Hair Story: "This at home hair discovery has changed my beauty routine for good."
"You could say I've gone back to my roots,' reveals Deborah, mum of three and British Glamour editor-in-chief. From a salon devotee, visiting her colourist every 4 weeks, she took hair into her own hands during lockdown and tried at home hair colour for the first time. A beauty ritual she watched her mum do at home for years, she admits it was never on her beauty agenda until the grey roots came calling. She took the plunge and the experience surprised her, not only upgrading her hair skill set and her beauty outlook. Here Deborah shares her hair colour story, letting us into her bathroom to see how she got on, revealing how she went roller skating in hair dye and why she'll always have a Permanent Colour Kit in her bathroom cabinet from now on.
The salon in the bathroom
"One of my earliest memories is of being five years old is sitting on my parent’s bathroom floor watching my mum on a chair, wearing a thin black rubber cap on her head. It was punctured, with small holes which she would pull her glossy strands of hair out with a small, crochet-style needle, and expertly paint the strands with at home hair dye, to colour her dark brunette hair. At weekends, her bathroom would become a makeshift salon for her friends. A place of fun and gossip where they’d come round for my mum, then a full time housewife and amateur hairdresser, to dye their hair followed by one of her expert blow-dries.
"My mum is Iranian. Many Middle Eastern women have thick, curly hair, but their blow-dry is their Westernisation armour. You’d rarely see them walk out of the house without one, then or now. I remember them shrieking with laughter and speaking a million miles an hour in their native tongue, Farsi. Before moving on to the home hair dye, they would also thread each other’s eyebrows, and sometimes sit with their heads covered by a towel over steaming bowls of water, to prepare their skin for an at-home facial.
"For my mum and her community of Middle-Eastern women who moved to the UK in the 70s and 80s, at-home beautification was the only kind of beauty. They had total control over how they looked - glamorous, with long thick luscious bouncy blow-dries, expertly arched eyebrows, beautiful olive skin. Their image was one of impeccable gloss and it wasn’t this way out of coincidence. Growing up in Iran, their appearance was their currency. Acknowledged beauty gave them social standing in a culture that put the value of a woman’s looks high on the agenda of their perceived worth in society. Once in the UK, they found it hard to trust hairdressers with that currency; to understand the needs of their luscious and thick unruly locks and their pursuit of the perfect shade of dark brown, not too black, not too red.
"While she always dyed her hair at home, occasionally, she would go to the hairdresser for a cut, always leaving with her hair wet and frizzy to blow-dry it herself from home. She’d tell me, ‘No-one can blow-dry the frizz as well I can myself.’ On one occasion she found a hairdresser who understood her ‘difficult’ Middle Eastern hair, she would share their number giddily with her friends, as though they were bartering in unicorn dust.
The new beauty reality
"Now I have daughters of a similar age, and for the first time ever, thanks to lockdown, they are now sitting on my bathroom floor watching me dye my hair. Unlike my mum, however, I am solo. There is no beauty party, just a new reality where the hairdresser, who I visit once a month to cover my greying roots, and another hairdresser, who I visit once every 5 months for a cut, are closed and the only person I can rely on for salon-worthy hair colour is myself.
"I'm truly thankful the Josh Wood Colour products came to the rescue. I have to be honest, I’d never used them, or any home hair dye before as I'd never felt the need. And because, even in my forties, I’m a little bit of a rebel against my own upbringing. If my mum dyed her hair at home, you can be damn sure it’s not going to be how I do it.
"But as we've all experienced, lockdown has made us reconsider our lives and how we live it. From work, to home-schooling, fashion to friendships, nothing, but nothing, has been the same. And we have had to open our eyes to new ways of doing things. I resisted it at first, because every week I was convinced that the next week the hairdressers would open. So for the first eight weeks of lockdown I relied on Josh Wood Colour Tinted Dry Shampoo to get me through.
