Finding a good hairdresser is tough. FACT. But as a curly kella it’s virtually impossible. It took me 5 years to find my curl maestro, Michael Price, owner of Unruly Curls in Ladbroke Grove. I’m sharing him with you, because he’s great and I think every struggling curly kella should see him. I recently went to see him to get a much-needed haircut ( 6 months after my last one!) and asked him to share his curls of wisdom!
The Unruly Curls Experience:
I discovered Michael Price in 2013 in Time Out. He was singled out as a curl genius, with a cool salon to boot! Having just returned from Australia, I was on the hunt for a curly hairdresser and so I gave it a go. His salon was then called the Hair and Make-up Department and three years on I swear by him. He’s recently transformed his business back to Unruly Curls- a resurrected outfit of his from 6 years back.
Situated 5 mins walk from Latimer Road tube station, Unruly Curls nestles in the corner of a business unit on Olaf Street. It’s a very bohemian salon decked out with three styling stations complete with vintage ornate mirrors that tower over dressing tables. Upon entering, you imbibe the dulcet tones of Bob Marley playing in the background, and the subtle wafts of incense in the air. The drinks menu ranges from a soothing chai latte to an über urban gin and tonic.
Once you’re in the chair, the process is pretty hassle-free. For one, you don’t need to say too much. Some basic direction suffices as Michael has the execution sorted. Also forget the usual seated position. He’ll get you standing up, leaning over with your hair dangling down and he’s not afraid to get up close and work his hands through your hair to inject that crucial volume. If anything the experience is short, but it gets you excited and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Michael is an educator as well as an artist.
And a word about Michael…
To sum up Michael in his own words: he is a “cynical whingeing leftist”. Your first meeting probably won’t overwhelm you. In fact he may come across moody and monosyllabic. But he has a thing about simplicity and gets the job done.
He grew up in Chatham, a rough area of Kent. His grandparents were among the first inter-racial marriages in the UK. Thanks to his mixed race heritage (English and Kenyan), Michael inherited a big afro, which unfortunately got him “jibed” from locals. To avoid the taunting, he shaved his hair.
He started out in a local salon in ’94 and soon graduated to styling clients at the age of 17. The business went under, but fortunately the owner saw Michael’s potential. He set him up with a place at a independent hairdressers’ salon in London. In between styling he studied photography at the London College of Fashion. In 2002 he started to get into styling curly hair: “I learned how to style curly hair by working backwards. Using the visual finish to dictate my strategy.”
He soon opened his own salon, the first incarnation of Unruly. However he found that managing staff just wasn’t his forte. So he downsized in every aspect; from streamlining personnel and accepting cash payments only.
Now Michael divides his time between the US and London fitting in the odd music festival and holiday (at the time he was busy compiling a playlist to accompany him on his motorcycle ride across India). His scissor-savvy skills have earned him a legion of loyal clients from around the world, which Michael’s admits can put the pressure on!
Curls According to Michael Price:
“I am trying to change things for curly haired people. The idea that they enter a salon with this base level expectation just to not look stupid, is crazy. What if they actually want to look HOT?”
“A curly haircut will look good on straight hair, however a straight hair cut won’t look good curly”.
“The worst thing you can do is to straighten your hair (before a night out), twerk until 2 am, go home and then re-straighten the hair. You’ve already broken the thermal bonds and by re-straightening the frizz areas, you’re attacking the hair’s protein which will weaken the hair”.
“Don’t be fooled by products that are “organic and natural”- it’s just a marketing buzzword that companies have latched on to. A products’ component’s can contain natural but toxic chemicals so they’re about as “natural as falling off a cliff”
Michael’s 5 must-haves for a curly kella:
If you’re thinking of ditching the straighteners, here are Michael’s top 5 Curls toolkit:
- Hairdryer with diffuser
- Sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner
- A wide-toothed comb
- A satin pillowcase
- A f****** good hairdresser
Michael’s star curl products:
Tigi Curls Rock range
Boots Curl Cream £1.39 for 250ml
Sweet almond oil/ Coconut oil/Argan oil (these all have similar thickness to the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands in your hair)
Unruly Curls, 2 Olaf Street, London, W11 4BE, t:+44 (0)20 7243 1030