It’s a drab February afternoon, but my day is getting a pleasant turn: I am interviewing Ian Broderick, co-owner of CV Hair & Beauty, a much-acclaimed salon that has been working with the ENTERTAINER since last year.
Upon arrival I meet Ian, we shake hands and I am offered tea or coffee while I wait for him to add the last touches to a client’s do. All hair experts are engaged with customers, and the conversation between them is constant, despite the blow-dryer’s roars. Something I’ve always found reassuring in a hair salon, a good communication with the person on the chair.
Ian finishes and lets me know that first I’m going to have a hair assessment with Scarlet, who then appears, tablet in hand, and gives me a super high-tech personalised analysis of what products I should be using to get the hair I’ve always wanted. I take the chance to ask the gorgeous Scarlet a couple of questions:
What are the advantages of using this technology?
The fact that it has so many variants and options, it gives us a much more precise idea of what are your hair and scalp needs. The technology is very easy to use, since it’s just answering some questions about how your hair is, and what do you like and dislike about it.
But do you still find the need for a human touch?
Of course! The machine can’t appreciate every aspect of your scalp and hair like we do! It can’t really touch your hair either…
Are there times you envy the machine precisely because of that?
Haha, no, no, all of our customers are great. One of the main perks of our profession is to help them get what they need. And specially to correct wrong treatments they might have been advised to follow, which sadly happens a lot.
We interrupt the lovely chat for some minutes, during which Scarlet washes my hair, to then apply a mix of the two moisturising and colour-preserving products that the hair analysis recommended for me. They are amazingly light (the smell is heavenly!) and after gently covering my hair with them from root to ends, she asks me to close my eyes for the scalp massage. I really have no words for how marvellous it was!
That was absolutely delightful, but it goes beyond relax, right?
Yes, you don’t really have any scalp issues, but for people that struggle with dryness, or an excess of oil, hair loss even, the massage really helps to get those imbalances under control. It can even stimulate hair growth.
After Scarlett dries my hair so gently I can only imagine she has patted it dry with a baby duckling, Ian is going to show me the right way to get beach waves and loose curls (something I’ve been trying to achieve, with no success).
I start interrogating him like a character from a John Le Carre novel:
How long have you guys been based in Russell Square? How do you like the area?
14 years now, before I used to work in a different studio in Mayfair. It’s a good neighbourhood, and the thing is that this local has been a hairdressers, under different owners, for more than 100 years. So we have some customers that used to come here as kids to get their hair cut with their mums, or clients that were in the 60s scene. Some of them still remember the time when Kenneth Williams (a comic actor) lived in the apartment above!
Woah, it must be incredible to be part of a pice of history! And you’ve been in the business for a long time as well, although things have probably changed a lot since your beginnings…
Yes and no. Some things you find them doing a comeback. For example, you told me you dye your hair with henna, and I think it’s getting more and more popular. In the 70s it went really big, henna, and the thing is, you could mix it with other ingredients to affect the colour. People used to put red wine in it, because it made the red shine brighter, or black tea to make it darker, and it worked! Although people went a bit mad there, and you can imagine the disasters I’ve seen…
Please, do tell!
Well, one of the main things people don’t know is that, despite being “natural”, henna doesn’t react well with colour striping, or other dyes, so you can basically do a lot of damage to your hair, if you’re not careful.
What else is making a comeback?
I’m glad to see that natural Afro hair is getting more popular. I have a lot of expertise with Afro-caribbean hair, how to style it, cut it and get it to a prime natural condition without using chemicals. Of course, people can get bored of their natural style, and weaves or keratin give you some variety. But personally I am happy natural Afro styles are trending, it’s so much healthier.
You mentioned the 70s and the hippy movement, have you been witness to other style scenes?
The Punk scene, for example, which started without us having what we could call a proper hair gel! I even remember when the first one was launched, before that we used to grab anything to create those massive mohawks, like soap lather. Even sugar, we just mixed enough sugar with water until we got a paste we could work into our hair. Absolutely horrible.
What would be your most important piece of advice for your clients?
Let professionals advice you, especially once you’ve found the salon you can trust. In the case of our studio, we always put what the customer needs before what we would like them to get. Yes, we are a business, but the right advice and product handling is always more important to us than upselling.
I thank Ian and Scarlet for their incredible work, and leave the place feeling like a film star, with my shiny, wavy hair flowing behind me.