After seeing the Bleach London story in NYLON
, and hearing all about it from friends (plus having a serious dose of hair envy after seeing my very own sister Pixie modeling in the Bleach look book!
) I decided it was time to take matters into my own (grubby, bitten-nailed) hands. I set out to test the feted grunge utopia of a hair salon that seemingly every fashion magazine and blog du jour are raving about. And as a bonus, I'd also try their sister salon, Wah Nails, who promise to transform my aforementioned stumps into gleaming talons, covered in veritable Louvre-standard art. First, Bleach
Senior colourist Grace did my hair, promising to get my natural dirty blonde to a shiny highlighted ash and white. The salon wasn't kidding around with their name. "Bleach" is a tongue-in-cheek reference to their uber-grunge aesthetic (and the title of a classic Nirvana album), but the name also fits with the gobs of stinging, smelly white stuff they deposit onto their customers hair daily, transforming run of the mill, hum drum highlights into glossy, multicoloured manes that come in every colour… as long as said colour is ice-cream toned. I asked Grace about their most popular treatment; she told me it's called 'super cool colour,' where the hair is dyed all over. Popular hues include green, blue and violet, with the most popular being a Sonic Youth-y washed out light pink. Another favorite of Bleach disciples is having your roots dyed in rather than covered up, a practice that would make most hair salons scoff.
"The difference with Bleach" Grace tells me knowingly, "Is that here, we actually understand the concept of looking under-done and messy, and how sexy and unique that can be. Most high-end salons simply can't fathom that concept, they just don't get it all!" A brunette girl next to me seems very pleased with the 'Bleachenders' she's getting - that's another Bleach original look, concocted by founder and hair maestro Alex Brownsell, where the ends of the hair are dyed a luminous shade and the rest of the hair is left natural.
(Alas, said girl's mother doesn't seem quite so impressed and looks well on her way to a minor heart attack as the hair stylist removes the foils to reveal her daughters new faded blue colour underneath.)
Finally, my own hair is done, a process which took a good four hours all together. "People who home-dye their hair don't realize how long it actually takes to bleach it properly," explains Grace. "If you want to get a really true colour, or you want a white blonde with ash highlights that actually doesn't turn yellow after one wash, you have to take your time. So many people or salons just slap the bleach on. Here we highlight piece by piece to get it just right." And I have to admit, no salon has ever been able to get my naturally warm-toned hair to that ice-cold whitish blonde I so crave, but Grace has pulled it off and then some. I am utterly delighted. Maybe next time I'll try out that light pink everyone's raving about...
Next, Wah Nails
The original Bleach salon is in the Wah nails shop in Dalston; right now, I'm at their pop up boutique in TopShop. So I move two seats along to Topshop's Wah Nail Bar. There's a veritable treasure trove of mental styles in neon colours; in keeping with the '90s vibe I go for a pistachio green nail with a daisy print, and my beloved boyfriend Tom's name spelled out across three fingers on my left hand. As predicted, my manicurist is horrified at my bitten-down-to-the-quick excuses for nails, and I end up going for a full set of acrylic nail extensions, diva-style. At the end they look not only natural, but feel sturdy as rocks. The art is absolutely beautiful. The great thing about Wah is they fuse a left-field hipster aesthetic with the nail art traditions of Japan or Jamaica. They've got the fun of colourful prints and opulent shades, with a tried and tested formula in giving a great manicure. You just can't get nail art like this in other British salons, since most of them think a 'unique pattern' is a french manicure. I don't like to overhype things - especially when they're already getting so much attention - but I've also got to tell the truth: my hair looks great, my nails look great, and best of all, I feel like I got exactly what I asked for: a fashion-forward, unique look that's all my own. Individuality is back, get on the waiting list!
--PEACHES GELDOF Go to Bleach London's website for UK appointments... and stay tuned, The Bleach girls are coming back to America in September!And visit the amazing Wah Nails online...