Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Lack of Hair Stylists in Riyadh

Finding a hair stylist in Riyadh hasn't been an easy task. In fact it's safe to say that, after three years, finding a hair professional in this desert city capable of producing a hair style I'm happy with is, currently, still ongoing.  Riyadh just seems to lack experienced hair stylists.

Asking around for a good hairdresser doesn't usually meet with an excited, enthusiastic, positive response from fellow expat women.  Most recommendations for someone who can cut hair in Riyadh are accompanied with the phrase 'She's OK'.  Not words that make me confident to have a pair of scissors near my head!

Neither are all the recommendations directed at salons (if you would like the very short list of locations that other expats have recommended see Salons in Riyadh).  Many phone numbers passed on are for women (and the occasional bloke) who work from home or who do the rounds on compounds.

I admit I haven't dialed any of the hair cutting contacts sent my way.
Truth is, far too many expat tales of hair style woe have turned me off getting my hair cut in Riyadh.
The problem with a bad hair cut is that it is obvious.
For ages.

Getting a bad haircut in Riyadh sux because there is an obvious gap in the market for professional qualified, well-trained, experienced, competent - and all the other adjectives for "good" that you can think of - stylists who can repair the damage of a hair cut gone wrong.

The day one of my friends cancelled an engagement (and subsequently refused to be seen in public till her hair grew out) because of the mess made to her hair only served to confirm my fear - Hair styling for women in Riyadh is risky business and styling one's hair should be left till a return trip home or, at least, till you visit a country with real hair care professionals.  So, for three years that's exactly what I've done, - left the country to visit a hair salon whenever I want my hair cut.

That is until last week.

Last week I decided to take up an invitation to visit a hair studio at a popular Ladies Spa.  I went for two reasons.  Firstly, two friends have been going there regularly and say the hair care they receive is 'pretty good' which isn't an ecstatic recommendation but it is a step up the ladder from 'Okay'.  Second, my travel calendar has taken a serious dive into 'Not been anywhere for a long time' and my hair was in need of attention.

The lady who did my hair hails from Lebanon.
She has had training and some work experience.
The verdict?
My search continues.

There is something about the way an experienced hair stylist practices her (or his) craft.  From assessing your hair to holding their scissors and fluffing your hair about there is just something special about how they operate that I haven't yet found in Riyadh.

The price for my morning at the salon was a lot more than expected, too.   The cut (which really was little more than a trim) and color (full head with a bleach to remove the old color) cost 850 SARS.  And that was supposedly with a discount!

My lack of experience with other hair salons in the city, given my preference to go overseas for trendy hair styles, means I can't personally compare this price to other salons in Riyadh.  However, a very good friend and fellow female expat who spends a bit of time trialing Riyadh salons in her search for a great hair stylist assures me I was ripped off.  Mostly, she says, I was paying for the ambiance of the environment.  Fabulous though the salon and spa surroundings were, it would be nice if a quality cut came with it.

So, I'm hanging out for another six weeks until I head out of the country so I can make an appointment with a hair stylist who can wield a pair of scissors to my satisfaction.  And I have to get a creative style - I'm going home for my son's wedding!

Ka Kite,

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