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As pastimes go, skiing or boarding on soft powdery slopes under cobalt skies is kind of agelessly exhilarating fun that has the power to unite old and young, body and soul. However, when it comes to styles on show in the snow, the piste gets positively tribal. As one of the world's most exclusive resorts their no doubt that in Verbier there are as many visitors blazing a style trail in the clubs and bars après-ski as there are going over the moguls.
So from the vantage point of our latest salon, ensconced within the 5-star surroundings of the W-Hotel in the heart of the Swiss Alps, our leading Verbier stylist, Jemma Barwick, delivers the lowdown on 2015's high-altitude hair trends, along with some welcome tips on how best to protect your tresses through the rigours of ski season.
"When it comes to the ski chicks and snow bunnies, right now hair length is long and always textured, and it's all about getting those sun-kissed ends going." Jemma confides, "Those going lighter are leaving roots darker, but in a cool way that delivers a relaxed, 'not bothered' kind of vibe. Traditional highlights though, are most definitely out, and the preferred approach to hair tones is all centered around framing the face. Highlighting should be focused on the areas where the sunlight hits your hair naturally while you're enjoying the great outdoors, and all the brunettes out here are letting their ends lighten in the sun for that look that says 'been here all season.' For similar reasons, ski dudes don't rock the very sharp neat cuts that have become such a popular men's hair dressing trend, but prefer to keep the perimeter a little softer and grown out - once again it's the look that says 'I'm on the slopes all winter'.
"Skiing and boarding styles are about that synthesis of cute and practical, they're also casual rather than full-on glam. Which is why I always see a lot of plaits and ponytails on the mountain, especially fish-tail and tradition plaits that are easily worn loosely under helmets and hats, not to mention the two-plait 'Heidi' look, an alpine classic that continues to be embraced by the girls with really long hair."
"Wearing a helmet on the slopes has become the accepted safety norm, and we all agree these days it's a must. There's no good reason not to wear one, but I just want you to know that 'helmet hair' on the terrace après ski can be even more severe than good old 'hat hair'! I always keep an emergency beanie in my bag for this situation until I get the opportunity to quietly disappear long enough to backcomb lengths of my hair with my fingers and give it a casual, tousled look that has a more volume."
"Kirby grips are also an essential item to keep handy, they're an absolute godsend for ladies with fringes. If that's your usual style, but it's just been flattened, then clipping the fringe back to give yourself a bit of a quiff is a fantastic emergency solution. Failing that, plaiting can once again save the day - simply plait that fringe to the side and clip it in. Sunglasses can be used as a makeshift headband, or there's the 'messy bun worn high on the head' option, a perennially cool look and one that I've seen more and more of this season."
As much as Jemma loves to spot the hottest trends in a cold climate, she's actually more concerned with offering her guests practical advice on how best to take care of their tresses in conditions that can quickly take their toll.
"Dazzling white mountains and crystal blue skies certainly give the impression of a winter wonderland, but wind, increased UV from high-altitude sunlight and almost moisture-free air can quickly take their toll." she explains. "I recommend using neat coconut oil as a treatment once a week on hair exposed to this type of weather. The health benefits of this amazing oil are enormous and I guarantee your hair will feel the benefit almost immediately. You really don't want to start spring with frazzled ends, so I also recommend using Redken's Extreme Shampoo & Conditioner for blondes, and Redken's All Soft Shampoo & Conditioner for brunettes."
So take some tips from Jemma this season, and staying stylish down the slopes will no longer feel like an uphill struggle - now all you have to refine is your skiing...