The golden age of grooming is back. Luxury pamper parlours, like those championed by Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein in the 1920s, are the inspiration behind the new breed of ‘super salon’ popping up across the country. Diana Kiernander and Mark Robertson investigate
Once, your cut and blow dry experience amounted to a cup of coffee and a flick through the latest fashion glossy. But hairdressing has come a long way with today’s super salons offering a brilliant, modern and elegant array of luxury services. A parlour-perfect pamper package fit for a beauty queen. Or king: the men’s market is catching up fast, with more and more fellas signing up for some serious beauty bliss. Today it’s all about Indian head massage, internet access, teeth whitening and gourmet grub. It seems hair care has never been so holistic.
Historically, hairdressers have a special role in creating calm and listening to boyfriend woes, taming errant locks and lovers with a swish of their magical, satin scissors. Now one hair haven in Glasgow has taken finding solace in the salon to a new level.
Angel and tarot card readings are available, alongside a host of other unusual pamper packages at ‘TLC’ salon in Bishopbriggs. Since years of high maintenance highlighting have taken their toll on my hairdressing habits, I am excited to do something other than sit vacantly under a dryer while my foil lights develop.
Brigit Doak is in charge of my makeover. First up is ‘The Seven of Wands’, a card symbolising strength, determination and courage to succeed. Brigit decides I’m not as blonde and fragile as I look, and there starts a spookily accurate stroll through relationships, aspirations and creativity. There are enough insights into working patterns, personality and my young daughter’s world to make me think she might actually be onto something.
While Brigit sorts out the spiritual side of my life, the girls get to work on making my hair look hot. The approach is friendly, without a hint of the über ego that can sometimes make a salon experience intimidating. Recently taken over by Lois and Craig Brown, the salon is set to make its mark on Glasgow nightlife too, with our hair hosts offering to take groups straight from pamper session to the party in their salon special jeep.
For me, the fast and fabulous nature of the super salon will always beat a boring blow-dry and I leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
It’s a man’s world
Time, as we all know, is not on our side. It makes sense then to bring the spa experience closer to home (and the workplace), to allow those counting the seconds and minutes rather than the hours and days to fit some quality time with exfoliants and moisturisers into their lunch break. Places like Egg on Edinburgh’s Broughton Street have expanded their brief beyond cutting and colouring hair to include a plethora of treatments and services from massage to tanning to waxing.
The growth in the market over the last decade for men’s beauty products is borne out by the large increase in the number of male clients at the salon. They may only account for 25% of the customer base for treatments but they are just as demanding as their female counterparts. With this in mind, Egg have developed a variety of programmes and treatments for men, so, while Di plays her holistic cards in Glasgow, my aim was to find what the young(ish) man about town with troublesome pores could achieve in a one-hour session.
After an in-depth consultation about my current – slightly wayward, if enthusiastic cleansing regime – Joanne, one of the treatment specialists at Egg, arranges me on a long platform bed and places some hot stones on either side of my spine and I feel hitherto unnoticed tension in my back seep away. She studies the 14 areas of different skin on my face, assessing their particular characteristics.
The key here is flexibility, offering each client a customised programme, designed to fit in with their busy lives. The focus for me is on repairing damage from numerous rough shaves and minimising further abuse. A table full of Dermalogica products are gently applied to my face and neck and I am scrubbed, buffed, cleansed, exfoliated, toned, massaged and moisturised for what could have been minutes or hours. On top of that I am treated to a hot stone shoulder massage. The warm, smooth lumps of basalt stone apply a less obvious, more even pressure than traditional massage and loosen the shoulders while a face mask slowly sets.
I am rinsed and moisturised and packed off with a list of recommendations for useful products. I feel fit enough to handle a first date, or – more realistically – the rest of the afternoon at the office, with renewed vigour. A lump of coal tar soap doesn’t really cut it for most people any more and the cleansing and relaxing nature of these treatments certainly make them a more fulfilling way to spend your lunch hour than a trip to Greggs.
Salon round up
Wherever you are, you can find your way to the best ‘super salons’ with The List’s handy hitlist
GLASGOW AND BEYOND
Julie Ross Beauty
At Julie Ross, the emphasis is on old school excellence and innovation, with everything from customised facials to prescription pedicures on offer. Charming treatment rooms, special product events and long opening hours.
Best For Launches, events and hard to get beauty exclusives. Next event is on Wednesday 21 November.
