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Want to know the best hair salons in London for colouring? We’ve roamed around town to review everything from highlights to dip-dye and balayage. Don’t let anyone near your hair until you’ve read this…
109-125 Knightsbridge Fourth Floor, London SW1X 7RJ
Luke Hersheson is known for challenging the beauty landscape, and particularly for his innovative approach when it comes to salon design (case in point his wildly popular 5,000-square-foot space on Berners Street). His Harvey Nichols outpost is no different, and is the perfect place to book in for a much-needed post-lockdown trim and colour, with its high-ceilings, spaced-out stations (with some not in use) and staff decked in PPE visors (plus a Farm Girl cafe for refreshments, too). Want a real treat? Book in for a cut with Luke himself, who will give you the hair you’ve always wanted. After asking a few questions about what you do and don’t like about your hair, he’ll get to work cutting it to suit your face shape, style and needs, with a preference for giving cuts that don’t need overstyling (or even hair drying in some cases). Be ready to want to show it off as soon as you’ve left – time to book in for an al fresco dinner.
48 S Audley St, Mayfair, London W1K 2QB
You know you’re in good company when the Duchess of Cornwall, Nigella Lawson and Sophie Dahl are all rumoured to have frequented the same salon as you. That’s the case for Jo Hansford, the Mayfair stalwart that has endured for over two decades, who is known for her dab hand with colour and tint. After a consultation, your colourist will get to work transforming your locks, with the thoroughly indulgent wash and condition to look forward to afterwards (plus a Kerastase treatment and head massage, naturally). There’s a warm, friendly atmosphere, with a lot of care taken to make the client happy (whether that’s popping out for a coffee, or giving honest advice on what suits), so it’s no surprise that several of the stylists have been here for years. Emerging hours later with a bouncy blow-dry – the kind that begs to be shown off – it’s clear why Hansford has such a good reputation amongst the glamorous and the good.
Liberty, Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5AH
Situated on the second floor at smart townhouse department store Liberty, Taylor Taylor is the ideal location for a chic hair update while you’re in town. Start your pampering with a cocktail from the drinks menu (the bellini is the best) before having an indulgent hair wash and head massage using Lore Originals products, developed by the team in-house. The team of expert stylists will listen carefully to what you want, snipping and pruning until you are completely happy. If it’s a new look you are after, then Mike Mahoney is your man, with the creative senior stylist being a dab hand with a pair of scissors as well as a pleasure to chat too. This is the kind of hair transformation where you will leave looking like yourself, just better. Which only makes the central London location even better – you’ll want to show off your locks ASAP.
Neville Hair and Beauty
5 Pont Street, London, SW1X 9EJ
Chic five-story townhouse Neville Hair and Beauty is a mecca for Belgravia’s well-heeled set, who come here weekly for blow-dries, facials, manicures, massages and treatments (there are multiple Tatler staffers on the books). It’s the salon’s colour options though that are particularly impressive, with techniques like Palm painting and balayage pioneered by founder Neville Tucker. After a consultation with your colourist, you can book in to have a quick facial while you wait, or order a healthy salad or sandwich to nibble on (there are also healthy shots, fresh juices, matcha lattes and the like to sip on). Once you’re happy with the hue, you’ll be whisked off to another floor for your blow-dry, before leaving with the glossy, shiny locks you’ve dreamed of.
70 Sloane Avenue, SW3
The impossibly convenient Aldo Coppola on Sloane Avenue is a buzzy hive of Italians – both stylists and clients, who are greeted like old friends. Those in the know come here for shatush, the lightening treatment pioneered by the salon’s legendary founder Aldo Coppola back in the 70s. It colours hair without damaging it, giving a natural, sun-kissed result, which is topped off by the application of the salon’s all-purpose, all-natural, possibly magical herb infusion. The recipe is bespoke for each client, with a mix of herbs and oils (coconut, olive) and gives hair a healthy, natural glow. Ask for art director Michael – he’s a true artist – and you’ll leave looking like you’ve spent a month in Sardinia.
