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The Salon Guide – Meet the experts who will guide you through all your hair and beauty needs

The Salon Guide – Meet the experts who will guide you through all your hair and beauty needs

By Georgina Downes

Have you been neglecting yourself lately? Maybe you’re hiding a multitude of sins behind a face mask? Or keeping that questionable home-dye under wraps with a scarf ? We’re all guilty of letting things slide since Covid, but It’s time for a pick-me-up. Kids are back to school. It’s a new season, so why not make like Lizzo, do a hair toss, check your nails and promptly get your fine self down to your nearest beauty salon for some well-deserved TLC. Kerry is brimming with excellent spas, treatment rooms and self-care experts, so go on. Treat yourself.

First things first. We need to talk about hair colour, specifically botched home-dyes. Many of us, despite our better judgement, bought off-the-shelf products recently (in hair terms, that means anything up to 8 weeks ago) and now we’re ready to admit that no, dirty hay with a hint of lime wasn’t the look we were going for. Enter Emma Quirke, who specialises in colour correction.

“We will tell it like it is,” Emma says in a no nonsense, reassuring way. “My team are highly qualified colour technicians. It’s our speciality. We will do everything possible to get your hair looking great again.”

Besides providing an exceptional colour service, Emma focuses on solutions for skin problems that may be contributing to lack-lustre hair. “I really believe that a healthy scalp produces healthy hair. We pride ourselves in offering in-depth consultations for people with all sorts of scalp conditions as well as treating hair itself. It’s a holistic approach,” she says, making perfect sense.

If you’re wondering what hair colour is hot going forward, its Red Velvet, or anything from the ‘happy red’ range as Maureen McCarthy from Brush & Blush likes to call it.

“People have had so much time looking at themselves in the mirror over the last few months, they just want a change! A new colour is a fantastic way of giving an instant lift.

“The cooler colours like blonde and icy shades are giving way to warmer, autumnal and richer tones now, and a lot of our clients are embracing a more natural look. Balayage is a great choice if you want something subtle and if you need your colour to last and we do a lot of it here in our salon.” She tells me.

Balayage is the process of applying colour, not the colour itself. It doesn’t have to be blonde. For inspiration check out Selena Gomez’s touch of caramel, Izzy Bizu’s gorgeous head of balayage curls or Jessica Beils’ stunning auburn accents.

If your hair barely saw a brush through lockdown, you probably loved the low maintenance aspect, even vowed to carry on free-ranging it, but realistically, banshee-warrior isn’t a good look for the office. You crave minimal fuss but want effortlessly smooth hair. Solution? Consider a 16 week blow-dry.

Expose Hair & Beauty specialise in the treatment and with three salons around Kerry, you’re sure to find one close by. Their renowned QOD keratin process delivers sleek, shiny and manageable hair that lasts. In theory, you shouldn’t need straighteners until Christmas. Fyi, QOD stands for every other day in Latin.

“We pride ourselves in offering a top-to-toe beauty experience,” Aurellia tells me. “And we use only the best quality products like Keune and L’oreal.” While you’re there, ask about their amazing and utterly reviving Yon-Ka Paris facials. Your skin will thank you.

As far as hair styles go, strong cuts, oozing with personality are in right now. If you’re feeling fierce, the pixie mullet, or the pullet to be exact, is bang on trend (we’re looking at you Miley Cyrus). Textured shags are returning as are blunt-cut bobs. Basically, anything with attitude rocks. Hair just sitting there isn’t good enough anymore so give it some sass.

“For the past few years, we’ve seen some very sharp shapes, but things are getting softer now,” says Sean Taaffe from Sean Taaffe Hair & Beauty in Tralee.

“We aren’t asked for radical, short cuts at the moment because people had time to grow out their hair and they’re liking the look. Fringes are longer, softer. We’re seeing a lot of what I describe as controlled movement, soft texture, curls have a lived-in look.

“The key to any good style is a great cut. We spend the vast majority of our training time and budget on teaching good scissor skills. A haircut that suits the shape of the face is crucial to getting the style right,” he advises, so take the time to consult with your trained stylist.

A good cut is definitely a great start, but how do you keep your hair in tip top condition afterwards? Elena Buckley from The Hair Salon in Cahersiveen talks me through some of the unique, professional treatments they offer, guaranteed to turn heads.

“We use Natulique products which are organic, sulphate and paraben free. I’d recommend three different treatments, depending on what you want to improve.

“Colouring is great but it can damage the hair. To restore condition to coloured hair, go for our colour repair treatment. It normalises hair’s PH balance and closes the cuticles to leave hair smooth and healthy looking.

“For intense conditioning on dry or damaged hair, try our deeply penetrating, intense hair mask. It really gives a real boost, reviving tired-looking hair and only takes 15 minutes to apply.

