Friday, 27 April 2018

Elaje Cambridge Review: My Experience (I Would Not Go Back)

I booked in for a balayage at Elaje Cambridge in February and I wanted to share my experience. Let's jump in, shall we? I have tried to stay fair in this review, as I don't really like writing overtly negative things about brands and business' on my blog, but I think that I am well within my rights to discuss my negative experience, just as anyone would after receiving amazing treatment from somewhere.

As most girls do when wanting a new colour or cut, I had a photo with me to show my stylist. I showed a picture of something I’d like my hair to be like (which most salons are used to) 
I wanted to review the salon that I had loved for a long time up until this experience. I can't include the reference photo here, as I wouldn't just shove an image on my blog post that I hadn't got permission to use. 

Prep
I grew my hair out for over a year, no colouring at all and I used minimal heat on it so that it was in the best possible condition for bleach. Essentially, my hair was "virgin" in terms of colouring. (I mean obviously, it wasn't literally virgin as anything from a bit of straightening to heat can "damage" hair, but it was in the best possible condition after growing it out from a long bob for well over a year, in order to have balayage.

Pricing
I paid a £100 deposit 2 weeks prior to my appointment and knew that I would be paying £30 for a finish, and £30 for Olaplex. Yes, this is an expensive salon, that charge London prices. In fact, they are more expensive/the same as hair queen Samantha Cusick in London for a balayage. Elaje's haircuts are okay, the staff are (seemingly) trained regularly and the beauty section is hygienic - basically, it's just an overpriced salon that actually follow regulations.

When I originally booked the balayage, I did it on the day of a haircut I was there for. I mentioned that I wanted to book in for a balayage with the same girl who was cutting my hair, but she wasn't available, so after my cut, she and the receptionist booked me in with someone else. I asked if this person was the same pricing and my hairstylist said yes, £116 for balayage. I paid a £100 deposit that day.
So I was expecting to pay £116 for a balayage, a finish, at £30 and an added Olaplex treatment at £30. However, on the day I was charged £190 altogether. I was so unhappy with my hair that I just paid it and left, but I was definitely overcharged by this salon, as the pricing was never discussed with me on the day or prior to my appointment that it would be £150 instead of £116 (Plus the other costs!) (... Thank god for student discount)

I wrote it off, but if a client is paying more for a service for any reason, you need to let them know. I still don't really understand the pricing, but as I was unhappy with my hair, I never bought up or argued the pricing - I didn't want to look like I was out for a freebie.


My Experience In The Salon
On the day, I uploaded onto my Instagram story that I was going for a balayage. I never tagged the salon or mentioned the salon name on any of my social media (This will become important later) and the only people that knew what salon I was going to, were my Mum, boyfriend and a couple of close friends.

The salon itself is nice, clean and the staff are always friendly. They’ll take your coat/bag and offer you a latte or drink upon arrival. Basically, the bare minimum for anywhere charging over £50 for a haircut. 
I prefer not to chat when getting my hair done (I talk all day at work, uni and on social media) so it’s nice to unwind with a magazine and just chill out whilst getting your hair done. I'm sure a lot of you are the same, and I love any salon that won't expect me to engage in the painful small talk! I know a lot of us enjoy a quiet salon experience or just don’t like nattering away if we want to relax.

I knew straight away that my hair wasn't blonde enough when the towel came off and the girl started drying it. I thought, "I'll wait for her to style it" and after that was done, I looked in the mirror and felt shocked at how subtle the balayage was in comparison to what I'd asked for.
I just felt that it wasn't blonde enough, and there was very little blonde around the back in comparison to the front. The photo I had initially shown was from Catherine Boden's salon in Manchester (which I couldn't get to - I live way too far away to travel there) and I'd shown a beautiful melted blonde in the front of the hair. I didn't feel like the blonde highlights in the front of my air were very blended at all.

You can see clearly in the recent photo I've uploaded, that the front of my hair looks like highlights and is growing out that way too. I wanted balayage specifically to avoid the awkward re-growth stages. I did mention on the day that I wasn't 100% happy, but also said that I would think about it to the staff. I said that I wanted to be honest with the staff there.

I called my Mum as I walked home from the salon that evening, and expressed how sad I felt that it wasn't perfect, and she said if you don't feel happy straightaway, it won't suddenly come to you when you're home. I made the decision to "think on it" but knew deep down that my Mum was right! I asked a couple of hairdressers that evening and the next morning and they confirmed that it was a lacklustre result given what I'd asked for/the price I'd paid. 


I called Elaje next day, and expressed politely that I felt my hair wasn’t blonde enough and in all honesty, wasn’t what I’d asked or hoped for. I had highlights through the front of my hair that didn't/don't really blend out like the blonde sections I’d showed in my reference photo. The receptionist was nice said that she was going to book me in for it to be done again.

I got a confirmation email through, stating that it was a “re-col” until I received a call a little later from the lady who actually did my hair, stating that she wouldn’t be re-doing it, and that it was only a booking to “talk” about it with her. I thought that this was weird and honestly, ridiculously unprofessional. You should speak to other staff members before booking someone in for a re-colour. I mean, the hold button exists for a reason. But hey, I agreed to speak to the lady who had coloured my hair and sort it out.
The day before my talk/consultation I received yet another phone call asking me to come in a little earlier, I agreed.