Shatush from £190 (from £250 for art director)
62 Conduit Street, W1
Still as smart as the day it opened seven years ago, FOUR has not only stood the test of time but moved with it too. You’re as likely to see a buzz cut taking place as you are a fringe trim or a Duchess of Cambridge-style full-works blowdry on the ground floor. But it’s upstairs that the real sorcery takes place. FOUR’s founders have a stellar ex-Jo Hansford pedigree and a wide-ranging set of skills, but a particular brilliance lies with the foils and highlights. On any given morning, the mezzanine colour gallery is a riot of honey-hued, sun-tinted, greys-banished customers sipping lemongrass, lime leaf and ginger infusions and cooking gently under heat lamps. It’s a slick set-up: smart, discrete, calm. Nowhere in Mayfair understands blondes better.
Half-head highlights from £175.
58-60 George Street, W1
They’ve outposts in Selfridges and Kensington, but the Marylebone flagship – the UK’s largest salon – is still going strong. Colourists here take their time; and they listen. Conversations veer from what you want long-term from your blonde, or brunette, or auburn, to how to make it immediately fresher. Yes, your hair is rather fabulous when you leave the salon – but colourists are also fastidious about how it looks six weeks down the line (they believe in carrying as much of your natural hue through as possible to avoid the dreaded regrowth – it means less in the way of maintenance and fading). Do try their Love Your Highlights treatment, a thick conditioning treatment that’s left for 10 minutes beneath the heat to nourish hair and make highlights brighter.
Half-head highlights, from £137. Love Your Highlights, from £38.
58-59 Margaret Street, W1
Forty years after the original salon launched, Nicola Clarke has taken the reins at John Frieda on Margaret Street – and it’s a marvelous place (polished concrete, exposed piping and soft leather chairs). Stylists here are skilled, the juniors at the backwash do a hedonistic head massage; but Clarke’s known for her colour (Gwyneth, Cate and Kate are all on her speed dial) – so it’s colour you’ll want to come for. From expensive-looking highlights to beachy balayage to fearless colour changes (blue, flame-coloured, lilac) the sky’s the limit, and the results are consistently flawless. Strong coffee, multitasking workstations and stylish reading material make this a cut above your average salon experience.
Half-head highlights, from £115.
The Lanesborough, SW1
The marble-clad health club and spa at The Lanesborough is another type of heaven, with a perfect turquoise pool and Bodyism-run restaurant (we defy you to leave without a chocolate-flavoured shake in hand). But the real draw is the Daniel Galvin Jr salon, overseen by Daniel himself, who pops over from his Belgravia space when requested. His latest technique is ‘Taliage’, which is like balayage – but softer and subtler. The dye is still painted on freestyle through the mid-lengths, using an angled brush that touches less of the hair than before – but this time, the ends are left untouched. (It means colour looks less ‘blocky’ after a few rounds, and hair definitely feels healthier for it). Rumour has it that Pippa Middleton’s hen party descended on the salon before going out. Wouldn’t you?
6 Lansdowne Mews, W11
‘The problem with blondes is that it’s very easy to spot mistakes,’ says associate colourist, Jason Hogan at Josh Wood Colour. For those who have past colour crimes that need correcting, know that magic gets performed in the garden-like studio of this famous Notting Hill salon. As you sit among the glorious greenery, subtle shading is used on the roots and then a gloss to blend it all through. The idea is for colour that will last and fuse with your natural shade so that as it grows out, it doesn’t all go down-hill. No joins, no jarring, just colour you look like you’ve always had, even weeks after you have it done. See? Magic.
BY OLIVIA BENNE
Gloss, from £55. Half-head highlights from £165.
