Hello, my name is Sarah and I am a blonde addict. How good or bad my day is depends on the length of my roots. I’ve been dying my hair professionally since I was 21. I’m now 42. Adding it up, this means I’ve spent over £15,000 on dye. With that money, I could have bought a Mini Cooper. Is this what is meant by being a blonde bimbo? I sacrifice money – and the health and strength of my hair – to be a golden goddess
My obsession started young. Born a natural blonde, my mother tells me I looked bald for the first two years of my life. But by age ten, the scourge of the Anglo-Saxon head – that dreaded shade of mouse – had drably started to appear. Already, I was aware how much better my translucent English complexion looked when crowned with a light feathering of sun-kissed strands. Old Christmas photos reveal a starkly Victorian looking tween, staring wanly at the camera lens like a child from a film adaptation of The Turn of the Screw. I was obsessed with the film Grease at the time and when my favorite character Frenchie screeched “Blondes do have more fun!” at the Rydell High Prom, I was in total agreement.
Aged 17 and boy crazy, a friend mentioned squirting hair with lemon juice had a naturally brightening effect. Convinced, I spent one long, hot summer attracting every insect within a two-mile radius, sporting a shellacked helmet of sticky strands. It was worth it though, for the male attention I got. Debbie Harry famously said of being blonde, “As a colour, it’s like walking around with your own spotlight.” I pegged the boys’ attention down to my hair.
At university I moved on to Sun-In, in a bid to replicate the summer’s natural golden touch all year round with the help of a hairdryer. This meant my fellow students had to put up with wafts of bleach when I walked past and sitting behind my orange-tinged mane in lectures.
At 21, earning a proper salary for the first time, I could afford to let the cap and foil highlighting begin. I went through strange shades of greenish-blonde and silver-blonde before finally resting on a pretty cornhusk yellow, the nearest to the fondly remembered shade of my youth. “Visual merchandising is the key to success,” insists Jena Pincott in her book, Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains – The Science Behind Sex, Love & Attraction, describing blonde hair as “the equivalent of brilliant, shiny packaging.” Being a single girl starting a career in glossy magazines in London, a city that seemed full of unattached women and wannabe journalists, I needed all the help I could get.
Sadly now, two decades on, I feared my hair has had enough. My follicles, frail and limp, are starting to reel from the damage I’ve done over the years. Could I return to my natural shade? What was my natural shade? Or could I restore my hair while staying blonde? In a sudden realisation I understood that although I’d spent a lot of time and energy over my adult life to help my hair stay blonde, I’d never spend a minute trying to keep it healthy. I’d also tried everything available to me to keep my skin youthful and fresh, while my hair had felt little love. This had to change.
Luckily, help was at hand a three-hour flight from London away, at the Es Saadi in Marrakech. Embracing a holistic approach, the hip health resort is transforming hair care into a luxurious reason for a day at the spa, anaylysing the reasons your hair looks dull and what you need to do about it. I booked a plane ticket to Morocco immediately. After all, as a hairdresser friend said, “Being blonde is a visual sign of youth and you’re not getting any younger, sweetheart.” The world’s first “hair spa “was offering me salvation.
Over an organic breakfast of nectarines, plums, eggs and apricot yoghurt – all from the resort’s farm – in the gardens next to the spa, I learned what was ahead for me and my hair. Beautifully aligned with Es Saadi’s SLOW food, ‘farm to fork’ ethos, PHYTO’s dedication to stunning, healthy hair comes from a unique formulation of botanical goodness mirroring a ‘plant to product’ philosophy. The PHYTO Hair Spa at Es Saadi will offer guests a heavenly scented ritual that combines shampoo, conditioning oils, intensive, restorative masque and a hydrotherapy journey to boost wellness and beauty.
Through the palm trees, the air thick with mint and spice, I weaved my way to the white marble sanctuary of Es Saadi’s Mecca of beauty, where a detailed analysis of my scalp is carried out by a PHYTO technician, a determination is made and validated by a micro-viewer that magnifies the hair up to 600 times and a course of action recommended for my coarse hair. After the bespoke all-botanical PHYTO treatment – my dry, bleached hair can be helped with a concoction of sage, rosemary, juniper berries and lemon essential oils I am promised – has been applied in generous swathes snd curled into cigar shapes, my hair is snuggly wrapped in a turban. The unique part of this hair treatment comes now, when guests are taken to the Oriental Thermae hydrotherapy circuit for a journey in steam, traveling past a centuries-old eucalyptus tree into a traditional hammam Morocco is famous for.
For centuries, people have used heat as a way of purifying their skin, releasing toxins and opening the pores, but this was the first time I’d entered a sauna or steam room thinking about the benefits to my hair. Encouraged to get hot and steamy for approximately 20 minutes, I walked through the labyrinth of therapies – a traditional Finnish sauna, followed by six steam rooms with different themes: a Laconium den, an organic herbal bath, a lavender-infused musical steam room, a galactic steam bath with dazzling lights on the ceiling, a eucalyptus hideaway and a chromatherapy room filled with changing essences from Morocco. As I sweat, the treatments under my turban sink in to my scalp and worked deep into my hair. An ice bath (yes, a firm dousing of limbs with crushed ice) and freezing sensory experience shower later, I have never felt cleaner or more well nourished, from top-to-toe.
Unwrapped, my hair is washed and my scalp given one last invigorating massage, the therapist pushing on pressure points that make me want to doze off. Another conditioning treatment – this time with hints of cypress – is applied and soothed through my sorry shafts, before a blow dry that makes me so happy I could belly dance. But it’s not just the look of my hair – which had until this moment been the sole focus of my relationship with my tresses – but the feel of it. Soft and smooth, a youthful health had returned to my aged strands, the golden glow I sought dazzling now that the dryness has been treated.
I think I have another decade of blonde left in me after all!