Helen Carson and Kerry McKittrick gave it a go.
Having a night out, whether it’s a romantic date or hitting the town with the girls, can be costly. Tanning, nails, hair... and that’s before you decide you haven’t got a thing to wear, are all a party-loving recessionista’s nightmare. While early bird suppers, pub happy hours and bussing it rather than shelling out for a taxi are all easy ways to max out the socialising budget, how do you get perfectly coiffed hair on a shoestring? Simple, get a style mate and learn to do it yourself. Whether it’s gorgeous face-framing curls, a vintage-style up-do or a fishtale plait, a pricey trip to the hairdressers may not be necessary with the right know-how. There’s no need for Cheryl Cole-style extensions or a Michelle Williams crop for head-turning hair. The hot new hair trend is to team up with a pal and pop along to Zuni hair salon on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue for a masterclass in barnet beautifying. Myself and colleague Kerry McKittrick, armed only with a pair of ghd hair irons, styling spray and hair clips, found salon-style hair can easily be achieved at home after a session with super stylist Suzan Manning.
“I was the first in the chair and wanted a headful of curls to transform my poker-straight locks into a bouncing bouffant do.
Suzan showed Kerry how to (carefully) wield the hot irons after dividing the hair into three sections horizontally.
Then each strand is lifted vertically, twisted into the iron and dragged slowly along to the end, after being sprayed.
“The hair will not curl if it is too dry, so don’t be afraid to add a little more product,” says Suzan.
“Turn the irons to the back of the hair when curling strands at the side of the face. This creates a soft look to the front which looks more natural.
“Pulling the irons too quickly to the end of a strand won't curl the hair enough, while gripping too tight will mean you end up with ringlets.”
Kerry curled my hair and when it was finished I would happily have put on a nice frock and headed out for a night on the town — it really was that good.
What would have set me back up to £30 in a salon cost £45, the price of this course (one session for two people). A few style mate sessions at home, and you soon get your money back and more.
As Kerry’s hair is slightly shorter than mine and she wanted to try an up-do, Suzan showed me how to do softer hot iron curls in the same way as my hair.
Next, though, I had to use hair clips to pin the curls softly close to the head, while the side curls were twisted gently back in a longer sweeping strand. It’s ok to leave stray strands loose at the front, and any curls that don’t look right you can do again.
Overall, though, the effect was effortless styling that did look professionally done.
I did get a wee bit over zealous with the clips when I couldn’t get her curls pinned in place. Thankfully I didn’t draw blood, but the odd ‘Ow’ from Kerry reminded me I was dealing with a real person. Oops!
Nonetheless, I thought both hairdos looked fantastic. It’s a great idea. It’s also really good fun and you get to save some hard-earned cash too. Result!”
“Hair has never come easy to me. I'm not one of those people who can create a gorgeous yet casual up-do with three pins and a bobble. For my blonde, slightly wavy hair the best I’ve ever been able to come up with is straightened when loose or to put it in a pony tail, so when offered the chance to learn how to style a friend's hair under expert tuition, I jumped at the chance. What an opportunity to pick up a few tips.
At Zuni we were asked what kind of styles we fancied learning and, importantly, what kinds of tools we both had at home for our own use.
Helen opted for ghd curls. It's a style she likes and often will pay to have this done at the hairdresser before she goes to big events. If able to do it correctly I could save Helen around £25-£30 a trip.
It's a technique that's easy enough to do on someone else — although it would be tricky to do on your own hair. Simply spray on some styling product, take small sections of the hair and pull through straighteners held vertically, slowly and steadily. An excellent teacher, Suzan pointed out any mistakes I made, but was always careful to explain why I had made them and how to correct them.
In all, I was rather pleased with my handiwork. There was a dicey moment when I brushed perilously close to Helen's ear with sizzling-hot straighteners, but she managed to escape unscathed.
I found my time in the chair just as successful. I opted for an up-style — something I find impossible to do myself. My hair was loosely curled before Helen set to work with the hair-pins. I won't lie, there were couple of false starts where it felt like she was trying to put the pin through my skull instead of through my hair, but under Suzan's expert tutelage she soon got the hang of it.
I was left with a beautiful up-do with curls and soft tendrils coming down. It looked gorgeous and the perfect style to wear for a wedding or summer event.
I thought the experience was fantastic and excellent value for money — what I learned on the night I can take away with me and repeat over and over.”
So you’d like to have a go?
- The most copied celebrity hairstyle is the ‘Rachel cut’ which has evolved along with Jennifer Aniston’s taste from long tresses to bob.
- Soft bobs as modelled by Madonna and Kylie Minogue are also common requests in hairdressing salons.
- L'Oreal Colour Trophy winners Zuni also scooped Best Hairdressing Salon in the recent GONGS.
- To book a Style Mate session, call Zuni, tel: 028 9033 2345.
- Cost is £45, including one-to-one consultation for you and a friend.