The "Talk"
As bloggers, we are always going to enjoy being honest about treatments and products that we've had. I, personally, share my experiences with 12,000 people on Instagram, using stories and normal posts, and my blog, of course. I'm unaware if the salon staff knew that I was a blogger or not, but clearly, they aren't in-touch with influencers, bloggers and the way in which we work. I share everything from what foundation I wear to what my boyfriend and I are up to, so there is no surprise that I would share images and thoughts on a new hair colour!

So on the day, I went into the salon and the owner said she'd asked me in a little bit earlier to discuss the issue with me herself. She asked me what I felt wasn’t right about my hair, so I explained in detail. I mentioned the front especially, as I didn't feel like it was particularly well blended, in the way I'd asked for (and previously shown pictures of). I had what are essentially just highlights in the front of my hair, and not a whole lot of blonde in the back.

I was then told, that the photo I’d shown the stylist that coloured my hair wasn’t a “real perception” - aka social media twists things. She mentioned that it can take 2 months and three appointments to get the blonde that I'd shown in my reference photo - which did make me laugh, as I’d watched the vlog of the girl getting her hair done from a dark brown to the shade of blonde I wanted on Youtube. Yes, all in one sitting. Amazing, right? I didn't bother getting my phone out and showing her this video, since I thought, 'at this point it's futile'.


I kind of just sat there wondering why a grown woman was attempting to tell me off. The power of bloggers, eh? She obviously wasn't happy that I'd written about this on my story - however, as mentioned earlier, I had never actually named the salon, so I was really confused as to why she was acting as if I had slandered the salon publicly. I couldn't understand why she was so angry, when I had written fairly standard comments. I mean, I personally don't see what is very rude about a sad peach gif.

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It felt quite hilarious, sitting there as she essentially tried to slap me on the wrist for being a blogger. She... 'accused' (I guess?) me of “slagging off the salon” - yes, those were her exact words used, very professional, I know. Which I'm not sure how I could of, as I never actually named the salon anywhere on social media or even my personal Facebook.
I was shocked. After this painfully ridiculous exchange, the lady that had actually coloured my hair then came over and said that I had “maybe wanted a dip-dye instead of a balayage’ which confused me, as the photo I’d shown was a balayage by the Catherine Boden hair salon in Manchester (The creme de la creme of all things blonde - their work is totally gorgeous!) - and they literally specialise in those kinds of colour changes, so I'm rather confused as to how she got to that point of view.

I was a little shocked at this, as I’d surely had a consultation of sorts, when I explained what I wanted to her and shown images of my desired look. Why would she have gone ahead with it if she thought what I was after was entirely different? I had shown numerous photos.

Elaje had booked me in for balayage 
after I had shown this particular photo to 2-3 members of staff. Surely, if I’d shown a dip-dye, I would have been advised by the professional hair stylists to get a dip dye? It was all very confusing and I wasn’t offered any solution but a free toner on my hair and a half-price balayage next time - which I clearly didn’t feel comfortable to accept, as I’d been treated so rudely by the staff during this talk. 

I was unsure if I was being unreasonable or not. I knew that my hair looked 'good' - it wasn't breaking or anything, it was left in good condition... However, I felt that for £190, the result was underwhelming and I have been left with a bad taste in my mouth about this salon, and I have not returned since. I did speak with three other hairdressers about my hair that stated that it could be lifted to the colour I was after in one sitting, especially as my hair wasn't dark originally. I knew that anyway though, as my hair has lifted much lighter before. £190 (more if I hadn't popped on my student discount) is a lot to spend on hair that I didn't feel happy with.

I was absolutely shocked that I was essentially called into the salon earlier to be patronised by the owner and receive snooty comments from the stylist, and to be told that I didn't really know what I wanted was rude and patronising toward a client. Nobody, not Zoella, not Becky with 30 followers on Instagram and 3 Facebook friends should be spoken to in a patronising and rude manner, the way that I was. 

Aftermath
I wish that had been the end of it, but it wasn't. Every member of staff in the salon proceeded to view every Instagram story I uploaded for the next 2-3 days, which I thought was very strange and quite unprofessional, actually. I hadn't mentioned the hair situation or salon any further. In fact, I was in London at my boyfriend's for the weekend. I was then even tagged in a video by the stylist that did my hair about how "colour takes time" and the caption "FYI." was used. To me, that was the last straw and I wouldn't return to this salon. 
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I wouldn't recommend this salon to anyone, and I think that there is a misunderstanding in this salon about how to act as a business, versus how you can act as a blogger or client. There is simply a level of professionalism required from a salon in comparison to a paying client making comments on social media.

I am not required to remain "professional" at all times, as I am a personality first and foremost, or 'a real person', if you will. If I had no personality or opinion, I'd be an advertising billboard for brands that I like. I'm always going to give my honest opinions about things. I would be a rubbish blogger if I didn't.

A business is a business. I also think that I was more than fair in never, ever mentioning the name of the salon until now. As a client in a salon, you can feel a bit "stupid" when they start talking to you about colours, bleaches and things that we don't have an in-depth understanding of, and that is what frustrates me the most.
 I had numerous "second opinions" and yet I was still patronised by the salon staff and received snooty comments afterwards. I would not return here again.

At the end of the day, I was disappointed with my hair for the money I paid, but I am also far more disappointed that I would be spoken to, and treated the way that I was. Getting your hair done can be quite a nervous time anyway, let alone wondering whether or not you'll be slapped on the wrist for posting about it afterward on your social media channels or spoken to in a rude manner.


Have you ever had a negative experience in a salon? How did you handle it?

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