I urge you not to go to Dobney London salon in Highgate, they have totally ruined my hair, and have not even been sorry about it. Apologies for the censored photos, I didn’t really want images of me with such awful hair on the internet, but you can clearly see how messed up it is. If you want the short version, they are horrible people who over the course of three visits ruined my hair colour, blamed me, left me physically bruised, significantly ruined the condition of my hair, and ended up ignoring me and refusing to help, only partially refunding me and not saying sorry ONCE.
They were nice at first, but as soon as they messed up, the mask quickly slipped and I had a horrendous experience. Settle in, I’ll try and be as brief as I can, but a lot happened and it’s all horrendous – everyone’s worst nightmare of going to a hair salon. My mum kindly offered to buy me a hair colour and cut for my birthday, a big deal for her as she’s a pensioner and London prices are so high. She said I could pick anywhere I wanted, but I thought I would keep the cost down a bit and not go too central. Dobney London is a fairly new salon and I was kind of curious, but they still quoted me £245 for a cut and highlights so it was a really extravagant gift for my mum. I had a consultation with Andre, a colourist, which makes me laugh now as it was such a huge waste of time. When I came in for my appointment he stuck his hand out and said ‘nice to meet to you’ – so I had to go through the whole colour consultation again. It was a bit tiresome as Andre kept trying to talk me out of what I wanted, cool-blonde highlights with my own darker blonde going through them (same as my profile picture, scroll down to the bottom of the blog). He said I should have it painted on instead of foils, and be a more natural blonde. I was thinking in my head, seriously? We’ve been over this at my consultation.
Eventually we got going, the whole appointment lasted five hours. When Andre washed my colour off and took me back to the mirror I could see my hair was greenish-yellow and made some kind of exclamation. He asked me if that was good or bad. It was kind of hard to see what the colour was like under their strong lights, but once I was out in the daylight I could see it was really brassy, lots of that horrible gingery shade that us light blondes fear. I called the salon when I got home and they offered me to come in for a colour correction, but I was disappointed that Andre and I weren’t both available until after my birthday. I had told them why I was coming in, and when my birthday was, so it’s a shame they couldn’t have me see another colourist. I now have photos of me from my birthday with green-tinged brassy blonde which looks awful. The day before my birthday I had my eyelashes done and was telling the lash technician I hated my new hair, she said ‘because of the yellow? Yes, it’s awful’, which made me sad, but also hopeful as she’s a qualified hairdresser and said it was easy to correct.
At my second appointment things were immediately tense as Andre was telling me it was my fault as I had said I don’t usually have toner as it tends to make my hair grey. He was argumentative and doing nothing to put me at ease that he was about to fix my hair. My mum had been so sad when I told her it hadn’t worked and she said ‘Oh, did I waste my money?’ I had assured her it was all going to be fine now, but this initial attitude from Andre threw me. I actually started to cry a bit, not much, just slightly tearful, and Andre started to get cross saying ‘don’t cry, you’re making ME cry.’ The manager (a really horrible woman called Becky, more on her in a bit) came over. Her reaction to me crying was so weird, she said to Andre ‘let’s try to make it lighter, to make you both happy’ – why was she trying to soothe the stylist when it’s my hair he’d not gotten right? Isn’t the customer the one who should be happy? When I sat back down in front of the mirror after the hair wash my heart sank as I could still see my hair was yellow when wet, when it should be white. Andre started to dry it and I asked him what we could do about the brassy bits and the yellow tone. He was really sulky and said ‘you’re not going to let me dry it all?’ I told him I could see my hair was yellow, and the section he had dried clearly showed brass. He was forceful about drying it and I didn’t know what to do as I knew that was him trying to end the service so he didn’t have to correct the colour anymore. Becky came over and I said ‘what can we do about this?’ and pointed to the brass on top. She said ‘It looks lovely’ and walked off. I was so staggered she did this, and it gave Andre the opportunity to just end things. I was shaking a bit, and said ‘how can I get the brass out?’ and he told me to get a purple shampoo. So, he admitted it looked shit and still needed correcting. He also said to me ‘look, I think it’s just a bit different to what you had before so it feels strange.’ In other words, get used to it, lady, I’m done.
