The Mason Pearson brush

I am not usually the sort to trumpet things as life changing. I do try my damnedest to be normal. Don’t get me wrong, I would easily classify my ‘puter as a close friend – since receiving a MacBook Air for Christmas from Mr. Goddess, I seem to lose days now developing my love (with technology) – but as relationships go, my MacBook Air would still be about number four on my list of things to save in a house fire or flood (presuming all adults could make it out safely). First I’d chase my cat about and get her out quickly, then I’d rescue my diaries and notebooks, then my Mason Pearson hair brush and then my laptop. That’s the order I’m sure of it. Old school things before my technology. I know, I know, putting a mere bunch of bristles and plastic before something Apple made… I feel guilty just typing it, but since my Mason Pearson hair brush came into my life seven years ago and its quality has changed little in all this time, I think it deserves the spot on my list. Plus I’m sure you can guess from my photos that I love things that look beautiful and a bit worn.

So how could I not love my Mason Pearson hair brush? My hair grows so fast, tangles up when I sleep and generally a swift run through with this little paddle-shaped piece of plastic with its orange rubber pneumatic pad studded with Indian boar bristles and nylon bristles saves me from looking a bit crazy. Yes, basically if the model I own didn’t have the word “Popular” blazoned across it by Mason Pearson I know that I’d come terrifyingly close to becoming one of those girls who names her things (it usually starts with the car). I’m not a creature of habit except to choose where I write or have tea daily but this hair brush I believe has earned its name and place in my heart because it is indeed very popular in my routine. I like good vibes and special touches to my day and twice a day this brush provides them.

Each Mason Pearson hair brush takes over six weeks to hand make in London (they’ve been hand making these brushes in London for over 105 years) and models comes in different bristle types. Here’s a picture above of a hair expert backstage at one of the fashion weeks with a boar bristle Mason Pearson. In all models when you look closely, the bristles come in two lengths– the longer bristles push through the hair and when they reach the scalp they stimulate the oil glands to produce natural oils (the pneumatic orange pad also helps with this as it moves to the contours of the scalp). The shorter bristles then draw that natural oil along each hair nourishing it naturally. For anyone a bit iffy about boar bristles (vegetarians, religious reasons) each model also comes in bristles fashioned from nylon only. See the range here .

Also I think I should mention that seven years ago when I ordered my Mason Pearson hair brush there was a shortage in many stores so I ordered mail order from Mason Pearson themselves. It took six weeks for my brush to arrive but I can say hand on heart that it was worth waiting for because they didn’t fall into any of the following categories…

1. The Pushy Wushy people – Mason Pearson is a manufacturing company who supplies wholesalers who in turn supply bricks and mortar shops so they don’t court publicity and will keep the most famous Hollywood name waiting the required six weeks (the same as the rest of us) if they place an order via mail order. For us mere mortals mail order should really be the last resort as the brushes are easily found in most good department stores these days. The long mail order waiting time is simply down to capacity. Mason Pearson is already stretched with worldwide orders which have to be filled so they actually prefer you to find a brush you like in a store rather than push one on you.

2. The Chatty Watty people – I also found Mason Pearson didn’t treat me like an idiot, you know what I mean? The type of conversation where the person chats relentlessly at you on the phone without paying a blind bit of difference to my questions when you might ask. No, the be honest my hairbrush has lasted seven years because a lovely lady on the phone at Mason Pearson instructed me to familiarise myself with their maintenance guide online. And I’m not the only one. Backstage at the fashion weeks I captured several pros on camera following the same tips as me: sliding a tail comb in sideways beneath the bristles will lift out gathered hair (on any brush) and the tail of a tail comb loosens hair in the rows between bristles. And I spotted some hair experts even carrying a large darning needle in their kits to gently lift stubborn little hairs out that nestle tightly at the root of the bristles. Once old hair is removed, I dampen my brush in cool water and then with a toothbrush which I lather in some plain soap I gently wash the orange pad between the rows of bristles to lift accumulated hair oil. I then rinse in cool water and leave to dry away from heat. Heat by the way is the enemy of a Mason Pearson, whether it’s hot water which can distort nylon bristles, or the heat from an airing cupboard which can swell boar bristles and make them spread and dry crooked. Also I’ve witnessed many using a hairdryer in conjunction with a nylon bristled Mason Pearson and it usually ends in tiny tears (the scent and sight of shriveled nylon will stay with you. Trust me).

Yup I like to babble a million questions at hair experts about their tools and techniques when they’re doing hair, but more than once I’ve experienced my questions falling on deaf dears while being held captive in their hair chairs. Has this ever happened to you? In fact, on one occasion, I presumed the person cutting my hair was actually meditating. Anyway when I saw her silently reach for the Elnette and then proceed to spay it onto her Mason Pearson brush before she brushed my hair I said nothing. Nuh Uh Mrs. Hair-girl! A build up of spray on your MP will cause the orange rubber pad on the brush to crack to resemble the surface of the moon (but I said nothing but I’m telling you now. So shhhhh!)

And finally, I don’t have to suffer as much these days with being held captive by meditating hair cutters as I’ve found a hair person who is both a hair genius and also rather hip and lovely (I’ll unveil his hairiness later when I’ve more space and shots). Meanwhile if you’re tempted to treat yourself to a Mason Pearson hair brush soon, please try to see and feel the brush in person rather then buying it on the internet. There are lots of counterfeits floating about so it’s best to examine it up close. Oh and you can tell if a Mason Pearson hair brush is real or not instantly by shining a flash light through the dark plastic… like a perfect glass of Guinness, once light is shone through it a real Mason Pearson will appear light burgundy to an glowing red. XXXX

The Beauty In Shoes

Some of you have already been Tweeting me, asking if I’m still alive. This post is also for the rest of my family to reassure them at home and abroad that yes I’m fine and have made it safely into 2012. Seeing as I spent the past few weeks in the arms of doctors with a nasty stomach virus, it seems only fair to acknowledge it here in explanation for my absence. So here you go. I’m not sure what the correct method for explaining such a thing is, but um…. how about… I was sick, I’m sorry I wasn’t here, and now I’m better. In fact I was hoping that maybe this new feeling of wellbeing I have today, might coax me back into my running so that I can end up strong and fit like my new friend pictured above. Her name is Bessie Rollins and she’s a junior athlete in training to be a professional runner. I met Bessie in Austria and when I wasn’t cooing over her running skills and speed…

I was cooing over her shoes; limited edition Nike ID runners which she found in Paris when she lived there. “I would run from my home to the Eiffel Tower and back as part of my daily training”, she explained. ” Yum! I love the way they look shiny and worn at the same time and somewhat loved. It reminds me of something that the super talented shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood once told me about spotting a girl on the tube in London in a pair of his Kirkwood platforms. “This really cool girl had a pair of my shoes on and she had worn them to death. She really loved those shoes and there were some worn bits and some shiny bits and I was too quiet to approach her and tell her that they looked great on her. They were so worn and loved and so full of character. I still regret not having the brevity on the tube to tell her that I’d designed them.” I love my Nicholas Kirkwood shoes even more after he’d told me that little story. His words also reminded me that I’m basically a bundle of scuffed bits and shiny pieces myself. Think it’s time I turned to some experts and got their take on how to feel as shiny as Bessie Rollins for 2012. See you back here shortly with answers.