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HK Magazine Archive

Inside Hong Kong's Top 9 Hair Salons

From crazy-cool dye jobs to humidity-proof conditioning treatments, we challenged stylists at nine of the city's top hair salons to solve our every hair conundrum.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 July, 2015, 11:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:45pm

1. Alchemy

The tester:
Isabelle Hon

The place:
Stretching across more than 3,000 square feet, Alchemy provides 28 seats that feel quite private—the way the shiny golden salon is set up provides lots of nooks and crannies with big mirrors separating clients.

The stylists: 
Creative director Justin Paul Chambers is a veteran in the field, and when he saw my damaged hair, he immediately suggested that I try the signature "B4 infant complex" treatment to uncover my hair’s natural shine (wherever it had gone to!) After the consultation, head hair technician Rico Chan carried out the procedure.

The experience: |
There are a total of five steps in the treatment, so if you're considering it, do allow plenty of time. After applying several layers of conditioning treatment to my strands, Rico and JP put me under their new Japanese nano-steam machine for about 10 minutes. Apparently, the special steam helps hair to absorb nutrients easier and makes the treatment last longer. After it's all said and done, the guys provide a take-home B5 condition that you're meant to use twice a week to refill collagen and maintain your hair's revitalized look.

The result:
Before the treatment, my hair felt heavy, thick and the exterior was visibly damaged. Afterwards, it was as if they had pumped air into my hair--it felt like it was floating with added volume and more shine.

Cuts $490-2,700; color $500-3,500; Conditioning treatment $300-4,800. Shop LG1-3, LG/F, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, 3106-0128, www.ilcolpo.com.hk

2. Jean Louis David

The tester:
Kate Springer

The place:
European hairdresser Jean Louis David opened up a sprawling all-white space this summer in the heart of Central. Bringing its fashion-forward and tech-savvy skills to the hair styling scene, JLD offers thoughtful consulting, a glass of bubbly, Italian chocolates and a warming hand and arm massage. Walking into the bright white salon, you feel instantly refreshed thanks to the clean surrounds, the soothing lights over the wash basins and the subtle smell of lavender. JLD takes hygiene extremely seriously, using paper gowns and only one hair brush per person.

The stylist:
It was one surprise after the next on my visit. My stylist, for example, had me stand up while he cut my hair with a pair of clippers. Meanwhile, my colorist—Lorena Severi, owner of Jean Louis David Asia—used a sponge to strategically paint sun-streaked pieces into my hair, creating a balayage effect, and wrapped it all in plastic wrap instead of foil. 

The experience:
Choose from the fast service “urban” section or linger longer in the indulgent “international” corner, where the stations take inspiration from First Class airplane seats—complete with nooks to stow your luggage and magazines. European hairdresser Jean Louis David opened up a sprawling all-white space this summer in the heart of Central. Bringing its fashion-forward and tech-savvy skills to the hair styling scene, JLD offers thoughtful consulting, a glass of bubbly, Italian chocolates and a warming hand and arm massage.

The result:
Whether you’re looking for a new cut, expert hair color or a head-to-toe makeover, you’ll be in very capable hands. If you're looking for a professional balayage color job, this is the place. I walked out with red carpet-worthy hair and some helpful pointers for maintaining my mane over the humid Hong Kong summer.

Cuts from $700; Balayage from $2,500. 12/F, New World Tower 2, 18 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2997-9828, www.jeanlouisdavid.com.hk

3. Aveda

The tester:
Adele Wong

The place:
At the earthy, bright and spacious Aveda salon in Central, you can get all the usual services and treatments, and you can also choose a stylist to suit your budget—a cut will cost you anywhere from $480 to $980.

The stylist:
I’ve been using the same stylist for years now: Kenji, who had worked at many prestigious salons across town before settling at Aveda. Kenji is so good, he always knows exactly how much to cut and the way to layer my hair so that it looks natural and flattering from all angles. <image>

The experience:
I started off with a scalp balance treatment ($520) and a hair moisture treatment (from $520) combined, which consisted of me getting my tresses washed with herbal-y oils, my head massaged until I was ready to fall asleep, and spending some time under a heat lamp to bake all the nutrients from the oils into my hair. Then, I let Kenji work his magic with minimal instructions (I only wanted a small trim), and he snipped away until my hair felt lighter, and settled at just the right places over my shoulders. It can’t get easier than this!

The result:
Having not dyed or permed my hair for over a year now, my locks are already relatively healthy—but after the treatments, I did notice a bit more shine and a bit less frizz overall.

Also great at…
Besides offering hair services, Aveda also specializes in cosmetics and skincare products.