“To add shine, I’d recommend our balancing treatment that leaves hair sparkling. There is no pigment in this treatment so it can be used on any colour hair and it lasts for up to eight weeks.”

“Also,” Elena adds, “always remember to use heat protection products when styling with heat.”

If you don’t want a colour or cut but you do want a change, why not opt for an up-style. A deconstructed side-knot will look fab even if you’re just having dinner with friends. Hairworks in Tralee are experts at up-styling and they do a lot of work with Celia Holman Lee’s Modelling Agency, no less. Lesley Dennehy, owner, tells me about her senior stylists and their dedication to keeping up with new trends.

“Carrie Ann (Clifford) and Maebh (Enright) are constantly updating their skills, doing courses, researching and following tutorials and practicing new styles on each other.” She says.

“We do a lot of weddings and we offer hair and make-up packages. Brides are going for the boho look and braiding is really popular. For Debs, the trend is definitely to wear hair down in waves and curls, depending on the neckline of the dress.”

“I’d absolutely recommend an up-style just for a change.” Lesley says. “Try a tousled bun instead of a straight blow dry or maybe a French plait. Why not?”

If your hair hasn’t quite achieved the lengths you’d hoped for despite lockdown, you can always fake it till you make it with extensions. From Cleopatra to the Kardashian’s, extensions have come a long way. Samantha Clifford from Vogue Hair & Beauty, tells me about the service her salon provides.

“There’s nothing like hair extensions for that dramatic, image-altering wow factor. To witness the look on our clients faces when they see the finished result is really amazing. They can’t get over it and they start planning their next set almost immediately.” She says.

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Samantha uses Great Lengths hair extensions, a product that is guaranteed 100% organic and 100% ethically sourced. “That’s very important to us,” she says.

“We can colour match to your natural hair or go completely different with all over, bolder shades. A well applied set of extensions, keratin bound, should last from five to seven months.” So if you want newly flowing locks, you know where to go.

Apparently in the 1800s, Parisians, clearly ahead of the curve, sewed tiny strands of hair into their eyelids to create false eyelashes. Hmm. If you want that luscious, fringe-eyed look today (minus the pain) then book an appointment at Paradise Hair & Beauty stat, because owner, Romy Birdthistle, knows exactly how to enhance those windows to your soul.

“We’re known for our speed and quality.” She tells me. From eye-lash extensions to brow-shaping, this award winning team with have you looking fabulous and fluttery in no time.

The salon took first prize for Best Make-Up Artists with Connect Magazine in March and they only use high-end brands like Mac and Charlotte Tilbury for make-up application so you know you’re eyes and face are in good hands.

Eyebrow trends have changed dramatically over the years, from Gwen Stefani’s ultra- skinny look in the 90s to Carla Delevingne’s caterpillar look today. Crucially, eyebrows are a means of expressing emotion. Maria Keane from MK Beauty Skin & Brow Specialists talks to me about the importance of the brow.

“Eyebrows are so unique to everyone. We have ladies coming in who’ve had cancer treatments or alopecia and they leave feeling absolutely on top of the world because we’ve given them back a vital piece of themselves. It’s life changing and really rewarding to see.”

Maria specialises in semi-permanent brows, a method that involves microblading which mimics the tiny hairs on the brow, resulting in a very natural, fuller look.

“We use Phi Brows, recognised as the best product on the market. I tailor treatments to the individual and always start off with a natural look and build on that if the client wants. Eyebrows are such a major feature on the face. If they’ve thinned out and you’re unhappy, we be delighted to consult with you about a semi-permanent brow.”

Who doesn’t want fresher, healthier looking skin. Traditional facials are a wonderful way to relax – there’s something almost hypnotic about someone else’s hands gently massaging your face, but if you want a little more oomph, try out some modern technologies. They can reach a whole new level of effectiveness and deliver exceptional results. Elaine Higgins from Pure Beauty in Dingle spoke to me about what her salon can do for you.

“We offer micro-needling, a technique that penetrates the skin with thousands of tiny needles. It increases the blood flow to that area which reduces fine lines, plumps skin and leaves it looking refreshed. It can also be helpful for conditions like acne. We apply a numbing cream first so it doesn’t hurt.”

“We use the Image MD range which has a high concentration of retinols. Clients can come in, have a full consult and then we’ll make a detailed plan according to specific needs. The procedure is one treatment every two weeks for eight weeks.”

Elaine says the best thing you can do for your skin at home is to have a good, regular skin cleansing, toning and moistening routine. “That 80% of the battle,” she says.

So there you have it. The beauty industry is alive and well in Kerry. Having had the pleasure of speaking to so many warm and truly dedicated specialists, I’m not one bit surprised. You know what to do now. Book an appointment!

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