Happy New Year! If you’re anything like me, your inbox will be full of emails from fitness studios and beauty salons inviting you to make a change throughout the month of January. Whether it’s trying out a new sport, cutting out alcohol, or trying out a new dramatic hair cut, it’s got to be said, January is definitely the month most associated with change, and trying something new. Me? I’m firmly in the New Year, New Hair camp.
I’m testing out the latest in hair colouring techniques at prestigious North East salon, Hooker & Young in the Gosforth Marriott Hotel on the outskirts of Newcastle Upon Tyne, and before I’m even through the door everything is going wrong. Firstly I’m sick, I have a virus & an ear infection and a minor case of self pity, it’s not a good start….. The traffic was against me this morning, willing me not to succeed but I arrive at my appointment a mere 35 minutes late. Eek.
The salon is nestled on the lower ground floor of the hotel and is small and homely. The cream walls and walnut furniture give it a timeless classic feel, like it would never go out of style. I’m greeted at reception by a friendly face and my coat is taken, there’s no waiting around, I make my apologies for my lateness and i’m sat down straight away with salon Director and partner Gary Hooker to discuss what lies ahead…….
So the reason I’m here? One word: BabyLights. It’s a colouring trend direct from the U.S. Hot on the heels of Balayage but far more natural, like a facelift, via the hair. Karlie Kloss, Miranda Kerr, Nicole Scherzinger & Bethany Mota are amongst the devotees of this method and the results are exceptional, case in point: Karlie Kloss, this girl’s star is rising and it’s all down to her hair. First there was THAT cut that brought her out of the shadows, then there was her foray into blonde ambition via BabyLights and the rest as they say, is history.
Here comes the science; BabyLights are designed to take colour back to what it was many moons ago when colour wasn’t obviously highlighted and stripey. Colour appeared more natural and then the nineties saw a distinct change to colouring techniques, hair colour, and in particular highlights, became more “blockish” and “chunky”. This technique strips it back and sees the stylist take small sections of hair which are then halved and the bespoke colour is painted on as with a regular highlight close to the root. The result is more of an iridescent sheen rather than obvious “chunks” of colour scattered throughout the hair.
Gary favours this method over the more widely used method of highlighting hair and uses it on most of his clients unless another method is requested. (It’s worth mentioning that the result is always a happy client)
I cower in my chair waiting for Gary to tell me about the appalling condition of my hair and I’m pleasantly surprised as he tells me “it feels great” but that it most definitely needs a trim. He almost faints when I tell him how long it’s been since my last cut. (six long months FYI, but hey, i’m a busy gal!)
Gary is super fast at putting in the packets, he tells me he’s perfected the technique with years and years of practice and could practically do it with his eyes closed. He starts as soon as I arrive and is packing in the packets for around eighty minutes; a fraction of the time it usually takes. (One of the worst things about having so much hair is the amount of time spent in the hairdressers chair, It frequently takes 6-7 hours each time for me to have my hair highlighted and that’s a full day out of a girls diary!) He’s definitely a multi-tasker, he expertly weaves and paints on colour with the precision and attention of an artist, all this whilst maintaining upbeat conversation about everything from the origins of the technique itself, reality TV and my personal favourite topic, Tom Ford.
I comment on the fact that Gary uses packets rather than foils and he tells me that foils insulate and reflect heat which can lead to over processing and colour bleeding and that often when foils are used the first ones put in have to be removed before the last ones are complete, resulting in several visits to the backwash to remove the foils at different times. But the main, simple benefit of packets over foils? The Stylist can see the colour developing. Genius. As I sit there, head covered in packets (I have a hell of a lot of hair – confirmed by Mr Hooker) I note that it’s not nearly as hot as a head full of foils and definitely lighter in weight.
He leaves the colour to develop for around thirty minutes after which i’m whisked off to the backwash to have the colour removed and a toner applied. After this i’m treated to an amazing head massage and a deep conditioning masque to re-moisturise my locks, before making my way back over to the section for a trim. Gary tells me the shape of my hair is good and that a simple trim should tidy it up and give it back some edge, it instruct him to take off “just the dust” and the evidence on the floor around the chair is conclusive, Gary Hooker is a hairstylist who listens.
Gary decides that big brushed out curls are the way to go and my hair is dried and styled all using a dryer and brush, not a flatiron in sight and sure enough, the result is a seventies style blowout with big, loose curls. Not my usual style, but definitely not unpleasant.
The result is gorgeous, a subtle yet noticeable lift in colour, think contouring for the face, but with hair and you’ll get the picture. It’s almost like a halo effect. People comment on it, but without knowing what’s different, that sort of thing. I imagine that the result could be quite dramatic and the scope for change much bigger with a few inches of root regrowth.
My experience at Hooker & Young Gosforth was definitely a pleasant one, from the friendly welcome at the reception desk, the advice offered by the girl at the backwash and of course the service itself, it’s something I would highly recommend. Particularly if you have long or thick hair and find that you give up a lot of time to maintain your hairstyle each time you visit the hairdresser, my advice would be to try Gary, you might just find that you gain some time and you’ll most definitely leave with a smile on your face and a spring in your step……
Happy New Hair!
For more info and contact details visit www.hookerandyoung.co.uk
Hooker and Young have salons in Darlington, Gosforth, Jesmond, Ponteland and Wynyard
Prices with Gary Hooker start at £80.00 for a cut and style, colour prices available on request.
N.B. It’s worth noting that i didn’t have a real amount of regrowth before trialling this technique and now that i know more about it and the intended result, i intend to go without my much loved highlights for three long months in order to repeat this to get an idea of how it blends with previous colour when applied to virgin hair.
So here’s how my hair looks 8 weeks after having Babylights, i know some of you were interested in seeing the root regrowth as it came through and others about whether the colour faded and if so, by how much. So here goes, as you can see there is some visible root regrowth (obvs) however it’s more “scattered” than “blocky” and the colour has barely faded if at all. (N.B. These pictures are unedited in order to give the true effect.)