Betty Lou Brighton

Alex Jenkins is transported back in time to a salon that is making the retro ‘do’ cutting edge.

Pictured is Lilly Griffin.

Pictured is Lilly Griffin.

During the last few years retro fever has taken the country by storm, whether it is the resurgence of vintage swing, high-waisted trousers, or 1950s inspired furniture.

But while it may be easy to find that perfect outfit or enjoy jiving the night away, creating the right hairstyle and ‘look’ is not always as simple.

This is where Betty Lou Vintage Salon, in Preston Street, Brighton, comes into its own.

The salon is the brainchild of retro enthusiast Liz Samways and since it opened in May it has gone from strength to strength, starting as a one-man-band and now incorporating a team of six hairdressers and beauticians. It even had to move to the shop next door after five months as it needed bigger premises.

Pictured is Salon Owner, Liz Samways

Pictured is Salon Owner, Liz Samways

“There is nowhere else in Brighton quite like this, which I think is mad as it is so popular,” says Liz.
The salon caters for those wanting hairstyles that range from the 1920s to modern day, including cut and colour, as well as offering makeovers, facials, massage, waxing, lash extensions, manicures, and intricate nail art.

It is also a great option for hen parties, with groups able to come in and have their hair and make-up done, before dressing up in retro clothes for a photoshoot.

Plus, in the future, the venue will host tea parties with food provided by Chequers in Preston Street.
So why the name Betty Lou?
“My full name is Elizabeth Louise, so it is my name,” reveals Liz. “I wanted it to have something of me but I wanted it to sound vintage as well.”
The name is just the start of the ‘retro-ness’ of the salon.

Liz has worked very hard to create an authentic feel, sourcing 1920s mirrors, 1950s-influenced seats, and little trinkets from car boot sales. She has also asked her friend, artist Kev Pick, to create works of art for the walls and there are plans for a mural of a vintage tea party to be created in one of the downstairs’ rooms.
“I like it as it is not trying to be perfect – it is a mishmash of styles,” says Liz. “The vintage theme has become a bit pretentious whereas I wanted it to be friendly.”

W01303H14-BettyLouVintageIt is evident Liz has many strings to her bow and is not afraid to try new things.
“It was not scary starting up,” she says. “I wanted a salon so I opened one. It did not seem like a big deal. However, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done.”

Liz moved to Brighton ten years ago after she ‘followed a boy’ from her home town in Cornwall, quitting her university course where she was studying to be a lawyer.

After that relationship fizzled out she decided to stay here, turning her hand to various professions.
“I have done everything you can imagine,” laughs Liz. “But it has all helped now I have opened this salon.
W01338H14-BettyLouVintage“I used to run a magazine, so that helped with the design work and website, and I used to do events managing, so that helped with events here. Nothing has been wasted.”
But in many ways it is no surprise she eventually became a hairdresser – following in the footsteps of her mum who owns two hairdressing salons back in the west country.
“We do infra red treatment to help improve the hair and that machine is from the 60s. My mum’s boss gave it to her when she opened up her first salon and mum gave it to me when I opened the salon.”

To put Liz’s skills to the test we asked etc Magazine reader and Worthing resident Arwenne Rolle to pay a visit to the salon and undergo the vintage-style overhaul.

As Arwenne has long curly hair Liz decided to do victory rolls, which harks back to her favourite era, the fifties.
“I adopted a fifties look for my friend’s party but I did a rubbish hairstyle,” Arwenne, 27, admits with a laugh. “I had a lovely fifties dress but my hair let it down.”
And the verdict now? “I love it,” enthuses Arwenne, who works at an insurance company in Crawley. “It is a really different look.
W01337H14-BettyLouVintage“It would be great for going to the Goodwood Revival. I am hoping to go this year and I will definitely have my hair done like this for that – it looks awesome.”

A full head of styling costs £38 while a vintage hair-up look costs £35. A hen party photoshoot costs £75 per person.

For more information about Betty Lou Vintage Salon and for the full price list, call 01273 911419 or please visit

To see work by artist Kev Pick, visit his Facebook page

All pictures by Liz Pearce