The following feature appears in the August 2017 issue of NYLON.
Dye-hard fans, rejoice! Bleach London is finally making its way across the pond, and we’ve got the exclusive first look. Here, beauty director Jade Taylor chats with Bleach makeup director Lou Teasdale and creative director and co-founder Alex Brownsell about all things technicolor.
Bleach is coming to the U.S.—this is so exciting! Why has it taken so long for you guys to go abroad?
Lou Teasdale: Yes, finally! The reality of the situation is that since day one Bleach has been a two-woman gig between my sister, Sam [Campbell], and our creative director, Alex [Brownsell]. What began as a small salon in East London has evolved organically, and we felt it only made sense to expand throughout London before bringing the name and product to America. The reason Bleach has traction here is because it’s the cool girl’s and guy’s answer to doing beauty differently. Not everyone is into Kardashian-esque glam, so our range is an alternative girl’s anti-glam range.
Alex Brownsell: To be honest, when we started I didn’t think Bleach would go further than the friends whose hair I used to do in my sink at home. The fact that there’s a demand for it across London (let alone the world!) is amazing.
What have you guys observed from your American fan base throughout the years?
LT: Bleach really embodies an East London girl, so I suppose we’re just introducing her to America and hoping they think she’s cool. I personally have an Instagram following made up of 70 percent U.S.
followers. Needless to say, I get a lot of requests to sell the brand over there, so it’s going to be cool to finally be compliant to ship there and meet some of the Bleach fans. In London, we feel like our style is totally normal—like no one would comment on the street—but when I go over there [to America] people are literally like, “Oh my god, your hair is so...cool!” [Laughs] I think the U.S. responds to an alternative girl really enthusiastically.AB: We get such a huge response on Instagram from our U.S. fans and until now they have not been able to get their hands on the products. My friends are always asking me to bring stuff over when I come to the U.S. for a shoot or a client. I try my best but I can’t ever bring enough! A few years ago, Bleach had a pop-up at Milk Studios during fashion week and we had a queue down the street at one point. We’ve done a few pop-ups in salons and hotel rooms over the years, which have always been fun, even if we’ve ended up getting billed extra for cleaning pink and green stains off the bathtubs and sinks [laughs].
Why did Bleach decide to launch new hair products and rebrand the existing ones?
AB: We have so many exciting new products coming out! We now have our first dye for anyone not dipping their toes into Bleach’s signature bright colors: black dye. This is for the raven-haired crew and a first for us to offer something alternative for the goths in the world as well. We’ve added a lot of new haircare into the range, too. My favorite is the Old Blue Last hair shot, which is a protein shot for overprocessed hair. I use it all the time to stop my ends from splitting into smithereens.
LT: We rebranded because we’ve been working on making our packaging more sustainable by using recycled plastic and cardboard. The new hair bottles are now black, which means you can’t see the color, but we decided it’s more important that we used recycled plastic, so we’ve reflected the color in the labels instead.
You’re launching makeup for the first time—tell us about the offerings. Which star products should we be on the lookout for?
LT: One of the standouts for me is the Illuminati, a liquid illuminator, which gives that Insta-girl glow in just one swatch. My BFF Lottie [Tomlinson] says it completely transformed her makeup game. She’s obsessed.
My go-to look is a red lip and clumpy lashes, so I know I’m going to have the I Saw Red lip paint and our mascara in my bag 24-7. It’s just that perfect true red lippy, and the mascara from the eye kit gives a wicked spider lash. NYLON girls are experimental, so I think they’re going to love our Glitterati collection of pressed glitters to mix in with their build-your-own palettes, and I just know they’re going to love our Washed Up Mermaid lip paint—it’s a blue lipstick that’s actually wearable.
What was product development like? What are some of the standout formulas?
LT: Product development was a really long process. Our offices are filled with makeup-obsessed girls that all have different needs and opinions on how they want their makeup to look and feel. Physically going to the factories was the only way we were able to create a product we were happy with, because if you’re not on site critiquing the product from start to finish it’s just not going to be perfect. I think the eye-shadow formulas are amazing; we have some crazy-bold colors, but it was important to me that the colors are buildable and wearable. We have a bright neon that looks intense in the pan, but the formula lets you use it for the tiniest dash of bright color or, with a heavier hand, for a more extreme look.
AB: We want to offer all the new trends coming through the Bleach London salons to everyone who can’t get to London. I either start the process with a product that I’ve been mixing together and send it to our amazing labs to try and re-create, or I describe how it should be, and they work from that. If we nail it in the first round then that’s amazing, but sometimes it takes a really long time to get to that point. After that I test it on myself, then if I’m happy with it we start to play around with it in the salon, all the time sending tweaks and feedback. It’s a fun process. Loads of times we just make what we need for ourselves and luckily for us everyone else seems to want it, too [laughs].
What’s your best beauty advice for those unfamiliar with the Bleach aesthetic?
AB: Bleach was born out of experimentation, and that’s the mind-set we want to promote. Break the rules, define your own style. Beauty isn’t one fixed idea—it’s whatever makes you feel more confident. If we can help you do that even 1 percent more, we’ve succeeded. Get in touch and show us what you come up with, or if you’ve got suggestions for improvements or new products, let us know, too. This is an independent company, and we’re only a comment or a tweet away!
Bleach London Hair and Makeup, $3 to $20, available at Bleach London
Photographed by Hugo Yanguela, Laura Coulson, and Josh Wilks.