Thanks to a feature in a newspaper a few years ago that suggested visiting Jason Welch at Eleven was the only way to go blonde in London, the colourist now has a client list packed with fair-haired fashionistas.

So it was ironic that I visited him to do the opposite. I turned up at the gorgeous Soho salon as a blonde and asked him to take my battered, stressed and damaged locks to a more manageable shade of golden brown (the mags call it 'blondette' but I can't bring myself to say that with a straight face).

Here I am before the visit - I always go to a hairdresser with my hair air-dried so they can see the natural texture (read: mess). I'm not the kind of girl who blow-dries every day so any cut or colour has to work with my messy waves.


My inspiration for the new look was Sarah Jessica Parker circa 2008, and I took the below picture to give Jason an idea of what I was looking for. I wanted a subtle, faded look, as if my hair had been bleached in the sun and slowly grown out during the colder months. For the first time in years, I was going to be reunited with my dirty blonde roots!


Natural brunette SJP gets her look with Balayage, which involves a stylist painting on random highlights through the hair where it catches the light, rather than using the traditional foil technique. Jason is a Balayage expert, but since I had light hair that needed to go darker, I would be testing out something even cooler, his own custom colouring technique, known as Bespoke Fusion.

What this basically involves is a mixture of different dyes applied in a completely custom way tailored to the client, to give depth and gloss. It allows for a multi-dimensional, expensive-looking finish that you just wouldn't get with a single tint or at-home treatment that can often end up flat.

Jason chose to use a mix of Redken colour glosses on my hair, which are demi-permanent (he wanted to give me something that was easy to reverse should I miss my lighter shade). Colours were painted onto sections and sealed in foil to develop, with some ends left poking out so they stayed light. I ended up with hair that was coloured five different shades in total - a darker shade towards the roots, two shades of golden brown through the lengths, some of my previous blonde poking out from the untouched ends, plus a tiny bit of lightener through the roots to break up the darker shade and stop it looking too blocky. the whole thing took about an hour and a half to apply and develop. Then there was just time for a sexy salon blow-dry that lasted as long as it took me to step outside into the rain!

Here's a sneaky in-salon Instagram - note the chic chocolate brown Eleven cutting gown!


I was really happy with the end result. As I showed it off to friends in the coming days most of the comments were about how expensive the colour looked because it was so multi-dimensional and glossy. One savvy friend even said "It looks like Sarah Jessica Parker's hair" (result!). I went from high maintenance blonde to effortless, natural, worn-in golden brown, which feels very right for Winter. I really love the colour despite being a blonde devotee - I wanted proof that dark blonde doesn't have to be dull and I definitely got it. The way my hair is coloured is a nice subtle alternative to ombre; there's a definite lightening towards the ends, but I don't look like I've dipped my hair in bleach, nor do I look like I need my roots doing.


As for Eleven, it's a lovely salon with plenty of character and a really friendly team. I felt comfortable and welcome from the moment I walked in, and Jason was an absolute dream - knowledgable, funny and very, very talented when it comes to colour. If you're looking to do something different, or if you're bored of flat colour, I absolutely recommend visiting him for a treat, just be careful - this could be the beginning of a very expensive habit!

Eleven salon is at 11 Blenheim St, London W1S 1LL. For appointments call 020 7491 2390. For more info visit Bespoke Fusion colour with Jason Welch starts at £165.