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Caisters Hair Lounge

Muddy says: A family-run, friendly salon in Hawkhurst that offers great haircuts without the pretension. Think rural approachability at its best…

My sister-in-law has a talent for sniffing out quality and great value for money, so when she recommends a hair dresser I take her word for it. That’s how I came across Caisters Hair Lounge in Hawkhurst.

THE LOCATION

In the middle of a small parade of shops in this busy village it’s easy to speed past (traffic lights allowing) without even noticing the salon. But those in the know do come here – you have to book ahead by anything between 4-6 weeks to get an appointment (especially with Laura Caister herself).

THE VIBE

Run and owned by wife and husband team, Laura and Darren Caister, the salon opened over 10 years ago with the aim of offering a friendly and relaxed environment in a light and airy setting – and they’re still delivering this promise a decade on.

A finalist in the Muddy Awards 2019 the salon is consistently awarded the 5 Star Good Salon Guide rating and they have an experienced team that specializes in weddings, with several bride or bridesmaid packages to choose from.

In fact I’d been told most of the team have been working here since the beginning – an amazing feat for an industry with a usually high turn over of staff – so I knew even before my review that they must be doing something right.

Early on in my visit it became apparent what that was. It’s the personal touch, the family vibe and the attention to detail that make this salon a pleasant place to be, both for staff and clients.

Darren looks after the business side of the salon and is all about looking after customers and greeting them at the door. Laura is the most experienced and senior of all the stylists.

At the beginning of my appointment Laura asked me lots of questions and genuinely listened to my answers. She totally understood my hair texture and took onboard my moaning about wiry, frizzy hair and greys that pop up overnight. She recommended some layering and a conditioning treatment.

Off to the wash basin, no lumpy massage chair, but the basins were really comfortable and involved a nice head massage during the wash. We’re not re-writing the rule book here, but I also didn’t have a stream of water running down my neck. That happens a lot.

HOW THEY DID IT

Laura focused on rehydrating my hair using Matrix products – it’s the leading professional hair colour and haircare brand in the States and Caisters salon is a big advocate. She then cut in some lifting layers.

Being a brunette, when I go to a salon, the grey hair is priority number one, but I also want to have a few highlights in a slightly warmer tone so my barnet’s not too one dimensional.

THE RESULT

The result was multi-tonal, it looks nice, natural and relatively low maintenance. I love the babylights (super fine highlights that help minimise the effects of root regrowth). My blinkin’ wiry, slightly wavy hair, is never going to put me in the low maintenance category. *Sigh*. But they did a great job that held up for a few days (the one advantage of having hair like mine!)

Before I leave the salon, I’m given a goody bag containing a shampoo, conditioner and a HydraSource Pack by Biolage (a vegan, sulfate-free, paraben-free natural hair range by Matrix). Laura really seems to care about the dried and stressed state of my hair!

Kids: Children under 10 costs from £12 and they can watch DVDs while they sit in the chair. In fact the salon will go out of its way to accommodate even the most nervous of young clients. They can have an early appointment when the salon is quietest if that helps.

Prices: The prices at Caisters are very good value for a pro regional salon – cuts start at Junior Stylist prices (around £20). All staff here do both cut and colour and are all trained in the ‘Caisters way’. But even the salon owner herself, Laura Caister, wields the scissors for a very affordable £54 for a wash, cut and blow dry. Full prices here.

Parking: For shorter appointments there’s a Waitrose car park almost opposite the salon which is free for up to 2 hours. But if you’re there for a cut and colour so might be a bit longer the salon has a special arrangement with a car park across the road – and it’s free for customers – so ask Darren when you book.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

The upshot is that Caister’s to me, though a strongly local salon in the sense that it’s not uber-posh or pretentious, is still a top notch salon where customer service is as important as a damn fine cut and colour.

There’s a friendly vibe here – illustrated perfectly by the way all the staff have portraits on the wall above the reception desk, like one big extended family.

I’d recommend this place if you’re looking for somewhere affordable for you, or the kids, that’s got a winning formula but also a healthy dose of rural approachability. Happy days.

Caisters Hair Lounge, 3 Colonnade, Hawkhurst, Cranbrook TN18 4ES, Tel: 01580 753003, caistershairlounge.com

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