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Review: Chop-Chop hair Salon, Westfield

Chop-Chop London
Chop-Chop London

Since my big chop (see my blog post Hair Today!), I need to trim my hair regularly to maintain the short style. I’m constantly looking out for good barbers/salons where I can get a quick shape up for a good price. Whilst strolling through Westfield Shepherds Bush, I came across Chop-Chop. It caught my eye as its a small open plan hub located in the aisles of the mall. I immediately noticed there was a black stylist there cutting afro hair. I took their card and decided to look them up. Chop-Chop have a unique concept. 24 hairstyles – 20 minutes – £20. Those 24 hairstyles include cuts specifically for afro hair types. One being a low cut afro, just like mine. Perfect I thought. Both affordable and convenient – I could use them for my regular trim. IThere was some apprehension about getting my hair cut at a salon which did not specialise in afro hair, but felt assured when I read on their website:

“Our stylists are seasoned professionals, who have passed several layers of vetting and training by our management team. We’ve done this so our customers can sit with full confidence, knowing that they are in perfect hands.

We want to celebrate you, in all your unique glory. That’s why our stylists are specially trained by the best in the industry to work with a multitude of different hair types. So you can embrace your individuality and trust you’re in good hands.”

Booking

I went ahead and booked my appointment online, which was a simple process. After creating a profile you then choose one of the 24 cuts/styles, book a slot, then select one of the available stylists. It was my first time so I randomly selected a stylist. All done. My appointment was later that day, after work. I was excited to try this concept out.

Appointment and disappointment

I headed straight there after work. I was 10 minutes early, as their website suggested. There was only one stylist there at this time, who was with a client. He took my name and asked me to sit and wait, as my stylist would arrive soon. I was a little uneasy about getting my hair cut out in the open, on view to passing shoppers, but soon realised that people were not actually paying attention. My stylist arrived in about 10/15 minutes. After a quick debrief with his colleague he approached me and asked me what I was having done. This concerned me since I had booked online and selected my required hairstyle. I know he was given my name, so surely my booking details were to hand. Anyway, I told him what I was having done and to my disappointment his response was. Sorry I cannot style afro hair! I was in shock. Apparently, the person to do my hair had to leave early. This confused me as their claim was they were all trained to do all types of hair. Isn’t that your unique selling point I asked? What’s more, why was I not informed before or immediately on my arrival? Customers are asked to cancel no later than 45 minutes before their scheduled appointment, so I would expect the same heads up. His apology did not pacify me, nor did his offer of a slot the following day. The options were to take a refund, or return within a couple of days, whilst he was still on shift. I didn’t see why I couldn’t have a credit to return on any day. I was not impressed with the customer service. What I actually wanted was to get my hair cut – that day. This was now impossible.

The redemption

I returned the following week to make use of my credit. I was now a skeptic but wanted to see how well they could cut. I was relieved to see a black stylist and a black barber manning the hub. Interestingly, both were styling European hair when I arrived. My stylist, Khadime, was skilled, friendly and engaging. She did a good enough job on my hair and completed it in good time, but I’ve had better cuts at high street barbers.

To summarise, I was unimpressed and disappointed on my initial visit to Chop-Chop. My second visit went smoothly, however, since they failed to live up to their own claims, and certainly did not meet my expectations. I personally would not take the risk of disappointment again. They do however have two other branches in London who may be more organised and efficient.

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Hair Today!

At the Salon
The big Chop, TWA
The Big Chop

I have been toying with the idea of reverting to my natural hair for a while now. Whilst relaxed hair is easy to style, after years of straightening, I found that my hair was beginning to lose its texture, colour and resilience. With thinning hair, breaking edges and brittle ends, I knew I needed to do something imminently if I was to regain a healthy head of hair. I always assumed that I would transition to natural hair gradually i.e. that I would trim off the relaxed hair over time, covering up my natural re-growth with weaves or braids, until it was long enough to style on its own.  However, on my last visit to the salon I looked at my limp hair and immediately knew that this would be my last chemical relaxer.  Something clicked. On that day, I vowed that at my next salon visit, it would be THE BIG CHOP!

 Some of the thoughts that initially delayed this decision were:

  • Will my natural hair be difficult to manage and more time consuming?
  • Will short hair suit me? Would I look boyish or unattractive?
  • Will a short cut reveal a funny scull shape that I didn’t know about?
  • With my hair thinning – will it look even more patchy when short?
  • Will my head feel cold in the winter?
  • How long will it take to grow back, and will it become hard to manage as it grows?

