Sunday, 11 October 2009

Punk Rock Hair

by Miss Justine Brown

Miss Brown and her pals had one friend who actually had her hair done in a salon. Eve had nicked her mother's collection of early 60s Vogue magazines, and she wanted the Vidal Sassoon Cleopatra look-- shiny, black and perfectly slanted down to points at the chin-- and well outside of our sphere of expertise. Lynn and Miss Brown accompanied her, magazine in hand, to see the flashy new wave hairstylists one day. The place was called Suki's, and it was run by a blunt Japanese woman who seldom emerged from her office.

The punks were sitting in the lobby waiting for Eve, reading trade magazines, when a flock of haircuts descended, clucking, cawing, squawking and shaking their polished geometric hairstyles: the staff. Even La Suki herself appeared to get a good look at our horrific hair. They wanted to fix it. Their hands were trembling. Lynn's was short, spiky and backcombed (perfect), and Miss Brown's new asymmetrical haircut was platinum blond (heaven). Granted, it had taken about two weeks to achieve that colour-- that's the way bleach was in 1979, even if the product was called Super Blondissima.

Miss Brown was a honey-type blonde until age eight and has naturally medium brown hair. She smeared on the drugstore stuff, which was bright blue and had fumes that made her eyes sting. Within 15 minutes her scalp started to burn! Her eyes watered in the cloud of fumes! But she persevered, leaving the hellish substance on for an hour before leaping into the shower almost crazed with relief. The result? Perfectly white at the roots, where body heat speeds up the process. The rest was brassy as all get-out, pretty much red. And she had to wait at least a week before trying again (see final result above: Miss Brown pictured with Grade 8 pal Andrew Miller).

The tricky part going to school and convincing her classmates she did it on purpose.

A week later she bought another kit and this time got the right result. This kind of bleach--stripping-- is meant to work on the watercolour principle. You get a white piece of "paper" and add colour to it (toner). We mostly avoided toner, although she quite liked silver and a pale lavender varieties favoured by old ladies. All the drugstore girls say the same thing: dark-haired girls come in and buy the toner only, say Harvest Moon or Sunlit Wheatfield. They wind up in tears with dark, slightly brassified hair (there's only a little peroxide in a toner). Some of them, the poor ones, brazen it out; the rich ones bolt to the hairdressers and vow never to do DIY hair again.

Home haircolour has been getting stronger, faster, and easier on the hair shaft since Miss Brown was 14. Miss Brown ought to to know, because she's been alternately bleaching and dyeing (darkening) her hair the whole time. But when Allure ( magazine (the best and only beauty magazine worth reading) included Clairol's Perfect 10  in a shortlist of beauty advances for 2009, she sensed a sea-change in the wonderful world of hair colour.

The product uses new technology to achieve an accurate, even and gentle-on-the-locks result in TEN MINUTES. It doesn't sting or smell like rotten eggs; it's mild. Miss Brown hates brassy blond, and feels the time for platinum may be past. She put Perfect 10 over highlighted hair. Now she's got a light, neutral hue. Sunlit Wheatfield, in fact! 1940s still from genius animatrix Lotte Reiniger shows Helen of Troy. Was it really her hair, and not her face, that launched a thousand ships?) 

To give the hairdressers at Suki's their due, our Eve emerged with a perfectly tapered bob as blue-black as Veronica Lodge's, a look she enhanced with Egyptian-style liquid eyeliner. Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra had nothing on hers.

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