spunk white! As a creative junior I liked to mix them and create ‘cocktails’ – my favourite being a pina colada: 3 measures of pineapple, a dash of pine and lemon, 1 measure of coconut – the end result being clean hair, a happy mixologist and an oblivious client!

A junior’s morning job would be to: decant the shampoos and conditioners into the various ‘clean’ 2 litre glass carafes with cork stoppers, that sat behind the backwash like grand apothecary jars.

After a flutter with Lamaur (my favourite: apple pectin shampoo) and Wella, Ricci Burns (where I worked) ditched the laboratory and went down the innovative product road and embraced Redken products (first UK salon to do so); on the other hand, Vidal Sassoon was heavily into self branded products and I think they were the first to go into major production (with Helen of Troy Corporation), selling in the USA and Europe in 1980. This was the beginning of celebrity hairdresser branded hair-care and beauty products.

Today there are a plethora manufactured by ‘global’ beauty companies like: Procter & Gamble (Vidal Sassoon), L’Oréal (Jean-Louis David), Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown – Makeup Artist) and Unilever (Tigi for hair salons, Toni & Guy)…

And you may ask: are salon (professional) products better than High Street (retail) products? Sadly, No, they’re not better! But I know it’s what hairdressers, salons, have always wanted. Unfortunately, expensive, celebrity/professional shampoos aren’t better – £3.99 or £39.99 there’s not a lot of difference; you don’t get what you pay for!

The trouble is, there’s such a lot of bollocks talked about hairdressing products; in the end it’s all about money, the bottom line, sales, turnover… I remember all the fuss caused by Wella in the mid-late 1970s, when they removed Lifetex conditioner from their professional range and allowed Boots to sell it at half the fucking price that a salon could buy it for in the first place (supermarket purchasing power)! (Get your arse down to the supermarket, but talk with your stylist first!)

There have always been well-known ‘celebrity’ hairdressers: Marcel Grateau (Marcel wave), Antoine (original short bob cut), Raymond Bessone (Mr. Teasy-Weasy), Andre Bernard (royal hairdresser)… Vidal Sassoon… However, it is today’s branded High Street beauty products, celebrity culture and consumerism that have changed the hairdressing and fashion scene for the worst – maybe those carafes of shampoo weren’t so bad after all?

Copyright Infringement – Hair & Beauty Industry

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model Anik. Hair & Styling: Ian (me). Make-up: Arianne. 21:06:1981

Over the past forty years I have worked with many artists: actors, dancers, photographers, painters, sculptors, musicians, designers & writers; some of whom are very famous, most, if not all, are highly principled; the one thing that they all worry about is copyright infringement – especially the lesser known independent artists, because when people copy and use their work it normally cuts into their meagre earnings and they feel cheated.

These days it’s the music and film industries that are obsessed with the problem, because copyright infringement costs them millions of dollars; the fashion industry is not that far behind – although, it is on an entirely different scale.

This copyright issue started when I was looking through the list of websites created by Salon Guru and I thought, “Shit, so many of these hair salons are posting product and celebrity photographs that they obviously don’t own the copyright to, and without ascribing ANY credit.” Surely some of these salons are guilty of copyright infringement?

So I posted a comment on #HairHour

And I got some interesting responses – which I’m not going to embed here, but I will quote some!

I personally feel the problem is caused by a general ignorance of copyright law & the internet, a cavalier disregard for other people’s property & feelings and not knowing the difference between personal and commercial – for instance: a hairstylist may use their personal Facebook account for promoting their business, by posting images of clients, products and other people’s work!

Ruth Carter steers clear of the ‘commercialising a person’s image’ problem in her excellent blog post, When Can Someone Post Photos Of You Online? But Ruth makes a good point, “When it comes to the question, ‘Can I post pictures of other people online,’ the answer is always, ‘It depends!'”

And I agree with the thrust of Sara’s comment (August 16, 2013 at 10:32 pm), but not her use of language – Hairdressers do have a tendency to photograph their clients for public display on their websites and social media. For God’s sake, always ask the client first and without putting them under pressure to say yes.

