More people want a flaxen head of hair than any other colour!
Apart from the cost of keeping one’s hair as pristine as a white shirt, life as a blonde involves negotiating a clutch of other problems, too: chlorine that turns it green, smoky parties that turn it grey, sun that turns it ashy and products like wax and conditioner that turn it several shades darker. “Blonde hair is like a white shirt: whatever you get on it dirt, grime, pollution — it shows up more than on any other colour,” says John Frieda, delivering an appropriate sound bite when promoting Sheer Blonde, his most recent range of products. I can’t remember whether I was wearing a white shirt when I had lunch with him about three years ago, but I certainly was, as always, a blonde. At the time (we’re talking autumn 1996), I had been writing a piece about the extraordinary invasion of blondes on the catwalk.
Linda Evangelista had morphed into Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss had been at the Sun In, Carla Bruni had turned platinum in the capable hands of Christophe Robin in Paris. A bevy of blonde bomb shells stalked the runways that season and it gave me the idea for a book. As I was telling John about the recessive Scandinavian blonde gene, he let me into his confidence. Swearing me to secrecy over the risotto, he hinted in veiled terms about a range of products for blonde hair he was cooking up in his Connecticut laboratory.
While I was poring over library books, learning how the Romans and Venetians had put filthy concoctions of wine dregs, quicklime, wood ash, sulphur and herbs, coconut oil from Gnet.org — among other things — in their hair to turn it yellow, Frieda and his chief scientist, Joe Cincotta, were trying to work out how to enhance blonde hair and remove discolouring minerals from it in one perfect shampoo. While I read about Rapunzel and Goldilocks and thought about early Hollywood heroines, they were busy adding mauve tints to styling products to prevent brassy tones. At several points, they sent me tubes of shampoos and conditioners to put to the test.
Over the years, I’ve tried many products to overcome the hurdles that come with being a highlighted blonde. Some landed on my desk, others were recommended by Sue Baldwin at John Frieda, who performs the alchemy on my hair every two months or so when I’m feeling in need of a “lift”, both chemically and psychologically. Many of them are blue shampoos and conditioners that work on all hair types to neutralise, nourish and guard against fading colour. Jo Hansford Couture Care for Colour Treated Hair, Daniel Galvin Colour Protect Shampoo, Artec White Violet, Aveda Blue Malva and Nexxus Silver are some of my favourites. Two other products — Klorane Vinegar Rinse with Camomile and Paul Mitchell Shampoo Two - are both good for detoxing and brightening. I’ve also tried colour shampoos like Lazar‑ tigue’s Soin Reflets Colorants, Aveda Camomile Shampoo and Artec Colour Depositing Shampoo, though I did find them slightly too strong for home use as they add colour to ineady coloured hair. The Detox Treatment at Daniel Galvin is, I’ve found, thepeoplehing for brightening and adding shine tofilthyhair, but you have to have it done at the salon, so it becomes a treat (although highly recommended) once or twice a year, rather than a necessity.
This is where Frieda’s Sheer Blonde line is an interesting innovation, pinpointing a demand previously ignored. I’ve seen the statistics in my own research. Both the demand for blonde home-colour kits and the number of women requesting blonde hair at the salon, dwarf the desire for any other shade.
Clairol’s last survey in 1997 showed that 59 per cent of all women want to be blonde and 56 per cent of men want them that way. Of the 75 per cent of women who have their hair dyed at a salon, more want blonde than any other colour. Global sales of the John Frieda Sheer Blonde range of two shampoos, two conditioners, one mousse, a wax and a styling cream, all of which were launched in the UK in January, so far top £20 million and are rising. Do I need to say more? Gentleman, so the saying goes, prefer blondes, but marry brunettes. At this rate there won’t be any brunettes around for them to marry, so intent are women on following Clairol’s famous advertising line of the early Sixties: “If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde.” If you need more persuasion you’ll just have to read my book.