Looking for a first-class hair and beauty salon where pampering does not stop at the neck? That’s what VERNE MAREE found at this Japanese hair salon and beauty retreat in Singapore that uses the best Japanese hair products – and offers yoni steaming to boot!
What first attracted me to TCL Beauty Studio was its intriguing range of treatments. Located over two levels of The Flow, downstairs is a spacious hair salon with two semi-private cubicles offering high-end Japanese hair services with products to match. Upstairs are two treatment rooms for facials and other beauty services.
What’s more, they offer yoni-steaming – something brand new to me – and that’s what really clinched the deal. (More later on yonis and the steaming thereof.)
The Japanese hair care edge
Did your mind transpose the letters TCL to mean “tender loving care”? Mine did! In this case, the TCL in TCL Beauty Studio actually stands for The Conscious Lifestyle.
Owner and manager Takako Ozone is one of those incredibly sweet and genuinely nice human beings – and hairstylist Kimie Sako is from the same mould. It appears that nothing is too much trouble for them.
Singaporeans already know and highly rate Japanese techniques and hair products, they tell me. What about expats, especially Caucasians like myself? To be frank, I haven’t had much personal experience of Japanese hair products, but I have enormous respect for the country’s culture: wonderful courtesy, caring service and immaculate attention to detail. What’s more, Japan is a world leader and innovator in many areas of endeavour. I’m ready to learn more.
Japanese hair care – LebeL Viege
It’s no fun to contemplate hair ageing, but it does – just like the rest of our bodies. Maybe even more so. As we enter middle age, an attractively full head of hair is not essential to human survival, so it slips down the body’s priority list.
By the age of 50, at least half of all women report some degree of hair loss or hair thinning. Though we can cover up the grey – thank goodness, I say! – changes in texture and density may seem inevitable as hair follicles shrink and sebum production declines.
The Japanese LebeL hair care brand used at TCL Beauty Studio is over a hundred years old. In particular, its anti-ageing, plant-based Viege range is scientifically formulated to “boost the inner strength” of ageing hair.
Part 1: Head Spa
I’ve had head massages before, but nothing like this. From a range of classic essential oils that includes all my favourites – geranium, lavender, frankincense and more – I chose the stress-free blend. (It had been that kind of week.) This I inhaled from Kimie’s palms three times, in classic spa style, before she massaged it into my scalp.
Next, she wheeled in the mobile washing basin and clamped it down to access the floor-based plumbing. If you’ve travelled in Japan, or even if you haven’t, you may know the sybaritic bliss that the Toto Washlet toilet seat extends to your nether regions. TCL’s five-star hair-washing device is its kissing cousin, and it means you never have to leave your comfy chair.
Luckily, Takako had previously shown me the various products that Kimie would use on my fine, curly hair and my unfortunately ageing scalp:
- Viege Medicate Essence, with a base of spicy ginger to stimulate thicker hair growth and ward off dandruff;
- Viege Base Suppli, to thicken and strengthen the scalp;
- Viege Soothing Suppli, to nourish a dry scalp;
- Gentle Viege shampoo;
- And finally, Advante leave-in treatment, applied to the hair shaft to revive both the inner and outer layers of the hair.
I say “luckily” because the next 40 minutes passed in a hedonic blur of shampoo, massage, rinse, repeat. According to my trusty Oūra ring – a high-tech activity and sleep-monitoring device worn on the finger – I was out for the count for exactly 31 minutes.
After Kimie’s expert blow-drying followed by a spot of hot-ironing, my hair looked and felt smooth and fabulous. Now, I was ready to go upstairs to one of the salon’s two yoni-steaming cubicles.
Part 2: Yoni-steaming
Not just a hair care hair salon!
“Yoni” is a Sanskrit word meaning source, space or womb.
As a lover of sauna, steam-rooms and long, super-hot baths, I’m keen to try another, less usual heat-based therapy. Also, I’m always up for something new. Vaginal steaming hardly fits into that category, however.
Records show that it has been practised by numerous cultures throughout history: African, Eastern European, Indian, Ancient Greek, indigenous American and others. Some regard it as a way of reconnecting with your feminine energy, or as a cleansing and purification ritual. Japanese and Korean women have been doing it for at least 600 years, Takako tells me.
Meanwhile, she is filling a ceramic pot with boiling water and adding a mixture of therapeutic Chinese herbs. This is placed into a structure much like a toilet seat for toddlers – smallish and quite low.
First, it’s time to strip off and put on this fetchingly feminine tent. Being fairly heavy and plasticised, it’s designed to trap the steam that rises from the boiling pot. Now, I’m going to squat down and perch my bare bottom on the seat and stay there for 30 minutes. You could simply hover over the pot if you had a will of iron and thighs of steel.
It feels good! – though I find I do need to shift around every few minutes to avoid an over-concentration of hot steam on to any one area. Takako gave me this chart to refer to, on the basis that a picture paints a thousand words. But don’t feel you need to emulate every position shown on it, she said. Remember, your front-bottom is mere inches away from a pot of boiling water!
Benefits of yoni-steaming
Just for starters, vaginal steaming is thought to reduce stress, increase energy and balance hormones. It also promises to tighten the vagina, and serve as an overall beauty treatment. Other benefits include detoxification of the uterus, especially after childbirth, and to help treat haemorrhoid discomfort.
V-steaming was featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, since when it suddenly surged in popularity. Modern-day health guru Ben Greenfield says it’s not just for women, either. He himself owns an electrical steaming seat, made by Leiamoon, that allows him to practise regular “lingam steaming”.
For both men and women, steaming one’s nether regions can be part of a more active and mindful approach to sexual health. It may protect prostate health, boost pelvic floor muscle quality, aid menstrual cycle regularity and comfort, and much more.
Go on, visit this great hair and beauty salon to experience some cutting-edge Japanese hair care products and also try something completely different! After all, why should your head get all the pampering?
TCL Beauty Studio
#05-04 The Flow, 66 East Coast Road