beauty

For every woman who has ever thought "I should totally get me a fringe".... and regretted it.

‘You know what? I would probably look as good as Alexa if not for this side part.’

I saw a photo of Alexa Chung in a magazine while mooching about in leggings and one of those breastfeeding tops that are a great idea but not very fashion forward. She has a fringe, that Alexa Chung, and green eyes and brown hair. She’s very thin. I have no fringe, brown eyes, blonde hair (dyed) and a wobbly just-had-a-baby paunch.

At the time, I hadn’t showered in about three days and was existing largely on fried goods. I took a photo of myself on my phone, examined it closely and thought, ‘You know what? I would probably look as good as Alexa if not for this side part.’ Ergo:

I should totally get me a fringe.

Yes. A fringe.

So I booked a time at a hairdressing salon I found reviews of online. Five stars, four and a half stars, so many stars. Only criticism was it was a bit expensive but how much could a cut cost?, I thought. ‘And you’ll look just like me,’ encouraged Alexa, folded carefully and tucked into the side pocket of my handbag.

On the day, I was pumped. I fed the baby and handed her to my husband, washed, dressed, ran a comb through my hair and arrived at the allotted time, maybe even early.

My stylist – the Head Stylist – came over. Her name was Natalia. She had a sleeve of tattoos, bluebirds in cages and snippets of poems. Her hair was a deep shade of burgundy and her outfit was the combined effort of an emerging Icelandic designer (pants), her musician boyfriend (singlet) and a market in an obscure French town (cardigan).

She was so incredibly cool that later I found myself willingly inhaling the smell from her underarm. Even that exuded the faint scent of awesome. Luckily, I was there to be transformed. My new self was about to emerge like a shiny haired, luminous-skinned, fringed butterfly.

The first thing Natalia did, before I’d even pulled Alexa out and patted down the curling corners of my future self, was offer me a cup of ‘soothing’ aniseed tea and suggest a ‘calming’ aromatherapy treatment. Immediately I felt we’d connected and she could see into my soul. ‘Yes!’ I said, at pains not to sound too eager.

The apprentice came over. He was about 16, wearing very tight jeans, a sweatband and rather a lot of fake tan. He stood behind me and said into the mirror that said he’d be doing the aromatherapy treatment. Ok, I said. With that he bent closer, squirted some cream onto one grubby orange hand, rubbed it against the other and held both, fingers spread wide, in front of my face. It was like a slow motion hug from behind, paused before the arms catch you.

It was awkward.

It’s like a train wreck unfolding…

‘Close your eyes and breathe deeply,’ he instructed. ‘In and out. Five deep breaths.’

He leaned closer and the smell – the aroma – of apples and sage, tinged with St Mortiz Self Tan Extra Dark, drifted up my nostrils. I was caught between the urge to breathe quickly so that the hands would disappear and the knowledge that he was right there, watching, monitoring, making sure I did it correctly.

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I elected to breathe at a moderate pace and as such, experienced none of the promised aromatic benefits. In fact, I felt light headed. I said that to the orange hands, about feeling light headed and he said he would bring me some water but it never arrived. Too busy reapplying fake tan, probably.

Natalia came back and we chatted about how relaxing the aromatherapy was. So relaxing. The aniseed tea was coming. What did I want done? I had a picture I said, waving Alexa about. She – Natalia, this is – looked for a microsecond and then said you know what would look good?

And I said no and she said blah blah and this bit here and that bit there and what did I think of this? And I said yes, yes, very good, I thought what she thought! We were conjoined twins, separated at birth! The conversation ended with her saying ‘do you trust me’ and me saying ‘with my life’.

She started cutting. Big cuts. Hair fell on to my lap. There was a fringe happening and also some back of the head stuff. I was excited. I was probably making Natalia’s day too because everyone just comes in for trims but I was getting a transformation. Maybe they would ask me to be a hair model. I could end up in Paris!

Hair, please don’t tell me you look like that!

I read my magazine for a bit and then like, forty minutes later, Natalia said she was done. Just had to dry it all off. She went and got the dryer and I tried not to peek. She dried it, did some stuff with the wax and then voila!

Look. At. Me.

I managed a thin smile. She grinned back and then held up a mirror so I could see my neck, now naked and exposed. Orange Hands appeared. ‘Looks amazing,’ he said.

Another thin smile.

I am not Alexa Chung.

En route to the counter, Natalia pressed a jar of matte wax into my hands. It was organic. $42. Made by specially trained bees living in the Yarra Valley. We agreed the supermarket stuff was ‘just rubbish’ and was I ever to appear moderately attractive again it was this wax that would facilitate that. I purchased it, even though I am allergic to bees, and then paid $90 for thin, lank mop atop my head. It was extra for the aromatherapy.

And I made another appointment. Back in six weeks.

Katherine Collette is a part time health freak and occasional yoga fanatic.  Her most prized possessions are a pair of furry koala salt and pepper shakers and a piece of butchers paper with Peter Andre’s autograph on it (c. 1992).  She believes hairdressers when they say the upkeep on a fringe is minimal and that this $42 gel will help.  See how that worked out on her blog. 

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