Once there was a divide between certain types of European hairdressing as vast as a Flock of Seagulls quiff. Throughout the 1980s, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish keenly embraced backcombing and bubble-perming as sensible grooming strategies – everyone from posh girls to chart-topping popstrels aimed high (and wide) and wound up with hair like a gale-blown wig. Meanwhile, on the continent, helmet-like was the look and Catalan footballers to Italian politicians topped themselves with space-age domes.
Yet times change and teased fringes fall flat; high-quality hairdressing now knows no borders.
“Hairdressing used to differ greatly from country to country,” says a spokesperson for Jean Louis David, Europe’s largest hairdressing chain (with branches in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland).
“In the 1990s, looks such as the Jennifer Aniston Friends cut became popular everywhere and training standards, which had been below-par in, say Spain, started to level out.”
What’s more, you can often bag a bargain on your bangs in Europe.
“I always find London very expensive for hairdressing,” says Victoria Pettes, a London-based commercial graphic designer, “I travel about Europe a lot for work though, so I usually wait to get my hair done – Berlin is great for a choppy cut and Italy and France for a classic glam blow-dry.”
But how do you ask for a good blow-dry without risking a stern slap, or faceful of glottals? Well-groomed locals offer their tips…
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?Around
€40–60 for a wash, cut and
blow-dry, with some good student
WHAT’S THE LOOK?For women
mid to long with a natural dégradé
(or layered) look for girls. The teen
trend is for close-cropped mullets
spurred by jerky electronic dance
movement “la tecktonik”.
THE BIG BRANDS?Branded
hairdressers (very good but can be
expensive) include Jacques
Dessange, Jean Louis David,
celebrities’ hairdresser Franck
Provost, Mod’s Hair, Saint Algue
and Jean-Claude Biguine.
WHAT THE LOCALS SAY: Nadege
Agullo was born in Bordeaux and
has lived in London and (now)
Paris. “Avoid hairdressers where old
ladies with violet hair go, cheap
ones or ones where the
hairdressers have bad haircuts...
Haircuts are at least 30% cheaper
than the UK. The classic French
cut is square mid-length hair, with
or without fringe, which gets
shorter as you age.”
What to ask for: LEAVE THE FRINGE: ne touchez pas à la frange SHORTER: plus courts LONGER HERE: plus longs ici
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?Around €32 for a wash, cut and blow-dry.
WHAT’S THE LOOK?Classic cuts and adventurous without being OTT. Short and pixie looks for women. THE BIG BRANDS? Aveda, Marlies Möller, Klier (more than 1,000 branches in Germany) and Kertu.
WHAT THE LOCALS SAY:Elizabeth McGrath is a Brit who has been living in Berlin for three years. “I’d never get my hair cut in London now. The cost here in euros is what you’d pay in pounds in the UK.
“One difference is that you can get your hair cut for €10 or €15 here, and it might not be that bad. In London, only men would consider getting a haircut for under a tenner. German hairdressing is less showoffy than London too. You won’t find any Hoxton fins here or outlandish colours – it’s either blonde or dark. The personal treatment can be wonderful. The cult Max Höhn on 12 Schröderstrasse, Berlin, has expert hairdressers, but only one sink and two hairstations. It’s supertiny but the feeling is one of luxury – it’s just you and your hairdresser and maybe one other customer quietly getting their hair stylishly snipped. Highly recommended.”