I pondered over these things for a while, but once my decision was made, the only question was – when and where? I had a family wedding coming up so decided to do it after that. My first instinct was to have a barber cut my hair.  They shave heads all the time so should do  good job, and be cheaper.  However, I decided to go to a salon in the end. I wasn’t sure if I would feel emotional on the day, so thought it best to be around females, who could be more sympathetic.  Also, barbers are used to shaving and shaping to suit a male face, and tend to do harder edges. I wanted a softer look and some TLC on this occasion.

I took some time to look at a few photos of shorter natural hairstyles and finally decided on a teeny-weeny afro (TWA). It felt like the right choice.

Today is the day of The Big Chop. My salon of choice was Natural Gloe (who specialise in styling natural afro hair). I was a bit apprehensive when I sat in the chair. My stylist, Marlene, assured me that I was doing the right thing.  As I watched my hair fall to the ground, a part of me felt a loss, but mostly, I felt a sense of relief.  I went for a very low cut – short back and sides. I kept a little height at the front to frame my small face (and a side parting). Marlene did a good job! Once complete I felt quite liberated and refreshed.  I kept looking in the mirror at this stripped back version of me. I didn’t quite recognise the person looking back at me, but instead began to  noticing features (good and bad) that I wasn’t aware of (gotta hide those grays!). I now feel the need to wear more make-up and adorn myself with jewellery, to enhance my femininity.  I know this will pass.

The Big Chop, TWA
The Big Chop, TWA

Now that I’ve done the cut. I have answers to some of my initial questions:

  • My shorter hair will definitely be quicker and easier to wash and style. Short hair does suit me!
  • Phew! I have a nicely shaped scull. My hair is a little patchy in some places, but it’s now easier to identify and treat the problem areas. A good chop and no chemical processing is a major step to healthier hair.
  • I can confirm that my head felt very cold today as it poured down with rain as I left the salon. I am hoping the hot weather returns soon!
  • I will gradually learn how to manage my hair as it grows

I have no regrets so far. In fact I found the experience quite liberating. I’ve purchased some natural hair products and styling utensils and am looking forward to experimenting with my hair and tweaking the style as it grows. I will share more about the products and styling techniques I’ve learned. But for now, I’m embracing the natural me.

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Estee Lauder lattice weave train bag – 2017 Best Buy No. 4

Red Estee Lauder train bag

Now that 2017 has come to an end I can summarise my top five best buys.  These are the purchases which I have absolutely no regrets about:

My no. 4 best find of 2017 is my Estee Lauder lattice weave bag. I have been browsing the shops for a while in search of a unique, practical and attractive bag to carry my laptop. I had already earmarked a couple of bags that fit the criteria, but they were quite expensive, so I decided to continue my search.  I’m glad I did, as I eventually came across this beautiful crimson patent leather look bag at a vintage shop in Brick Lane (Rockit).  It’s the perfect size and shape for my laptop and is the cutest thing ever with its lattice style finish.  The bag is usually sold as an Estee Lauder Train Bag (travel make-up case). Its in perfect condition and I could tell it had not been used before.  From the moment I saw it, I knew it was the one.  This was confirmed when I saw the price tag of only £10.  These are the sort of bargains that give me a rush.  It pays to look around for the special something.

Here are my top 5 purchases for 2017 at a glance:

  1. HP Spectre x360 Laptop
  2. Samsung Gear S2 Classic Rose Gold Smart Watch
  3. Camel skin Rucksacks
  4. Estee Lauder Train Bag
  5. Perfectly Pure Coconut Oil
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Review: Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube set

Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube

I was on a BA flight recently when I realised I had only packed one lipstick. Whilst browsing through the cosmetic section of British Airways High Life Magazine, I came across an advertisement for Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube. My attention was immediately drawn to this gift set because there were 9 apparently full sized lipsticks in the cube and the price was only £39. That would make each stick about £4.40, which was very reasonable. All of the shades were appealing to me, and I felt they would suit my skin tone. I was poised and ready to make my purchase. However, unfortunately, because there were problems with the credit card machine on our flight, the Duty Free service was suspended. (See my blog Gridlock in the Aisles). I therefore had to suffice with only 1 stick of lipstick for my 10 day vacation.

