We live in a fast world. A big old place in which technology can connect you to friends and family in far-off lands in moments. A world in which smartphones can answer just about every question ever asked in seconds. Food is fast. The same goes for shopping (all hail ASOS). And now, so is beauty.
Today, the world is also a place in which you can enjoy speedy beauty treats, from midnight manicures to lunchtime massages and breakfast blow-dries, thanks to a huge rise in ‘pop-up’ nail salons, slinky eyebrow bars and now trendy express blow-dry bars.
LA started it, London copied, and now, it seems, the rest of the UK are jumping on the ‘quick-fix’ bandwagon.
Not that it’s a bad thing, of course. In fact, quite the opposite. Take blow-dry bars; these affordable outlets are revolutionising the world of haircare, providing style-conscious, but time-poor, beauty-lovers a place to give their locks some fast, professional loving without the faff of having to book out precious hours of their day to visit their local hairdressers.
Instead, customers can pick their chosen do – up, down, curls, waves, braids – and walk out with it half an hour later, ready to take on their day (or hit the tiles). Quick turnover is key, but the results are salon-worthy.
Aveda’s blow-dry bars are particularly lovely. I once surrendered to a heavenly hour at the one inside its flagship Covent Garden and very nearly nodded off in the chair. And then again at the basin. There’s just something about the mix of essential oils they use, the way they massage your neck, ears and shoulders while rinsing away the suds, that immediately sends you into a state of sleepy relaxation.
The new, shiny express salon inside Fenwick’s Beauty Hall is the brand’s first retail blow-dry bar – a small space that packs a real punch, bringing the brand’s wealth of hair expertise to the shop floor.
It’s a real treat for on-the-go mane-maintainers – a little haven of calm amidst the near-constant buzz of one of Europe’s largest, glossiest beauty halls.
Guests can stop by for snappy dry styling or sit back and choose from a mini menu of three indulgent blow-dry options, ranging from 25 to 45-minutes long and starting from just £19.
There’s the ‘Renewal’, a quick-fix style and blow-dry session to refresh and revive dry hair (also includes a neck and shoulder massage), the ‘Sensory’, the brand’s signature wash-and-blow with a special ‘calm-down’ ritual and scalp and shoulder rub, and lastly, the ‘Power Stay Sensory’ – a luxury 45-minute experience including a luxury wash and blow-dry, an aromatic, calming ritual and a stress-busting massage to melt away tension in the head, neck, shoulders and upper back.
I was treated to this one (it’s a hard job, I know) and I can report that the getting the full works sure does feel wonderful.
The lovely Anna took care of me (ask for her if you fancy a few giggles by the sink, plenty of girly chat and a really skilled hand), kicking things off with a cool hair consultation to find out more about my long locks, how I look after them and how I prefer to style it, before she got her hands on me for a few minutes of relaxation.
Aveda’s known for its massage rituals – or an ‘aroma sensory moment of calm’ as they’re known in the salons. Mine involved a few heady spritzes of its balancing body mist – a fusion of pure essential oils, like sandalwood, orange and geranium, to help balance the ‘pleasure chakra’, boost alertness and ‘unblock’ emotions. Combined with a little guided breathing and one hell of a head massage (lots of soothing temple-rubbing and generous pressure around the scalp to banish tension in the skull), it was totally put me at ease; the smells were spa-like and dreamy and I felt immediately lighter, like a weight had been lifted.
After that, we moved things over to the basin for a good, energising wash.
My hair is fine and tends to fall flat after styling, so we foamed things up with Aveda’s Pure Abundance shampoo and conditioner to encourage volume, keep oily roots and bay and moisturise the ends. So effective, I took them both home.
The blow-dry finished things off, during which Anna mixed and muddled a few styling products – a bit of thickening tonic for height, a tiny amount of liquid gel to help keep the bounce in place and a dusting of dry shampoo for texture – before adding some loose, beachy curls for an effortless, just-out-of-bed wave that lasted until early afternoon the next day. Impressive.
It’s worth noting that nice extras, like moisturising hair masks, can be added on for an extra fiver and regular blow-dry goers can pick up a loyalty card and collect stamps towards a free appointment (every sixth blow-dry is free). And for the avid frizz-fighting fans, you’ll soon be able to opt in for a monthly subscription for unlimited blow-dries. The fast and furious answer to smooth, luscious locks all year long.