24 Wells Street, W1
You’ve had a bad dye job, or you’ve just spent two weeks basking on a beach. Or maybe your dryer/styling wand/straightener has been used way too much lately. Whatever the reason, your hair is unhappy. Dry, brittle, faded – it doesn’t swoosh so much as point downwards, like an unloved potted plant. Go and see Sally. She’s smiley and friendly and bullshit-free, and knows exactly how to make it all better (and gives you good coffee and pots of popcorn while you wait – big tick). Those faded ends are brightened up, the odd grey is swiftly dealt with and a few pretty colour variations are painted around your face to give everything a bit of an oomph. You leave with hair like you used to have: full, bright, shiny and with one hell of a swoosh.
Colour, from £80.
Colour, from £105.
2a Chepstow Road, W2
Swedish colour wizard Christel Lundqvist has opened Stil, a minimalist jewel box of a salon, and Notting Hill is all the better for it. Potty not just about colour, but all things healthy, they’ll pour you a glass of Blk (an alkaline, fulvic-trace-mineral-infused spring water – yes, we are being serious), before conducting an in-depth, get-to-know-you 30-minute consultation. Ask for Lumière Lights, which is a softer version of balayage and gives a hair a silvery, elfin glaze.
Colour, from £65.
Netil House, Westgate Street, E8
The message at the wonderfully uncomplicated Glasshouse is simple – plants are where it’s at. Which means ammonia- and paraben-free dyes, products in recyclable packaging and the greenest, meanest matcha lattes. Though that’s not to say the results are in any way wishy-washy: white-blonde, traffic-light-red, powder-pink and lilac washes are all yours for the asking, and will leave hair smelling like a giant Parma violet.
Colour, from £50.
28 Great Queen Street, WC2
We know all about make-up contouring and its ability to whip up razor-sharp cheekbones, but now Charles Worthington brings us hair contouring. A novelty? Maybe. Does it actually work? Yes. Art director Marc Trinder is the go-to guy for subtle highlighting that slims and shapes the face. First there’s a ‘face fitting’, to decide which sections of hair to colour. Now don’t get upset if you don’t have the desired oval shape, or if you think you’re a heart but are actually a square. Just trust that Marc’s flattering hand will leave you liking your face more than ever – even after three hours of staring at it in the mirror.
Colour contouring, from £75.
789 Fulham Road, SW6
Some salons are intimidating, but Seed, with prices that won’t make your eyes water and antlers on the walls, isn’t one of them. Reassuringly, regulars all have something in common: natural, healthy-looking, even-your-own-mother-wouldn’t-guess-it-wasn’t-your-own colour. So, hair-dye virgins, be brave: trust your colourist because not only will they comb, section and paint with gusto, but the end result will fill you with uncontainable joy and confidence. As will that free glass of fizz that they hand you upon arrival. There are further outposts in Kensington and Clapham.
Half-head highlights, £62.
42-44 George Street, W1
There are many things you want to achieve when you dye your hair. Like making it look as though you’ve spent a week on Harbour Island. Or hiding the fact that you’re no longer 16. But hair that looks full of life while giving your skin a glow? Obviously. So try the micro-balayage at Gielly Green, where the dye is painted on freeform, focusing more on the underside (the results are soft and natural). Or the new Colour Detox Treatment, a vegan-based mask that rids the hair of city pollution, hard water and mineral buildup (iron, calcium, chlorine). It makes blonde hair less brassy, and brunettes newly bright (it’s also available at the new Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square salon). Then the compliments start. Have you been away? Your skin is great! Why are you looking so happy, anyway? You’re happy because you’ve got good hair.
Micro-balayage, from £118. Colour Detox Treatment, from £80.
77 Westbourne Park Road, W2
There’s a bit of a French thing going on over at 77, which looks like the sort of hip, uncluttered Parisian apartment you’d find in the Marais – music streamed from South of France radio stations and an excellent wine list add to the feel. Founder and owner Loic (expect an accent that’ll make you weak at the knees) is full of techniques learnt in his native Marseilles, and his signature balayage will leave your hair looking not streaky, not stripy, but lighter and brighter – sort of like it’s just been on a nice jaunt to St Tropez. His advice? ‘If your colour looks expensive, the rest of you will follow.’
