The words ‘hair salon’ is weighed with a deep feminine connotation, yet in my travels, I have often seen otherwise. In India, I looked wide-eyed with envy as men received neck and head massages along the Ganges as well as shaves and haircuts along the street. My feelings were similar with Turkish straight-edged shaves, and the atmosphere of barbershops in the U.S. It’s only in Colombia, however, where men thrive on getting manicures and pampered, that I have attained salon nirvana.
Colombians hold salons to a certain standard, so much so that I have come across many a Colombian in other countries who refuse to put their hair under foreign hands. Perhaps a bit superstitious, but people here believe in hairdressers having ‘good hands’, meaning someone who can cut hair and not doom it to split ends or slow growth. When that special hand finds your hair, you hold on to it. This is how one of the family hairdressers gets a Christmas present, how I know more details about his extended family than my own, and how he and the girls from the salon ended up at my grandmother’s funeral.
Lines form at 6AM in a salon by the International Center as women wait for blow outs and manicures, rituals that they undergo once or twice per week. There are keratine treatments, small massages, and overly direct hairdressers who are more than happy to reprimand on poor hair care. What’s best about this realm of biomaterial is the accessibility to the majority of the population. Most wash and blowouts will cost between $10-20,000 COP and a manicure around $10,000.
If you’re around Colombia, take it as an opportunity to invest in your vanity, a chance to practice your Spanish, and a cheaper and more cathartic therapy session.
What have been your memorable salon experiences?