If you live in the North East and more specifically Newcastle, then you’ve probably heard of Boilerhouse Hair. Their flagship salon stands proud at its Jesmond site and its industrial, steampunk styling is synonymous with the brand. Well they’ve since opened up a second salon over in the uber trendy Ouseburn end of town just around the corner from Ernest.
When Felix, the owner of Boilershop Ouseburn contacted me about a collaboration, I told him all about my hair disasters (you guys are well versed in my traumas by now but if you want to catch up then head here for the skinny) and he was very reassuring telling me that customer satisfaction is at the top of their agenda. Felix booked me in and I’ll admit, despite feeling worried, I kind of felt that I was in safe hands.
The salon itself is gorgeous, it’s everything you’d expect from the Boilerhouse brand and more, the signature industrial styling shines through but the Ouseburn salon has a distinct rustic vibe to it. With exposed wood and plants on show in a variety of glass bottles and planters, and a 50’s style pink SMEG fridge, it has some serious Instagram credentials. On the day of my appointment I had Plankton with me which could have been a complete disaster but the staff there are fantastic and there was one apprentice there who spent all day making sure he was happy. Kudos guys.
I was teamed up with Saskia who is the Technical Colourist and responsible for training all new Boilerhouse apprentices, for a full head of highlights and a very reluctant trim. Now if you follow me on social media, particularly Twitter, you’ll know that I’m participating in an Influencer project with Nature’s Bounty on hair growth and that I’m super precious about my hair given that it stopped growing completely for 16 months. You’ll also know that I’m held to ransom with my hair a little given my work with L’Oreal during Fashion Month and the fact that the Nature’s Bounty project limits how much I’m allowed to cut during the active project time frame – as part of the project it’s measured every three weeks.
Saskia gets to work mixing up a blonde for my highlights using Fibreplex bond builder to minimise bleach damage (it’s similar to Olaplex and Smartbond but made by Schwarzkopf). Saskia is a fast worker and before long I have a full head of foils and I’m chilling out with the perfect Americano and the latest copy of Vogue, but I’m a little thrown when she tells me that due to me not having had a patch test in advance, she won’t be able to tone my hair when the pre-lightener is washed off. Eek. I’ve seen my hair pre-toner and it’s not a pretty sight; also I was never asked to come in for a patch test prior to the appointment.
I’m taken through to the backwash area to have the foils removed; it’s a cute little room with a gorgeous wooden wall and in the time it takes to remove the foils, wash my hair and apply a conditioning treatment, three customers have asked where the wood came from, it’s that cool. Once my treatment is washed off and my hair feels silky soft, I’m taken back through to my section for a cut. Now I hate having my hair cut. I don’t even need to tell you this. it’s my worst thing, I have nightmares about it, my palms get sweaty, my face gets hot and I feel like panic is taking over my body. I just, HATE IT.
I’ve spent the last hour showing Saskia pictures of my hair disasters, some of them funny, some of them damn right shocking, all of them traumatic. For me anyway. She combs my hair and tells me that to get a good straight line and a nice blunt finish she would recommend taking off two inches and shows me in the mirror how that looks in terms of length. I almost faint, literally and before I’ve processed it I’ve already said the words “No way”. She laughs and asks what I’d be comfortable with and I tell her “an inch, at the most.” We agree on an inch off the length and nothing off anywhere else as my goal is to grow it all down to one length. Currently I’m sporting some fugazi layers which are completely unintentional and only there due to breakage from previous, long ago colouring trauma.
After cutting the length for what seems like ages, Saskia tells me that it would greatly strengthen my hair if we trim the shape around the front and I reluctantly agree, not wanting to at all but agreeing that she is absolutely right. After the cut is finished, she shows me the back of my still wet hair in the mirror and internally I’m freaking out, to me, it looks like I’ve had around five inches cut off and I can’t verify as the hair on the floor has already been swept away. It definitely looks a lot shorter and I’ve certainly lost more than an inch. That bastard Hairdressers Metric System has got me again.
I opt for my usual beachy waves to finish and when it’s dry I can’t help but notice that there’s a distinct yellow band around the top section where my root regrowth has been touched up and that the colour isn’t as close to the root as I’d like. It’s a real shame about the toner and when I see the final style I make a mental note to go buy toner asap. I’m not so keen on the blowdry but that’s no reflection on the salon, I’m that unusual breed of girl who hates having her hair blowdried and much prefer it when I’ve done it myself, slept on it for 3 days and it’s just the perfect amount of messy/dirty.
When you’re reading this Voyeurs, remember that I’ve been tainted when it comes to my hair. Too many bad experiences have left me treating it like spun gold and with kid gloves, nursing it with treatments and supplements in an attempt to restore it to its former glory. A particularly bad experience left me with very little hair and it’s taken me around two years to get it back to this stage so I’m more damaged than you can imagine when it comes to hair, and way more dramatic than someone else might be. Saying that, the salon knew this in advance of my appointment.
So, the bit you’ve been waiting for, would I recommend Boilerhouse Ouseburn? Well that depends, if you’re someone who likes to be directed by the expertise of your Stylist and you’re not averse to a cut then yes, definitely. The quality of the cut is good, it’s not what I asked for or what we agreed on but I can’t deny Saskia’s skill as a Hair Stylist and she’s got good bants. If on the other hand you’re similar to me in that when you say an inch you mean an inch and no more, then probably not. Boilerhouse is a cool, urban salon in the heart of Ouseburn and it brings with it a youthful team of Stylists and new business to this thriving area. If you’re looking to update your current style and want to act on advice from a Stylist rather than having something specific in mind, then it’s worth booking in for a consultation at Boilerhouse Ouseburn.