For the first few years of my life, my siblings and I were subjected to appalling hair cuts. I’ll put it simply: we rocked the ‘bowl cut’, so much so in fact, that my older brother and I earned the nicknames ‘Bobby Bowler’ and ‘Baby Bowler’ respectively. Good times. Our dear parents hired a family friend to cut our hair at home and she was lovely however, her one sticking point was that she wasn’t particularly good at hairdressing and my parents didn’t have the heart to seek alternative services in hairography for their ever-growing brood. Blast them!
As we got older, bowl cuts simply would not do and we berated our parents into allowing us to attend a proper hairdressers – a hairdressers I should note, that my mother had been frequenting for years. No bowl cuts for mummy, no sir. So off we went to the local hairdressers to find a hairstyle that was a little less, well, horrifying, and we were wowed by the sensory overload that was to be found there: the sound of hairdryers and chatter, and many a strange smell (I now know that one of these smells was the gloriously eggy and cat wee-redolent perming solution). It was brilliant.
Our hairdressers was a family run affair. It was decked out with electric blue leather seats, white tiles and blue-tinted mirrors. A wave of warmth greeted us as we entered and there was one particular smell that permeated the air. That smell was steamy, floral (in a very dry way) and almost aldehydic. It was a gigantic and diffusive smell that appeared with a hiss and a fizz. That smell was the legendary and distinct odour of the one and only Elnett hairspray by L’Oreal.
To me, Elnett is the smell of glamour. It is big, voluminous hair on power-dressing ’90s ladies. It’s the smell of success, whether that be in business or fabulousness, or both. It’s a smell solely associated with the process of beautifying oneself. I use Elnette on my hair to this day (the strong hold version because I got to tame ma curls) and with each spray I get a vision of stepping in to that hairdressers for the first time. It’s representative of a flourish of excitement – a door opening to a new, glamorous world where big hair is the norm, beauty is the goal and there are absolutely, and categorically no bowl cuts in sight.