Since going short, I've made a promise to myself that I will take way better care of my hair, and have almost committed to never colouring it again. Almost.
So with regular, luxe hair treatments in mind, I decided to say 'yes' when I was invited to try milk_shake's cocoa-based Natural Care Mask. Milk_shake is a professional haircare brand that is only found in salons, and the chocolate mask is one of two cocoa-based lines - the other is a range of Smoothies that offers colour enhancement for brunettes with zero ammonia. The hair masks are made from a blend of milk and yoghurt proteins - so not so great if I do go vegan - as well as cocoa, and promise to leave hair vibrant, manageable and radiant.
Now, I don't know about you, but I do tend to think hair masks are much of a muchness; as in, while I don't reallllly notice much improvement immediately after one treatment, I do notice it after I've been looking after my hair with masks for several weeks in a row. However, when it comes to salon treatments I definitely expect more, as professional treatments usually have way more active ingredients in them - plus they're charging you for it, so you're gonna expect results, right?
When I first arrived at The Parlour, I liked its shabby chic approach to decor, a lot. Peacock wallpaper, bird cages, retro furniture and a cute little 'tea bar' complete with your Gran's best china, made for a chilled environment.
If I'm here to critique, I did feel that I didn't really get much info on the treatment, so I had to ask a lot of questions at first. (I'm fully aware that as I've been a hair and beauty journalist for over 10 years, I'm always analysing my salon visits, and that someone who doesn't visit salons on the regular probably doesn't care about what treatments do, as long as they get the results they want.)
One thing that I was told, was that the treatment would ever so slightly help cover my rogue blonde streak (it didn't). While the smell of sweet chocolate was enticing - certified chocolate freak here - the mask itself was extremely cold, so if you're someone who prefers warmer temperatures, prepare yourself! Once the treatment was applied it was left on for 10 minutes or so - boy was I COLD.
But after that chilly time, my experience was completely turned around.
His name was Giancarlo, and he gave me the best blowdry EVER. Like, seriously. Anyone with mixed race or Afro hair knows that if you want a super straight blow-out - without the help of relaxers or keratin treatments - the person doing your hair really needs to get in there. There have been times when I've sat in a salon counting down the minutes to my escape so that I can find a hat, heartbroken in the knowledge, that, yet again, the stylist has blowdrying skills as limp as your long lost aunt's moist handshake.
But no, Giancarlo worked his brushes; he pulled and twisted and coaxed, so that by the time the straighteners came out, I was already dying to show the world my results. 'No', he said, 'I'm not finished yet,' as he proceeded to bring out the hairdryer once more, after he'd used the irons. He added a wonderful conditioning milk from milk_shake before he started, and that, added to the heavenly scented chocolate hair treatment, left me with the sleekest, shiniest hair I've probably ever had.
Starting at around £15, I think this treatment is a great maintenance option; it's not crazy expensive and it definitely leaves hair smoother. Just make sure you've got Giancarlo doing your blowdry after!
The Parlour, 8 Devonshire Rd, London, UK, W4 2HD