GA Salons review: organic hair dyes that are a cut above the rest

Cut and blow-dry offered for press review

A woman’s hair is her crowning glory, so they say, so why do we treat it so badly?

When I was younger, I used to regularly apply sugar and water to my hair to make it stick up, blowdrying it so it was as stiff as a board. (no, I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea neither. I think I scarred one teenage boy for life after he tried to be romantic and his hand got trapped in my hair. I can still remember the crackling noise as we separated strands to set him free).

Even after those days, I continued to bombard my hair with harsh chemicals, dyeing it every few months. It became a vicious circle: I’d love the gloss of a new dye but after that wore off, I’d be left with a dry, dull colour on over-processed hair. So I’d dye it again…

The only time this didn’t happen was when I used henna, when my hair would feel silky and glossy all the time. But who wants to be red all their life (or have the house stinking for days)?

It is a question that also bugged hairdresser Gennaro Dell’Aquila. Born in Naples, he has been working in London for more than a decade, working his way up to eventually owning two chic salons: one in Wimbledon and the other in trendy Notting Hill.

Seeing so much damaged, dyed hair had him pondering about his early days working in Italy. “I thought about how henna was so good for your hair but it was red, so I started seeing what other herbs and plants could give colour,” he tells me, snipping away at my hair.

After much experimenting, Gennaro is now a pioneer in bespoke natural hair dyes and products, made from the likes of rhubarb, chamomile, walnut, fenugreek, turmeric and, yes, henna. Even yoghurt is used at times to add extra protein.

Because Gennaro’s dyes don’t strip away the natural oils, they leave your hair soft and shiny, with a stunning, natural colour.

Gennaro Dell’Aquila natural hair dye

“Why strip your hair of all its goodness with a dye and then go for treatments to repair it when the dye can be the treatment itself?” Gennaro says.

Best of all, the lack of chemicals means they’re suitable for anyone, from pregnant women to people going through chemotherapy to those whose allergies that mean they can’t use chemical dyes.

Chatting about what colour he would use on my hair – memories of being left looking like the orange ball on the snooker table means I won’t let a hairdresser dye my hair on the first visit anymore – Gennaro then puts the icing on the cake: “These greys?” he says. I wait for the usual pronouncement of how ageing and horrible grey hair is. “We’ll use these as natural highlights to add depth to the colour.”

Not knowing how to use grey hair to our advantage is the biggest mistake women make when they grow older, he says. He’s also not a fan of giant froufrou helmet blowdries on older women (my terminology, not his).

But, he adds: “Women can have their hair however they want it. If that’s what they like, that’s fine.”

After years of 20-year-old hairdressers telling me I couldn’t possibly want to wear my hair in such a way, I think I fell in love with him a little more at that.

I was also delighted that Gennaro didn’t attack my previous hairdresser – the bitchy “Who cut this?”. Instead, he merely says it was a little heavier than he would have cut it but: “I can have fun with this.” And when I mention a blunt cut at the back, he suggests trying something softer and seeing what I think. “If you want to change it, we will. It’s easily done,” he adds.

He’s right. The gentler look is a winner.

Before and after – and after a night out!

Gennaro’s cutting technique did make me worry, I admit. He twirls locks of hair into a coil and then snips delicately. Where was the careful measuring? The constant combing and straight, precise lines?

I needn’t have worried. After a blow-dry during which Gennaro told me what he was doing and why (and to enjoy drying and playing with my hair in the same way I did as a young woman), I had one of the best cuts I’ve ever had. It not only falls into place when I dry it myself, but no longer needs to be washed every day. And that’s very impressive for a pixie cut. It also stays in place throughout the day – and a night out.

Gennaro also tells me not to worry about my menopausal hair loss. “You’re the only one who sees it,” he says. “I just see hair.”

When I leave, feeling the proverbial million dollars, Gennaro and one of his stylists are arguing over what colour my hair should be. “I say walnut,” says Gennaro. “He says lighter.”

He stops and thinks. “He might be right.”

“I trust you,” I reply. And I mean it.

A huge big thanks to Gennaro and the team at GA Salon. Visit GA Salon for information.

What’s your best haircare advice? Leave me a comment below.

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