Historically, my visits to the hair salon have been comparable to that of the dentist. I’d lie about how often I washed and flat ironed my hair (every day), let the stylist do “what they thought was best” even if I had specific concerns, and finally leave feeling humiliated and broke. But at least the dental hygienist would spare extra floss in my goodie bag.

So when I was offered a cut on the house at Essensuals London Salon—an airy, minimalist Toni and Guy UK branch in Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor—I came prepared, yet again, to lie. Owners Jason and Robert Townsend, identical twins who have been in the hair biz since they were kids sweeping floors at their mom's salon, moved to Seattle last year after a series of Los Angeles–area gigs. They greeted me at the door with a smile. Here's what happened next:

Robert Townsend serves as the salon's sought-after colorist while his brother Jason (not pictured, but he looks exactly the same) specializes in cuts.

1. There was no need to fib. I don’t know if it was his gentle voice or perfectly coiffed beard, but as Jason delicately cut off two inches and shaped my layers, I confessed all my hair sins, which as it turns out, really aren’t sins at all. I can wash my hair every day as long as the water isn’t boiling hot, and yes, my locks are capable of natural waves. I never felt judged or like I wasn't hip enough to be in the chair (the Townsends have a strict “no assholes” policy that applies to both staff and clients). I promise that if you take advantage of their complimentary how-to lessons and expert counsel, you’ll still leave with all your humility intact.

2. On one of his first visits to Seattle for a hairstyle show, Jason couldn’t shake how “the people in the audience looked cooler than the people on the runway.” The twins feel our city is in the midst of a resurgence, and they want to be part of it.

3. At 24 years old, Jason was named the National (and the only) Artistic Director for Toni and Guy North America. He’s worked backstage at countless London Fashion Weeks and styled the best of ‘em. Not one to drop names, I was able to squeeze a single previous celebrity client out of him: Charlize Theron. No joke.

Cutting specialist Thomas Davis, originally from Austin, is also a part of the Essensuals team (and has been pulling some five-star Yelp reviews himself, of late).

4. The Townsends were the first people on their block in California to use solar panels, and that eco-friendly attitude has followed to their new Seattle headquarters. The LED lights do not exceed 500 watts, cloth towels replace wasteful paper alternatives, and the host stand, coffee table and shop's neon sign were crafted by local artists.

5. Services at Essensuals London begin at around $55 for a cut, and $80 for color. Their philosophy of “affordable luxury” extends to the products they carry, such as Label.m, Redken, and Pureology, none of which cost more than $35.

Oh and my hair? Bouncy, full of shine, and not one ounce of shame.

 

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