Since moving to London a good few years back, I noticed that a quick Google of the words ‘best hair salon’ or ‘best place for nails’ proffers two options: very expensive celebrity hair stylists and their new expensive hairdressing outlets or discount deals for places you’ve never heard of. Finding a place in which you feel comfortable enough to let a stranger loose on your hair is difficult when you’ve just moved to a new city, or indeed if you’re already rooted somewhere and want to switch things up.
Apps and sites that offer discounts can be misleading and in my experience, the 30% off isn’t always worth the experience. Then there’s taking a risk and dropping a huge amount on a haircut or manicure you could have gotten elsewhere cheaper without the faffing, awkwardness and sinking feeling as you leave. I’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of my top five affordable London salons, offering great service, cool surroundings, creative vibes and vegan or cruelty-fee products.
I recently visited Root for a hair overhaul and were thrilled with the results. A modern, minimalist salon located in lovely Exmouth Market, this independent spot uses all-natural vegan products by Davines that smell absolutely incredible. The relaxed space with neutral wood cladding and tonnes of natural light is small but super welcoming and chilled.
With expert staff very willing to answer any and all of your questions, provide advice and tips on products, tools and styling, your visit’s guaranteed to be a happy one. If it’s not haircare you’re after but bits for the rest of your bod, Root offer a huge range of boutique treatments, from manicures and massages to waxing and facials. If you’re a little shy or nervous, you’re in good hands here so relax and let the pros do their thing.
The best nails in London, at least I think so. Founded by ultra-creative Londoner Sharmadean Reid, WAH Nails is a spot like no other. The business started life as a fanzine devoted to championing girls in hip-hop, followed by a string of empowering events. Today, it’s a flourishing business heroing female-led beauty brands and offering customers a way to express themselves through micro art and colour.
WAH offers appointments at its eponymous salon in Soho but can also be found popping up at stores like Topshop depending on the time of year. Offering anything from standard manicures to dreamy nail art, masterclasses, parties and pedicures, WAH is your go-to for illustrated nails and serious self love.
Another of my favourite London salons, Eshk boasts three spots across the city and one in Berlin, Germany. Based in Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Barbican, you’ll find a cool, welcoming atmosphere at each location and brilliant decor to boot. Each salon makes the most of its heritage in unique industrial or heritage-style buildings. Kitsch artwork and a mishmash of Victorian-style and mid-century furniture create a cosy, eclectic vibe, along with flattering warm lighting and plush seating.
Eshk’s talented and creative stylists use cruelty-free Balmain hair products and have a tonne of experience between them. I stopped by for a big old cut and colour and were very impressed with the quality of the cut and the perfect subtlety of our freehand balayage. If it’s a great haircut, styling session or colour treatment you’re after, Eshk will see you right and take good care of you whilst they’re at it.
The original home of mermaid hair, Bleach has been making Londoner’s dreams come true for years. Whether Frenchie from Grease is your beauty inspiration and you’ve always wanted bright-pink hair or you just fancy jazzy green tips for the springtime, Bleach specialise in peerless pastel dye jobs.
With salons on Soho’s Berwick Street, in Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street and in Dalson on Kingsland Road, the experts behind London’s brightest colour treatments can completely transform your hair in a matter of hours. Not a decision for the fainthearted, if you’re going full-on rose tinted, this is the place to do it.
Based in Netil House just by Broadway Market, Hackney’s Glasshouse is the last of my favourite London salons. A fresh, modern space offering unbeatable service and style, this is a well-loved spot with good reason. Offering professional hair styling with organic, vegan products, Glasshouse use the Organic Colour Systems product range, produced and packaged in the New Forest.
Formulated from Soil Association certified organic ingredients such as vitamin B5, organic oils, wheat and quinoa protein, these products are a wonderful way to give your hair a boost. The salon also boasts a brilliant shop filled with cruelty-free products with which to equip your make-up bag, as well as a bespoke service to help you find the right products for your skin. If you’re interested in finding out more about living creatively and cruelty-free, have a read of the Glasshouse Journal for inspiration.
*Some treatments gifted.