I met Jo aged 16, after a string of terrible haircuts from varying places in north London.
In a few weeks’ time, just before my 26th birthday, I’ll be back in her chair for my usual chop and blow dry.
This makes ours one of my longest-standing relationships – and it seems this is a common phenomenon.
New research from L’Oréal Professional found that one in six consider their hairdresser a friend – and would even invite them to their wedding.
The client-hairdresser relationship can be so strong and enduring that for one in five women, it lasts longer than 11 years.
That’s longer than the average UK marriage.
For more than a decade, Jo has watched me morph from an awkward teen to a chatty adult, have a career change, and go through breakups, while I’ve seen her take on a side hustle, travel and have a baby.
There is something intimate and comforting about the duration of that relationship, that’s periodically returned to.
Whitney, a 35-year-old in London, has seen her six-year relationship with her hairdresser turn into a genuine friendship.
She now has dinner every few weeks with hairdresser Anna Short, who works at Daniel Galvin in Selfridges.
Whitney says: ‘Anna and I have become good friends.
‘She is always so positive and all her clients love her energy, she is amazing at what she does.
‘I am from a Latin background and I’ve always found it difficult to achieve balayage or a good ash blonde that didn’t look fake until I met Anna, who is the only one able to achieve it for me.
‘We are letting someone touch our hair, our heads and our skin so there is a huge level of trust that a client puts on their hairdresser.
‘When comes to longer services like colouring, it can end up being a bit of therapy session because you spend so much time with each other.
‘Sometimes it feels like a spiritual cleanse because you go in with the old and come out with the new.’
Particularly among women, it’s common for individuals to go and have a hair refresh, or change, at a big turning point in their lives.
L’Oréal calls this the ‘sharecut’, as one in six women will happily discuss personal information – such as work issues, relationships and life changes – with their hairdresser before their own family.
Whitney adds: ‘Once you find that person that makes you feel so great and you trust so much, you don’t want to let them go.’
The research was commissioned by L’Oréal to mark the fourth year of their ‘Hair the Love’ campaign, which aims to spotlight the value of the hairdressing industry and the positive impact that hairdressers can have on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
In fact, 74% of women agree that having their hair done professionally supports their mental health and wellbeing, and a third say they now appreciate their hairdresser more now than they did pre-pandemic.
Sarah, 42, from Edinburgh, has been having her hair cut with Charlie Miller Salons since she was a young child – after her mum had been a client there, too.
She usually goes every eight weeks, but is currently dealing with cancer that has returned – so has cut back on appointments.
Sarah says: ‘The first time I had cancer, I had total hair loss within two weeks but when my hair started to grow back, I was back in that chair every 4-6 weeks.
‘This time around I’ve been fortunate enough not to experience hair loss yet so I’ve managed to make it in once for a trim.
‘It felt amazing to be back in that chair, feeling normal, and leaving looking great.’
Sarah associates big life moments with hair changes, saying: ‘Rosslyn (her hairdresser) and the team have cut and coloured my hair for decades and have transformed me through every big moment of my adult life, including my wedding and birth of my three children.
‘You do develop a bond with your stylist and confide in them.
‘This relationship also helps the team to understand what I need and interpret my briefs to best suit my life.
‘The relationship definitely becomes a friendship of sorts and you both share many life stages together.
‘I remember sitting in the chair for my first appointment as a new mum. I thought I wanted a bold new platinum blonde look, but actually this would have been too high maintenance for me and so wrong for my skin tone.
‘Rosslyn knew I really just needed to feel pampered and to feel more like the old me.
‘Instead, she gently suggested a much better and lower maintenance cut and colour.’
Sarah says a good hairdresser makes her feel ‘special’, ‘important’ and ‘heard’ – all things that go fair beyond the job of cutting hair.
Rosslyn confirms that regular ‘honest conversations about a client’s life’ and offering ‘advice that they will ask for’ are both a part of the job.
‘There’s confidence that what’s said in the chair stays in the chair,’ she adds.
‘I’ve been with a lot of my clients for over 20 years, and I know we play a huge part in their life.
‘You’re always there for them no matter what they bring to the appointment,’ something that she believes is ‘magical’.
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