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?

An Epic Test Session – August 1981

Epic Test Session – Saturday 15th August 1981 – Day 1

The punchline that had me laughing like a drain was, “I suppose a fuck’s out of the question!” But I can’t remember the joke! Chris and I were heading out of London on the M4 in his clapped out 1970s Morris Marina en route to what would become an epic test session.

A few weeks earlier we’d visited Models 1 on the Fulham Road to drop off some photographs and killing two birds with one stone, we then went on to Nevs down the King’s Road to talk about testing with one of their models. After Nevs and while walking down to the Picasso Café for a lunchtime snack, we spotted a girl with her mum. “She’s a cracker,” we said in unison; and to my surprise and admiration Chris introduced himself, wrote down his and Model 1’s phone numbers on a scrap of paper and said, “If you want to become a model, get in contact.”

She did get in contact, and that’s where we were heading – to Bath, Somerset! I’d been working with Patrick Lichfield about three weeks previously and Chris had been assisting Lichfield all week, so apart from telling jokes, we mainly talked about the technicalities of different lighting set-ups, and that was almost just as funny, because there were plenty of shenanigans with Lichfield and his lighting arrangements, especially when Chris was involved – he could tell a good story could Chris.

Chris had picked up a couple of outfits from Bruce Oldfield – on pain of death should anything happen to them (which it did, but he got away with it!) – and I’d picked up the latest Jousse release from Way-In at Harrods and a whole load of accessories, which caused an unholy kerfuffle on return because Way-In had loaned out so much stock to Press and Stylists that they hardly had anything left to sell!

Chris and I picked up Persephone from her home and headed into Bath, where we met the makeup artist Arianne. And we set to work.

Persephone old boy. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone old boy. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

Persephone in Bruce Oldfield. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone in Bruce Oldfield. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

© Model: Persephone in Bruce Oldfield, Photographer: Chris Roberts © 1981, Hair: Ian Robson, Makeup: Arianne. Bath

Deep lilac silk Bruce Oldfield dress. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 15:08:1981.

Test Session – Sunday 16th August 1981 – Day 2

I awoke in a seedy hotel room, and my head was pounding from the heavy session we’d had in a cellar bar called Moles! A taxi took us to the Roman baths where we had an early morning photo session booked with Persephone.

Persephone on diving stone. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 16:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.Persephone on diving stone. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne. Bath 16:08:1981. Test Session Polaroid.

© Model: Persephone, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson

Persephone on the diving stone, the great bath, Roman Baths, Bath 16:08:1981. Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model: Persephone. Hair: Ian (me). Makeup: Arianne.

The outcome of a productive, successful and epic test session is loads of high quality photographs. From a new model’s perspective these photographs can be used in a Peter Marlowe Models Composite.

© Model: Persephone (Peter Marlowe Models Composite A), Photographers: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. Models1 London

Persephoné Models1 Elite 1981 – A Peter Marlowe Models Composite © copyright Peter Marlowe, All Rights Reserved.

© Model: Persephone (Peter Marlowe Models Composite B), Photographers: Chris Roberts, Victor Yuan 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. Models1 London

Persephoné Models1 Elite 1981 – A Peter Marlowe Models Composite © copyright Peter Marlowe, All Rights Reserved.

Just to note, at around this time (’81) Elite Models had formed a partnership with Models1, which lasted for just a few years!

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 SlashHair.net 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.

How To Become A Session Hairstylist

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981.

Session Hairstylist: Ian (me). Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hard at work light-testing 01:10:1981. Polaroid. Before digital cameras we collected Polaroids like Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

Becoming a session hairstylist

My first photographic session ever, was as Robert Lobetta’s junior when I worked at Ricci Burns – Over 21 magazine (1973). Photographer Willie Christie.

My first photographic session as a hairstylist (flying solo) was for Woman and Home magazine (1974) – No photo credits, just a fee of ten quid (about a hundred pounds today 2015). Actually, I was still a junior and about two months away from becoming a hairstylist!

…What happened was: Oliver, the manager of Ricci Burns, King’s Road, went around the salon, stylist to stylist, starting from Robert, asking if they wanted to do a photo-session after work that night – it was a Friday! Everyone was saying no because they were going out!

When Ollie finally asked me, out of utter desperation (because he obviously didn’t want to do it either), I said yes, and I was totally over the fucking moon. I was deliriously happy and unusually nervous, even though I’d assisted on countless photo-sessions. Ollie said, “Don’t tell them you’re a junior!” Robert said, “I’ll kill you if you lose it.” (I’d borrowed his session bag!)

About a week after the Woman and Home session, Ollie came over to me and said, “I’d like you to do a fashion show for Coco (a Chelsea boutique) tomorrow and by-the-way, Penny Ryder phoned to say that Woman and Home loved your work.”

So, is that how to become a session hairstylist? Join a noted London salon and train with the world’s best hairstylists?

No, there’s more to it than that, you’ve got to really want to be a session hairstylist, because there’s quite a lot of shit.

Get your name out there

In this age of connectivity, I think most of us know the power of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram coupled with owning a Website and having an email mailing-list. However, the one brilliant thing about hairdressers is our wonderful ability to do face-to-face.

When I first went freelance I decided to hawk my portfolio around to the magazines and the photographers that I’d worked with while at Ricci’s. And I thought that I may as well start with Brides magazine – Vogue House!

