I’d hurriedly rushed up Fulham Road in the direction I thought the salon was located, before realising I had actually already gone too far. A frantic assessment of Google Maps had me throw a quick 180, cross the road, and head back the way I’d just come searching, searching for number 612 on the busy high street. The salon – when I found it, was so very unassuming that you would be forgiven for missing it if you didn’t already know where it was. It lacked the normal Sandwich Board Specials you expect from your high street chain salons, but with clientele bragging the likes of Made In Chelsea’s finest, perhaps this wasn’t Any Old Salon.
I was greeted with a warm welcome, escorted to, and asked to take a seat in the Waiting Area. Would I like a drink? I would, thank you. Make mine a coffee. For lunch time on a Saturday, the salon was already heaving. There were three of us waiting to be seen, while the majority of the seats inside the salon had already been taken by earlier clients. There was an air of emergency; very much a “there are people waiting, we must satisfy everyone!” vibe, which – as a result, meant I wasn’t left waiting very long. Except for that coffee, that only materialised about half an hour later, after I questioned its whereabouts.
Soon enough, I was met in the by the exotic Kiran, and led three foot forward to the Hair Washing Station; conveniently located within the Waiting Area. Handy. Except, I wasn’t about to get my hair washed, I was about to experience the salon’s famous Glow Facial – a bonus plant-based exfoliating treatment you can choose to include in your regular cut and blow dry experience, for some added pampering (and pennies; £15 for the treatment on top of your salon experience). The lights above the Waiting Area/Hair Washing Station were dimmed, and I was told to make myself comfortable.
With my neck at odd angles and my legs out straight in front, I was told to take Three Deep Breaths while Kiran wafted some delightful aromatherapy oils under my snout, and began the treatment on my semi-made-up face – sans consultation about the products that were to be used, but avec consultation about the procedure. I don’t recall the exact treatment, if I’m honest; there was a lot of Cheek Manipulation and thick oils massaged into my sensitive skin and more Three Deep Breaths, but mostly what I remember was: a lot of noise – primarily from the hectic Waiting Area cum Treatment Area and the fact the toilet, staff room, and back door were right there. I’m told there is a full treatment room downstairs, where one can enjoy an array of relaxing procedures… doesn’t that sound nice?…
After the Cheek Manipulation/massage of oil into sensitive skin/repeat was complete, a warm flannel was used to wipe ‘clean’ my skin; I was given a mini head massage (so lush), and I was then sat up right and led – bare (and massively oily and red) faced over to one of the free chairs in the front window of the salon.
Would I like a drink? Oh yes please, make mine that white coffee from earlier, thank you. There, I dared look at myself in the mirror; I was a hot mess. blotchy, oily and red faced, with my hair at all angles and make up smeared across my face. At this point, beyond embarrassment, I was greeted by my stylist Paul, and handed my coffee. I can’t imagine what Paul thought he’d done in his life to be so lucky to have me as a client in that particular moment, but I tell you what; I was mortified.
With my feeble attempt to apologise for the state the head massage had left my hair, and as I frantically tried to wipe my mascara from where it had been left on my forehead, Paul sat there patiently and laughed with me. Not at me, with me. Like a good lad. His laughter was only ever to be short lived, especially after I explained to him that my most recent hair cut was done by me, with the kitchen scissors. I saw that poor man’s heart drop with his eyes, as they rollllllled back into his head. It was the reaction I was expecting, to be fair – it’s also the reason I don’t go to the hair dresser as often as I should.
Thankfully, our consultation was brief; I’d laid few rules; no layers, blunt fringe, a couple inches off the ends max. His only quibble was with the layers. He was the professional after all, so we discussed the pros and cons of layers, and I was convinced to let him layer the underneath of my hair, not the top, so that it wouldn’t be visibly noticeable, but so I would notice the weight relief. Fine.
