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Category Archive: Spotlight

  1. Behind the Chair with Lauren Tait

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    Behind the chair with Lauren Tait. She’s been Assistant Manager since the turn of 2024 at our salon in Holy Corner, and is a recent winner of not one, not two, but three awards at our annual Charlie Miller Achievement Awards! 

    Molly and Lauren are presented with the inaugural Cat Nicholson award.

    Our awards night is a huge event in the staff’s calendar, full of anticipation. It’s an honour to win anything, but three in one evening is no mean feat!

    Lauren’s first award was in a brand-new category; The Cat Nicholson Award. So named for our dear friend and colleague who we lost in March of 2023. Cat had a flair and passion for creativity and show stopping avant-garde hair. She was a pioneer of out-of-the-box thinking, and this is what The Cat Nicholson Award recognises.

    Lauren was joint winner with South St Andrew Street’s Molly Rufus due to their successes in the 2023  L’Oréal Colour Trophy. Lauren reached the Grand Final, (the second time she’s done so in her career) and for the support and guidance she offered Molly in her bid to win The Star Award at the same event. Molly went on to win in her category. Poignantly, some of the last conversations Cat had with the team was about how the photographic entries for The Colour Trophy were going.

    You can imagine then, how incredibly emotional this was for Lauren to win, and this alone would have made her evening, had she not gone on to win ‘Head Technician of The Year’ and the biggest prize of the evening, ‘Outstanding Hairdresser of The Year’.

    We can’t quite publish exactly what Lauren said when she heard her name called for this final award, we’ll leave it to your imagination!

    Frozen in her seat as her colleagues got to their feet around her, it took a few seconds for it to sink in. Even after ‘a good few drinks’ Lauren was nevertheless able to deliver an emotional speech expressing her gratitude and disbelief to rapturous applause. “I never usually drink at the awards”, she says, “as I quite often drive. But this year I just went for it. I definitely wasn’t expecting to win!”

    Lauren’s award categories are notoriously tough to win, and not many people would expect to win their first, second and third awards on the same evening. It’s testament to how much she has flourished since she first joined the company aged 15. 

    Lauren’s career began with Charlie Miller in 2000.

    It was only once the tough years of training, and the trials of qualifying gave way to running a column and a busy clientele, that Lauren truly felt she was doing what she was meant to be doing.  

    I didn’t dream of being a hairdresser when I was younger, I wanted to be an artist,” says Lauren. “Once I joined Charlie Miller, learned about the company, and actually got better at hairdressing, that’s when I found a love for it. I don’t truly like anything until I’m good at it.” She laughs. It took qualifying to confirm that she really did have a talent for it. “I considered art college at first, because I didn’t want to stay at school, but then I realised I didn’t want to do yet more education in a classroom environment and not know where I’d be after that. So, I needed a trade. And I’m lucky, because I love the one I chose.” 

    She does still paint, keeping it as a hobby. “There’s no pressure with it, if I want to paint something I’ll do it, but it’s for me. I paint whatever I feel like.”

    Lauren’s been creative as far back as she can remember. 

    Originally from Bathgate, Lauren’s first memory is playing with her little sister, Jennifer, four years her junior. She would build doll’s houses for her, stacking video cassettes to build the walls and cutting up her Mum’s tea towels for blankets. Jennifer is autistic, and she and Lauren have an amazing bond. Her best childhood memories are of creating, building, and generally making a mess.

    School wasn’t bad for Lauren, she just, in her own words, “wasn’t the model pupil”.  

    “I wasn’t bad! But if you read any of my old report cards, they all say, ‘Lauren’s a really nice girl but she’s very easily distracted.’ I’d get into trouble for chatting and then I wouldn’t like that class anymore. If I’d applied myself a bit more, I’d probably have been a straight A student. I enjoyed Art, Craft & Design and Religious Education. They interested me so that’s what I flourished in. I survived! But it was more of a laugh than anything else. I left in fourth year as soon as I finished my standard grades. I was 15.”