A better idea is to create a Selfie Wall – See: Why Your Salon Needs a Selfie Wall by By Rachael Gibson for HJi. And then the client can share their new hairdo photos themselves – You’ve entered: salon marketing nirvana!

@styledbyollie made a good point on #HairHour: “Inspiration for your clients is fine, but posting images on Instagram just to gain Likes, makes it hard to showcase real work.” An opinion that illustrates the need for high quality and relevant content and a restraint on posting spammy shyte.

Of course, what a lot of hairdressers, beauticians, manicurists, etc. are doing is: using images of other peoples work to sell themselves; and that is against the law unless they have permission of use from the owner – permission almost always comes with terms of use.

@creativeheadmag warned on #HairHour: “Copyright law is pretty ruthless, ESPECIALLY on social media where the rules are still relatively new and hazy.” Agreed, but actually, I’d say, the rules are relatively clear, it’s just that people don’t care because everyone is doing it – And the main offender (sort of) are the social media platforms themselves, who encourage sharing, retweeting, reblogging, etc., the terms of which are included in their copyright agreements that nobody bothers to read!

If you are unsure about copyright ownership, instead of steeling the image or content, you can always ask for permission first – and they usually say Yes! Read Their Copyright.

What to do if someone infringes your copyright

Copyright Service UK – a great fact sheet.

Personally, what I do is ask the ‘offender’ to either remove the infringing work or attribute it correctly (I send them all the details of how to attribute it correctly) and I give them 14 days to do so. If they don’t, I keep cranking up the pressure. If they’re using my work for obvious commercial gain, then I would feel perfectly entitled to ask for some form of royalty.

My Copyright

© SlashHair’s work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which means: quote me and steal my images, but give me credit by Linking Back. Do You understand? My images and written content are yours to use as long as you attribute / credit the work to Ian Robson at and link back to the original work. I do have a universal copyright notice which states, Copyright 1994 All Rights Reserved – unless otherwise stated.


  • altlab Hotlink Checker – for discovering and how to stop people directly linking to your images on your website (called hotlinking or inline linking). When someone hotlinks an image, they just copy the image’s URL and include it on their website – they steal your image and your bandwidth. Some website statistics applications also provide information on who is linking to your images.
  • Copyright Service UK – What to do if someone infringes your copyright, a really good fact sheet.
  • The Ultimate Instagram Guide for Hair Salons – an interesting article by Lisa Furgison.
  • Copyscape Plagiarism Checker – a brilliant tool for finding the plagiarists who copy text. I have been copied loads of times, and even though they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it always pisses me off because without attribution it’s theft of my effort!
  • Creative Commons – helps you to share your knowledge and creativity with the world by creating a copyright license. I use: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which is a bit of a mouthful!
  • Google Image Search – my favourite first go to tool for discovering image theft.
    Here’s How: obviously start by going to Google Images! Then click the camera icon (right-hand side of search bar) – search by image box pops up. You can either, paste image URL, upload an image or drag and drop an image. Click Search! The Google image search results are very extensive, but not 100%.
  • ImageRights International, Inc. – a copyright enforcement service for visual artists fighting image piracy and recovering losses on their customers’ behalf. No Win – No Fee recovery policy.
  • Regram – a free iPhone app for Instagram. “@regramapp is good for crediting the original, regram shows true appreciation.” Suggested by @salonevolution on #HairHour.
  • When Can Someone Post Photos Of You Online? – by Ruth Carter of Cater Law. Doesn’t cover commercial usage, but never the less an interesting and worthwhile article.
  • TinEye – is a reverse image search tool. In my humble opinion, not as good as Google, but worth an initial try. Suggested by @Alyssa_V12Hair on #HairHour.
  • Watermark Photos – you can add a custom watermark and edit your photographs online. @KandKompanyElli said, “Avoid photo theft by adding your salon’s name & logo on photos.” on #hairHour. Personally, I’m not keen on watermarks, but I can see they have their place.
  • Wikimedia Commons – How to detect copyright violations – an interesting wiki on copyright infringement that includes a number of helpful tips.

