SITTING in front of a mirror with the full attention of a hairstylist is often just what women need when they want to get their heads right.
As one of Ireland’s most in-demand hairdressers, Dylan Bradshaw has spent the past two decades getting to the root of women’s problems, in more ways than one. From split ends to split-ups, the award-winning stylist reveals how Irish women are increasingly turning to ‘hairapy’ to sort out their problems.
“It’s totally therapy,” says Dylan, whose hair salon is based on Dublin’s South William St. “Somebody sitting in the chair is very honest where they wouldn’t be even with their friends in some cases.
“When you come in talking about yourself — how you want to feel, how you want to look — you’re giving away all your personal thoughts about yourself, so it’s incredibly intimate when you share that time with the client.”
Proving the power of a good hair day, and the inextricable link between women’s manes and their minds, one study by beauty brand SEQuadrema uncovered how a tenth of women had called in sick to work when they were having a bad one.
In the survey of 2,000 women, which pored over the pressure to be permanently selfie-ready, 5% even confessed to refusing to leave the house while feeling less than picture perfect.
Although she hasn’t quite gone that far, presenter Lorraine Keane — a familiar face in the city-centre salon — admits she’s changed her plans over her crowning glory.
“My hair is probably one of my best features, to be honest,” the mum-of-two tells Feelgood. “If I’m having a bad hair day, I’m having a bad day.
“As women, we have so much more to think about when it comes to getting ready for a night out, so yes, if I haven’t had time to get my hair done and don’t have time to do it myself, it could easily be the deciding factor to just stay in.
“I like relaxed, effortless hair, even though it’s probably taken the work of a small army to create,” laughs Lorraine, who washes and blow-dries her tresses three times a week, and cites Jennifer Aniston and Elle Macpherson as her hair heroes.
“It’s amazing how a good blow dry can change my mood, and I think a lot of women are the same. It’s a small price for a big bit of pampering.”
Renowned for her beachy, blonde do, former Miss World Rosanna Davison is on the same wavelength.
“For somebody with lots of long hair, I don’t think I spend that much time fussing with it,” says the model, whose signature Gold Fever hair extensions are managed by Ceira Lambert Hair Consultancy in Shankill.
“I usually wash my hair every second day and often leave it to dry naturally.
“It doesn’t bother me too much when my hair looks messy on a day-to-day basis, but if I’m going somewhere special then I love to feel groomed, and hair, of course, is a huge part of that. It’s hard to beat the feeling of having your hair freshly washed and blow-dried.”
When it comes to her coiffure, model Holly Carpenter is also playing the long game after one memorable do-saster in her teens.
“When I was 16, I went platinum blonde and ended up having to get the bleach stripped from my hair,” she recalls. “My hair was left so dry and broken so I thought I would use a home dye kit to return it to my natural chocolate brown colour — unfortunately it ended up jet black.”
These days her focus in on keeping her hair in good condition.
“I take good care of my hair and always make sure to blow dry it bone dry and apply different serums and sprays,” says Holly, who sports Great Lengths hair extensions and is another of Ceira Lambert’s celebrity clients.
“I feel like the better care you take of your hair, the less time you need to spend making it look good. I wear it straight most days, but there’s nothing like a big, bouncy curly blow dry to give you that extra boost of confidence.”
Hair-raising research by Yale University proves Holly is not alone after establishing that the only thing a dodgy do volumises is self-doubt.
Commissioned by hair care range Physique, the 2015 study of 60 men and 60 women aged 17-30 examined the psychological impact of “bad hair days”, namely “reduced self-esteem, increased social insecurity, and a diminished sense of being a worthwhile person”.
Professor of psychology Dr Marianne LaFrance explains: “Interestingly, both women and men are negatively affected by the phenomenon of bad hair days.
“Even more fascinating is our finding that individuals perceive their capabilities to be significantly lower than others when experiencing bad hair.”
As the face of Box Office, which returns to 3e on September 21, Lisa Cannon is famous for her Hollywood tresses, but the presenter revealed she’s had a few hair horrors, too. “I remember when I went to Vietnam with my girlfriends and I forgot to bring product with me. I’ve got really tight curls like Mel B from the Spice Girls, and with the heat, because I’d forgotten all the products, it was out of control.