    Young Lauren told her parents she was leaving school, and as her mum, Lyn, had been a hairdresser, talk inevitably turned to a career as a stylist.

    “My mum had been following Charlie’s career since since she had watched him in a hair show. She felt this was the a great opportunity for me, and got me the application form herself.”

    But in case that didn’t work out, Lauren’s dad Bill wanted to ensure she had some other options. “One morning, my dad had a meeting in Edinburgh. He asked me to get up, get dressed and do my make-up, then dropped me off at the West End, and told me to hand my application into Charlie Miller, then go into all of the salons I liked the look of and ask for more application forms.

    He dropped her off on Stafford Street, right outside Charlie Miller. “Everyone looked so cool, dressed in great clothes and the girls all wore heels. I knew that was where I wanted to be.”

    The following week, her dad dropped her off again, armed with the now filled-in applications, and she handed them all back in.

    Three other Edinburgh salons offered Lauren a position as an apprentice, but her heart was set on Charlie Miller. They were the last to offer her a position, and she remembers her first day vividly, not least because she was wearing four-inch heels, took them off as soon as she left and walked to the train station in her bare feet. The first and last time she ever did that!

    Lauren remembers one of the stand-out days as a trainee was when everyone was busy making pompoms with real hair in the run up to the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards in Edinburgh.

    “I remember watching it and seeing the pompoms we’d made for the backing dancers, and being so excited that I’d helped make them, and now I was watching them on stage at the MTV Awards.”

    Lauren reflects on how much she’s grown as a hairdresser, even down to which celebrity she’d choose to do the hair of. “Someone asked me this years ago, and I said Slash from Guns ‘N’ Roses… but thinking back, that’s really not my cutting style!” Now she’d choose Julia Roberts. “She seems like a nice person and her hair is beautiful.”

    Through our long-standing partnership with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Lauren has actually styled a number of celebrities in her time. “I try not to do too much research into them beforehand, or else I’d get nervous. I want to treat them the same as I would every other client.”

    One of her fondest EIFF memories is doing Jamie Campbell’s hair.

    Also known as Fifi la True, Jamie is a British drag queen who was the inspiration behind the musical ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ and its film adaptation. “He was with his mum and Gran that evening, and I ended up doing the hair for all three of them,” recalls Lauren. Whilst she was doing Jamie’s hair, his mum was ironing an incredible fuchsia pink, French Renaissance-style gown that had been made by his grandmother, and before Lauren left, she helped him into it, whilst he towered over her in beautiful 6-inch Louboutin’s.

    Another stand-out career moment was assisting on a shoot for Rachel Scott Couture at the Balmoral Hotel.

    Charlie Miller had been enlisted to style the hair at a special shoot for Rachel Scott Couture*, one of Edinburgh’s luxury bridalwear retailers. Rachel was launching Vivienne Westwood Bridal in her Dundas Street store; the first time VW ever launched outside of London!

    Lauren was sent a mood board full of braids and crimped hair, and by the time they were finished, the model was wearing a stunning satin gown and a crimped mohawk. “I didn’t want to leave!” says Lauren. “I wanted to stay and watch the photo shoot, and watch every shot taken by Blue Sky Photography, but I had clients booked in, and I went back to the salon on a high”.

    Lauren credits her three experiences with the prestigious L’Oréal Colour Trophy as defining moments in her career.

    “It taught me a lot. I was given trust and freedom from Jason to do what I wanted with my model’s hair,” she says.  

    “I got to support Molly during the photo shoot too and doing that made me realise I knew more than I thought I did; I didn’t feel nervous or out of my depth in that situation.” 

    She credits Company Director Jason Miller with teaching her so much on previous photo shoots. “I’ve always been part of the Colour Trophy shoots over the years, assisting in the background and watching.”

    Lauren’s inspiration for her entries comes predominantly from social media.

