Or more accurately, Last Year, Old Riah … I’ve been terrible at keeping the world updated with my hair woes and triumphs. A new reader might not even know that I have extremely fine hair, and that in the last couple of years it has been thinning around the crown and naturally wonky parting. I resolved in January 2013 that I would face my follicular fears and do my best to improve the health and well-being of my barnet, and you can catch up on the story so far with one click …
Let’s cast our minds back to the spring and summer of 2013: Concoctions was my day-to-day shampoo and conditioner of choice; I was obeying the instructions of my hairdresser and using nothing stronger than a baby brush to tame my tresses.
Throughout the spring I’d been taking a course of Inner Me Lustrous Locks. Mr Beheld took this photo of me when it struck him that my hair looked fuller than usual – I’m actually caught in the act of taking my Lustrous Locks.
This was a full three-week course that Nikki Cooper had sent to me; it did seem to arrest the thinning at the crown, and improved the overall condition to a degree that my hairdresser could tell the difference at first touch. At this time I was reluctant to use any styling products on my hair – or indeed, to style it at all, having developed a dysfunctional relationship with the bathroom mirror (this being the place where my thinning crown appeared at its very worst).
Four people, and three products, allowed me to show a little love to my hair, rather than fear, during this time.
Anna-Marie and Millie at BeautyMART had been kind enough to send me Balmain Cosmetique Shampoing Hydratant and Balmain Cosmetique Crème Hydratant to console me in my hair agony. These products are designed for fine hair (oh, yes: that’s me) with ‘Volume’ extensions (oh no, that’s not: I’m convinced my hair is far too weak to tolerate having anything bonded to it): but more importantly, as far as I’m concerned, the Balmain Cosmetique products look and smell so luxurious and delightful that one’s hair woes are forgotten whilst using them.
Being a product tart, I like to have several things on the go at once: something for day-to-day, something else for now-and-again … but from the moment I opened the boxes I knew that these Balmain bottles had ‘Special Occasion’ written all over them. These are big, quarter of a litre bottles, and pretty weighty: drop one on your toes in the shower and you’ll know about it. They’re an ornament to anyone’s bathroom (except mine: I keep mine squirrelled away in my beauty stash in between uses to prevent anyone else in the family helping themselves), and, if you put them in the right position, you can admire your feline gaze in the mirrored golden band that runs around the top of the bottles whilst luxuriating Cleopatra-like in your bathtub.
Balmain really know how to create beautiful fragrances for their hair care ranges and I love the subtle and intimate scent of these products. The fragrance makes me think of warm skin, but skin warmed by candle-light rather than sunshine, and for this reason, it’s not my ‘Special Occasion: DISCO!’ choice, it’s my ‘Special Occasion: Drifting-round-my-home-in-a-haze-of-well-being’ choice. Honestly, when you take the time to shampoo and condition with Balmain Cosmetique, it comes as quite a surprise to realise that you don’t have an original ’70s Halston maxi-dress to slip into afterwards … Cosmetique makes you feel that glam and pampered.
The very first time I used Balmain Cosmetique was in the evening and, having retired to bed when my hair had dried, I then had to get back up again to take a photo of it! I found myself lying in a cloud of soft, scented loveliness and had a moment of pure confusion, before realising it was my own hair that felt so marvellous. For someone who quite often sleeps with her hair in a top-knot, simply because it’s so very ticklish and irritating, this was quite a moment. And this is why Balmain Cosmetique is my Special Occasion Bedtime Hair choice.