Session Hairdressing Q&A On #HairHour

I’ve got to say that I was looking forward to this weeks #HairHour – a Q&A with @SydHayesHair on session hairdressing. However, I was sort of gravely disappointed because Syd Hayes didn’t follow the normal Twitter chat convention of using the bloody #HashTag! In the end I had to poke around for Syd’s insightful and razor-sharp answers.

Twitter chats are usually far too frenetic to miss out the hashtags: use a tool like ‏ or ‏, they make it much easier to follow and participate, and they automatically include the hashtag at the end, so you won’t forget.

When you use the hashtag everyone can enjoy your wonderful tweet and at the same time you are helping to promote #HairHour – Spread The Love.

(BTW, that wasn’t a criticism aimed at Syd, just a general comment for anyone on #HairHour!)

Anyway, I thought I would gather the questions here and write My answers! If you want to read Syd Hayes’ answer, just click on the Tweet!

Q1: With the amount of stylists interested in branching into session work, what are your must haves to make it?

Talent is number one, fortitude and commitment follow close behind. And even though You are solely responsible for the hair, the ability to work within a creative team, and a bloody thick skin – you are going to get criticism; session hairdressing isn’t all fun. Yeah, it is!

Q2: What is it about session work that inspired you to pursue it as a career?

I’d been on very many sessions with Robert Lobetta as his ‏Junior at Ricci Burns – getting out of the salon was vital for my sanity. I must also mention Leon Hammé, whom I found extremely inspirational. Session hairdressing seemed a natural progression.

Q3: Being a salon director how do you how do you manage balancing your session and salon work?

One doesn’t need to be a salon director, session hairdressing is all about time management. Get yourself organised, being late is never an option!

Q4: Do you find the skills learnt in the salon are easily transferable to the session world?

Of course! It’s just that session hairdressing tends to be high speed, precision hair dressing – One never cuts a models hair during a session (maybe the odd fringe).

Q5: What qualities do you need to possess to survive and thrive in such a busy industry?

I totally agree with Syd Hayes, "Positivity and dedication! Be open to change in your work, adapt and adjust. Sometimes trying new things in a different way can work."

Also, the ability to watch, listen and understand. It’s not just a matter of keeping ones finger on the pulse of fashion, it’s more a matter of surfing the wave of fashion!

Q6: Where do you see hair trends going this upcoming season?

My styles predictions for 2015 posted on 18 January 2015 say: Finely highlighted with natural glossy highlights and lowlights mainly Blonde. Short bobs with a slightly 1980s to 1990s coupe sauvage-esque, dishevelled look that have a geometric precision that is out of place in today’s world. I was very happy with this prediction as it suits my style of hairdressing: a flowing precisionist hair-cutting technique! Precision cut short fringes.

My Top Ten Hairdressing Tips

hairdressing tips - Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Hairdressing Tips – Don’t Try This At Home!

I often get asked online for hairdressing tips, I usually try to come up with something that matches the occasion! However, a client asked me, what is my top hairdressing tip! I wish I’d said, “it’s not that important.” Here are my ten, fairly random, top hairdressing tips – enjoy!

1. You’re Beautiful, I’m beautiful

Everyone has the potential to be beautiful because true beauty comes from within – it’s not about hair, make-up or fashion. It’s about how you feel about yourself and others. Confidence, Empathy and Love are the key words here. Be yourself and release yourself from the constrains of conformity – You’re Already Beautiful, that’s what makes my work so easy.

2. Obviously A Professional Haircut

The key to good looking hair is the haircut! But I would say that wouldn’t I. Get your hair cut every four to six weeks to preserve the style, and every three months to keep it healthy.

