Think pink

IF you want to get ahead in the style stakes this winter then think pink. Katy Evans visited an award-winning salon in Suffolk to have her lack-lustre locks transformed with some raspberry highlights.

IF you want to get ahead in the style stakes this winter then think pink. Katy Evans visited an award-winning salon in Suffolk to have her lack-lustre locks transformed with some raspberry highlights.

THINK pink hair and what springs to mind? Breast cancer charity fund-raisers, sparkly disco wigs, Madonna miming to Holiday on Top of the Pops back in the early 80s, and, probably the most iconic of all, Frenchy - the high school drop-out from Grease.

By bizarre coincidence, I happened to watching GMTV a couple of weeks ago on which Didi Conn, the actress who played Frenchy in the original 1978 Grease, was talking about the film's re-mastered DVD release. Images of her and her bubblegum pink mop flashed across the screen. Little did I know that only a few hours later I too would end up with flashes of my favourite colour streaking through my dark locks.

Pink, it seems, has made a big impact on the hairdressing scene this season, along with other vibrant shades of red, orange and even green (yes really).

All-over pink may not be a great look but slices and blocks of colour are big news this autumn and pink seems to be streaks ahead as the most popular shade.

One salon on the cutting edge of these trends is Hair Ministry in Ipswich. Having recently come second in the colour category of the Schwarzkopf Creative Team Awards, the salon is now busier than ever.

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The awards, on October 29, have been running for four years now and saw members of both Hair Ministry salons - there is one in Pinewood and another in Capel St Mary - heading to the Hammersmith Palais where some of the stylists and models strutted their stuff on the catwalk, fending off stiff competition from salons across East Anglia, London, and the southern counties.

In order to be in with a chance of getting to the final of the Schwarzkopf competition, the team compiled a written prediction back in March of what the trends were likely to be for this autumn and winter. Of around 320 eligible Schwarzkopf salons in the southern region, only 16 teams were chosen, making it even more of an achievement.

“The girls were doing Charlie's Angle's poses - they loved it,” says Donna Collett, managing director of Hair Ministry.

The trend prediction forecasted a return to very noticeable colours. “Pink, green, orange, red, lots of fashion colours in block and panels,” says Donna.

Having neglected my own hair for months in terms of cut and colour, as well as subjecting it to endless dips in chlorine, I had decided to head to Hair Ministry in order to have my boring brown barnet transformed into a sleek, vibrant style.

I went in with no idea of what look I wanted (though anything blonde was definitely out, having had a scary experience at university where my entire head was turned a straw-like yellow).

Beccy Tapp, 23 and a hairdresser for three-and-a-half years, sits down with me to talk through the options. She too is keen to stress that the more vibrant colours are the most sought-after these days, such as pinks, oranges and purples. “With colouring now there is no longer a set order - you can pretty much do what you fancy. People are going for more fashion colours now rather than regular highlights. You can have your own version of a style now and not just go for what everyone else has got,” she says. “The weirder the better in fact!”

Becky has experimented with numerous styles and colours in the past but has now plumped for a more manageable blondish bob. “I used to be quite wacky with my colours when I was younger but I've got a bit boring now - you get too busy to keep up with it and maintain it,” she admits.

Having looked through the heavy Schwarzkopf tomb of colour samples with Becky, ranging from basic browns and blondes to the more extreme auburns, purples and pinks, my eye is immediately drawn to the deep violet black shades and a rather scrummy looking raspberry hue.

Becky thought perhaps the darkest shade, almost jet black, would be too severe and advised me to go for the next one up, still a very vampish, blackberry colour for the all over shade, as well as incorporating pink flashes.

Usually I am quite conservative with my hair but as I am in the hands of a capable, award-winning team, I threw caution to the wind and decide to go for it.

Starting off the colour process though is one of the other stylist. I always think you can spot a hairdresser a mile off, not only because of their funky, fashion conscious hairdos but their trendy togs, and this is especially so of Natalie Bultitude, 24. Dressed in a white shirt and tight moddish grey jeans with converse trainers and a skull and cross bones neck scarf, her own short, sharp crop is vibrant red with a chunk of raspberry splashed across one side.

In fact, she is one of the few not dressed in the hairdressers 'uniform' of black, black and more black.

Natalie's own hair has undergone a number of changes over the years. “I've had undercutting, tramlines, purple extension, a mullet, every colour from blonde to red, even bits of green - and this was just in one week,” she jokes, though with hairdressers' penchant for changing styles, it may not be far from the truth.

Also on hand to offer advice and ideas is India Flaherty, a representative of Schwarzkopf who comes to visit the salon about 3-4 times a year to go through the new colours with the salon staff.

“The training mornings are always a bit of fun - a chance to get creative,” says India, who looks after around 80 salons in her patch.

“They get to use colours they're not used to using - it's good to have some time working outside the box.

“Twice a year we release an essential looks book. The awards are the culmination of what the teams have come up with based around those 4-5 colour trends,” she says.

Being a lazy so and so when it comes to maintaining my hair style, I was worried about re-growth and the roots looking hideous when the pink grew out. So to avoid this unsightly scenario, India came up with a new way to add the bleach onto which the vibrant raspberry shade would be placed. Rather than putting streaks all over the top, she showed the stylists how to use a comb to create a zig zag effect - which she called ribbons and tails - working from my temples down to the nape of the neck, avoiding all the hair on top of my head (this meant the bright colour would just peek through under a dark layer).

The zig zag sections of varying widths were then bleached and wrapped in pretty pink and turquoise foil while the dark violet shade - number 3-99 - was applied to the rest. After 20 minutes or so it was time for the pink - shade number 9998 - but as my hair is so dark and had not gone as light as hoped for, India suggested adding some violet Action Paint in Ruby Craze. Sounding like something you'd get at a paintball tournament rather than a hairdressers, I tentatively enquired what it was. Action Paints, it turns out, are very vibrant colours, such as violet, blue, red, yellow, which are mixed with more subtle shades to make them brighter. And this would help on my hair as the bleach had not quite managed to reduce all the darkness on the ends (left over from a former colour many moons ago).

When I spied the pot of fuchsia pink, similar to one I painted my old bedroom walls with, I began to have second thoughts but I needn't have worried as the final result was fantastic, especially once Natalie had chopped into the ends and then ironed my newly colour locks poker straight with good old GHDs.

Having a new hair colour not only updates your look but puts a spring into your step (if only I could achieve such glossy results myself each day).

And since having my new pink highlights, I can't help spotting other women, either around town or at the gym, who have had the same. And when I popped back to the hairdressers a few days later, one of the stylists, who had a black bob with blonde streaks when I visited, had gone for the same violet and pink scheme.

So if you want to want to update your look for the party season, pink is the word.

Trends for winter 2006/7

Bobs are back but in a more asymmetrical way and with solid lines.

Party hair is about glamour with big curls, with a hint of rock chic.

Pink and auburn tones are popular. Copper and pink are used together, which you don't normally see.

Katy's cut and colour costs £57.

Hair Ministry is at Unit 2, Laburnum Close, Pinewood, Ipswich (01473 687758) and also at 42, The Street, Capel St Mary, Suffolk (01473 310273).

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