After returning to UK, I was still curious about this missed opportunity. I did some hunting online and was able to find the same product on a website called BeSafe.  What’s more, they were selling it for an even better price than offered in the onboard BA Highlife magazine (proof that Duty Free shopping does not always offer the best deals, even if tax free). It cost me £25 plus £2.50 for postage.

Now that I have received my order, I can give you a summarised review:  The gift set was packaged nicely in s compact cube which was sealed in cellophane. There are indeed 9 full sized lipsticks in the pack. The colours are mostly soft nude colours which include the following shades: Iced Amethyst, Coffee Bean, Blushed, Soft silver Rose Love That Red, Blushing Mauve, Wine With Everything, Rum Raisin, Champagne on Ice – Each lipstick is 4.2g

460 Blushing Mauve Lipstick
535 Rum and Raisin Lipstick.

 

Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick shade 725 - Love That Red
Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick shade 725 – Love That Red. My Favourite!

 

535 Rum and Raisin Lipstick
625 Iced Amethyst

 

Revlon Super Lustrous Shades against white

 

Revlon Super Lustrous shades agsaist brown skin
Revlon Super Lustrous shades against brown skin

What I liked:

  • The lipsticks were well packaged. The box was covered in a cellophane plastic. Then, inside each lipstick was also individually wrapped with a cellophane seal. Making it a perfect and attractive gift set.  Also, because each individual lipstick was sealed, it could be given away as separate gift.
  • The colours and tones are mostly warm.  7 out of the 9 had a shimmery (pearl) effect which brought the colour to life. Two of the colours have a more creamy finish. My favourite shade is 725 Love that Red, which is one of the cream based shades.  Its a bright red with a hint of electric pink.
  • All of the shades blended nicely with each other, so if you wanted to, you could mix and match.  All shades complimented both dark and light skin tones.
  • The texture of each lipstick is very smooth and moisturizing. They really were “Super Lustrous”.
  • The gift set is good value for money. Nine full-sized Revlon lipsticks for £25 is a good deal.
individually wrapped sealed lipsticks
individually wrapped sealed lipsticks

What I didn’t like:

  • The shimmery shades  are a bit translucent, so you need to put a couple of layers on to get good visibility, especially on brown skin. The two creamier colours (535 Rum and Raisin and 725 Love that Red) had better coverage.
  • The casing for the lipstick is quite cheap looking (apart from the gold Revlon  strip)
  • The lipstick seems to wear off after about 1-2 hours
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Gridlock in the aisles

On my recent flight to Marrakech there seemed to be more than the usual aisle dancing going on; a tussle between passengers desperate for the loo and flight attendants serving meals and drinks.Whilst this is a normal occurrence on flights, it was exacerbated on mine because there was an error with the card machine being used to process payments for food. Therefore, instead of passengers just swiping their cards, each had to fill out a debit/credit card payment slip by hand (name, card number, date etc). The food on offer was M&S sandwiches and snacks. Nothing hot. Yes, I was sitting in Economy and yes, you had to pay for food onboard. I’m not sure how long BA have been doing this budget-flight type of service, which also included (to my surprise) paying for your checked-in bags (I think it’s only for short haul flights), but I am glad I realised this before boarding, and had time to purchase something to eat before getting on the plane. Anyway, I digress, there is only one aisle on an A320 plane, so when there is food trolley at one end, a drinks trolley at the other end moving at no pace, coupled with frustrated passengers wishing to stretch their legs or use the bathroom, it makes for very tense atmosphere. I witnessed a few restrained eye rolls and muttering under breath from the flight attendants as passengers with young kids demanded immediate access to the bathroom. Every time they allowed passengers to pass, the food service was delayed another 10 minutes. To make matters worse, passengers who were seated were becoming agitated with the commotion and irritable as they were now hungry and it was apparent that delivery of their food would not be imminent. It occurred to me that a simple solution would have been to allow passengers to use the bathroom at the front of the plane (the first class area) but this was not allowed until we were within about 45 minutes of landing.

Suffice to say that there was no time for the Duty Free trolley, so that Revlon lipstick pack I had my eye on could not be purchased (see my review of Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Cube here). The upside of the flight was that it was reasonably short from London (3 hours) therefore once we had landed, and got a whiff of the heat, it seemed all was forgotten. Smiles and excitement returned to all faces. The aisle was now the pathway to an adventure holiday, with all people moving in the same direction.