3. Gungy Hair

If your hair’s mingin and looking dull, you’ve probably got some form of product build-up or overload; wash it with a deep cleansing ‘clarifying shampoo’. I recommend you use a clarifying shampoo once every two to four weeks to wash away residue – Wella Pure Shampoo and Kevin Murphy Maxi Wash are good. Always use a compatible conditioner after deep cleansing because it turns your hair to straw!

4. Feed You Hair, Eat A Rainbow

Diet doesn’t only effect your health, but also your hair. If your hair is fucked up, feed it! Eat: peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, mango, papaya, apricots, blueberries, sardines, salmon, pumpkin & ground flax seeds, walnuts and wheat germ – I’m talking, lots of multi-coloured fruit and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds and grains.

If you are losing your hair, start off by taking a multi-vitamin supplement, then check your diet and lifestyle.

5. There Are Three Products Everyone Should Have: Dry Shampoo, Argon Oil and L’Oreal Elnet Satin Hairspray

Dry shampoo is great for oil build up, it gives more time between washes and gives volume to fine hair – if left in! I like L’Oréal Professional Techni Art Fresh Dust and Batiste Original Dry Shampoo (Matt finish, slightly dusty, better on blondes than on brunettes).

Love hair oil – Argon to baby oil it doesn’t really matter what oil. Apply a microscopically small amount of oil to the scalp (1-3 drops for fine hair to 1.5ml on thick wavy hair). Put two drops of oil, say, on to your fingertips and massage gently into the scalp – Not the hair (in reality the oil will mainly be on the hair roots)! The oil will move down the hair shaft quickly and naturally to control the fluff and frizz.

(2 drops of oil plus dry shampoo is totally brilliant for chignons!)

Hairspray is the condiment of the fashionista. A tiny dash of hair sauce and you’re done! Elnet Hairspray is outstanding. Spray lightly on fingers and gently smooth down the fluffy ends.

6. For The Best Hair Day You’ve Had In Months

After shampooing and before conditioning, use a citric acid rinse. Prepare the rinse in a plastic measuring jug by completely dissolving approximately 1/2 (half) teaspoonful of citric acid crystals into 200ml of boiling water. Add 300ml of cold water (you’ve now got 500ml of warm citric acid solution) – give it a stir. (You could use an organic cider vinegar rinse instead if you want: 18ml vinegar + 500ml warm water). Carefully pour the citric acid rinse over your hair, avoid getting it in the eyes, leave it on for one minute, rinse off well with cool-cold water… then condition your hair as normal – voilà.

7. Chuck Away That Bloody Hair Dryer Nozzle

Give yourself a break from the dryer and let your hair dry naturally when ever possible; every haircut I’ve ever done will air dry perfectly well. And by-the-way, that fuckin’ nozzle on your professional hair dryer, concentrates the heat to damage your hair – chuck it away now, as it’s almost impossible for you to dry your hair yourself like a professional.

There’s a trend for blow dry bars – you’re not necessarily cheating on your hairdresser, but your hairdresser should do a better job, simply because they know you. I charge about £40 and I’ll give you a free lesson at the same time – if you ask.

8. Use A Toothbrush As A Back-Combing Brush On Thin Hair

Let’s face it, fine, thin hair may need a little extra help to look fuller. Regular back-combing tends to damage the hair, especially when one uses a comb (never under any circumstances use a metal comb for back-combing), however, a soft toothbrush is gentle and easy to use – BTW, just back-comb the roots!

9. Hair Bands Damage Hair – Repetitive Strain Injury

If you continually use one of those cheap ponytail hair bands with a metal joint, day after day, it will always damage your hair at the point of use/contact! I recommend using non-metal hair elastics like 4mm Blax Snag Free Hair Elastics or a ribbon! Nuff said!

10. Split Ends Can Not Be Mended

Split ends can’t be mended, they need to be cut off – not singed off with a lit taper.

However, a quick temporary superficial fix is a freezing cold acid hair bath (like in #6, but freezing-fucking-cold), plus a good deep-conditioner (like Macadamia Deep Repair Hair Masque), plus a leave-in treatment (like Redken Extreme Anti-Snap). And the stylist’s secret is all in the blow-dry – point the hair dryer downwards (from roots to ends) and dry without over heating!