    Her love for hair colour means she always tries to have her finger on the pulse and has gotten to the stage that she finds herself picking up on trends before they happen. 

    Having a mum who was a stylist has also been a huge influence for Lauren. Her advice and support has always been invaluable. Particularly so when it came to preparing to enter the L’Oreal Colour Trophy from helping her choose outfits to calming her when she has a bit of a wobble. “She’s always unbelievably proud of anything I achieve. When I phoned to tell her about the three Charlie Miller Awards I won, she was in tears.”

    When Lauren was newly qualified, she worked in the salon we used to have in Harvey Nichols, where Cat Nicholson was her manager. Cat taught her the art of communication, and Lauren, who describes herself as naturally shy, values this immensely.

    A great consultation comes from asking investigative questions to get to the root of what the client truly wants, as well as the skills to help them understand their own hair shape and texture. As someone who’s passionate about colour, it’s important to Lauren to impart her knowledge on the vast differences between professional colour and box dyes.

    “It takes experience to be sure you’re explaining things properly, and confidence in your abilities to give the correct advice,” she explains.   

    Lauren is open and honest, which has created a great relationship with her clients. “I just want them to be happy!” she says. “That’s my main goal. Becoming part of a client’s life, doing their wedding hair and their hair for their birthday is a great feeling.” Her favourite element of hairdressing is working with people; “to show a client the end result in the mirror, see them smile and know I’ve contributed to that; well, it’s just amazing.”  

    There’s nothing that a client could ask for that would faze her, and she would take on any challenge, but experience has taught her that when it comes to a couple of colour techniques like balayage, that it’s okay to say, “I’m happy to do this, but my colleague here is even more amazing at it!”

    Lauren feels like an entirely different person from who she was a decade ago. “I’ve had a good few years,” she reflects. “I’ve had great experiences at the L’Oréal Colour Trophy, won my [Charlie Miller] awards and become Assistant Manager.”  

    She’d always known she wanted to lean into the artistic side of hairdressing, but her rise to Assistant Manager was a natural progression.   

    “I remember Charlie himself doing an interview where he said that everything that’s happened with the business was organic. And I feel like my journey has been, too. I’m not naturally the first to put my name forward for things.”   

    “My life really changed about 7 or 8 years ago.”

    “I moved out when I was really young but found myself properly on my own a few years back. I lost my dad around the same time, and he was my go-to, the one who would fix anything for me.”

    It’s clear that Lauren’s dad was her rock. “He was amazing. Incredibly supportive. That forced me to grow up; I was entirely responsible for myself. I came out the other side of that, 6 or 7 months later, much stronger and clearer. I got through it with constant support from my mum and the rest of my family, but it became obvious that if I wanted something, I’d have to do it myself.”  

    “I was always a bit wild.”   

    Lauren recalls that she and her fellow trainees worked hard, but always had a laugh. She remembers one of the girls getting into a towel box, but Amber came in for her lunch while she was in it, so instead of just getting out, she stayed in said box until Amber left the staff room. She’s unsure if Amber ever found out; of course, she will now!

    Lauren loved a night out (or an all-night rave, to be exact) and has experienced many a hungover Saturday as a trainee, but would never have dreamt of phoning in sick. It just wasn’t the done thing. “You just got on with it!” Lauren’s generation of hairdressers have certainly grown up now. “We’re all into wellness, yoga and matcha lattes now!,” she says.   

    Lauren has a novel way of relaxing on her breaks that might surprise a few people; she listens to Julio Iglesias!

    “He was my dad’s favourite.” she explains. She’s also a fan of Andrea Bocelli. Her favourite genre of music however, is rock or metal. She does throw us a bit of a curve ball though, when we ask what her go-to song for karaoke would be… “Without Me, by Eminem! I know every line, and Karen from Stafford Street will vouch for me on that!”   

