Jessica Davey-Quantick goes under the scissors at the Blue Brush Salon to find out if stylist David Martinez can tame her unruly hair with a cut without water. Will her locks be luxurious or will she be in need of a hat?
My hopes are high when I plunk myself down in the styling chair at Blue Brush. First, the Artistic Director, David Martinez, is the product of a celebrity hair culture. Trained in France by Jean-Marc Maniatis , he’s worked with celebrity stylist Orlando Pita in Paris doing hair for designers like Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Elie Saab. More importantly, he has that tragically posh Paris attitude down while he fluffs my hair and wrinkles his brow.
My hair does not behave. My hair is a curly beast that is best not angered. And, he says, that makes it perfect for a dry cut.
‘To do a haircut on dry hair is the most natural way to respect the hair shape, to respect the hair movement, to respect the hair texture,’ says Martinez.
It seems to go against the grain of every other haircut I’ve ever had. It starts with my hair being washed, to remove any styling product that might be hiding its natural kinks. In my case, a lot of frizz-fighting gel. Next, the hair is roughly dried by David until I have a poodle-like halo of hair around my face. Then, he begins flicking it back and forth, studying its movement.
‘When I was a student of hair, it was something revolutionary 20 years ago,’ he tells me, as he begins to snip. This too is different: instead of combing out sections and carefully measuring cuts, he snips seemingly at random, attacking my hair with a glee that Edward Scissorhands would have appreciated. He tells me dry cuts are excellent for curly hair in particular, as they allow the stylist to watch the natural movement of your do.
On this I see his point. Anyone with even a hint of natural wave knows all it takes is an errant inch snipped while the hair is wet. The instant it’s dry the hair snaps up far shorter than expected, and you look like Little Orphan Annie’s uglier male cousin.
‘I started doing hair when I was 16 years old,’ he continues as he cuts. ‘I fell in love with all the hair styles. And all the ladies!’
That’s certainly true. As he plays with my hair, he seems to genuinely have an interest in making me look my best. He’s so focused on my hair, in fact, he’s not darting his gaze a few inches lower to my face. My face that’s getting increasingly panicked as my hair gets shorter and shorter.
David is, after all, an artist. I had arrived with no real plans for my head, other than to make it look pretty, with a cut that wouldn’t require machinery to style. My hair has been every length, from down my back to shaved to a quarter inch, and every colour in the rainbow (including blue). I’m not terribly picky, and so I let his creativity loose.
This may have been my first mistake. When I finally do pipe up to ask if I’m going to have any hair left or if it’s all going to be go on the floor, he laughs and assures me it will be very ‘rock and roll’, before fluffing my fringe into my eyes.
I think maybe I’m just not cool enough for a David Martinez cut. When it’s finished, I have to persuade him that as cool as he thinks the ‘wet look’ is, I’d really prefer not to saunter out on the town like I’d just gotten out of the pool. When it’s dry, my hair is short. Very short. Above jaw length, my-ears-are-totally-bare-and-a-little-cold short. So short he’s taken a clipper to the back of my neck to clean it up. It’s not necessarily bad: I just feel naked. Friends give me compliments, but my trusted few also say perhaps it could have been a few inches longer. It takes a couple of weeks for the Beast, as I refer to my curls, to calm down and behave themselves enough to style—after that, I alternate between getting it just so and thinking it’s cute and funky, and longing for hats. If I don’t get it just right, I look like I’m trying out to be the sixth Backstreet Boy, circa 1998. You decide if that’s a good thing or not.
After about three weeks, it starts to get better. By the next month, it’s grown out to a length that I really enjoy, which falls nicely. The cut does grow out absolutely beautifully: my worrisome cowlicks and curls fall where they’re meant to as soon as they get some length. Even three months later, my hair, which usually requires monthly maintenance to stop looking like a Christmas tree, still looks good, and, miracle of miracles, still has a shape. He’s also managed to thwart my longtime hair nemesis: a wave that tends to stick out on the side just under my crown like horns. Even as it grows out, my hair isn’t falling flat at the roots before fluffing out in a riot of frizz: instead, it’s got body all the way through.
So what have I learned? Dry cutting can be a good thing: if you either go in bravely willing to face the consequences, or with strict, clear instructions for what you want. After all, who wants to wait three weeks before they can take off the hat?
Blue Brush Hair Studio, Hilton Doha (4423 3022)