When lockdown came into force, our lives changed overnight. Activities we took for granted like sunbathing in the park or meeting for a coffee suddenly came to a halt. And with that so did any dates in our diaries like hair appointments. Whether you were due a haircut or had booked in a pampering blow-dry, it wasn’t just those of us that normally frequent salons that suffered; the whole population realised how important hair care is to them. We all saw it – male friends panicking over their afros, female friends attempting to trim their fringes on IGTV and all manner of relatives hiding their mops under headwraps for Zoom fam catch-ups.
This hair panic mode came as a surprise for many, but not for Celebrity Hair Stylist Dar who has long known that hair is the most treasured part of ourselves. Speaking to Asianatv, he said: “One thing that this pandemic has shown us is how much we now value our hair. For too long, people have invested in their clothes and accessories that they only wear a few times a year, but hair on the other hand is with you every single day; it defines you, affects you emotionally and when you don’t have any control over it you begin to appreciate how vital your hair is to you.”
In a career that spans over three decades, Dar who has styled royalty and celebrities from around the world including Bollywood actresses Kajol and Jacqueline Fernandez has never had a break from work, until coronavirus hit. He explains: “Lockdown was the first time I’ve actually rested. I slowed down, went for long walks, ate well and took supplements to boost my immunity, which we should all do, but my favourite part was that I could stop wearing shoes. I realised that for 30 years my feet had been restricted by wearing ‘salon shoes’ which are smart and professional, but actually my feet enjoyed the break!”
Managing manes during lockdown
Though he wasn’t working, Dar was still available for his clients and even took a surprise call from Bend It Like Beckham Director Gurinder Chadha: “Gurinder called me and said she’s with her husband Paul, she’s got her clippers in her hand, please could I instruct her step-by-step, how to cut his hair, so I did! We did one section at a time and by the end of it, the award-winning Director could add ‘hairdresser’ to her CV!”
Dar’s client base includes supermodels whom he kept in regular contact with to check they were looking after themselves. He explains: “It was a difficult time for a lot of people but having a break from wearing make-up and letting your skin breath and not over-styling your hair which can be damaging for models especially, meant their hair could breathe too.”
He also offered home-care tips like making use of toilet roll tubes. He enthused: “One thing we all had at home was toilet rolls! So with all those empty cardboard tubes lying around instead of throwing them away I came up with a novel way to give them a second use. Wash your hair, wrap it around the tubes as you would with rollers, clip in place and dry for bouncy locks full of volume.”
Dar’s regular clientele couldn’t wait to get back to the salon for some much needed TLC. At his Central London salon, Hair By Dar, based at the Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, he believes there’s no such thing as a trim, only transformations: “I offer a lifestyle experience, giving a completely bespoke hairstyle. Sure people come in and request a look, like the ‘blunt bob’ that everyone is lusting over right now but I don’t just give you the cut, I adapt your hair to your face shape, lifestyle, to flatter every part of you and this process can take a good couple of hours.”
Is it safe to return to a salon?
Every salon in the UK has to abide to strict new rules before then can welcome in public again and for Dar it’s meant he wears a face coverings while at work but otherwise the experience is similar. He assures: “It’s only me in the salon and I only take one client at a time. Entrance to my salon is via an outdoor courtyard so you won’t be interacting with other people. It’s probably one of the safest salons in London and there’s no compromising on the quality. When I re-opened my books they immediately became full with men and women eager to feel good about themselves. I welcomed back lots of famous faces including TV chef Ching-He Huang.”
Dar advises to only book a salon appointment if you feel well and have no symptoms and to take all the regular precautions: “Keep washing your hands, take vitamin supplements, stay healthy and socialise to a minimum. We will get through this pandemic, we’ve done amazingly so far but we’re not out of the woods yet. So keep following the guidance and when you’re ready, book that hair appointment. I guarantee there’s no better way to boost your mood and confidence, we all deserve to look and feel our best. Even if you’re not seeing friends or colleagues – do it for you.”
Book an appointment with Dar at his salon Hair By Dar,
51 Buckingham Gate
London, United Kingdom SW1E 6AF.
0207 828 4706