If you have Afro hair, you’ll know how hard it is to find a good hairdresser in London. Well one that you won’t spend half the day waiting to be seen anyway! I’d already had the opportunity to visit the Hair Lounge when I interviewed its owner, the immensely affable Charlotte Mensah. It’s not often that the salon of a hairdresser of Charlotte’s pedigree is a warm and relaxed environment. When hairdressers hit the big time they tend to move to Mayfair or the west end and can be aloof enigmas who only come out for a celebrity or big commission. What I love about Charlotte, is that even though she has won the AfroBritish Hairdresser of the Year Award twice, she hasn’t let it go to her head. You can pop in most days and you’ll see Charlotte immersed amongst her team, chatting away and styling clients.
When I interviewed Charlotte at the salon it was very early on a quiet Tuesday morning, so I was intrigued as to what the day would bring. I arrived at charlottes portobello road salon just after 11. I was a little early so I waited whilst Charlotte finished a very cool chap who had very fair skin and a strawberry blonde Afro. It turns it that he was mixed but his father was Ghanaian and he’d inherited the hair. I was already having fun sitting and chatting with Charlotte and her other customers, who all happily have an open discourse, (which I think tends to help people open up more as they dive in and out of the conversation.)
I’d had my hair in extensions for 3 months and having taken it out the night before it was in a state of disarray; although it was a LOT better than before I had co washed it and drenched it in manketti oil. One of the other stylists sat me down to discuss what I was having done and what my hair needed, as she brushed through the remaining knots. I was swiftly taken to the sink to have a wash and treatment with Charlotte’s eponymous hair care line. The smell was sublime and filled the salon whenever somebody had a wash; great marketing if ever I saw it. I was swiftly whisked under the overhead dryer after my hair was wrapped in climb film to lock in the moisture.
During this time I got down to my favourite pastime of magazine reading, alternating from Black Hair to Vogue; a refreshing change I really enjoyed.
During this time the salon had started to fill up and I was happy to rejoin the buzz as my hair was blown out.
Next it was time for canerow, and I was having a whale of a time. A lawyer from Tanzania had joined the mix and she was hilarious. As the ladies shared stories of Africa and London life I really felt at home and barely noticed that my hair was being done. When it came to the extensions, Chatlotte was back on duty, weaving them in effortlessly. After I was all done she trimmed my fringe to frame my face and then blew out my hair so it had a little body and bounce and I was ready to go. Although if I’m honest I hung around for another half an hour because I didn’t want to miss out on the festivities! I was actually only in the salon for five hours, which is remarkable considering I had a consultation, wash, treatment, plaits extensions, a trim and a blow dry. What I loved most of all was the community spirit and the amazing women who popped in and out throughout the day sharing stories and having fun. I laughed so hard and gave out so many cards, because everyone was genuinely interested in each other.
If you’re looking for a salon where you will receive stellar service (I ate a lot of biscuits and drink a lot of tea), you can relax and meet like minded people, whilst one of the best hairdressers in the country does your hair, I couldn’t recommend Charlotte Mensah’s Hair Lounge more highly.
Hair Lounge, 347 Portobello Rd, London W10 5SA