The assistant editor came out of her office and I stood to attention. She shook my outstretched hand and abruptly tore my portfolio from the other, and walked straight back into her chaotic office, opening the portfolio as she went – Out fell: a brown A4 envelope containing a number of contact sheets, half a dozen loose colour transparencies in their plastic and glass frames, three business cards and a scrappy piece of paper with a few scribbled notes for my eyes only! I frantically picked up the embarrassing spillage. In the meantime, the assistant editor had unceremoniously dumped my portfolio on her desk and flipped through its twelve pages faster than she could say, “Not Interested” and returned to the door while zipping-up the portfolio saying, “We’ll contact you – Goodbye.” I put the paraphernalia into the brown envelope, retrieved my portfolio, handed her a card and found myself on the other side of the door. The whole thing, which I laughingly call an interview, took about thirty seconds – and that’s being generous!

I was completely nonplussed and felt pretty dejected, my thick skin wore very thin that day.

Ages later the assistant editor phoned and asked me to do a last minute, “no credits, no fee,” photo session with the American fashion photographer Arthur Elgort with whom I’d worked before – awesome.

Never underestimate the super-human ability of a frantically busy, seasoned professional – I was so naive because I’d been mollycoddled by a salon, Ricci Burns.

Maybe life would have been a lot simpler if I’d joined a specialist agency for freelance session hairstylists – And maybe not?

The horrid truth – Move To London!

The fashion industry is London centric and I think it will be (for lots of reasons) for the next fifty years. A legacy of post war Britain, the Swinging Sixties and the art, film and music industries.

Obviously there are opportunities for session hairstylists in the major cities and provinces, but the focus is in London! #LondonFashionWeek?

Photographer: Chris Roberts. Hair & make-up Ian (me). Richard's studio 06:02:1982. Test Session.

Photographer: Chris Roberts. Model Cassie. Hair & make-up Ian (me). Richard’s studio 06:02:1982. Test Session Polaroid.

Build a portfolio by doing Test Sessions

If you’re a n00bie/wannabe session hairstylist: a test session is where a photographer, model, make-up artist and hairdresser (occasionally also: stylist and fashion designer) come together to create a photograph. A photograph that can be included in their portfolios.

Participating in a test session is the best way to start your journey to becoming a session hairstylist. Session work is all about teamwork – When a group of talented creatives with big personalities come together, something extraordinary usually happens; and when the buzz is right the results can be mind-blowingly sensational. But I hope you can also imagine what it’s like when things are not so awesome? Yeah, that’s what test sessions are partly for: understanding creative teamwork!

Test sessions are also magnificent for building connections and relationships; for instance, most of the young photographers you test with will be assistant fashion photographers: ‏Chris Roberts (who I did about three years of photographic sessions with) was assistant to Willie Christie and Patrick Lichfield – And you’d be surprised how far their networks spread.

On the other hand, you might test with someone like ‏Charlie Kemp, he wasn’t an assistant, his wife Maril was a top model with Laraine Ashton. Charlie and I did a lot of testing together throughout the 1980s, he specialised in portfolio work, and he knew everyone – we spent too much time in the pub – he taught me a lot.

Hitting Paydirt

When you’re standing behind a model in a tiny cupboard with a massive mirror and an arc lamp burning the back of your neck and the ridiculous advertorial that the newspaper is laughably calling a fashion feature actually represents an artistic boundary that you said you wouldn’t cross in a billion years, but you’ve got ten jobs exactly the same lined up for next week.

You’ll know when you’ve hit paydirt when Vogue fashion editor Alexandra Shulman gives you a ring!

And BTW, it’s a very, very small world.

How To Get Rid Of Static Electricity In Your Hair This Winter

© Model: Penelope Savalas, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981-ish, Hair: Ian Robson. London

I was with a client this frosty December morning and she asked the question, “When I brush my hair, especially after straightening, my hair turns static and I can’t do a bloody thing with it; how do I cure it?”

OK Katherine, well you know what it’s like when you walk across the carpet in a department store, step on the escalator and touch the handrail, Zap! You get a shock created by static electricity. The electric charge is generated by two materials rubbing together, you and the carpet, and discharged, usually from the fingertips, via the handrail!

It’s basically the same with the hair; when you brush your hair it causes the hairs to have the same charge and they repel each other, just like two magnets, the same poles repel. In hair, the same charge repels – it’s normally positive (+).

The cold frosty mornings of winter are usually the worst times for static electricity to occur in your hair, it’s caused by the lack of moisture in the air so the electrons move more freely.

How To Fix It

Add some moisture by washing your hair with a hydrating shampoo like, Redken’s Clear Moisture Shampoo. Always condition; use a compatible conditioner i.e. Redken’s Clear Moisture Conditioner. If you want, you can use an extra rich conditioner twice a month.

For your thick wavy hair Katherine, use up to 1.25ml (1/4 tspn less is better) of grapeseed oil applied to wet hair after washing and conditioning and before drying.

Blow-dry your hair with an ionic hair dryer, which helps to reduce static. If possible, use a natural boar bristle hairbrush like the iconic, great British hairbrush, Mason Pearson; however, I use and recommend the Denman D5 (used to be called Royal Denman).

Before straightening use a heat protector something like, Redken iron silk 07 ultra-straightening spray – there are others like the ghd Heat Protect Spray!

After styling and especially for fine, straight hair use a microscopically small amount of Frizz-Ease hair serum on the ends of your hair.

Finishing products like Elnett Satin hairspray (the only one I’d recommend) help fix the hair.

Moisturize, use a hand and body cream to keep your skin hydrated.

Ground Yourself Katherine, walk naked outside. Now you are static free and you look electrifying ;D

Model: Penelope Savalas, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981-ish, Hair: Ian Robson. London