Tuesday, 18 May 2010

An evening with Andrew Collinge

Brands that embrace bloggers - it's pretty mind-blowing stuff. Inviting us to events, getting to know us via phone and email, meeting up for drinks... it's truly amazing to realise how seriously the industry takes the humble blog these days. It happens to us more now than it used to, but it never quite feels "normal". There's always a sense of "really, who, me?"

So how about being invited round for the evening by a celebrity hairdresser?

I'm sure you can imagine my feeling of total overwhelmed-ness when I turned up at Andrew Collinge's house last week for a get-together with Andrew and some of my fellow bloggers. After ringing the bell, the door was answered by a tall, slim man with tousled silver hair, who introduced himself as... Andrew Collinge. The man himself. Answering the door, for me.

Taking a seat in the elegantly modern living room, I was offered a drink by a slim woman with a perfect silver bob. That would be Andrew's wife Liz Collinge, whose colour-theory based makeup range was a big seller in Boots during the early '00s. A makeup artist whose name is embossed on several of the older makeup brushes in my collection. Getting a drink, for me.


I was pretty much gobsmacked. Luckily the ice was soon broken when Andrew stood up in the centre of the room and gave us an introduction to the Collinge empire (3 generations and 100 years of hairdressing), regaled us with stories of celebrity clients (he once accidentally soaked Margaret Thatcher when she turned around too fast at the sink) and talked us through the range of products that bear his name.

We saw the newly repackaged shampoos and conditioners (see pic above), which are now 500ml for £4.99 (they were 300ml for £4.29). We were also introduced to the new Purity range (see right - slightly pricier at £4.99 for 250ml), which unites Collinge expertise with the current concern for natural and sustainable beauty. There was also a brief outline of the various styling products in the AC range, including the light textured mousse (which he squirted into his palm and then encouraged us all to sample - it is indeed totally weightless and non-sticky).

To me, one of the most interesting things about the evening was seeing how familiar Andrew is with the AC product range and how it's clearly something he actually uses and lives with. I often cynically assume that celebrity products are just monetary tie-ins, but seeing Andrew interact with the products even in a living-room setting was a real eye-opener. He knows them inside out and has obvious affection for many. I can honestly say that I have always enjoyed AC products, but I feel much more confident in the range knowing that they're actually used and influenced by the work of a talented hairdresser.

Proof of said talent was also on display as Andrew executed several very glamorous hairdos on us using naught but a Denman brush and a single long hairpin. He illustrated the power of backcombing - something I'd never done to my hair before. Used wisely, it gives an amazing lift to the crown which can transform the way hair looks. He also demonstrated the very fashionable fishtail plait (see pic left), which I had never seen before.

Other pearls of wisdom included;

- don't wash your hair every day, your scalp will just overcompensate by producing more oil
- old-school tools like mousse, hairspray and velcro rollers are amazing for volume and hold
- semi-permanent colours blend grey away gently, creating a multi-tonal effect, and they're gentler on hair than permanent colours
-  a cool rinse after washing will cause the cuticles on the hair surface to lie smoothly, adding to shine
- rough-dry hair upside down to get instant volume
- Heat makes hair easy to style, cool temperatures "set" hair in place. So always let rollers cool properly before removing them otherwise the hair will just fall flat.

Plus many more that I have unfortunately forgotten.

Having used several of the new AC products (selected for my hair by the man himself, no less) I'm thoroughly impressed. Particular stand-outs are the styling mousse and the brunette shampoo and conditioner, which adds a hint of colour when you wash. I've also tried out the Purity Volumising shampoo and conditioner, which smell absolutely divine and give the same weightless shine effect I remember from the AC products I used in the early 00's.

I felt energised and inspired by meeting Andrew and hearing an introduction to his work. Regardless of fame and celebrity, there's an infectious passion to his approach that presents a new perspective on hair, and a sense of the huge creative possibilities it holds. It leaves you wanting to go home and play around with your own hairstyle. I felt something similar after meeting Katy Messer (who was also at the AC event, and introduced Andrew to the concept of co-washing. He was amazed.) Talent. I love it. And I'm so priveleged to be allowed to experience it so often.

Andrew Collinge products are available from Superdrug. (Currently 2 for £7 - bargain.)


  1. 20thcenturycat19 May 2010 at 12:42

    What happened to the Liz Collinge range? I still have one of her eyeshadows. I used to get great results with it. I remember someone asking me how I got my eyeshadow to stay on all day.

  2. @twentiethcenturycat I'm not sure, but I have sent off an email to the guys who organised the evening, so hopefully I will find out...

  3. wear can i get Lz collinge nail pollish sparkle.


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