Half-head balayage, from £110.
394 King’s Road, SW10
You know those wispy bits? The ones around your hairline, those baby hairs that tend to get forgotten about in the excitement of T-bars, half-heads and the like? Well, fine and flimsy and free-spirited as they may be, they are also key to prolonging that glorious, glowing, post-holiday halo of bright blonde. Devised by colourist, stylist and all-round hair whizz Sophie Grant, the hairline lift gently lightens these tendrils by a couple of shades to frame your face with a pretty golden haze. It’s brilliant news for those held hostage to highlights, or very useful for simply eking out your colour in between more in-depth appointments (a blessed relief for those who know the trials of having to spend hours rattling with foils ).
Hairline lift, from £30.
16 Marylebone Street, W1
Owner Richard took over this place two years ago, turning it from a chintzy neighbourhood salon into an elegant space where stylists could work between shoots. Its success is down to his obsessive attention to detail (ask him about the Little Greene blue-grey paint on the walls), and he’s just as meticulous when it comes to the colour that goes up top. Yes, he freestyle paints with gusto, but he can still do the full-head-of-foils thing too. He’s so laidback that clients text him to book, which is never a hassle – Richard lives next to the salon and finds it hard to say no.
Colour with Richard, from £85.
284 Westbourne Park Road, W11
Samantha’s salon is a riot: popcorn spills from golden pineapples and you’ll have a cocktail in your hand before you can say Mermaid Martini (a candy floss-prosecco hybrid that’ll give you a sugar rush as high as your hair). Her signature balayage is the envy of every girl, while the semi-permanent washes (try bubblegum pink) are the stuff of teenage dreams. Don’t miss Sidney the bulldog, who is so sociable that he has his own Instagram account (@sidneythebulldog).
Colour with Samantha, from £135.
2 Berwick Street, W1
Bleach’s founders, Alex Brownsell and Lou Teasedale, are wild about colour. Which means stylists at the Berwick Street salon will happily dip-dye your ends – but as you catch their eye in the mirror, they’re itching to ask if you want to try something a bit edgier. You don’t have to go all out with a jet-black undercut, red tips and a triangular fringe (something that has actually been requested). It needn’t be permanent either (try a soft pastel rinse, which will fade over the course of the week). Either way, because the girls wielding the bleach are cooler than you are, they’ll convince you. Do pop into their new mixing station at the Selfridges Beauty Workshop, where bespoke hair colours and glitters are mixed on the spot for you to take home.
Colour, from £55.
121 Lower Clapton Road, E5
This Clapton salon has style: US postal boxes hide sockets and old shutters cordon off styling stations. And the same can be said of the colourists – like Harriet Muldoon, who takes your tired old hair and returns it to you looking brighter, shinier and distinctly less mousy. Her newest trick is the ‘sun bun’: hair is coiled into a doughnut then streaked with rainbow-coloured dyes. The result? Pretty, pastel-y and sun-bleached – basically, beach-ready.
Colour, from £59.
233 King’s Road, SW3
Hari’s specialises in highlights for people who just don’t have the patience for highlights. The newly launched T-bar is a quick-fix optical illusion; a blast of summer tint on the most visible areas of your hair – the central parting and a sweep around your face. Which means a delicately balanced combination of high and lowlights, bright enough to cheer hair up between the full-head appointments, but considered enough that it shouts ‘just back from Mykonos’, not ‘just back from the salon’. Throw in an Olaplex treatment – a combination of almond and aloe oils, plus vitamins C and A, that does its damned best to make the colouring process as kind as possible – and you can be in and out in just over an hour.
T-Bar Root Refresh, from £70; Olaplex, from £45.