Colour technician, Despina Sianou was thrust into my consciousness by blogger Lydia Elise Millen… it was a YouTube video about her hair journey that got me interested in Despina’s magic. As top colourist in her own right (before any blogger hysteria), Despina cancelled all her bookings the day a sobbing Lydia walked into the salon; Lydia’s hair had been destroyed by henna box dye, after henna box dye, and a bad bleach job after that. 9 hours later, Lydia left the salon with her natural hair colour restored and condition dramatically improved. It takes some serious expertise to do this; few hairdressers will touch a frazzled head of hair. So, after stalking Despina on Instagram, I wanted to do nothing more than spend an afternoon watching her work. I have some very odd, meditative interests, and Instagram stalking balayaged hair is one of them (TBF some people like train spotting, so whatevs). The application, colour mix, hair knowledge, the finish… it’s a science, an art and form of beauty therapy combined into one highly skilled process.
Enter T dog (Toni-Jay), my long time friend of 8 years. She makes me feel reunited with a part of myself, every time I see her. We are two peas, in a sexy leather peapod, with swishing long hair to match, a filthy sense of humour and the sort of loyalty that threatens the wellbeing of any man who for example, sends either one of us bizarre, highly offensive messages (there is actually a blog post coming up on one such situation!) I digress. Anyway, T dog wanted her blonde hair back, and I knew the woman to do it. One caveat to bear in mind, is if you want to colour your hair on a budget, stop reading this right now; with a blow dry, this salon treatment came to £350 (and that’s without a cut – it was an extra 90 quid for that)… but it is your HAIR after all, and if you would spend it on a handbag… then why would you not spend the same on the stuff that grows out of your head? Hmm? *raises one eyebrow*.
Despina got straight to work sectioning Toni’s hair, whilst answering my questions. I sat in the window typing away. As she mixed the colour, I asked if there was a magic ingredient that made her clients’ hair look so bloody amazing, and not dried out by the colour. I expected her to say she uses Olaplex, but Despina shot me a knowing smile. She told me that the secret is in understanding hair, and how each clients hair takes the colour very differently. There is no secret, she sometimes uses Olaplex as a treatment, she sometimes uses other products, but it transpired that her magic is simply in her knowledge and experience. Sadly, you cannot buy this in a bottle.
As a painter and art obsessive, Despina was mesmerised by colour as a child. She couldn’t complete her art studies due to working full time in a salon, but this was a blessing as she just loved colouring hair. In Greece, where Despina grew up, like most european countries, the hair stylist qualification is a lot more rigorous than it is here in the UK. I have always had Italian hairdressers for this reason. As a horribly sweeping generalisation – French, Greek and Italian stylists are VERY good. Gary from Clacton on Sea does not do my hair. Sorry Gary.
Despina went on to explain that everyone has their own way when it comes to colouring hair, hers is very much focused on the client’s hair strength, past treatment, condition, natural tonal palette and finally, the desired look. There was no getting colour books out, or looking at loops of synthetic hair… Despina’s previous work was the reference point for Toni’s “I want this one” request, but Despina explained that her hair would not lift to a white blonde today, as her natural light brown tone was too warm. Her modesty was lovely, especially for someone who requires months in advance booking and clients that travel from other countries to be treated by her in the Michael John salon, Knightsbridge.
Toni and I observed the eclectic mix of people in this salon. It was an efficient, very professional operation. No standard chit chat or 16 year olds washing hair. Each stylist exuded an air of artisan chic, working attentively with their beaming clients. This place is expensive, a simple blow dry with Sebastian costs £70, but man, does he know what he is doing!
Smiles, kisses and hugs were the parting exchange of each person who left the salon, looking a million bucks. One day, I’ll have my weekly blow dries done here, but for now, I will accompany Toni for her next visit.
You can book into the Michael John salon here. https://www.michaeljohn.co.uk/