Craig's back to cut his own style

EMMA LEE Norfolk Big Brother star Craig Coates is back on his home turf and has opened a new hair salon in the heart of Norwich.

EMMA LEE

Celebrity's an odd thing. If someone's beamed into your living room every evening for 64 days, as Craig Coates was when he was chosen as a housemate for the sixth series of Big Brother, you almost feel as if you know them.

So sitting having a style consultation with him at his recently-opened salon, Craig Coates Hairdressing, in Norwich, was a bit of a surreal experience.

Before he took part in the controversial fly on the wall show Craig, who's from Cromer, had his own salon in Sheringham.


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Riding high on his popularity from the show he did some TV work in London before returning to his home county and his first love.

The salon looks fabulous - and no expense has been spared.

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It's tucked away in Pottergate, in the Lanes shopping area, which is home to some of the city's coolest independent boutiques.

Around £250,000 has been invested in creating a state of the art salon - the floor and fittings, such as the very stylish chairs, have been imported from mainland Europe and beyond, and eye-catching lightboxes add a splash of colour to the otherwise pristine white colour scheme.

I was booked in for a colour with Craig, and then stylist Emily Brown was going to cut my hair.

This is the part where I have to confess that when it comes to my hair, as is probably glaringly obvious, I like to take the low-maintenance wash-and-go option.

I'm barely acquainted with a hairbrush and hairdryer, let alone straighteners and heated rollers.

Hairspray? Hmmm, can't say that I own any.

Mousse? I kind of remember it from my school days when it was the ultimate act of rebellion and the height of style to go to school with my hair pulled into the tightest ponytail possible, and then slicked down with handfuls of V05. Classy.

It was a miracle that having grown up in the 1980s I made it to the end of the decade without ever having a Wham! era George Michael-style mullet.

And despite what was probably days of whingeing and whining my mum wouldn't give in and let me have a poodle perm.

Then that all changed.

I'll never forget the kind of grey shade mum turned as I got off the coach after a two-week school exchange trip to Germany and she realised that the goody two-shoes daughter who had left with a kind of mousey brown barnet had returned with it dyed an almost punky shade of red.

And it was a trend that continued throughout my early 20s. Wonky fringes, hint of mullet, flashes of bright red or blonde.

I've toned it down a bit nowadays, and Craig suggested a brunette colour, with a warm mahogany tone to it.

And while I waited for the new shade to take, I enjoyed a nice, relaxing 45 minutes flicking through OK! magazine - during which Craig entertainingly shared his opinion on this year's Big Brother contestants.

He's clearly in his element running the salon, which was bustling when I visited. The staff are all really friendly, and when not with his own client, Craig, who's energetic, chatty and friendly, buzzes around checking that the other customers like their colours and cuts.

After the dye was washed off (Craig uses L'Oreal and Kerastase products), Emily, who previously worked at Toni and Guy, took over to finish my new look.

The night before I visited I'd been leafing through some celebrity magazines for ideas. I wasn't too keen on the Pob (that's the Posh bob), although I like Sienna Miller's short and sleek 'do'. But I hate the idea of going through the awful 'in-between' stage when you're growing your hair, only to go for the chop, so instead I asked for my shoulder-length style to be updated.

It was taken a little bit shorter, and Emily added some more layers around my face.

When she asked what my styling regime was, I had to confess that it depended on whether I managed to get out of bed in time in the morning - on a good day it's blow-dried. On a bad day it's scraped back in a ponytail. And I had no idea what products I should be using.

The style Emily cut for me is really low maintenance - she told me I should be using a heat protector spray to guard against damage from the hairdryer, and if I use a big round brush as I dry it, it will add body to the style without any effort at all.

And then to finish, just add a bit of product to define the layers. I tried it when I got home - and I was amazed to find that I could make it look almost as good myself.

She also recommended using a colour protecting shampoo and conditioner to make the new shade - which I adored - last as long as possible.

I was so pleased with the result

I practically skipped back to the

office, and I felt a million dollars

for the rest of the day.

While initially it might be Craig's celebrity status that entices customers to book an appointment, it will be his hairdressing skills that keep them going back.

Craig Coates Hairdressing is at 11 Pottergate, Norwich. For information and appointments phone 01603 618968. www.craig-coates.co.uk.

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