11. Prevention Is Usually Better Than The Cure

That’s it! Need help? Get in Touch.

Why do only 17% of clients return to salons regularly

Bruno's book of haircutting

PhorestSalonSoftware – @thephorestword tweeted during #hairhour:

Well it really is a staggering statistic – I replied listening to my gut feeling, “Quality of work?” And when I say quality of work, I’m thinking; why would a client who’s happy with her haircut want to change her hairstylist?

Jump back in time to the mid to late 1970s, I was working at Ricci Burns in the King’s Road, Chelsea, London and I thought that hairdressers in the provinces (everywhere outside London) were rubbish! Sounds very snobby, judgemental and biased – I know, but it was born out of some personal experience. My clients demanded excellence, their careers often revolved around their appearance, an inferior, sloppy hairdo would not have been accepted. On the other hand, the demand for a high quality hairdo in the provinces didn’t appear to be there; dare I say that clients in the provinces (the general public) wouldn’t’ve even recognised a good haircut in 1976 – yeah, I know that’s a massive generalisation, but what I’m talking about is a demand that drives hairdressing standards.

For me, this whole journey starts in the period between 1970 and the late 1980s, maybe it was when Vidal Sassoon created his line of hair-care products in the early 1970s? Most London salons had their own line of ‘self’ branded hair-care products for sale, but I think Vidal Sassoon was the first to go into major production (with Helen of Troy Corporation), selling in the USA and Europe in 1980. This was the beginning of celebrity hairdresser branded hair-care and beauty products. John Frieda, another big name in the UK, followed suit in the late 1980s. Today there are a plethora manufactured by global beauty companies like: Procter & Gamble (Vidal Sassoon), L’Oréal (Jean-Louis David), Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown – Makeup Artist) and Unilever (Tigi for hair salons, Toni & Guy)…

Then there was Toni & Guy who franchised their business in the late 1980s – obviously they had their own branded hair-care products! In my view, it was Toni & Guy who not only improved hairdressing standards in the provinces, but also pushed up the price of hairdressing, and they increased competition on the high street. I won’t talk about Unisex (1960s), but that too plays a part.

Over the last five years or so we’ve seen the massive rise of social media which has had a profound impact on television, celebrity culture, mainstream journalism and of course the general public. The image of the self, including the selfie and user-generated photos, take on a new meaning and importance – everyone and anyone can suddenly become a celebrity by going ‘viral’! The public demand for high quality hairdressing hasn’t only arrived, but it may have exceeded the supply! Hence, “Only 17% of clients returned to the salons more than twice.” …The general public aren’t getting the celebrity service they now demand, so they are looking elsewhere for better. They are salon hopping! Actually, they should be complaining.

There is another explanation though:

Firstly, I’m always very suspicious about surveys and survey results & analysis. Phorest, who conducted the survey and who asked the question, are a salon software business – so they do have a vested interest and they will have an angle! I’ve a strong feeling they will say that if you use the Phorest Salon Software, you will be able to identify what’s going wrong and grow your business?

With greater competition on the High Street, salon owners are under more pressure to maximise their income from floor space, so they are renting out chairs to freelance hairstylists, therefore these salons may only be able to accommodate a ‘walk in off the street’ clientèle? …Walk-in clients are not usually regular and loyal. It all depends on the freelance to experienced staff member ratio.

And don’t forget the old adage, “a hairdressing salon is only as good as its worst stylist!”

Cover Image: Bruno’s book of haircutting (Couper les cheveux soi-même) by Bruno Pittini. Copyright & published 1976, this edition by Sphere Books 1979 – My copy is the last one left (I think). The book is a step-by-step guide to cutting your own hair, so, if you’re tired of expensive visits to the hairdresser…

Bruno Pittini (deceased) and I did a couple of fashion shows together in Paris in 1980/81.