Whether you choose a smart, well polished salon or a back street corner shop, you should be prepared for a “China moment” when visiting a hair salon in Xi’an for the first time. Getting your hair done is a cultural experience here, and you need to understand what your hairdresser is thinking. The people in Xi’an are wonderfully friendly and obliging. There’s a lot of things you can do to facilitate communication and as always, the stronger the relationship with your hairdresser, the easier life becomes.
The Basic Cut and Blow-dry
There is no doubt that Chinese hairdressers (invariably young men with more hair than me) like to be in charge of your new look. The customer is not always right and you will be told so. My soft hair is a sign of a soft heart I’m told, and I shouldn’t have any styling mousse put in it. Decide what your bottom line is and insist on it. I can live with flat hair for a couple of hours. Do use a lot more hand gestures than you usually would to show exactly where you want your hair to be shortened. Avoid using hand gestures away from your head. It can be confusing. Do you mean cut this amount off or do you want this amount left? Set aside more time than you might expect. Chinese hairdressers like to make a good artistic impression and may take more time to pamper you as a foreigner.
If your Chinese is not too hot, take in coloured pictures of the style you’re interested in and be prepared for the kindly hairdresser to tell you “it’s not fit for you.” Most salons in the upper price range will offer you a choice of prices for a hair cut based on the skill and experience of the stylist. You may also attract a circle of young enthusiastic trainees wanting to learn about Western tastes. If you go to a smarter salon you are likely to be treated to a wonderful head massage whilst having your hair washed and a cup of coffee while you wait.
I once liberally applied my familiar brand of hair dye with enthusiasm, only to be reminded that it was designed for black hair when I ended up with an orange creation. Since importing potentially explosive hair dye substances is not an option, finding a good colour stylist is a must. L’Oreal seems to be the commonly recognised brand name around and lots of shades are available, although you may want to go a shade darker than usual. If you have greying hair, do be prepared for the stylist to want to ‘cover it up’ and ‘make you look younger’. This can mean a lovely black number or a vibrant hue of yellow. Take your time choosing and take note of the product number as soon as you’re happy with one.
Venturing into the centre of the city, you’ll find Salon Mandy along a smart-looking alley at the foot of the Drum Tower. The manageress here speaks very good English and is familiar with Westernized hairdressing terminology. The salon is divided into 4 areas, including a nail bar, a washing area, a TV lounge area and the main shop floor. It generally has a smart, clean feel to it. The staff are always polite and will do anything to make you feel at home. Prices are fairly reasonable but are comparable to home prices for some services. A good cut and blow dry with an experienced stylist will cost around 90 RMB. If you’re interested in a hair dye with limited chemicals, expect to pay 550 RMB, but a more basic colour will cost 350 RMB. This is one of the few hair salons that can highlight blonde hair. Prices appear to vary for this. If you’re interested in buying high quality hair products, this salon sells a range of British products to suit your hair type.
One of the smartest salons in town, Tony Studio, is situated just outside the city wall, located above Hagen Das. The salon takes full advantage of the large second floor windows and is bright and cheerful. The staff speak little or no English but it doesn’t seem to matter much in the context of the personal service provided. Stylists will take their time and consult you every step of the way. A simple cut and blow dry is likely to cost around 140-180 RMB. This includes a head massage, several conditioning treatments as well as coffee or water. Having your hair coloured is a fairly straightforward business. Prices start at 350 RMB and you should plan extra time into your schedule since there appear to be more stages in the process than usual. This salon will also offer a manicure for around 60 RMB and a 40 minute foot treatment and pedicure for 100 RMB. If you want to push the boat out, it’s possible to buy a 6,000 RMB VIP card that can be used by your friends and family at any time.
Once you have a style that you are happy with, you might want to consider using a cheaper salon for basic trims. Consider using a hair salon on a big university campus where you can pay as little as 8 RMB. Hairdressing salons on the main streets outside the city wall will also be cheaper. There, a cut and blow-dry may cost you as little as 15 RMB. Personally, I’ll risk a hair cut with the local university or salon but I’m much more cautious about hair colour and chemical content. Remember, the best thing about hair is that it grows back and you can start all over again!!
Salon Mandy曼迪 View In Map
Add: 36 Shiji Jinhua Commercial Walking Street, Gulou Guangchang, Xi’an
Tel: 029 8725 1551
Tony Studio 东田造型 View In Map
Add: Building A, 3F, Changan Metropolis Centre, 88 Nangguanzheng Jie, Xi’an
Tel: 029 8789 0229
Opening hours: 10:00-21:00
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Keywords: haircuts for foreigners in Xi’an hair salons in Xi’an for foreigners hair salon tips Xi’an foreigners hair-dressing guide Xi’an foreign friendly hairdressing Xi’an
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