The new Popham salon reviewed
Another Popham salon has popped up in central Oxford. Kerry Potter is seriously impressed.
Three’s the magic number for Shirley and David Popham, who recently launched their third salon in the city, in Little Clarendon Street, Jericho. The veteran hair stylist, who worked under Vidal Sassoon in London in the Seventies, and his wife opened their first Oxford outpost, on North Parade, off Banbury Road, 30 years ago, with the second following in 2010 in South Parade, Summertown. Kerry Potter took her Worzel Gummidge-esque ‘do along for some TLC.
I’m desperately seeking highlights – I usually have mine done every two months but have been so busy it’s now been been over three. Those roots have got to go, but to complicate things the rest of my hair is frazzled and bleached out by the summer sun. The colour is all over the place, basically, and needs urgently sorting. Plus, a bit of a trim would be splendid.
It’s tucked away down the buzzy but pleasingly un-touristy Little Clarendon Street, just off St Giles in the town centre. Cool Japanese café Moshi (a favourite of Oxon author Clover Stroud) is next door, with the excellent Gail’s Bakery two doors down, handily located for a pre or post salon coffee. The space is bijou but bright, chic and minimal, with immaculate white walls and floors. As for the staff, they couldn’t be more smiley and welcoming making it the kind of place where your shoulders automatically drop three inches as you walk through the door – and relaaax. Loved the prominently displayed wi-fi password (they understand that lots of customers want to work while being primped), plus the not-too-loud, not-too-hectic Balearic soundtrack. Full marks too for the thorough consultation – colourist Luise and stylist Jo asked me loads of questions about my lifestyle before working out what to do with my hair. They take into account things like how long you have to get ready in the morning (er, approx 2 mins) and how often you tie your hair back – which means you don’t leave the salon with a gorgeous ‘do that’s completely impractical for real life and/or impossible to recreate at home.
HOW THEY DID IT
The colour (by senior colourist Luise): “Kerry’s hair was a bit too blocky and one-dimensional thanks to a build-up of highlights and the bleaching effect of the sun. So I put in two blonde shades and a lowlight to make it look softer and more natural. We want people to say “Wow, you look really well” rather than “Oh, you’ve changed your hair.”
The cut (by senior stylist Jo): “Kerry’s trying to grow her hair out so we didn’t take too much off, rather it was a case of re-shaping slightly and adding in some volume. I cut in some layers around the front to flatter her cheekbones and tidied up the back, taking it up slightly so she gets a sharper angle down towards the longer sections at the front.”
I was thrilled with the colour (can you tell by my cheesy grin?). Luise racked up lots of tiny foils so the blonde effect was subtle and expensive-looking rather than stripy (always the fear with highlights). The cut was fantastic too – just a tweak but the shape was so much sleeker.
I also wanted to show you a pic of it a week on, as now it’s settled it looks even better I think. This look is the result of literally 30 seconds of upside-down blow drying and a quick pump of serum on the ends. Previously I would’ve had to use a whole heap of volumizing products to get it like this, and spend far longer grappling with the drier. I’m not sure if it’s the result of clever cutting or using Sassoon colouring products on my hair for the first time or both, but, either way, I’m seriously impressed.
A full head of highlights with Luise cost £140, with a half head from £85 with a more junior colourist. A wash, cut and blowdry starts from £40 and goes up to £110 for David himself (he works part-time now, with managers running the three salons), with the option of free fringe trims between cuts. My cut with Jo was £72. So with my cut and colour busting the £200 mark it’s a real investment – we’re tickling central London prices in fact. But obviously you don’t need a full head of colour every time and there are far less expensive colourists/stylists available.
Popham Hairdressing, 24 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford OX1 2HU, 0330 415480, popham.com