Brunettes, blondes, redheads and everything in between – it’s time to reclaim your salon mojo: we’re opening up our little black book of the top locations for a trim, colouring, highlights, treatments and even extensions! Who made the cut? Turn the page for firsthand reviews and to see which hairdressers made the shortlist.
Where I went: Visage The Salon
What I tried: The Very Curly Haircut, $75 to $85
Desperately in need of a cut, thanks to stringy, dead-looking ends (and my hair’s annoying tendency to grow into a V-shape when the curls are too long and weighed down in the back), I decided not to wait until my next visit to the US, and instead to get a haircut in the city in which I actually live!
The problem is, it’s very hard to find a good stylist here who’s comfortable with, and knowledgeable about, cutting and styling Caucasian hair, let alone curly Caucasian hair. Scarred from previous experiences in Singapore, I was admittedly hesitant to entrust my curls into the hands of someone “new”. But, after hearing that Dominic at Visage regularly works with curly-haired clients, I decided to put aside my fears and take the plunge. It was clear from the moment I entered the salon that Dominic was confident handling my type of hair (in fact, he said I was the fourth curly haired client of the day). I told him I didn’t want any crazy layering (my last haircut in Singapore ended with tears after I realised the front layers were too short to keep in a ponytail), and he assured me he would do a blunter cut to avoid just that. A nice, long wash and scalp massage calmed my anxiety before Dominic started snipping away.
After my locks had been chopped, my curls were coated with delicious-smelling Redken Curvaceous Ringlet Perfecting Lotion (which, to my dismay, has been discontinued) and, after about ten minutes of drying my hair with a diffuser, voilà – it was time for the big reveal. Though I was a bit shocked by how short it was initially (I’d never had shoulder-length hair!), it was a happy shock, as my hair looked healthy and more voluminous than before, and the curls were back to their bouncy selves. Let’s just say I’ll be returning here for my next cut! – Amy Greenburg
Where I went: Chez Vous (next to Best Denki at Ngee Ann City)
What I tried: Blonde highlights to blend out grey with pre-existing bleached blonde (from $185)
Going grey adds another dimension to hair care. I have the added complication that the front is greying while the back isn’t, and because I hadn’t looked at my rear view for a while, I thought the gentle greying was blending well with my current full head colour and tone. As you can see, it wasn’t. The whole experience at Chez Vous was very nice. There’s a good selection of drinks on a very cool menu that tells you all about the company and the team.
They’ve been going for 22 years, so they must be doing something right. My colourist Khim was calmly confident, and I let her choose the mix after saying that the only thing I didn’t want was for it to be “yellow or orange”. She suggested fine highlights instead of a full overall colour, and she did them in no time.
The outcome: The shade of toner is so important, and I think it’s better to go darker initially as it does wash out – that’s exactly what Khim did, so I was very happy with the results. I couldn’t see the join of my old colour with the new highlights at all. It’s a little darker than usual to start off with, but I like it! – Rebecca Bisset
What I tried: Express Revitalizing Supreme Treatment (from $185), highlights (from $185) and cut (from $70)
As a natural brunette living in Singapore, whenever I go for highlights and a lighter look, I seem to leave the salon with a wild orange tint to my hair. The word brassiness sends shivers down my spine; eight weeks earlier I’d had highlights done that were two thick and too orange. My Chez Vous stylist, Serene, recommended fixing my previous highlights by making them finer, and using the correct toner so my hair would look naturally blonde and healthier. I’m not normally a huge fan of hair treatments, as I’ve never found one that I thought was good value for money. Serene suggested that I try their Revitalising treatment and that I would be very pleased with the results. I’m now converted to hair treatments as this is the best my hair has felt with highlights, with none of the dry, straw-like feel that I have experienced in the past. A combination of two treatments – a Goldwell one and a Korean one – it is the signature treatment at Chez Vous, and it ensures brilliantly shiny hair. I left feeling revitalised and refreshed with a great new hairstyle, and I was so pleased with Serene’s good advice – her colour recommendations were perfect for my complexion. – Sarah Purchase
Where I went: Expat Hair Studio
What I tried: Hairdreams hair extensions (pricing is discussed at a free consultation)
For years I’d struggled with thin, lank hair which had gradually become weaker due to the daily use of heat tools. Broken and extremely short at the sides, it seemed to be getting worse week by week. That’s why, on my last visit to Expat Hair Studio for my regular hair appointment, I was excited to hear that I could achieve instantly thicker-looking hair using Hairdreams hair extensions, a product that instantly thickens and lengthens the hair. (It’s worn by many celebrities too, may I add!) Healthy, natural and chemical-free hairs are picked by hand and checked for their protein content before being passed through a strict quality-control process, and they come in an array of different colours to suit many different hair tones.