I went straight to another salon on the high street and they were shook. ‘How did they let you leave the salon like that?” is what they said, and they also told me not to worry, they had a plan for getting rid of the brass and changing the yellow tone to the cool blonde I had shown photos of to Andre, including the one of me that’s my blog profile pic. The blonde photo (above) is actually from the THIRD time they tried to correct it (that’s coming), but it pretty much looked like this after the first and second visits too. I don’t know if it’s as clear as it was in real life, but it’s streaks of gingery-brass and a general yellow tone that was green in some photos. It’s absolutely not what I wanted, and no one would for any amount of money. It looked like it did when I used to box-dye it blonde when I was sixteen. That’s how bad we’re talking.
And now, here’s the stupid part. I’m such an idiot. I went back a third time, and I bitterly regret it. I emailed the salon after visit two and told them how Andre had told me to fix my own hair with colour correcting shampoo, and that I just needed to get used to it. I’d asked for a refund so I could go to another salon, but Dobney London called and said they’d like to correct it and I could see a different colourist. Every instinct was telling me no, mostly because the manager Becky had coldly ignored me on my last visit when I pointed out the duff colour to her. But I didn’t know where I stood, and if I could get a refund if I refused a colour correction. I felt so unhappy about having to go back, but I was slightly hopefully that the two bad dye jobs had been down to Andre being a poor colourist, and that this was unlikely to happen again. I also kept thinking about how happy my mum had been when she announced this huge gift to me, and how sad she’d been at it not working out, I knew one way or another I had to get this resolved with Dobney London.
The colourist they gave me is Lauren, who’s also a freelance stylist. She was really nice and sympathetic at first, telling me some of the reasons she felt the blonde had gone brassy. We went through my photos – images from magazines, and the one of me again. She showed me her Instagram feed, I pointed out a cool blonde I really liked, and she told me I was in good hands as cool blonde is her speciality. I felt like she got it, and that this was where the tide would turn. Nope. I ended up with that brassy blonde in the photo above. She could tell it hadn’t worked as my hair looked yellow again when it was wet, and she said ‘don’t worry, hair is always warmer when it’s wet.’ It was warm alright, piss yellow maybe? That’s how I’d define it. As my hair was being dried by the other manager, Edmund (a man who continually looks like he just wants everyone to eff off and die) I asked for Lauren to come over. ‘Is this how you wanted it?’ I asked her. Yes, she lied. Edmund said ‘it looks blonde’ with a confused tone. I had two options, make a scene and demand my money back, or try and get this resolved yet again. I really wish I’d gone for the first option, as what ensued was a really awkward and unhappy confrontation with Lauren, and then her making my hair grey with brown, blue, and green streaks and then refusing to do anything else.
I said to Lauren, ‘you assured me you could get rid of all the brass, you said cool blonde was your speciality.’ Lauren ignored this and argued that my hair is not brassy. ‘You could see it was when you took the towel off, that’s why you made that comment about me not worrying,” I say. Lauren argues some more. I start to cry again, just a little bit, still not making a scene. “What about the photos I showed you? This shade is nothing like them.” Lauren tells me that photos from magazines are edited and the people don’t have that colour in real life. “Why didn’t you say that when I showed you the photos?” And so on. I should tell you, I was perfectly calm and polite all through this, as I had been at the other two visits as well. At the start of my appointment with Lauren, Becky had come over and said “Alright?” and I had said (calmly) ‘not really, I don’t think it’s good for a stylist to make someone’s hair brassy and tell them to sort it out with purple shampoo” (referring to visit two with Andre). And what do you think Becky said? Something along the lines of – “I’m sorry, don’t worry we are going to fix this”. No, she just walked off again, no comment whatsoever. Wow. With leadership like that, it makes sense her colourists can turn into bratty children if THEY get something wrong.
I’ve since found out from a professional colourist that it’s not necessarily the colourist’s fault if a colour doesn’t take or comes out differently to what they were expecting. Dyeing is a chemistry, and the colourist needs to play detective to work out what’s gone wrong and correct it, because all colour is easily correctable. Not for Andre and Lauren, they’d rather gaslight the customer, make them feel like you did something wrong and you’re crazy for not accepting the results. Lauren begrudgingly put a toner on. It did indeed get rid of the brass, but left my hair like it is in the top picture. She was furious, pulling on my hair so hard with a comb. “What are we going to do about this?” I asked in the calmest of voices. “I’m not doing ANYthing else to this” Lauren spat. “Do you like this?” I asked. “No, I liked it how it as before” she said. Oh well, so long as you like it eh? (I didn’t say that out loud). And then Lauren left me, went off to the next customer, her ‘charming mask’ back firmly on. I had to wait ten minutes for Edmund to come over, the most awkward ten minutes of my life as I genuinely thought they were all going to ignore me until I left. He didn’t say anything, just looked at my hair, looked at me. “So, what are we going to do?” I finally asked, still so calm (they did not deserve how quiet I was in their busy salon). Edmund said he’d have to give me my money back. I told him if I had to leave the salon looking like this I would sue him. He went off to talk to Lauren, and they told me they’d put a toner on to ‘un-do’ this and go back to the blonde it was before. Lauren was obviously mad as hell she was being made to do this, my neck got bruised on the sink from her pulling my hair so roughly. She told the salon junior to rinse it and dry my hair, so that was Lauren quite literally washing her hands of me again.
