With Italian roots (ahem…) and Italian style, a scientific approach to hair, and a beautiful Chelsea location, GA Salons is my new go-to hairdresser for treatment, dye and styling. Let’s start with the location… On a quiet residential corner off the (good end) of the Kings Road, is a warmly lit reception. Think crittle doors and windows, herringbone floors, a metallic finish on the walls, and upstairs is even better; Perhaps ten stations – clearly filled with returning clients – a high ceiling, wet-plaster look on the walls, and mostly Italian chatter. Yes, a cool place to spend an afternoon. And while it’s sure as hell not my go-to for locality – I live in Hackney – I couldn’t think of a more ideal place for a much needed pampering. There are five GA Salons in London, numerous more throughout Italy, with others in South Ken, Westbourne Grove and Notting Hill – you get the drift… – all set up by Gennaro Dell’Aquila – an award winning stylist who has hairdresser training schools in Italy teaching his exclusive techniques. All stylists at all salons work under the GA ‘method’, and all colour and treatment blends used are 100% organic. What’s more, they work.
I have fine, dry hair that’s prone to breaking – either from the annual lightening (balayage, highlights, bleach, you name it…) or from the tough conditions I put it through (high up freezing in mountains, or soaked in salt water in the sea). Either way, it’s rarely happy. I visited four months into a pledge to go back to my natural colour (darker), and whilst growing out a fringe. Neither are fun nor particularly fabulous processes.
I hand the problem over Claudio, who debunks most of the myths I’ve believed, and teaches me a thing or two. Did you know that healthy hair has an acidic ph? The cuticles of hair need to be closed to reflect the light – that is, shiny hair. He recommends taking the nozzle off the hairdryer to decrease the intensity. He assures me I don’t need to grow out old bleached hair, to start again, and that semi-permanent colour or natural dyes are the way to go. In fact, it’s all they use at the salon. I lament a temple cowlick, and he gestures (molto Italiano) to his own front-and-centre cowlick – ‘I am the master of them’ – before teaching me how to dry it, using it to my advantage (for volume).
In all the fringe trims, in all the salons, I’ve never had someone split it in two to twist and cut notches into it (the reality was a little smoother than it sounds…). The idea is to create texture, without thinning the hair. And it’s worked wonderfully.
Although Claudio assures me he can sort out my blonde, I haven’t booked in for dye this time. I’m trying to sort the quality of my hair first. I am, however, here for an all-natural hair treatment – what turns out to be a mud-like mask, made beautiful with flowers and care (refer to photo of chocolate cake).
I’m ignorant of the processes, blissed out after a heavenly head massage and coconut tea (it’s better than you might think). But behind the scenes, I learn, there are 90 ingredients to choose from, to make your own individual and perfect blend. Fenugreek to hydrate, is one I remember – needed to be prepared the day before. The herbs used are pigment-free and Rose of Damask is used to mask any smell, of which I could trace none. Claudio slathers my hair into this ‘blend’ that really is the texture of chocolate mousse. I send the picture out to friends and family while it works its magic: ‘Marie Antoinette?!’, I get in reply from one; ‘Great British Bake Off showstopper’, from another. I’m assured all the ingredients are so natural that you could eat it…
The cling film goes on, the heat ring is applied, and 20 minutes later I’m unwrapped – how I can smell the blend – earthy, herbal. After a wash and blowdry, the results are immediate. My hair is sleek (I went in with hair more like straw) and the effects have lasted well.
Something I didn’t think I’d ever look forward to, but I’m excited to return for, is help with greys. The henna and natural dyes used are apparently brilliant on white hair, and work much better than chemical or synthetic dyes. I’m sure I’m not long off, but I’ll be going to GA Salon to see Claudio again to get my blonde locks back very soon. Watch this space…
GA Salons Chelsea
3 Bray Place