I placed the order for the hair at the salon, and after a few days I was called in to take the plunge. First, my hair was washed and blow-dried, before each layer of new hair was attached with a light microfibre gauze – there are no special tools or equipment required. What I loved most was that I had a complete head of thick, bouncy hair within the hour. I’m told they can be removed as the hair grows and reapplied twice with a new adhesive strip. There’s also something called nano-bond technology to lengthen or thicken the hair, and your options can be discussed over a free consultation. It’s very low maintenance too, as the hair can be washed and blow-dried as normal. It’s recommended to purchase the Hairdreams care pack that contains a shampoo, conditioner and special hairbrush with ultra-soft bristles that won’t drag the hair when brushing. One month later, and I’m still impressed with the results. I can’t feel them at all, as they lie flat to my head – and I don’t think I’ll be able to live without them! – Jacqui Young
Suffering from hair loss? Hairdreams has just developed a brand new therapy to remedy hair fall and thinning – the Stop & Grow system. Available at standalone Hairdreams hair salons and their specially trained partner salons, it promises up to 23 percent more hair growth over three months. The formula is based on a special patent-pending concentrate containing phytohormones, collagen and taurine (a potent amino acid formula for hair growth), which stimulates the roots to produce new, healthy strands. The scientifically tested results – which showed the average hair-loss sufferer growing an impressive additional 14,000 hairs – are based on official studies from the Dermatological Institute of University Luebeck.
Where I went: Alikhan Coiffure
What I tried: Full head of highlights ($210), Olaplex ($60), cut ($120) and blow-dry ($45)
As my fellow blondes will attest, being blonde in Singapore is a challenge. The damage from bleaching makes your hair dry and straw-like, and leaving a salon with brassy orange tones and an unevenly layered cut is not uncommon. You’ll understand why I’ve always been apprehensive about visiting salons in Singapore. Cue Alikhan Coiffure, and the dream team of Aussie colour specialist Leona and Italian Giuseppe. Trained with Joh Bailey in Australia, they have over 50 years’ combined experience; and walking into a salon which exuded an air of professionalism, buzzed with activity and featured a range of expat clients immediately set me at ease.
Leona began my consultation with a thorough analysis of my hair. I showed her pictures of my ideal colour inspiration (Reese Witherspoon, sigh), and she explained clearly how we were going to achieve it. I felt comfortable enough to explain what I wanted, but also trusted that she would do what was best for my hair, and what would suit me. I have previously highlighted my hair with a combination of lighter blondes and lowlights. Leona advised that it would be better to stick with an all-over highlight to achieve the look I wanted. She also stressed the importance of using Olaplex to counteract the harmful effects of bleaching; it repairs the bonds of the hair that are damaged, even as the colour is developing. I also picked up a small bottle of treatment that I am to use at home to continue to strengthen my hair.
The colour turned out gorgeous; brighter and more even than I’d thought possible. Giuseppe (Joe to his clients) cut my hair expertly. Listening to my requests for a fringe, he guided me against it, saying that I would find the maintenance too much. We compromised with a sweeping section at the front that I can easily tuck away without compromising the style (or spending huge amounts of extra time in the morning with a hairdryer). I was intrigued by his choice of cutting tool: a razor rather than scissors. Joe explained that for my thinner hair, a straight cut with scissors would lack volume. The razor does not damage the ends, and gives the hair a more textured finish, meaning it looks fuller and thicker (hooray!). – Amanda Broad
Where I went: Kimage
What I tried: A cut by the principal stylist ($70) and the Hydro03 treatment ($145)
After a particularly bad haircut (and I’ve had a few in Singapore), I was looking for a new hairstylist – someone who would understand my hair texture (Indian, significantly different from Caucasian and Asian) and work with it. So far, stylists here have all wanted to thin my thick hair – which, done wrong, can leave it looking ragged and frizzy. On my visit to Kimage, Scarlett, my stylist, first checked my hair texture and discussed my expectations from the style – the length I wanted, the amount of time I was willing to spend on styling it and how much product I was comfortable using.
I’d brought along references for the cut I wanted: the lob that everyone from Kim K to Kerry Washington is rocking – and Scarlett explained how it might look different on me, given the colour, thickness and texture of my hair. We finally settled on the best possible version of the style, which would also fix my current cut. Scarlett proceeded to take off the dead ends, as well as some of the weight, with gradual layers that also enhanced my waves. This made it easy to style on special occasions, but OK to wash-and-wear on an everyday basis. As Scarlett snipped away, constantly checking to see if I was happy with the length, making sure that the sides were symmetrical, her attention to detail was apparent. Once she was satisfied with the cut, it was time for my Hydro03 treatment. Exclusive to Kimage salons, the two-step procedure helps keep your locks hydrated, smooth and glossy. Finally, she blast-dried my hair to see how it fell naturally, and made a few final snips. She even showed me how I could style it at home. – Smita DeSouza
Visit kimage.com.sg to find the salon closest to you.
Where I went: Toni & Guy
What I tried: Kérastase Signature Ritual, Discipline (from $204)
I don’t colour my hair and it’s not particularly frizzy, but chlorine exposure from regular swimming has made both my scalp and my hair dry. I explained this concern to super-friendly Johnson Pang, who is a certified Kérastase scalp expert, after being ushered into the salon’s private treatment room. Toni & Guy offers an expansive range of Kérastase treatments, and for me he recommends one designed to tame, moisturise and smoothen unruly hair. The treatment begins with a wash and soothing head massage.