Back at the mirror for another hair dry I could see I was still grey, brown, blue and grey, just slightly lighter (picture above, though it doesn’t show the blue and green as much as it is in reality). I asked the junior to kindly fetch Edmund, and I asked him if he really wanted this to show people what Dobney’s could do. He said no, but offered no further comment. No apology, no plan of action, just silence. I asked him if he did colour, or if Becky did. He said they don’t. More silence. I sighed, ‘okay I’ll take my money back’. I was so unhappy to have to go out in public like that, it’s got to be everyone’s worst salon nightmare. I was really shaken, I should have kicked over all their equipment stands and told the other customers to be careful, but instead I walked out quickly and quietly, the only one looking and feeling like a total dick.
A few more things –
- Before I left I asked Lauren the name or number of the toner she had put on (so I could tell the next salon). Lauren looked at me, then looked away. She knew I was having to go outside with terrible blue/grey/green swamp hair and she was ignoring a perfectly polite question from me. How horrible is that!
- I was in the salon five hours the first time, three hours the second time, and five hours the third time. On the third visit they gave the customer next to me glasses of prosecco but didn’t even offer me water.
- They kept £70 of the £245 which had been for the hair cut. How shitty is that of them? After what they did to me they couldn’t refund it all as a goodwill gesture.
- They totally ruined the condition of my hair. On my first visit Becky and Andre both said it was in great condition. At the start of Lauren’s appointment she said the ends of my hair were dry, even though it had just been cut the week before – showing the damage done from the first two appointments. By the end of the third visit my hair is so damaged that the new salon told me to wait three weeks for another colour correction or I risk my hair falling out. I am now having to spend money on hair treatments I wouldn’t have needed if it wasn’t for Dobney London.
- The two colourists have a weird attitude, every stylist I’ve shown my hair to in real life and online has said it was so easy correctable each time, so why did they take it personally? As a freelance writer, if my client doesn’t like a bit of my work I get on and change it. I don’t sulk or argue or ignore them, because I know if I did I wouldn’t get paid, and they wouldn’t want to work with me again or recommend me to anyone else. How is hairdressing any different?
- Everyone I’ve talked to about this on social media or in person has told me they would have kicked off big time. Demanded all their money back, had a go at the colourists, told the manager she’s a bitch, etc. They were so lucky with me to have someone so quiet and calm, yes there was a bit of crying, but only when faced with arguments about mistakes THEY had made.
- The customer service is insanely terrible. Both managers do the silent treatment like no other. They are two incredibly spiteful people who despite knowing none of this was my fault, and knew about it being for my birthday and being paid for by my pensioner mum could not bring themselves to say sorry ONCE.
I emailed them with pictures of my hair and told them how much they’d ruined the condition of it. I told them how let down my mum felt and that she’d wasted her money, and how that was upsetting me. I told them how they’d given me green hair for my birthday, and that they let their colourists treat me like dirt when I was being polite to them the whole time. I told them they didn’t give me water on one of the hottest days of the year, and that they both gave me the silent treatment and made me feel so uncomfortable whilst they charmed their other customers.
They replied –
“Dobney London are sorry you are disappointed with our service. However, we have given you a full refund for this service and now consider this matter closed.”
The old ‘sorry this didn’t meet your expectations’ non-apology. And what service? The one where they refused to correct my grey/blue/green hair and made me go out in public with it? The fact that I was polite with them the whole time and they were vile to me in person, and in this email, says more about Edmund Dobney and Becky Dobney than it does about me. Horrible people, horrible salon. Definitely one to avoid like the plague. On the plus side, a kind celebrity saw my plight on Twitter and offered his hairdresser just down the road. They are lovely so far. If they correct my hair really well (after I have to live like this for three weeks) I will plug them everywhere.