Jack Howard is a man on a mission. Having conquered the hairdressing world of the US with his missionary zeal for Balayage, training (amongst others) the Frederick Fekkai salons, and becoming a senior portfolio artist for L'Oreal Professional along the way, he's now here in the UK and he's determined to spread the word.
Balayage is the art of painting the hair with light, creating a soft, sexy, sunkissed effect, without foils, and regimented stripes. The stylist has to pay attention to how light falls on the hair, how the hair fall on the client, and how the colours will compliment the woman wearing the hair, and an art it decidedly is. It's not - entirely - new to the UK (I myself had a similar treatment last summer at The Chapel in Islington), but the technique is something that Jack is very keen to bring to wider renown to hairdressing clients (and hairdressers!) around the country.
Knightsbridge isn't somewhere I'd normally associate with cutting edge hair techniques, to be honest, so I was initially surprised that Equus was Jack's new base in the UK. Situated a few minutes from Harrods, and catering to a clientele that ordinarily includes princesses, duchesses, baronesses, the odd dame and lots of names you'd recognise from the pages of Hello magazine - alongside a lot of celebrities - it actually makes an odd kind of sense. Jack believes in soft, sexy, natural hair, and clients who are willing to invest in their hair aren't going to appreciate skunk-stripes and badger highlights, so balayage is perfect for clients who want to look natural, groomed and polished.
I popped along to Equus to see Jack, try out the technique for myelf and have a look at the newly revamped salon, and I have to say I was very impressed. The salon is an oasis of calm, and has what are probably the most flattering mirrors I've ever actually seen in a salon. This is surprisingly important, I find. Hairdressing clients are exceptionally vulnerable, and seeing yourself in too harsh a light when you're covered in cling film and cotton wool isn't great - every wrinkle, zit and pore highlighted, who needs that? - but the lighting and mirrors in Equus are delightful, and a wonderful surprise!
In spite of his reputation and pedigree, Jack is delightfully down to earth and amusing to spend a few hours in the company of, it was great to hear that we share a lot of the same opinions on grooming (essentially that less is more, and glamour is better when it's polished rather than "in your face" and the like), I also found that he really paid attention to my hair, playing with it, deciding where to best paint the highlights for the most flattering effect, and he spent a lot of time explaining what he was doing as he went along too.
|Whilst the mirrors are flattering, my iPhone hates me, mind, always wanted to know what I'd look like platinum blonde ...|
So, how did it turn out? Rather excellently, as it happens, Jack's light hand with the bleach has left me with shiny, expensive-looking hair, which glows with different shades as the light hits it, but, doesn't look anything but brunette from a distance, and Arturo gave me a fantastic blow-dry, which I was happy with for a couple of days after. Here's the picture that best shows off the colour:
Gold and brown, and my own natural brunette. A rather "tortoiseshell" effect, I love it. The technique isn't cheap (expensive-looking hair tends not to be, in my experience), but you can experience "face-framing" balayage from £75, and the technique goes up to £190 for a full-head of highlights.
If, however, you've read this far, and you're interested in meeting Jack for yourself, please drop an email to [address redacted] with your address details and I'll send you a gift voucher for 30% off balayage colouring with Jack, 50% off a cut and blow dry with the equally talented Arturo, alongside a complimentary keratin conditioning treatment AND a free Essie manicure. How could you resist? You can have a look at Jack's work on his website, but if you follow Jack on Twitter, he'll talk to you about the technique too, don't be shy!
EDITED TO ADD: This offer has now closed. This blogpost was written in 2011.
The Fine Print: Get Lippie was a guest of the salon, but is expecting to go back, especially as it's practically on the doorstep ....