Next, Johnson applies one strengthening and one moisturising serum to the wet hair. He then dries the hair off with a drier and applies a hair mask (available exclusively with treatments), which tames frizz. After that, he dries the hair to 80 percent with a hair iron to deepen the penetration of the serums. He then applies a restorative pro-keratin care mask for taming unruly locks, which is left in for 10 minutes. I take the chance to snooze as he dims the lights. Once he has washed out the product in cold water (to close the cuticle and lock in all that goodness), my hair feels surprisingly clean, not greasy. Before styling it, he applies a special leave-in scalp serum that conditions a dry scalp. He then carefully demonstrates how I can blow-dry my hair for extra volume. The final touch is the wonder product Kérastase Chronologiste, a finishing serum for perfect glossy locks. This is a very relaxing experience so be prepared to put away your phone for 90 minutes and totally surrender. I’m sold – my only question is: how can I find the time in my schedule to do this treatment every week?- Katie Roberts
Wonder product: Kérastase Chronologiste Parfum Oil Not only does this new finishing serum have a heavenly fragrance, but it’s suitable for all hair types. Apply it to dry, styled hair to tame fly-away strands and ensure an ultra-sleek finish. $84.50
Where I went: And A Salon
What I tried: Olaplex ($150) and the Soft Straightening service (from $200)
I had just come out of a rebonding hair disaster two days before my wedding last September, so when And A Salon’s stylist told me that soft rebonding was the only solution to managing my thick and wavy hair, I had an ominous flashback. Could I really afford to put my hair though that nightmare again? In the end, I was convinced it was worth a try. I was recommended Olaplex, a pre-treatment quite different from the rest, which is ideal for strengthening hair before colouring or treatments and great for Caucasian hair.
The stylist began with a process to soften my critically damaged hair, followed by a wash, flat ironing and neutralisation to finish. I was surprised by how uncomplicated the entire process was and I didn’t get a whiff of those harsh chemical smells (it’s free from silicone, sulphates, aldehydes and even gluten). Afterwards, my hair looked like it had experienced a turbo-charged reparative treatment. It looks healthier and has been much easier to manage day by day. I definitely recommend this treatment, especially for anyone with damaged ends. Veena Bajaj
Where I went: The Big Blow
What I tried: The Perfect Blow Out with the Young Again masque treatment by Kevin Murphy, $70
My friends will testify that I can’t resist a good blow-dry! It’s impossible for me to tame the mane, in the same way, using my GHD iron – only a salon visit seems to work. My locks are also seriously dry and rather damaged from years of highlighting and exposure to the sun, so I was keen to road test a new conditioning treatment too. To make it a real treat, Ellie, owner of The Big Blow, added on a ten-minute scalp massage, which was divine. Kevin Murphy hair products are the order of the day here, together with some heroes from the Innoluxe range such as the Innoluxe Elixir, which was used to reinforce and strengthen my hair. This salon is very convenient and offers a really personal service.
The brainchild of Ellie Sakrzewski, a makeup artist by trade, it offers an efficient blow-dry service ideal for those short of time. They can do everything from a classic, sleek blow-dry to party hair. Ellie offers a makeup service too, and her team can come to you if you can’t make it into the salon. She’s also branching into safe self-tanning, so if you’ve got a special occasion and don’t want to leave the house, these guys can bring it all to you; tanning kit, hair and makeup – the works. This is a small salon, so book ahead: you may want to reserve an early evening slot with a friend, so you can enjoy a few glasses of bubbles while having your hair done. Now we’re talking! – Emi Finch
Where I went: Hair We Are
What I tried: A deep-moisturising treatment using Wella LuxeOil Keratin Protect products (the salon may also use Aveda products, depending on your hair type); from $100 to $120, depending on hair length
I’ve walked past this salon plenty of times in the past on the way to my favourite foot massage place in the Serene Centre (Adept Therapy on the second floor, in case you’re interested). It’s small, the staff are friendly, and I was offered a glass of wine at 3pm – now that’s my kind of place. On the basis of my hair type (thick, with dry ends) and the last time I’d had a treatment (a very long time ago), senior stylist Christina suggested a treatment that would help tame my fly-aways and add moisture.
Chastising me lightly for overusing coconut oil in my hair, Christina gave me a vigorous wash for at least ten minutes with Wella LuxeOil Keratin Restore shampoo, as I sat there in the chair taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Once my hair was squeaky clean, she applied the LuxeOil Keratin Protect treatment and left me to “cook” for around 20 minutes under a heater. My hair was then rinsed thoroughly and blow-dried straight, just the way I like it, with no little kinks at the ends. She added a touch of Wella’s Elixir serum, and I was done. My hair was smooth and soft to the touch, and it stayed that way all evening up until the next morning, even though I had braved the humidity outside on more than one occasion. The salon itself may not look the fanciest from the outside; but, as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover – the service and treatment I received was top-notch. – Amy Brook-Partridge