Monday, 30 November -0001

Can a haircut really make you 10 years younger?

She was told a ‘rug rethink’ could snip a decade off her face. So what happened when Rachel Johnson visited the (rather rude) coiffeur everyone’s talking about…

Written by Rachel Johnson

You really should think about a haircut,’ said my friend. ‘I know someone. You should go to him. Whenever he cuts someone’s hair, it’s like Botox. He makes everyone look 10 years younger.’

Usually I ignore suggestions to tame my sheepy mane. But when a strong hint comes from Saffron Aldridge (the
model, and former face of Ralph Lauren) that I should consider what Martin Amis calls a ‘rug rethink’ it behoves an unkempt civilian to listen. And I was curious. Was it possible to remove 10 years from the face simply by the judicious application of… hairdressing scissors?

unp28243ladyj12vc045On the day of my appointment, I struggled through a monsoon to reach Nyumba in Mayfair. I sank into a chair, and Saffron’s snipper Michael Charalambous came over, in leather trousers and a vivid scarf. After inspecting me narrowly and running his hands through my damp fleece, I waited for him to compliment me on what my mother has always assured me is my crowning glory. (Before picture left)

‘Your hair is OLD,’ he said, and then I promise he did not draw breath for the next 90 minutes so I will just relay
the highlights (geddit?).

‘It’s not looked after! It’s clumpy, and hides your face, so it makes your nose – and you know, you have a big nose? – look like a BIRD that is peeping out of its NEST.’ I gazed at myself as he spoke and, indeed, I did see Big Bird from Sesame Street.

And so I submitted meekly and as MC cut, he told me that he cuts Kirsty Young’s hair, and that he tailors each
cut to the face of the client. ‘Cheryl Cole has council-house hair,’ he said. ‘But YOU, I am going to give you glossy, chic, weathered, SEXY HAIR.’

I was sheep-dipped (two washes and conditioner) and then he set to, and carried on talking as he clipped my
fleece. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked.

‘You have a pointy chin and a pointy nose and square shoulders,’ he said. ‘I have restored the balance so it no longer looks as if you have a long neck, a small face and NO EYES. I’ve opened up the top and given more space for
your sharp features to BLEND IN.’

After an hour he made me kneel on the chair and shake my head, then he
made me stand up and he darted about my head with the scissors, snipping here and there. Then he was finished.

‘Now you’ve got a FACE,’ he said, pleased with his work. ‘And – HELLO! You’ve got a HAIRSTYLE.’

I looked in the mirror, and indeed someone I hadn’t seen for a few years stared back, looking surprised at the
transformation. Without wanting to seem too vain and self-regarding, I said I liked it.

MC looked almost put out. ‘HELLO!’ he responded. ‘OF COURSE you look better. I am the BEST IN THE WORLD.’
He repeated this several times. Then he said, as his next client arrived (an Arab princess, naturally), ‘Everyone knows it.’

DSCF1171Now, I can’t tell you how much this cost, because he whispered in my ear when I went to pay that Saffron had taken care of it (THANK YOU, Saffron!).

What I can tell you is that when I got into the office I stood there and said, ‘Well! 10 Years Younger?’ everyone just gave me polite stares. (After picture right)

‘Very, um, Purdey,’ said Sam, the features editor.

‘Er, I liked it when it was more layered before,’ said Matt, the editor.

‘15 years older,’ said Claire, the art director, putting me back in my box.

So there we go. Not everyone’s convinced, but I like it, and Saffron – I emailed her a picture from the salon – does too.

Nyumba, 6-7 Mount Street, Mayfair, London W1: 020-7408 1489,

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