    She also loves watching Schitt’s Creek, her comfort show, and an ideal day off would be spent with her little sister and mum. They often drive together to places like Callander or Kenmore. “Anywhere with fresh air and water.” She also loves quality time with her partner, Murray, who’s she’s been with for 7 years. She describes him as “incredibly supportive, encouraging and gives me space to do what I want to do.”   

    Murray has encouraged Lauren’s love of travel, contributing to her exploring more of the world than she has before. “I love travelling with him, he’s a lot of fun, really funny. He’s helped me feel confident about travel and I think I’d be able to go away on my own now.” Her favourite place so far has been Croatia, which is also where she had her favourite meal of all time, a traditional Croatian dish called Cevapi.   

    And on the subject of food; if she were one- what would she be?! She gets some input from others on this one, and two people say ‘melon’ (apparently, it’s a ‘chilled out’ fruit?!). Two others inexplicably say strawberry… Ultimately though, Lauren goes with “marshmallow, because I’m the world’s biggest softie!” 

    We ask Lauren if she happened upon a magic lamp, what her three wishes would be; she’d choose for her friends and family to be happy and healthy, for inner peace, and to be able to give her loved ones a comfortable life. If she could choose a super power, it would be to become a healer.  

    Ultimately, she’d like to be remembered as someone who was kind, chilled out and funny.   

    We’d go a little bit further than that; Lauren is a great support to the team at Holy Corner, a very talented and creative stylist and a great mentor. As much as Lauren credits others for teaching her how to communicate, her salon manager Amber tells us that Lauren’s abilities are very natural. 

    “It isn’t taught, it’s a feeling.” Amber tells us.   

    “Apart from her fantastic ability to look after each client with a great level of care and remembering all the details of previous visits, Lauren is incredibly intuitive at looking after staff and really listening to what they need. Lauren never seeks praise & always tunes in to the emotional well-being of the team.”

    “And,” adds Amber, “she always knows when I need a cup of tea.”  

    It’s word like these that show exactly why she’s a fantastic Assistant Manager, and a great asset to the Charlie Miller family.  

    You can also keep up to date with all the things our wonderful teams get up to by following us on our social channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok.

     

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  2. Quiet Luxury

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    We asked some of our stylists what colours, styles and general vibes were here to stay for winter and beyond, and the resounding answer were phrases such as ‘quiet luxury’ and ‘old money hair’.

    South St Andrew Street’s Salon Director Roz  predicts this winter will be all about ‘quiet luxury,’ and while rich auburns, velvety browns and beautiful brondes will be prominent, soft golden blonde is very much what she’s being asked for at the moment. “Think expensive Bond Street blondes that makes you question whether it’s the client’s real colour or not! These colours are effortless, not overdone. 

    These thoughts are echoed by South St Andrew Street’s Molly. Molly is one of our Senior Salon Stylists and a Salon Technician, who has noticed that “Old Money Blonde” is a popular search on TikTok this season… Think Sofia Richie Grainge’s soft multi-dimensional blonde or the lit-from-within caramel highlights of Blake Lively. She also highlights the amount of searches for “Old Money Hair” in general, which incorporates styling with soft, polished waves, low buns or big bouncy blow-dries, and cuts with curtain bangs and lots of layers. 

    Quiet luxury isn’t just for those with long locks either- French bobs and flicky, voluminous lobs are still very much in demand. 

    Asides from the length, it’s about finding a classic shade that compliments your complexion as well as your wardrobe. 

     We’ve certainly seen the return of clients investing in luxury haircare again over the last few months, and one key factor in maintaining opulent shades is to choose products that will genuinely contribute to its health, particularly giving it nourishment, lift and shine. 

    Whatever the tone, it looks expensive, along with a glossy finish, born from fabulous haircare.

     We’ve certainly seen the return of clients investing in luxury haircare again over the last few months, and one key factor in maintaining opulent shades is to choose products that will genuinely contribute to its health, particularly giving it nourishment, lift and shine. 

