Let it shine. Well coiffed at Atelier, Redbourn
Was it time to give in? I asked my friend Anne. Should I just give in, give up and go grey? Look at Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, I pointed out. They’ve gone grey gracefully and they look great. They’re older than you, Anne said. Yes, but I feel as if I’m losing the battle. What is more, I’ve got colour build up issues, which means that while I was born with jet black hair (and I’ve got a lock of it in a baby book to prove it), keeping the colour topped up to black doesn’t suit me anymore. My skin tone is fading and I’m starting to look a bit like Morticia from the Addams Family. I’d heard good things about Atelier but had never been there, so off I went to Redbourn.
Atelier is in a building that used to be a pub, the Saracens Head. It’s got wide floorboards, exposed beams a-go-go and lots of unexpected spaces. There are also rooms for a wide variety of treatments. The warm and woody reception area will give you an idea of the kind of welcome that awaits you.
A word about Redbourn. It’s a couple of miles from Harpenden and St Albans. I’m not saying that a hair appointment allows for a trip to a Museum or a stomp about the Common, but I did go for a walk and had a bit of a mooch about on the High Street.
When I met Vicky for a colour consultation, she immediately put me at my ease. It was like therapy. I explained how the grey comes back with alacrity and she pointed out how stark the very dark was looking against my skin. It was true. I looked pale and drawn. She said that too dark for the older person (that’s me), can look quite draining and that it would be better to go lighter. But of course you can’t put light on dark. To prepare my hair for the trip from raven to something softer, Vicky put a neutraliser on my hair. She reassured me by explaining that it was gentle and wouldn’t leave my hair feeling like straw. She also said that by starting to go a bit lighter, I would avoid the badger look that can be distressing and sadly, now occurs with increasing frequency. When it was taken off, the jet black had gone and once my hair was dry, it was probably lighter than it has ever been. A new colour was then applied.
I should have sat under the heaters for the colour to take, but instead I explored the building.
And then, as if by magic, therapist Ellen appeared, offering me a mini manicure. It would have been rude not to, and we had a good chat about schools and food in the area. Ellen had just tried the Juice Pharm so we compared notes. Here is the result. For the record, I have never ever placed my hands into this tricksy position but I was given advice by Ellen when setting up this shot.
Colour off, and then it was time for one of those ‘Do you want to keep the length?’ conversations. In a very kind way, super stylist Joanna was adamant that the length was doing absolutely nothing for me, and I agreed.
Worth noting is that Atelier stocks R+Co products. This new brand was highlighted in the Financial Times Weekend at the end of last year as being one of the best beauty products launched in 2016. And Atelier is currently the only salon to stock R+Co. A coup!
Everyone I met at Atelier seemed to love not only working there but also being a colour technician or stylist. They all said that they knew what they wanted to be when they grew up from a very young age and that hairdressing is innate. There’s a relaxed feeling of fun in the salon, but you have a sense of being in very safe hands with people who are well trained, extremely knowledgeable and confident and professional about what they do. There also seems to be a real understanding of work life balance, with lots of people working part time or doing flexible hours to fit around school pick ups. Atelier is warm and comfy, but it’s also got a real edge of glammy-gloo in the countryside. I spoke to someone else who was having her hair coloured and cut and she said that it was her second visit and that she felt she’d really found somewhere special. How true. I also found out that people travel from far and wide, sometimes after moving away from the area, to come back to Atelier.
The whole Atelier experience was relaxing and enjoyable, from the initial consultation and reassurance to the head massage, manicure and final, transformational blow dry and polish. Atelier is great. I’ve had so many positive comments and compliments, and a week after, left to my own devices with the hairdryer (which as we know is never the same), my hair is looking good. As my cousin Jacqueline commented: ‘It’s taken years off you.’ Nuff said.
Atelier 19-20 High Street, Redbourn, St Albans, AL3 7LE
Prices start from £45 for a cut and finish and from £65 for tint and highlights.