In the comments field of a video I recently made for InStyle UK, my hair styling skills were called to question by a couple of readers, who criticised my ability to twirl a barrel brush expertly. They were right. Hair isn’t the beauty thing I’m best at. I don’t get out of bed earlier to do anything special to it. Never have, never will. I also don’t bother to factor it in when planning an outfit for a special occasion; it comes last in my priorities after make-up, clothes, and skin. If I do anything with it, I’ll usually either pin it all up wildly, grips scissoring in at mad angles to hold the dense mass of hair I’ve pulled into a knot (not for me the artful twist and pin of my peers), or spray it with something that’ll make it look like I made even less effort than I actually did, which, as you’ve just learned, is almost always hardly any at all.
In this, I am spectacularly of a London* mindset. London hair is lived in, a bit messy, a bit Moss or Chung, if you want to put a face – or rather a head of hair – to the look. Kate and Alexa’s hair is mostly slightly dishevelled and entirely at odds with the ultra sleek, groomed lengths that characterise, say, the famously-preened New Yorkers or Milanese. When Moss tells Rimmel customers to ‘get the London look’, by rights she ought to add ‘by wearing this lipstick, but pairing it with messy hair – because that’s the key to looking a bit London.’
That’s not to say, of course, that there aren’t occasions when Londoners might whack out the odd curling wand for extra oomph, just that on a day-to-day basis, for most of us, hair is part of the ‘don’t care’ aesthetic that works a charm when paired with lashings of red lipstick, meticulously applied eyeliner, or even, for some absurdly lucky women, just a little bronzer. It is about balancing things out, so that there’s just a soupçon of eccentricity and a sense of not being enslaved by the idea of perfection.
If this all sounds bang on to you and you’ve found yourself thinking ‘by Jove that Madeleine is absolutely right – all those heads of messy hair I see in London are clearly not a lack of time but a lack of inclination and I like that a lot’, then I have just the thing for you. Session stylist to Moss and just about everyone of renowned beauty who is in possession of hair that you’ve ever seen in any magazine, anywhere, Sam McKnight is well known for his ability to artfully muss up a famous head of hair, and has now bottled his signature look.
The first wave of products (Sam has hinted at more), comprise four ‘dry styling’ products – aka things in a can that’ll make your hair better with minimal effort. YES TO THAT, SAM. My favourite is Cool Girl (InStyle review here), which is a texture mist that reminds me of Oribe Dry Texturising Spray, only it builds a bit more (so if your hair is very fine, you can keep spraying it underneath to build it up into a sort of nest that’ll prop up the hair on top). Also in the range: Modern Hairspray (a fine, lightweight mist that holds hair well but also brushes out nicely if you’ve messed up); Lazy Girl (dry shampoo, minimal chalky tinge, Sam also uses this as a styling product for oomph at roots), and Easy Up-Do, which basically eliminates the need for all those pins I was discussing in the opening para. In fact, I managed to get my hair to stay vaguely up with a liberal spray of this plus 3 Kirby grips last week, with only a few hairs slipping out as I made my way through the city, but, as you’ve probably gathered, I didn’t mind that in the slightest.
*Excluding Chelsea, where hair is spectacularly coiffed and unfeasibly bouncy at all times. Even after sport.