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The Popham treatment

Oxford hairdresser David Popham worked with Vidal Sassoon in Sixties London - so he has five decades of cutting experience. Yeah, I think I'll let him loose on my hair!

You’re doing something right when you have three hair salons, all in the same city.  Shirley and David Popham, launched their Little Clarendon Street, Jericho salon last year, and as it’s the only one I haven’t tried out, I headed there with my witch barnet to see if they could sort it out. I was also curious to meet David, who worked under Vidal Sassoon in London in the Seventies. Having retired last year, the lure of the scissors was too great and he’s back again, and I really wanted to see how much experience does actually count these days.



I’ll level with you here. The first part of the brief is HIDE THE GREY HAIR. I’ve reached that age where I have to lighten my shade substantially otherwise the white shows against the dark brown of my temples within weeks (pass the tissues, I’m welling here). But I know that to hit the right shade that doesn’t tip me into ginger territory or look too brassy is tricky. And actually, I’m slightly in mourning because I absolutely love having dark hair, so it’s taking me a bit of time to get used to the idea of Muddy-lite.

Secondly, my hair seems to have terrible Bill Bailey-like tendencies when it goes past shoulder length, at which point I never wear it down anyway because I get too hot around my neck.

Thirdly, as someone with bob-length hair, I’m always in a panic about looking ‘mumsy’ (I’m a mum, I can say this). So the brief was to basically make me look young, blonder and give me pneumatic breasts. David refused to help me on the third one, but could he deliver on one and two?



A stylish, simple, pared back interior, warmed up by accents of charcoal on the seats and accessories, as well as the living greenery inside – a Popham motif in all their salons that I love. It’s not a massive salon size-wise but it has a feeling of space and luxury. It’s very relaxing.

Plus this salons is in Little Clarendon Street in Jericho, one of my favourite places in Oxford with all its indie shops and eateries, so you’re in an ideal spot for a mooch afterwards – cool Japanese café Moshi next door is fab, the Oxford Wine Cafe around the corner will sort you out for something stronger, there are a gazillion cool pubs and restaurants, and the Phoenix Picture House on Walton Street can satisfy your cinematic needs!

I’ve had a gazillion hair consultations over my time doing Muddy, but this was the best one by a long way. There’s a lot of time taken listening to what you want, looking at how the hair falls, discussing fringes, weight of hair, and what ‘mumsy’ hair means (his view, absolutely correct, is that my fear was not mumsy hair, but being mumsy generally. Give that man a Psychology doctorate!). There is no rush here, there is definitely attention to detail at every point of the process – if that’s what 40 years in the business teaches you, I’m sold every time. My colourist Kate was excellent too – very groovy tattooage and she took a lot of care. I felt that they really understood how I wanted to look.



THE CUT (David): After listening to Hero’s concerns, it was clear she needed to reframe her self image. The shape somewhat pulled her down – downward triangles often do that. So turning the triangle and reframing her view was all she needed.

THE COLOUR (Kate): Hero came to me open minded about her colour. Her only preference really was for no grey to be showing!
I felt Hero’s hair was lacking in definition of tone so decided to apply two highlights to one lowlight to add contrast and interest, before applying a natural base colour to cover the grey and add depth.



Tada! Straggly locks gone, and a lighter, natural colour that won’t show the grey too quickly when it re-attacks.

Before (super straggly) and After (super chic!)


It’s no snip (oh come on, that’s brilliant) but for the service and seniority of David and Katie it’s worth the investment. Colour and Weave with Kate £150; Wellaplex Treatment £30; Cut with David £110.

Popham Hairdressing, 24 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HU, 0330 415480,

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