    Hydration is a must for luxe hair. Our Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner duo work magic on dry hair and scalps, making hair happier, healthier and thoroughly hydrated. Finish sleek styles and gorgeous waves, or repair dry and damaged hair with our luxurious hair oil. Our oil won’t leave your hair greasy! Just use one or two drops to make hair extra-healthy, sleek and shiny.

    You don’t have to frequent the Upper East Side of Manhattan or have a Bond Street adjacent post code to look a million dollars. 

    The beauty of ‘quiet luxury’ is that it embraces minimalism when it comes to colouring. 

    Taking care of your hair at home can keep your colour for longer. Enhancing your natural colour might mean you can stretch out the time between highlight appointments (perhaps going from a full head of highlights to a half head) or focussing on tinting and toning rather than going in with a lightener at each appointment. An honourable mention should be given however, to how far hair lightening has come; with the advent of professional use products such as L’Oréal’s 9 Levels Lightening Powder and epres Professional Bond Repair, our colourists can lift your colour more safely than ever.  

    Big hair is back.

    There was a clear shift in 2023 from slicked back, sleek hair and more demand for lift at the root.

    Something that can truly elevate your look is a quality blow dry; nothing says “luxury” like hair with body and bounce, which can be achieved with a round brush or  a wide straightener.  

    We’ve seen an influx in ingenious ways to create a wave or curl since the days of lockdown; whether it’s with heatless curls or tong techniques. 

    From the humble roller to hot brushes, there are ways and means of getting that ‘blow out’ look with a little less arm pain from wielding your hairdryer!   

    Your stylist wants you to be able to recreate the look they give you at home; ask as many questions as you need, soak up as much knowledge as you can.  

    Stafford Street’s Senior Stylist Cameron loves creating big, voluminous blow dries and is often our staff’s go to to create glamorous looks that last the night. If you’re recreating the ‘blowout’ look at home, Cameron recommends bending the ends of your hair in sections with a straightener, then adding a roller to keep your look bouncy for longer.

    If you need to enhance the body and bounce, our Volume Shampoo and Conditioner can give you that, without foregoing the moisture hit- no overly squeaky-clean hair here! Follow by applying our Volume Mousse before your blow dry; not only is it a conditioning mousse but a heat protectant which will give your hair so much body. Swap this out for Volume Spritz if you’d like an extra shot of shine with your root lift; our blow dry spray boosts hair volume and adds extra shine, making hair look fuller and healthier

    Thick headbands and bows are very on-brand when it comes to the quiet luxury, or old money aesthetic. Black velvet, lace or cream satin will add to the vibe perfectly. 

    A little extra help…

    Since we’ve launched our extension service, we’ve found that most of the requests have been less for length, more for thickness. 

    Whether with bonds or tapes, the added strands create a fuller head of hair encouraging bounce and movement, often adding to a client’s confidence. A luscious mane can work wonders for one’s self esteem! With thicker, more voluminous hair, you can also experiment with various looks and styles. 

    Our blow dry prices start at £43. Book your appointment online today!

    Explore our haircare range here.

    Call to book a consultation with one our colourists or extension specialists in any of our city centre salons. Find your closest salon here.

    Keep up to date with all things Charlie Miller, and follow us on our social channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok.

     

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  3. Embracing Your Grey

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    Gone are the days of ‘grey hair only suits men’. So many amazing women are showing up online to encourage others to ditch their preconceptions about grey hair, and fully embrace their natural locks.

    You might be warming to your natural grey but feel a bit apprehensive after years of colour treatments and have no clue how to begin your transition to a new look.

    Fear not! We have rounded up some of our top tips from our professional colour specialists, to help make your journey to silver locks as smooth as possible.

    photo credit: @silverstrandsofglitter on Instagram

    Create a Natural Transition with Colour Treatments

    Your stylist knows best. They know you and your hair and will be able to recommend the best colour treatment, specifically for your needs and preferences. They will advise the best combination of lowlights, highlights and toners that will tastefully phase out any existing colour.