“I was slagged constantly for that the whole time I was over there.
“I go to Brown Sugar in Blackrock,” adds Lisa. “I’m there nearly every week — sometimes twice a week — for a blow dry, especially when I’m on the show or if I’m flying to London to do a junket.
“When you’ve a bad hair day, no matter what you put on, it doesn’t really go right, so I just think having a good blow dry can really make you feel great.
“I think you feel when your hair is done you can nearly tackle the world.”
Such ‘hairphoria’ would certainly go some way towards explaining why the average woman spends €16,650 on her locks in her lifetime, according to research commissioned by Toni & Guy, and why 83% think it’s worth every single cent.
Quizzed by the salon to mark its 50th anniversary, blondes admitted to splashing €3,405 more than their brunette counterparts in the survey of 2,000 women.
Just be sure to spend at least some of that on a good quality shampoo and conditioner to use at home, advised Dylan, who was named exceptional stylist for the second year running at the UK and Ireland hairdressing competition Most Wanted earlier this month.
“There’s nothing more attractive than shiny, healthy, hydrated hair, and you can’t do that regardless of whatever products you’re using unless you take care of it,” he says, “so you’ve got to use a good shampoo, a good conditioner, and even use a treatment once a week or twice a month just to keep the hair really hydrated.
“That’s the thing that drives me mad: Women look after their face much better than they look after their hair.
“I think the secret with good hair is ‘less is more’,” he adds. “So when you’re getting your hair cut or coloured or curled, try and make it more understated — don’t make it look like you just came out of the hair salon because actually it’s not that complimentary — it’s a bit OTT.
“And you don’t need to shampoo your hair every day — if you can get away with a couple of times a week, that’s all you need to do.
“Try not to use heated tools if you can help it, or if you do use them bring the temperature right down, because they’re the things that naturally dry your hair every day.”
While Katy Perry and Kristen Stewart are on the cutting edge with their pixie crops, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s more conservative ‘lob’ is likely to be the most requested style in salons across the country this autumn, predict the experts.
“Believe it or not, the pixie haircut is the most requested haircut in the world at the moment,” says Stephen Kelly, artistic director of Zeba Hairdressing, also on Dublin’s South William St. “A lot of women are cutting their hair off, and it’s great for us to get our teeth into a project like that.
“But the mid-length bob is a big thing as well. Mid-length is the most flattering, it’s the most glam and it’s very versatile as well because it can be curly or straight.
“I’ve always said to clients, ‘Look after your hair the way you would look after your skin’, and most of them are brilliant at doing that. Women are really switching on to haircare now. They’ve come to realise that that very expensive dress is going to look like nothing unless you’ve got the right hair to go with it.”
The long and short of it is to leave cutting and colouring to the professionals, he urges. “Stay away from the toenail scissors, and don’t be cutting your own fringe,” he says. “One of hairdressers’ biggest bones of contention is when we see home colours coming through the door, and obviously they’re coming to us to get it corrected.
“I understand with the recession for the last 10 years a lot of women had to resort to home colour. I suppose, where possible, try and go to a salon to get your colour done, but if not, really, really be careful about
what you’re doing at home because I’ve seen some disasters.
“I’d always insist that they take a conditioner or treatment away with them because once you chemically alter the hair, the hair’s never the same.”
A crafty combination of highlights and lowlights can make going au natural less traumatic, according to the stylist, however, all four stars conceded they would rather curl up and dye.
They’re not alone. One survey by a British hair transplant centre found 72% of women dread going grey, not least because it ages them twice as quickly as men. “I don’t know if everyone is ready for that step, myself included,” says Lisa, “so I think I’m going to hold off on that a little bit longer. I’m going to do a Paul McCartney on it and keep dyeing it until I’m probably about 70.”
“I imagine I’ll keep dyeing it, to be honest,” says Rosanna. “I feel like myself as a blonde and definitely have more fun.
“I dyed my hair dark brown almost 10 years ago, and while I loved the idea of a change, I found it tricky to tie my clothes, tan, and makeup in with it after so many years being blonde.
“The colour kept fading into a funny reddish brown, so after quite a few weeks of recolouring it, I gave up and went back blonde.
“Keeping it similar to the colour it is now will hopefully help to hide a multitude.”