The day before the Olympics kicked off last week, I was invited along for some pampering by London 2012 sponsors P&G. And even better, I got to bring my mum with me! I don't think my mum and I have ever had a day in London with just the two of us so it was a really nice treat. You may have seen the P&G campaign, Proud Sponsor of Mums and it's true... every mum deserves a medal.
We both had our hair done in the Wella salon, followed by an Olay facial and make-up application finished off with a quick slick of glossy Max Factor varnish for my nails. See my new-do above, and pics of my mum and I posing for the photo booth. I will never grow up, clearly!
I also had a chance to chat to some of the ambassadors for big-name P&G brands. First up, I chatted to Peter Lux, who has a fine head of hair of his own... I felt inferior!
Peter Lux has been working with Head & Shoulders for more than two years and his aim is to spread the word of hair and scalp care and debunk the myth that it's the boring side of the hair world. He explained to me a great reason for this: 'if you look at the catwalks, hair styles have become very minimal and more wearable, it's not so crazy any more, but there are a lot of defined partings going on. It almost accessorises the hair. Chanel painted a black line on it a couple of seasons ago and YSL did a really severe thing a year ago when they did a strong side parting that was very slick.' I hadn't thought of it like that but he's right. If you are going to show hair off in that way, you need to have great hair - you need to prepare!
Peter continued: 'We all talk about beautiful hair and everybody wants beautiful hair, but let's not forget where the hair comes from. You don't have to have dandruff to use Head & Shoulders. A lot of people, especially in London, might find that they have an itchy scalp for example. There are products from Head & Shoulders that are designed for that.'
I asked what people need to do differently when it comes to scalp and hair care for holidays. Peter told me that the priority should be not to burn the scalp. He says: 'Make sure you switch your parting around, go from a side parting one day to a centre parting the next day to avoid it.' But his biggest holiday top tip? 'Salt water can really take all the life out of the hair, it drains the colour out and can make it very dry', he says, 'but if you are concerned about that, one easy way to avoid salt water aggravating the hair so much is this... the hair works like a sponge; if you saturate the hair with fresh water before you go into salt water, that salt water cannot go into the hair so much. It's so logical. Just get your hair really wet, especially on the ends where the hair is driest, before going into the sea.'
What should people do differently as they age, is another question I was keen to ask, especially as I'd taken my mum along with me. 'Hair changes as people age', Peter explained, 'grey hair is wiry and a lot stronger, so you need to moisturise the hair more to keep it nice and supple and shiny. Go easy on the styling tools, and also, those metal brushes should all go in the bin! They get so hot and when the hair is already naturally dry, like grey hair, it will dry the hair out even more and make it feel brittle and it might snap. Natural bristle brushes are the best thing to use as they don't overheat as much and they give more shine.'
And of course, I had to ask who his hair idols were? Cat Deeley came top of his list, 'that woman has got amazing hair, I love her hair' he enthused. But is it hard work or all natural I wondered? 'She's got naturally great hair and her hair is easy hair, never too fussy' says Peter. 'I always like quite natural hair like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller... I also like Emma Watson's hair (above right, shot for Harper's Bazaar), it's short, it's cool, she's pushed the boundaries a bit and she looks incredible'.
Next up, I grabbed a few minutes with the lovely Josh Wood who has been the Global Wella Professionals Colour ambassador since 2008.
The first question I had to ask a colourist was: is the dip-dye dead? After all, it's been done to death. Josh suggested that the new way to work this look is in a more natural way, what he called the 'surf-kissed look' and catwalk shows are a great place to look for new ways of using colour. 'The colour at Prada was interesting' he told me, 'but it wasn't dipping, it was blocking which is this idea that you can have more than one colour, vertical colour. Wella Professionals have just launched a new permanent hair colour called Illumina, and there are some really soft, pastel tones and really interesting pearlised and oyster-like tones.'
With people descending on London for the olympics from all corners of the globe I was keen to find out if Josh had any favourite trend-setters from particular countries. 'I've just been travelling a lot in China, and Beijing and Shanghai are starting to adopt a street culture like Tokyo has had for a long, long time. It's great because it's so experimental. It's wrong but it's right. I think in North American and Europe we're so studied and guarded about our hair, where there they use it as a fabric of experimentation, it's fun to see.'
It crossed my mind that athletes often having to scrape back their hair into sporty ponytails, I asked Josh what his twist would be on the classic ponytail. He said: 'If you look at designers like Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein, it's always a ponytail, but I think whether it's on the crown or very low, can give a very different look or feel. I do think what I've seen a lot of is a very, very low, and flat pony tail.'
Any tips for caring for the hair, I asked. 'I think if you're colouring your hair' Josh explained, 'you need to put in the same time and effort into caring for your hair as you do for colouring it. Certainly with my clients, what I ask them to do is always use a mask once a week, and generally I give them a mask called Color Save in the SP range which is specifically designed for hair colour, to lock the molecules in. But be site specific, so if you're going into the sun you need to use a product for that, or if you're going into chlorinated water then you need a product designed for that'.
And one for mum, what should a woman do as she gets older to make sure her hair colour works for her? Josh recommends: 'When someone becomes a slave to their colour, it's the wrong colour. If you feel that you need to be doing your roots every 3-4 weeks it's time for a change. Although it isn't the case for everyone, in general the more grey you get then the lighter you go the better it is. Always keep the hairline a little lighter against the skin-tone'.