    Some of our clients prefer this gradual process, but some choose to bleach their colour out completely, and use silver shampoo and toners to enhance their cooling tones as their hair grows out. Every head of hair is different, so speaking to your professional stylist is the best way to choose a method which will work best for you.

    Metallic and ash tones are hair trends that aren’t going anywhere, so there really hasn’t been a better time to make the transition.

    Keep Your Grey Fresh with Silver Shampoo

    Silver shampoo is our number one hero product for silver/grey hair, bleached or blond highlighted hair as it’s formulated to neutralise and remove yellow tones. Using a Silver Shampoo once a week in your hair care routine will help to keep your grey looking lively and fresh. Our Charlie Miller Silver Shampoo is also formulated with antioxidant rich sage oil, which promotes hair development and helps your hair to retain moisture.

    photo credit: @k_growing_gray on Instagram

    Master Your Grey Hair Regime

    White and grey hair has a very high porosity, so it is crucial that you invest in some good quality haircare to keep your hair looking its best. Grey hair can be silky but can often be a little coarse in texture too, so it’s very important to use products which encourage smoothness and add moisture to your hair. Always use a heat protectant when heat styling, and finish with a nourishing oil.

    Don’t Underestimate The Haircuts

    Finally, invest in a great cut. Short, cool, choppy styles work great and help speed up the process to full head grey. A chic bob, if it’s really sharp, can also look just as fabulous. No matter what your hair goal is, haircuts are essential to maintaining the health and condition of your hair.

    If you need more inspiration to embrace those natural greys, have a look at the following hashtags on Instagram: #silversisters #silversistersinternational #greyhairmovement

    photo credit: @the_gray_gal on Instagram

    To keep up to date with all things Charlie Miller, make sure you are following us on our social channels. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To find your nearest salon click here.

    You can shop our full haircare range online here.

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  4. Breaking down Balayage

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    Originating in Paris in the 70s, Balayage is a trend that grew ever more popular in the 2010s and is here to stay. It’s the perfect mix of having a WOW hair colour whilst ensuring your style looks effortless.

    Holy Corner’s queen of balayage, Head Stylist and Senior Technician Carla addresses frequently asked questions and common misconceptions about this sought after colouring technique.

    Why do you think balayage is so popular? 

    Balayage is the most asked about style, personally I think it’s because you can achieve so many different tones and add extra impact to your hair style. It’s also all over Instagram!

    I also think regrowth is a main factor; clients often believe that because part of the look is a soft root, it means less maintenance – this is not the case!

    How often do you recommend maintenance? 

    Like all colouring services I’d say 8/10 weeks is perfect to keep the blonde fresh.

    Everyone stretches maintenance as they think it doesn’t matter but, on certain styles, brassy tones will occur and some balayage techniques require a toner in between. Being aware of this extra commitment is a must.

    What is the difference in techniques between highlights and balayage? 

    Highlights, balayage and baby lights (delicate highlights created using a fine colour technique to achieve subtle dimensions to your hair. An up and coming trend!) are often mixed up.

    The most stand-out difference with balayage compared to the other techniques is the seamless blend from root to tip!

    Balayage is very bespoke to each client’s preference and is all down to how much shadow or depth of root they want! Consultation is key to see if it’s the right technique for you.

    How long does your hair have to be? 

    No set lengths as such, certain styled bobs to long hair are where you see the main techniques best. Clients often find their inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest.

    How important do you think bespoke colour placement is?

    Placement is key! Fine placement always wins for a softer more natural effect, dreamy for face framing!!

    Bespoke colour services, including balayage, will require a consultation first so pop in and check it out with any one of our experienced and skilled stylists. To book all other services, you can simply book online here or call your preferred salon.

    Please also note that all colour services require a colour allergy test 48 hours prior to your first colour appointment with us.

    Keep up to date with all things Charlie Miller, and follow us on our social channels, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok.

     

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