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We caught up with expert colourist Josh Wood at his Holland Park salon to talk school haircuts, holiday essentials and synaesthetic tendencies.
Holiday haircare is a nightmare. Scratch that, all hair-related maintenance has the potential to be a torment – the climate-shifting nature of a holiday merely escalates matters of the scalp.
Our hair (both at home and abroad) can have a mind of its own – cut to us pleading with our frizzed-out mane to chill the F out for one solitary minute. Yet with a mastermind of hair to advise and guide us through, it seems there’s really nothing to split hairs over after all.
Meeting at esteemed colourist, Josh Wood’s atelier in Holland Park, we cut (sorry) straight to it and got schooled by the doyen of dye jobs on how to keep our tresses in tip–top shape.
While (hair) flipping from tresses to trips, it was revealed that travelling light was something of a learning curve for the coiffeur – although he’s become pretty accustomed to compact packing now. Scroll on to discover what’s in his suitcase…
Where are you from and how has your background shaped you?
I’m from Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I think a working-class mentality was drilled into me there.
Your career started with a Saturday job at a local salon. What did that experience teach you?
Expect the unexpected! I worked really hard in that role and was told at the end of the one-year scheme that they didn’t think hairdressing was for me and I was booted out.
What is your first hair-related memory?
Wow, that is a hard one. It could have been when I was suspended from school for having a lopsided bob in the mid-80s. It was very The Human League.
Why did you choose Holland Park to base your atelier?
It was down to the fact we found an incredible building. It’s like a TARDIS! It looks average size from the outside and is huge on the inside. Plus I live around the corner; it’s an easy commute.
What are the key things you assess during a consultation?
I think it’s the openness to change. I can access quite quickly if someone is ready to embrace a new image and, if not, I’m more than happy to work with them to slowly evolve their look – but I do love a good colour makeover (or makeunder, for that matter).
Haircare products everyone should invest in…
Always a hair mask. Without deep hydration on coloured hair you’re fighting a losing battle.
Advice on communicating better with your colourist…
Always take images, it starts a visual dialogue with your colourist. Also, be realistic about what your hair can take and how much maintenance you’re willing to put in.
Hero products from your home care colour range…
I’m proud of our Gloss products. They condition while adding a little fresh colour.
Emerging hair trends to note…
At the AW20 Louis Vuitton menswear show in Paris we created a new technique called Shore Lights – a colour result that looked like it had been created by long-term sun exposure.
What prep is required when compiling looks for fashion week?
We never stop referencing – it’s a constant part of mine and the teams work. We compile look books for almost every client or job we do.
You’ve stated that you “hear in colour” and “think in colour”. Do you experience synesthesia?
I have to say I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like something I could have! Everything I do has a colour attached to it.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m so lucky that I work with some of the most creative people in the world – they are a constant source of inspiration. I also try to visit one gallery or museum once a week; I love contemporary art.
Does travel influence your work?
I travel continuously; without that source of culture my job would be virtually impossible.
Most impressive place you’ve ever travelled to in the name of beauty…
That’s such a hard one, but recently I was in Tokyo and there is an aesthetic there that you only find in Japan. My go-to place for a shock of culture has to be India – I visit at least once a year.
Where’s your next adventure?
What are your best care tips for our tresses after days spent in the sun, by the pool etc.?
Use a good SPF in your hair, especially if you’re blonde, and a gentle shampoo. I always advise my clients to use a mask as a conditioner for extra hydration and strength.
Haircare quick fixes you swear by…
Comb conditioner through the hair and add a cold final rinse to leave the scalp clean and promote shine.
If there was one destination you could go back to immediately it would be…
India, but I also love working in New York – I always get excited when I first see the skyline.
What do you think makes a good hotel?
Impeccable service and a can-do attitude will make any guest feel like they’re at home.
You’re Britain’s leading colourist, so we’re eager to know: what are the most colourful places you’ve ever visited?
You trained to be a hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon in Leeds. Tell us about some of your favourite spots in the city.
Wow that really is a lifetime ago, but I loved the nightclub The Warehouse; that’s where I could be found most weekends.
One piece of travel advice…
Pack well. Ahead of a trip, I get everything out that I think I’ll need and then edit heavily. Travelling light has been a learning curve for me.
Podcasts to download for our flight…
I’m always so busy catching up on music, podcasts come second.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s next on your reading list?
Right now: Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott. Next up: Modernists and Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters by Martin Gayford
Haircare essentials for jetsetters…
A good bristle brush and a detangling spray in case there isn’t a good conditioner in the hotel.
What would you do to improve airports?
Less processing, more clean air and much more fresh, organic food options.
What’s your take on souvenirs?
I’m not big on them myself, but I’ve got pretty good at hunting down an obscure fridge magnet!
And finally, what’s in your SUITCASE?
Exercise clothes, comfortable travel wear and at least one extravagant look for work.
Josh Wood’s Pocket Guide to Notting Hill
STAY: The Laslett EAT: Gold DRINK: The Electric Diner SHOP: Matches Fashion and Couverture & The Garbstore DO: Wander around the Portobello Market early on a Friday morning before breakfast at Golborne Deli.
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