"At-home beauty as a whole, has become one of the most surprising turn of events to have come out of Covid-19. While many of us, myself included, would never have considered dyeing our hair at home, now almost everyone I know has become obsessed with at-home beauty. I even cut my husband’s hair - but that’s a story for another time. In normal times, a visit to the hairdresser is something I consider ‘luxury me time,’ away from my hectic mum life and schedule as editor-in-chief of Glamour UK. It’s 2 hours of not being in control, when I put the decision-making in the expert hands of other people. I walk out of salons two inches taller, ready to face the challenges of every day life as a working mother. And also, simply, I don’t think I ever believed at-home hair colour would ever quite match up to the colour I got at the salon.
Taking the at home hair colour plunge
"But after eight weeks I realised my scattered grey roots were almost two inches long and I no longer liked looking at myself in the mirror.
I emailed Josh Wood Colour and booked an online video consultation. It took 10 minutes. No messing. I told him my biggest fear was my hair turning red. Because although my hair is dark chocolate brown, I’d inherited a blonde undertone from my blonder than white father and didn’t want it to go red. He assured me it wouldn’t. Three days later, my Josh Wood, no 5.5 Permanent Colour Kit and Shade Shot arrived in the post. I also ordered a bowl and colour brush with a pointed end, almost identical to the one I’d watched my mum use 40 years ago.
"I took the plunge one Sunday. I read the instructions (all self explanatory), watched the YouTube video on Josh’s channel and went for it. I realised I didn’t have a cape, Josh's had all sold out, so I rummaged in my 9-year old’s fancy dress box and found a Halloween Dracula cape which was perfect for the job. Needs must! I put a dark towel around my shoulders and one on the floor. I separated my hair into two sections divided down the middle and held up with a bulldog clip. I mixed the colour and started sweeping it in two inches along the roots of my hair, splitting it into sections with the pointed end of the comb.
"It took about 10 minutes to apply and then I had to wait for it to develop for 20 minutes. My five year old started moaning that I hadn’t kept to my promise to take her rollerskating, and I’m not good at sitting still so we headed out onto the street. Yes in my Dracula cape and with my at-home hair dye in situ, I took my daughter roller skating down my road. It was empty apart from my next door neighbour who I thought may give herself a heart attack she was laughing so much.
"After twenty minutes I washed and blow-dried my hair (I’m a pro at at home blow-dries - thanks mum) and checked for grey. There was none. Nada. And the colour was literally a perfect colour match. I had forgotten to add the Shade Shot (oops) but no matter, the colour was perfect, chocolate brown. Not too red. Not too black.
The empowerment of self-care
"My at-home colour is life-changing in lockdown. The condition of our hair is integral to our self worth. Whoever thought beauty, worth 30 billion to the UK economy, is frivolous really needs to think again.
"My new hair, grey-free and glossy makes me feel great. I’m not alone. A few days later my mother-in-law, who’s never owned shampoo as an adult because she only gets her hair washed and blow-dried at a salon, called me, almost in tears. Her roots, dark against her strong blonde, were making her so unhappy she didn’t want to be seen even on a Zoom call again. I told her to book her Josh Wood consultation immediately. It took her two goes to get the colour she wanted - but we chat almost every day now on Zoom so you know her thoughts on the matter. As for me? Friends keep asking me if I’d consider continuing dyeing my hair at home. My honest answer? Yes. It takes me two and a half hours to go to the hairdresser every four weeks. It takes me 40 minutes, start to finish, to dye and blow dry my hair at home. That extra time means precious extra moments with my family. And the colour is perfect. And it saves me £50 a month. It's a no brainer.
"Josh, I wanted to say thank you. Your hair colour for me, and for so many in lockdown, has been a much-needed and cherished little box of self care. And it has changed the way I view my beauty regime. Maybe I’m not such a rebel to my upbringing after all. Now lockdown is over, at-home hair party at mine, everyone."