Bleach London Is Coming To America: 10 Things You Need To Know
10 Things To Know About Bleach London’s New Dye Spot In Los Angeles
Buzzing ASMR sensations, electric dip dyes, amorphous shapes, neon light and a little Nirvana—enter the mind of Alex Brownsell, the original Y2K cool-girl colorist who pioneered the experimental dip dye movement we know as Bleach London.
On a late morning in May, over a Zoom call because 2021, we talked all things Bleach, colorful dye jobs and Gen Z with the “entreprenhair” who co-founded and creatively directs Bleach London. Alex has come a long way from 2010, when she first took experimental color from her kitchen to set up shop in the back of the iconic Sharmadean Reid’s WAH Nails. Flash forward to 2021 and Bleach London’s three UK shops have become the cult-favorite resident dye spots for rebellious Londoners and faces of Britain’s cool-girl scene.
A few salon shops and a web sales empire of at-home bleach kits, toners and dyes later, Bleach London is not done blowing up the world of transformative color. Surfing the brand’s site that reads, “Life’s a bleach and then you dye,” will show you what Bleach is all about in three seconds: Experimental color for anyone, either in the salon or at home.
This summer, Bleach London is flying out West to open their first-ever LA salon in West Hollywood. What better place to bring the haircolor hub favorited by it-girls, celebs, internet stars and fashion houses alike? Keep scrollin’ for the 10 things you need to know about Bleach London’s newest digs and plans for the future, directly from Alex Brownsell herself.
#1: The future is now: Why Bleach is LA-bound.
“The reason we’re coming to LA now, I think, is the reason everyone’s coming to LA now. It’s a global postcode of the last few years,” said Alex. The music, film and TV scene is one big draw, but, “I always say, it’s kind of the global home of social media,” she adds. “I think that’s why in the last few years, everybody has been drawn to LA because we see it so much in our subconscious mind.”
The LA salon is also the baby of English supermodel Georgia May Jagger, who went from loyal client to investor and now a Bleach co-owner alongside Alex and CEO and Co-Founder Sam Campbell. With the recent fashion shift from New York to LA, it seemed like a natural fit for Bleach. The palm trees don’t hurt either.
#2: The Process: Coloring the bleach way.
So what can you expect walking into Bleach London’s doors, through the ASMR experience, down the ramp and into the four-chair salon (more on this later!)? “What we’re trying to do with our LA space is really tailor that for the modern generation and say, ‘What is an immersive hair experience? How do we make this really fun for someone coming to get their hair done? How [do we] make it fun for somebody to browse the range? How do we make it fun for somebody walking past it on the street?’” said Alex.
The salon has four chairs–it’s super intimate–with a max of four stylists and four clients at a time. This means no double-booking, ever! While COVID has made this the new norm stateside, this was actually always the concept for Bleach, because this is how Alex likes to work on shoots and with her celebrity clients.
“It’s really difficult to do the best work that you can when you have multiple people waiting, you’re not able to process the bleach perfectly as you’d like to,” said Alex. “What I wanted to do is create a space where hairdressers could really fine-tune their own skill and spend that full three to four hours per client making sure that hair is perfect.”
#3: The $1,000 Bleach London Dye Job.
There’s been a buzz about the $1,000 dye job, the salon’s service menu that will actually range between $500-$1,000 based on the colorist. Here’s a glimpse at what a Bleach client can expect.
- Come into the salon to meet the stylist IRL, have a consultation and a patch test.
- If the client wants a mood board, Bleach will create a board around their color. Pretty cool, right?
- The client will come back in for their service and during the development time, they’ll talk maintenance. Bleach will make bespoke shampoo and conditioner that suits the color they’re going for. That’s all included with the service, always.
- Once the service is done and everyone’s happy, the client will leave. After, they’ll get direct communication with their stylist. If they need a touch-up or they’ve done something to mess up their color at home, they’ll have a six-week period where they can come back in, included in their OG service.
“We want everyone’s hair to look good, so you know, if that’s three times because they’ve got difficult hair, or if it’s once,” said Alex. “It’s just how we would be doing it.”
#4: The return: Alex Brownsell is opening her books after a decade.
There has been one thought living rent-free in Alex’s mind during the LA design process: Trying to create a space that would be her dream place to work. With that, Alex will be returning to the shop floor to take new clients for the first time in a decade. After years spent on shoots and mostly with her regulars only, “I’ve missed doing clients, so I think this is a real opportunity for me to go back to what I love which is working on the salon floor,” said Alex.
“I haven’t had anybody really specifically ask me for a (certain) haircolor for years,” she added. “Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, I was kinda thinking this, but do whatever you want.’ So, I have the luxury of that when I’m working with people. Hopefully, it will be the same in LA.’”
#5: The Bleach aesthetic: Grunge forever.
