For my first haircut in Vancouver, I was determined to scout out a place that is both a unique city icon – something established yet boutique – and also, of course, a premium venue.
It is with luck and a few expat whispers that I stumbled across the Lounge Hair Studio, nestled in the heart of Yaletown. Recommendations and fervent nods from expat friends led me there (after trawling through countless options online), and so upon being greeted by a warm English voice at the reception, I sensed good things ahead.
Lounge Hair Studio was co-founded by Martin Hillier, the International Artistic Director for Senscience – the prestigious hair care line of Shiseido. An English expat who made his life in Vancouver over 15 years ago, his international career is both manic, well-documented, and impressive. Zooming around the globe for various commitments, his portfolio of innovative ideas and avant-garde concepts is both rich and ever expanding. I knew I was in good hands when I was told he’d be taking care of me. His co-founder, Lance Blanchette, is no less impressive. He champions a multifaceted, multi-educational, and multi-professional career, and has taught groups of upcoming and established hairstylists – which has enabled him to act as International Guest Artist with Joico and International Artistic Director with Senscience Performance Hair Care. Amazing work.
The salon is large yet intimate, with a decent amount of seats as well as all the amenities you would hope for during your treatment. They offer everything from your basic cut and blow dry, to perms and keratin treatments, extensions, hair do’s for occasions, hair repair treatments, nail treatments and makeup too. Priced extremely reasonably for Vancouver despite the high quality of products used and international prestige of the venue (the studio has an array of wicked awards), it’s worth visiting over your other larger brand chains. Oh, and they’re also eco friendly: a member of the Green Circles salon group, Joico’s carbon offset programme, and recycling plastic, foils, carbon and hair, they’re fully in-tune with the Vancouver vibe.
After a relaxing cup of camomile tea and cookie, Martin washed my hair with SHAM & CON from BS! This is a Vancouver based product line (so, think less air miles: well done guys), that is also Paraben and Sulphate Free and non animal tested. He then took me to my seat, wrapped in my gown before consulting me on what I’d like (a basic trim and straight blow dry…still trying to grow that hair out after I chopped it off a decade ago), before proceeding to brush and smooth my hair down for the cut.
The cut itself was quick and seamless – no awkward standing around or having to rotate myself uncomfortably – and the blow dry warm and effortless. Martin knows what he is doing. It took less than an hour to spruce me up and transform my hair into a radiant, thick, and glowing mane of blonde. Impressive.
Martin used his own products for the finish: he dried with Major Mousse and used Double Thermal protectant spray to flatiron and finish the look.
Having arrived at 5 looking like I had a bed of sun-dried straw strapped to my head, and leaving just before 6 with soft, luscious locks of gold, I was undeniably pleased with the results. Beyond the high quality cut, Martin and his team’s warm hospitality, wit and English banter throughout the treatment, and generosity in sharing advice and products, was the icing on the cake with the whole experience. As a newcomer in Van and not wanting to risk looking like a scarecrow again anytime in the future, I’ll be returning in 6-8 weeks for sure – and probably bring a few pals along too.
The Lounge Hair Studio
1116 Richards Street
BC V6B 3E6