Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hayley and the Hair: My experience at The Chapel Hair Salon



I always say that I spend more time talking about the curves on this blog, and sometimes quite neglect the curls! Well - my curls got all the attention when I recently visited The Chapel salon in Islington, for a cut, colour and hair lesson with the lovely Oliver.
Some of you who follow me on social media may remember that over December and January I was really ill, and ended up in hospital. The upshot of many months of puzzling about what caused this is that I had very bad gastroentiritis which triggered a severe case of IBS, putting me into the early stages of kidney failure. A stay in hospital, being rehydrated, and the elimination of gluten from my diet helped stabilise me, but alas I am still dealing with the IBS (fun times). 

The reason this tale of woe is relevant is because in April my hair suddenly started falling out in chunks. Everytime I washed it I would be horrified as tresses fell away into my hands. After doing my research I realised that it was very likely linked to my illness, as after a period of serious illness it is quite common that three to four months later your hair may fall out. This is particularly common in women. The good news is that the hair almost alway recovers. The frightening thing was I didn't know how long it would go on for, and what hair would be left to me when it was done. For two months it carried on shedding at the same rate - not helped at all by a barage of stress in my personal and professional life. By the end of June it had stopped, but my hair had lost half of its thickness. I am lucky to be blessed with extraordinarily thick hair. But this change still really messed with my confidence. Not only do I have a lot less hair than before, shedding so much hair meant my curl structure changed - less ringlets, more a collection of fuzzy and wavy. And the hair that was left was quite unhealthy and dry. I have had to look at what products I use, how often I wash it and how I style it. My hair is quite a big part of my confidence in my physical appearance, and so this whole experience was a real blow.

So when I was contacted by the lovely team at The Chapel in Islington the timing couldn't have been more perfect. They were inviting me to come in for a cut and colour, as well as a styling consultation. I actually cried when I got the email, as for the last month I had been moving house, stressed to the eyeballs, and scraping my hair into a permanent topknot as I just didn't have the energy - physical or emotional - to learn how to work with it again. 

The Chapel also have branches in Tunbridge Wells, Seven Oaks, Horsham, and Marlow - all with the same ethos. Putting their clients at the centre of the salon experience, and making each visit feel like special time for yourself. I was to visiting The Chapel in Islington - and this is a rejuvanative experience in and of itself. I was asked to come in for a colour test and consulation 48 hours before my appointment. I am going to be honest - as a time poor Londoner, while I appreciated the necessity of the colour test to make sure you're not allergic etc, I always begrudge them because it feels like a bit of an annoying journey to make. Especially as I had to travel across London on one of the hottest days of the year. Well, as soon as I arrived my annoyance evaporated. I was ushered into the quiet waiting area, where I was offered ice cold water, and a kit kat. I mean, this is very much the way to my heart. It was impressed upon me there was no need to rush, and Oliver, my hair stylist would be with me shortly. I often find salons quite stressful places - with the hairdryers going, phones ringing, people chatting and stylists running between several clients. At The Chapel each stylist only has one client at a time, so the salon feels quieter, and you get individual attention, which really is what you are paying for.

The waiting room is beautifully decorated, and slightly seperate from the studio, so it can be dimly lit, which just immediately induces a sense of calm, and there is no hubub from the salon - the idle chit chat, the hum of hair dryers are faint and inoffensive. It sounds silly, but it just made me relax and immediately feel like I had come somewhere for myself. Oliver joined me and we chatted on the sofas as I told him my hairy tale. I explained that my hair was feeling unhealthy, that it needed a cut but that I didn't want to lose much length because I had already lost so much thickness, and that I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with it styling wise, as usually I just wore it down but it not being the same cloud as before, I felt less confidant with that. We had a really great chat and he told me his thoughts and showed me some colours, but said that he would also consult with some colleagues before we met. He then urged me to relax as long as I liked before starting my journey home. So I chilled out a bit longer, had some more cold water, and braced myself to face the tube inferno.


My moodboard

Oliver also asked me to bring a mood board back in with me. It could be of anything that inspired me or spoke to me, as well as styles and colours I adored. It would give him more of an idea of me, and give us some aesthetics to head towards. I came back in two days later, and again got some chill time in the lovely waiting room. Oliver (who is a total love!) came and found me and we chatted again about what we had agreed with my hair. I showed him my mood board, and we discussed what we would be doing with the cut and colour. I noticed other clients receiving similar attentions which made me glad - this wasn't all put on because they were working with an "influencer". 

The Chapel in Islington is set over two floors, the ground floor holds the cut and styling studio, reception and the waiting room, while downstairs in the basement is the colour studio. Oliver recommended I go a bit darker and more red with my colour than I have been in a while - this would make my hair look shinier and healthier which was something I really needed. The downstairs colour studio is away from any hubbub, and we chatted and giggled like old friends while he coloured my hair. Once we were done with the colour and it was all rinsed off, we moved upstairs for my trim. Again he spoke me through what he was going to do, and his colleagues even came over and it seemed they had indeed chatted about what might be best for my curls. He talked me through my usual hair cut anxieties and took a very measured approach - taking little off the length, but cutting in alternating, thin, long layers, to give me some of my body back. I could immediately feel just how much healthier my ends were!


My newly cut and coloured hair, thanks to The Chapel


Hayley and the happy hair


But the best part of my whole experience was definitely the hair lesson I got at the end of my session. Despite my hair being such an integral part of my look, I am just not that good with doing hair. And so on my mood board I had put some simple things I wanted to learn to do - more up dos, some french braiding etc. I think Oliver is a natural teacher, because he really methodically took me through some basics - like sectioning my hair to make it easier to work with - and afterwards I felt a renewed confidence to have a go myself. I have never had anything like that with any hairdresser I have been to so it was a really great experience, and one I would definitely recommend if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by your hair, or a bit useless.


Selfies with the lush and lovely Oliver from The Chapel

Afterwards there was time for a few selfies together, and some cuddles, before I made my way home. All in all it was an amazing experience. It really helped me to fall back in love with my hair after a hard few months. My cut and colour where incredibly professional and well done, and the hair lesson really gave me a bunch of new skills which I have been using since! So if you're in a bit of a hair rut, I would very much recommend a trip to the lovely lot at The Chapel Islington!

To read about my experience with my hair, how I look after it, and how I learned to love it, read this post.

** This hair experience was gifted, but as always, all opinions are my own ** 

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