Cuts from $480. Aveda, 2-3/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington St., Central, 2868-9859, www.aveda.com.hk

4. Era Barbers

The tester:
Jonny Mulliner

The place:
This Paul Gerrard salon spin-off has an unmissable bright-red exterior on Pottinger Street that tells you a lot about the cool vibe you’ll find inside. It’s fitted out like an East London barbershop, complete with raw-brick walls, old-school barber chairs and appropriate 60s tunes playing in the background.

The stylist:
I didn’t go in with any particular style in mind, so I was fairly ready to accept my stylist Lee’s recommendations. He commented on what would suit my face and suggested something a bit sharper, a bit lighter and with more of a classical look—in keeping with the theme of Era, really. 

The experience: This is the first place I’ve been to in Hong Kong that felt like a proper barbershop as opposed to a feminine salon—where men are usually an afterthought. Lee was a great conversationalist, plus he was very knowledgeable. I have a scar on my head and Lee noticed it, asking whether I’d like the hair to cover it—no stylist has ever mentioned this before, which just reinforced my opinion that he was really on the ball. If you have product in your hair then you get a wash, otherwise it’s straight down to it with clippers and scissors to finish off the top.

The result: The price is what you expect for a good haircut on the island. What sets it apart is the atmosphere and the service—and that’s why I’ll be coming back.

Men’s cut from $500. 36 Pottinger St., Central, 2577-3080, www.erabarbers.com.

5. Hollywood Hair

The tester:
Charley Mulliner

The place:
This Hong Kong salon stalwart has a solid all-round reputation for great service, experienced stylists with bundles of personality and reasonable rates. Owner Rennie Fensham infects the salon with style and soul—and is more than happy to sit down over a cup of rooibos tea and offer life advice.

The stylists:
Having trained at the famous Saks in London’s Covent Garden, my stylist Ben Amey is a color specialist with expertise in eco-friendly hair products. Meanwhile resident makeup artist Krystina Te Kanawa is a television makeup artist by trade, who settled in Hong Kong after a successful 10 years in New Zealand and London. 

The treatment:
Summer is in full swing and as all of you ladies with frizzy hair may know, the humidity combined with sweat and weekend-long beach behavior do your locks no favors. Enter the Kerasilk Keratin Treatment Service by Goldwell: it’s a type of Brazilian blowout treatment that ditches the chemicals in favor of all-natural keratin. Its special formula creates an extra keratin bond inside the structure of the hair strand (rather than just on the surface)—to smooth the hair from the inside out. It’s also one of the only smoothening treatments that are safe during pregnancy.

The experience:
South London stylist Ben has worked with my hair before, so knows how curly and unruly it can be, and so he recommended the extra-strength serum (there are two levels of intensity) all over. The balm is applied to wet hair for 15 minutes, before it’s washed and blown dry; and then for the laborious section: each strand of hair has to be gone over with straighteners at least six times to lock in the keratin. After another wash and blow dry you’ve got your glossy, straight-haired effect for up to six months. Let the team know if you’re in a hurry and two stylists can work on your hair—otherwise expect to be here for four hours. While away the time by letting former TV make-up artist Krystina overhaul your look: it takes about 40 minutes for a full makeover that definitely left me feeling camera ready. 

The result:
My curly hair used to take half an hour to blow-dry and straighten—plus extra time with the straighteners in between washes. I can now finger-dry my hair in 10 minutes flat and have no need for those irons. As for the humidity? Absolutely no frizz in sight. This treatment has absolutely changed my life—I highly recommend it!

Kerasilk Keratin Treatment Service by Goldwell from $2,800; make-up $850. 23/F, 1 Duddell St., Central, 2861-9830, www.hollywoodhair.com.hk

6. Private I Salon

The tester:
Evelyn Lok

The place:
Private I is a well-known brand in Hong Kong that dates back to 1996. It now has over a dozen branches all over the city, with some dedicated to kids or decked out with VIP rooms for all your private pampering needs. I visited the location in the The Mira’s MiraSpa, which is bright and spacious but decidedly more intimate with only a handful of salon chairs. 

The stylists:
Director Alan Fung and I talked for a while about what I was after. I wanted a colored ombre with an edgy pop of color to make my dark hair pop. He pushed for a bolder neon blue, but I was feeling a little reserved so we compromised on darker blue tips. Technical director and dye-master Jun Tang got to work mixing three types of color: a cool-toned blue-black for my root, a dark navy blue for the tips, and an even darker blue to blend between the layers.

The experience:
As a hair color chameleon, my locks have been damaged from previous bleach sessions but I was eager to switch up my brassy overgrown blonde ombre. Since my base color was already quite light, there was thankfully no need to bleach the strands and the color processed quickly. Jun used Kevin Murphy’s Color Me line of permanent dye launched last year—an ammonia-, sulphate-, paraben- and PPD-free line made with honey, shea butter and pomegranate. It didn’t sting or tingle on the roots and had none of that eye-watering smell of conventional dyes.