I was then shuffled back to the Hair Washing Station. Now, who doesn’t love their hair being washed? It’s probably the best bit about going to the hairdressers, no? Well, it was lush. Whomever played that part of my treatment needs a high five, because it was lovely. Except the part where the deep treatment had to stay in for five minutes and I was left alone. Once she returned and the treatment was rinsed off, I was returned to Paul and my now-cold coffee, and the real treatment began.
Paul was lovely. We chatted like old friends the whole way through my time with him. He was attentive to my hair concerns, and paid a great deal of attention to what he was doing – especially as he got all up in my eyes with the fringe trimming, and conversation with him was never hard. This is another reason I hate going to the hairdresser; forced conversation. Well, it never felt forced, and we had a lot in common to talk about. The hour with him flew by, and before I knew it, he was blow drying his creation and clipping my fringe aside so I could see to de-hairing my face in the bathroom (and applying some make up so I could face the Fulham public afterwards).
When I returned to his station, he was gone. I fiddled about a bit with my fringe, as it was a bit wonky from the clip, and looked about for him and his industry-strength hairdryer so I could fix the problem before I left. He never reappeared. After a few more minutes trying to do something with my fringe so I looked acceptable, I grabbed my jacket, a business card, said my thank yous to the jacket-getter-employee and asked her if she could pass my thanks on to Paul herself. Of course she said she would, but I thought it odd he didn’t come back to say goodbye himself. I assume he knew I was there to review the treatment, so was a tad let down he didn’t follow through with me to the end.
Once I was out the door, I hauled all my hair up on top of my head as I normally would, only to discover that the layers he’d convinced me would be a good idea underneath were now too-short to make it into my bun. Thank god for pins, eh! When I got in and blow dried my fringe straight, my disappointment was doubled when I noticed that it was still wonky. Wonky, and cut into, not blunt as I’d asked. Clearly when I’d had my eyes closed, some hairdresser trickery ensued. I’d mentioned cow licks in my fringe, and I know he added some product to combat that, but as he’s cut it with product in, he’d not taken the natural kinks into consideration. Again; there’s a reason I do my own hair – I know what I’m doing, and how I like it to look. Thankfully it will grow enough for me to fix it in a few weeks, but until then, sadly it’s staying up.
The cut itself and the treatment I’d received had left my barnet in a top quality state; shiny and healthy, and I couldn’t be more happy with how that’s turned out. The style is fuss-free, which means I can wash and go and it will pretty much do itself, which is a huge bonus as I’m kind of lastminute.com in the morning, and keen to sleep as much as possible.
This style allows for maximum sleep.
The Glow massage I’d received on the other hand, had left my skin inflamed, irritated, and when I woke up the next day; broken out. The combination of exfoliation, massage oil and the fact that I wasn’t asked to clean my skin prior to the treatment, meant that my skin was angry and rebelling. I was cautious to not add fuel to the fire and steered clear of heavy make up, opting for BB cream for the public’s benefit for the next few days, but even come Tuesday morning, my cheeks were still red, sore and spotty. Not ideal on a thirty year old.
Overall, my experience was a mixed bag.
The service was incredible; the staff were ever so attentive and welcoming, but also a little lacking when it came to the things that really mattered (after care, allergies, etc). The treatments were each wonderful, but could have been more so had they been given in a calm environment and not in the busy waiting room of a busy High Street salon.
The value for money was excellent; £37 for a ladies cut and blowdry (and I assume this includes the standard hair wash), including full consultation and precise cutting – with the added bonus of a really nice person to chat to, was definitely worth it. I would definitely suggest that if you’re going to consider adding the Glow treatment (£15) to your salon cut, that you consult the ingredients first, prepare yourself with clean skin, and speak to the salon staff about any concerns you might have.
Learn from my mistakes, guys!
Thank you to Paul and Kiran and the rest of the team over at Gina Conway Aveda Salon and Spa on Fulham Road for the wonderful experience. I’ll be back… just don’t touch my fringe, ya hear!
Gina Conway Aveda Salon and Spa | 612 Fulham Rd, London SW6 5RP | 020 7731 7633