“The Nirvana and grunge references—that’s where the aesthetic was born from,” said Alex. “When I was first dyeing hair before we opened in WAH Nails, [in] my kitchen at home and doing shoots, the ’90s nostalgia throwback thing was very new. Referencing Kurt Cobain’s crazy hair colors, there wasn’t much else to reference where people had used color in that way than grunge. The grunge aesthetic has lived on so relevantly.”
The Bleach client spends hours in the salon to look like they did their hair themselves, that effortlessly cool vibe. Sound familiar?
“The difference with Bleach or how we want people to feel when they come in is that they’re doing something really exciting, and coming to the salon is just like going to your favorite bar or a cool restaurant that was hard to get a booking in but it’s going to be really fun,” said Alex. “The music taste, whether you’re into subculture or mainstream culture aside, I think the process of dyeing your hair and transforming yourself and expressing yourself in that way should feel fun. It should feel a bit edgy as well.”
So, what does this look like for Gen Z? “We are tailoring what the brand is now,” said Alex. “Our brand is obviously built on experimentation, rebellion, expression, being young, being free, etc. And 10 years ago when we opened that in London, it looked very different to now.”
#6: The LA space.
“The other shops are OK, this one’s insane,” said Alex, and while we want to leave an element of surprise (!!) it’s too good to not share a few design secrets. “The idea is that you walk in and what’s playing on the screen is how it feels to be bleaching hair from a macro and micro point of view, so you’re living through the hair’s eyes as it goes through the Bleach London experience,” said Alex. “So, the hair is going in, it’s getting brushed, it’s getting touched. It’s then getting dyed, it’s then getting washed, it’s then getting cut [and] it’s then getting dried. I think there’s a bit where it’s quite aggressive and it gets snipped off. So, you’re actually living life through this piece of hair.”
“If you enjoy going in [to the salon], you like those feelings, those tactile moments, so we’re trying to create that space in the front,” Alex added. “We’re hoping that people can enjoy it for what it is, too. So you’ll see the colors from the street, we’re going to leave the lights on in the night, so it looks quite crazy in there as well. And if somebody isn’t interested in dyeing their hair, then they can still enjoy the space—a bit of a moment.”
A few other Bleach bucket list moments: A pink bathroom for having some privacy when taking some post-Bleach selfies! An ADA ramp as the main entrance into the salon, so the walkway is completely accessible for every client, regardless of physical ability limitations. A space flooded with light, video projections and a dreamy resin floor!
Alex shared some Bleach space updates on her IG.
#7: The dream clientele: From Gwen Stefani to Gen Z.
From Hollywood legends to the TikTok generation, Alex has her eyes on the LA scene. “Names aside, I think that everybody [is] doing expressive things with their hair now—it’s crazy,” said Alex. “I’d like to meet some of those [TikTok] kids and get to experiment with them. Just as much as it would be amazing, obviously, I want to do Gwen Stefani’s hair. She was a big influence for Bleach and for me bleaching my own hair when I was 12 or whatever.”
#8: The digital wave: Free consultations for everyone.
This past year, there has been a huge switch into DIY hair which obviously impacted Bleach’s business like crazy—like a 600% increase in web sales crazy. But one of the best 2020 moments for Bleach was launching the free digital consultation feature, The Hair Line, something they will definitely be keeping beyond lockdown.
Anyone, regardless of if they’re a salon client, shopping the range or just need a quick chat, can hop on with a Bleach pro to talk about their hair. According to Alex, a lot of people using the live chat are looking for an alternative to the salon because of negative experiences—a salon not being properly educated on their hair type, telling them they can’t have a particular look or charging beyond their means.
TL;DR: Whether you’re a salon junkie, come in once a year or only do your hair at home, Bleach is there to help you along the way.
“A lot of our customers in the salon are quite hybrid, so a bunch of people we have come see us once a year [like tourists], students or people who have saved up,” said Alex. “We also teach them how to maintain [their hair] at home.”
#9: Creating a space where home and salon color live together.
“I think as hairdressers, we get a bit confused sometimes about home haircolor being bad or doing things yourself being wrong,” said Alex. “Actually, hairstylists need to step back and think, not everyone has $200 to $500 a month to spend dyeing their hair. So, rather than scaring everybody about doing it at home, why don’t we educate people on how to do it at home knowing that customers—if they have the opportunity and if they enjoy the salon experience—they’re going to come and do that every now and again when they can afford it?”
“It’s like going for a facial. You can cleanse, tone, moisturize and put a mask on at home but is that taking away from facialists? I don’t think so. I think it’s a really different experience,” adds Alex. “People are going to dye their hair at home. We should build an industry of hairdressers that can participate and be involved in that as well.”
#10: The opening: Get Bleached this summer.
Whether you’re looking to apply for a job at the new LA shop, coming soon in summer 2021, get Bleached yourself or simply stop in to take in the vibes—tap here to stay up to date with the latest deets on Bleach.
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