The result:
I walked away with awesome, edgy raven-blue locks up top, fading to a brilliant blue that looks sharp but understated. For a dye using natural ingredients, the color surprisingly lasted through two months: Although for some reason after that the blue-black washed out to a muddy brown around my fringe.

Cuts $480-880; Ammonia-free color from $1,320. B3/F, MiraSpa, The Mira Hong Kong, 118-130 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2314-0990, www.miraprivatei.com

7. Toni & Guy

The tester:
Andrea Lo

The place:
With an international name like Toni & Guy, you know you’re in safe hands. The first Hong Kong branch was established 12 years ago, and the brand now boasts two salons and one academy in the city, with over 420 outlets worldwide. Step into the airy, friendly space at Toni and Guy’s Wyndham Street location and you’ll find customers of all ages and different dos chatting away with their stylists.

The stylists:
Director John Zhang talked me through the treatment, while a hair technician also helped to consult on color. My blonde ombre was literally a year old, so my dark roots had taken over half my head, the blonde color had turned a gross brassy shade and my dead ends needed urgent attention. Luckily, they were up to the task. 

The experience:
The T&G maestros got to working on the roots first, dying them to match my natural color. After that, it was time for a trim. I wanted to retain the softly layered look and keep it long, so the trim simply shaved away the dead ends. Finally, to revive my blonde ombre, the maestros opted for a color enhancer—rather than a dye—to avoid a washed-out bleached look.

The result:
All of my hair problems were solved in one go. My hair got its groove back, with a fresh cut and even fresher color. They even left me with some parting advice, suggesting that I put down the straightening iron and wear my hair in beachy waves to bring out the blonde strands.

Cuts from $530; color from $890. G/F, 15 Wyndham St., Central, 2801-7870, www.toniandguy.com.hk

8. Daz Hong Kong

The tester:
Adam White

The place:
Daz sits in an incredibly funky, rockabilly-chic space on Wellington Street that's full of exposed brickwork, vintage curios and funky floor tiles. The salon is wide open, with wood panels and furniture offset by exposed metal. Vintage (and super comfortable) barbershop chairs complete the look.

The stylist:
Owner and creative director Darrin Usher—the "Daz" of the salon's name—has been cutting hair in Hong Kong for 26 years. He’s friendly, charming and he knows his trade.

The experience:
My hair is curly and unruly at the best of times (not to mention thinning at an alarming rate), and it's prone to mushrooming out at the sides for that vintage stupid-80s-teen-actor look. Daz understood my problems immediately and he suggested a solution that’s new to me: tapering the hair towards the top of the head, as opposed to sloping it towards the neck. That way, as is grows back, the hair won't billow to the sides in the same way. Seems straightforward now that you mention it, but no one's ever cut my hair that way before.

The result:
Darren’s suggested cut worked amazingly well. It was a sharp, young summery look on the day, and even a few months on, my hair isn't mushrooming out nearly as badly as it has before.

Top tip:
If you want to book with Darren himself then make sure to to check the website: he divides his time between his salons in Shanghai and Hong Kong, so he's always in demand.

Men's cuts from $500; women's cuts from $880. 2/F, Tung Chai Building, 86-90 Wellington St., Central, 2956-3668, www.dazhk.com.

9. The Firm

The tester:
Kate Springer

The place:
One of Hong Kong’s oldest and most popular hair salons, The Firm overlooks Graham Street’s graffiti in Central. The modern, open space is flooded with light thanks to big floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows, which are especially great for admiring a new hair color. And The Firm does more than hair, too, with a dedicated area for mani-pedis, massages and waxing services. Thanks to removable salon stations, the space can also transform into a venue for parties or product launches.

The stylist:
I brought in my go-to photo of Jessica Biel, and my stylist Sandy Ng immediately knew what to do. She tells me what I need: natural on top, with sunny streaks towards my ends—an effect that can be achieved with a balayage. That’s the “it” hair coloring technique of the moment, as natural roots mean easy maintenance. 

The experience:
Sandy used a vertical tin-foil strategy, so I had some metal dreadlocks for a spell. The whole process honestly took ages, but that's because there are so many steps—Sandy had to dye my roots an enhanced version of my natural color, fix my weird orangey mid-section leftover from a previous dye job, blonde-ify the ends in strategic areas and then tone the whole thing. In other words: it is a long haul, however the salon's homemade ginger lemon tea and Sandy's great chat helps it fly by. She finished by drying and straightening my hair, then cutting while it was dry so that she could see how the colors were falling. 

The result:
As I usually wear my hair wavy and as voluminous as physically possible, I wasn't a fan of leaving the salon with stick-straight, though I did love the color. My bangs came out a little too blonde, but Sandy adjusted them as soon as I mentioned it.

Cuts from $650, color from $650. 1/F, Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Rd., Central, www.thefirmhk.com