113 West Regent Street
Tel: 0141 248 5448
A one-stop shop for hair, health and beauty, the salon is the first to offer Vibra Therapy, a fat-fighting, cellulite busting regime. They also do sought after non-surgical facelifts and specialist skin packages.
Best for All over transformations.
11 Watson Street, 0141 552 0200
Synonymous with colour expertise and experimentation, this bright and beautiful salon in Royal Exchange Square covers the spectrum of hair and beauty’s latest sensations. Expect tanning, teeth whitening and luxury haircare as well as their own brand beauty products called ‘Must’.
Best for Cool and luxurious hair-centred packages.
24 Royal Exchange Square, 0141 204 4460
More cyber than super, this is a 21st century salon with a twist. Everything from bridal to botox can happen here. An amalgamation of beauty, art and commerce, clients can choose to relax and unwind in the gourmet café between treatments, watch television or surf the net. You’re even invited to bring your laptop for that deadline that just can’t wait. Plug in and chill out.
Best for Multi-tasking.
25 Bothwell Road, Hamilton, 01698 540775
A full-on pamper salon with a whole lot of urban attitude (see main article for more information).
Best for Mystical makeovers and a host of beauty surprises.
124 Kirkintilloch Road, 0141 762 3311
Cheynes Hair & Beauty
The pamper packages on offer cover everything from girls or boys nights out to bride and groom – all topped off with a glass of vino.
Best for Hen or stag groups looking for something different.
Cheynes Hair & Beauty at Next Generation, Newhaven Harbour, Newhaven Quay, 0131 476 8484
Egg Hair & Beauty
A one-stop shop of beauty brilliance amidst a hub of the city’s liveliest bars and boutiques (see main article for more information).
Best for Quick fix pampering.
23 Broughton Street, 0131 556 6685
Ritz Hair & Beauty
For simplistic luxury go and experience the ultimate in world famous French facials at Ritz Hair & Beauty. The inhouse therapist at the salon has an excellent understanding of this prestigious beauty line and will pamper to perfection.
Best for Face and body treatments in a relaxed setting.
9 Dundas Street, 0131 557 8822
Hair and beauty made easy in a well-established, trend-led salon. Hair and beauty packages can be custom built around the individual as you prepare to be pampered in a calm and refreshing environment.
Best for Custom built service.
Glasgow Road, 0131 334 4985
A modern, minimal uptown salon specialising in haircare, nailcare and beauty works. With the emphasis on vitality, wellness and rejuvenation, this should be your first point of call to de-stress and indulge. Exotic skin treatments are a speciality while the salon also stocks the sought after, hard to find Alterna hair products.
Best for Health-based treatments and advice.
South St David Street,
0131 557 5736
A tiny treasure trove of beauty brilliance. Watch out in particular for specialised pedicures and (a favourite with the boys apparently) Hopi Ear Candle therapy. Well worth a visit but book in advance.
Best for Unusual treatments in a relaxed setting.
Brandon Terrace, 0131 229 7761
Get ready to groom with our pick of the take-home treats
Hair Powder by Bumble & Bumble (£27)
Centuries old technique to keep your locks looking lovely. Blend at roots, add volume and dry-cleanse your hair. Perfect for that ‘just stepped out of the salon’ look. Available at Space NK & selected salons.
‘Must’ Leave-in Skin & Hair Conditioner £8.85 (150ml) £23.45 (500ml).
Moisture-rich treatment for parched or sore skin and hair. Available at Rainbow Room.
Poetic Brow Shaping Sugar Wax Kit (£28).
This indulgent quick fix kit promises easy eyebrow maintenance on the go. Available at Harvey Nichols.
Benefit Hollywood Glo (£16.50)
Pampered and preened, this is the ultimate facial finishing touch. For a dewy, picture perfect complexion. Available at Frasers and selected stores.
MenScience Microfine Face Scrub (£26).
For kings of the male pampering regime, this scrub transgresses all the usual beauty norms. Available at Space NK.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant (£28.40).
For ladies who love late nights but have to cope with early mornings, this unique rice-based skin brightening complex simply cannot be beaten. Available at Egg Hair & Beauty.
Jane Iredale Brush Bag (£18)
The make-up range is endorsed by celebrities, skin care professionals and plastic surgeons. Now you can cart your very own kit around in style. Available at Good Vibrations.
Space NK, 36–37 Princes Square, 48 Buchanan Street, Glasgow and 97 George Street, Edinburgh 0131 225 6371; Frasers, 21–45 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, 0141 221 3880; Harvey Nichols, 30–34 St Andrews Square, Edinburgh, 0131 524 8388