As one of the UK’s most celebrated hairdressers, Andrew Barton is an authority on all things hair. From styling some of the most glamorous women in the world – Eva Longoria and Elle Macpherson to name a few – to his success on the hit TV makeover show ’10 Years Younger’, he has built his own hairdressing empire with an impressive string of industry awards in tow. As Creative Director at Urban Retreat, Harrods, Andrew leads the artistic vision for the thriving salon business; his down-to-earth nature and ability to understand his clients’ needs have earned him high praise and high demand too.
House of Coco caught up with Andrew where he told us the importance of regular deep hair conditioning, his recommendations for the easiest way to update your hair and which royal lady’s mane he’d love to get his hands on…
How did you get started in hairdressing?
My favourite subject at school was art and I was destined for a career in some form of design. The lure of art school was too much for me and I started studying surface pattern design, but my working class roots kicked in and I aspired to have a job and an income. I stumbled upon hairdressing – it seemed like a nice place to be and although my apprenticeship was tough and very disciplined I’ve never looked back. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful career from styling in royal palaces to backstage at London, Milan and New York fashion weeks… little did I know when I started a humble apprenticeship in Yorkshire where it would take me.
Who’s the best person you’ve ever styled, or who has been the most exciting?
I often get nervous when I am working with a celebrity as you have a picture in your mind of what they are like and there’s a fear that you may get disappointed if they are a diva! And there have been a few! But the ones who are lovely make up for the few divas. I love working with Jerry Hall, not only because she is renowned for that gorgeous mane of hair but she’s fun to be with and a treat to spend time with.
Are there any celebrities in particular that everyone wants their hair like?
Jennifer Anniston is still top of the ‘hair hit parade’ and one of the most asked-for looks whether it be the cut, the colour or the styling; it’s gorgeous hair on a gorgeous woman. I think part of the allure is she is attractive but accessible and woman can relate to her and therefore love her look.
What do you like most about working at Urban Retreat?
I was delighted to be appointed as Creative Director at Urban Retreat at Harrods. The brand ethos echoes everything I’m about as a designer – gorgeous, glamorous hair. The Urban Retreat is one of the world’s biggest salons and with an expert team around me, luxury products and services, it’s a mecca for all things hair and beauty. It’s wonderful to see my clients pampering themselves with all the fantastic treatments we offer. As Creative Director, I work with the team to ensure our exceptional standards are delivered to whoever the client may be or whatever she is looking for.
Do you have a speciality when cutting? Why should people book in with you at Urban Retreat?
My reputation was catapulted via the hit TV makeover show ‘10 Years Younger’, where we took someone who looked pretty bad and transformed how they looked and felt about themselves with a target to knock 10 years off their appearance. So my signature is about giving people honest advice about their look and how they can improve it. It’s about designing something that works for their face shape, profile body shape and lifestyle, and, of course, giving them the best hair. When I cut hair it’s about a bespoke service and design – every person is unique and it’s about finding their signature not mine.
Whose hair would you love to get your hands on?
I’m often asked this question and one person it would not be is the queen. I love that her hair looks like she is wearing a crown even when she is not. The rest of the royal women pull off pretty good hair of course, with Catherine winning the hair stakes, but the Princess Royal Anne? I would love to transform her hair; it looks positively medieval, don’t you think?
What’s the most ridiculous hair style that you’ve ever been asked to cut?
It had to be the time my client brought her Afghan hound into the salon and told my colourist and I that she wanted her cut to the same texture and length of her dog’s and the colour to match too! They say that dogs often look like their owners. Erm, I’ve got an English Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Teddy…!
What’s the easiest way to give your hair a makeover?
Using good styling tools can make the most of your hair whether it’s a professional style hairdryer, curling wand or smoothing iron. I’m a great fan of heated rollers and believe that they are a girl’s best friend as they are so easy to use. They can transform flat, limp, lifeless hair into hair with body and bounce in minutes, plus they are also great for smoothing wild, thick, frizzy hair. I’ve recently created my own signature range of styling tools infused with Argan Oil to protect hair during heat styling and add shine. Spending a few extra minutes on your hair when styling can make a huge difference to your overall look.
Can you tell us any key products that we should always have in our beauty bags?
There are so many wonder claim products around but the one beauty regime a woman should commit to is regular deep conditioning of her hair – a treatment mask will add more moisture to the hair and it’s moisture that is the Holy Grail of hair care. The better the quality of the hair, the better the hair story. It’s that simple. Hair does not need to be overly styled and often looks best relaxed and informal, but hair with vitality shine and radiating health is the mark of a woman. Use a deep conditioning mask at least once every week – that’s my best hair care advice.
You aim to make women look gorgeous and special, how important do you think this is in today’s society?
We call it high heel behaviour! When a woman has killer hair, everything is possible – just like when she’s wearing a killer pair of Louboutins! For me and my team it’s about giving a woman the confidence to shake her hair and do her thing!
If you hadn’t become a hairdresser, which career route would you have taken?
When I was crowned British Hairdresser of the Year I knew that my career had been successful. It’s difficult for me to imagine a career other than the one I had. From shooting the front cover of Glamour to travelling the corners of the world presenting British hairdressing and seeing my signature hair care range on the supermarket shelf, I have my dream career. I’ve got to say though it’s an occupational hazard stopping myself from stopping a woman on the street and telling her how she should change her hair to make herself look ‘10 Years Younger’!
Finally, what great hair tips can you offer us?
Estée Lauder once said, ‘There’s no such thing as an ugly woman, just a lazy one” and it’s true. Spend a few more minutes on your hair and it’s time well spent. Your hair is the outfit you never take off – make it work for you!
To make an appointment with Andrew at Urban Retreat, please call 0207 893 8333 or visit the website for further information.