The third product that encouraged me to show a little love to my locks was given to me by Paul Yacomine at a BeautyMART Meet The Experts Evening last spring. It’s the Paul Yacomine Microfinish Ultra Light: (RRP £18 for 50 ml.) a blend of organic essential oils to add shine and finish to fine hair. I have no idea which oils are used in this magical potion, but the scent alone is worth the price of admission: I would buy this just for the fragrance, but happily, it really does work to make hair – even hair as damaged and dry at the ends as mine – look and feel better. I am very, very bad at arranging to have my hair cut. Much as I love the wonderful John Lee and I’ve Got Scissors Ian Griffiths, it seems that it’s quite beyond me to co-ordinate regular cuts. The Paul Yacomine Microfinish encouraged me to get a haircut just to be able to use it on healthy, neat ends of hair. And for a packaging freak like myself, the Paul Yacomine range is irresistible. When L’Oreal say ‘Here Comes The Science’ I yawn, but show me a lovely piece of engineering like these bottles and I’m all attention.
So three products, three people: who then, is the mystery fourth person who made a difference to my riah last year? It was Anthony Yacomine. I was moaning on to Paul Yacomine about my hair woes and he arranged for me to have a consultation with his brother Anthony. This was a Very Good Thing for me. We met at Anthony’s salon and I bared my soul and scalp: “I would do anything to have lovely thick hair like Bruce Lee,” I wailed. Anthony raised an eyebrow. “Anything,” I found myself compelled to admit, “except eat healthy food, sleep properly and take regular exercise.” Anthony correctly diagnosed that I had been looking at the crown of my head in a brightly lit bathroom mirror, and then shuddering at The Horror Of Visible Scalp, when the effect is actually grossly exaggerated by the light bouncing off it. This is not to say my hair isn’t thinning, not to say that my scalp isn’t visible, but Anthony was able to make me realise that no-one else will ever see it quite as I do. I am very keen on the Brothers Yacomine; I need my hairdressers to be no-nonsense types, who’ll tell me when I’m being silly and unrealistic and who I can trust to be honest. I’ve been trying to save for a haircut with Anthony Yacomine since I met with him: alas, my weakness for a sample sale and inability to say no to temptation means I haven’t managed it – yet.
My hair has always been fine, and quite difficult to work with, and I treasure any hairdresser who can look at it without quailing. Anthony Yacomine is such a man. So are John Lee and I’ve Got Scissors Ian Griffiths. But these men are few and far between, which is why I tend to avoid salons. Jones & Payne collaborated with Shu Uemuera to open a beauty pop-up at Boxpark last summer, and, lovely though my stylist was, I saw her flinch when asked to create an up-do with my scanty locks. After a hasty consultation with her colleague she settled bravely to the task and back-combed relentlessly enough to create a cute top-knot. The thing is though, a nervous or startled hairdresser’s trepidation makes me feel awful. Probably not as awful as they feel, being asked to stake their professional reputation on my head, as it were, but pretty bad. I loved my top-knot, by the way. In fact, as I had a major writing job on the go that week, I decided I couldn’t spare the time to brush it out and so left it in until I’d met my deadline.I ended up cutting it out, which is slightly deplorable of me and possibly indicates that I don’t really deserve nice, new riah!
But oh, how my confidence had leapt up over the summer, that I could even contemplate a back-combed do! My thanks go to the people and products listed above for helping me through my huge crisis of confidence. In facing up to my hair woes, I now no longer feel bad about my barnet. I think I must have the opposite of Body Dysmorphia, as I seem to be able to reconcile myself to my flaws as soon as I accept them as part of The Glory That Is Me…
Coming soon – honest! – in New Year, New Riah: My adventures with Viviscal and Mason Pearson.
Inner Me Lustrous Locks supplements (RRP £15 for 28 capsules) can be found online here and at at Boots.
My Balmain Cosmetique Hydratant products came from BeautyMART, who also carry the Balmain Paris styling range. Buy online here or browse in store at BeautyMART Top Shop, Harvey Nicholls and Boxpark.
The Balmain Cosmetique Hydratant Shampoo and Conditioner each have an RRP of £20. Balmain offer a wonderful Cosmetique Hydratant giftpack online for £52.40, which comprises shampoo, conditioner, vitamin spray and brush.
You can find Paul Yacomine’s Microfinish Series online at his website.