All human hair has the same basic chemical keratin protein composition, but around the world, different types of hair require a different type of care. With a thoroughly multinational community, Dubai’s salons are under pressure to offer services that cater to every kind under the sun. This week, we speak to experts on African and Asian hair types to find out what treatments to opt for here, and which to avoid.
Avoid: Kenyan Nancy Karimi, director of Dubai’s Salama Salon, which specialises in African hair, explains that afro hair in particular ‘does not see eye to eye’ with chlorine, lye (used in relaxers that ease curling), bleach and henna. Yet she acknowledges the latter can be used in rare cases where an individual has very oily hair – one characteristic of afro hair is that it is very dry, and much more fragile and prone to breakage than other hair types.
Try: The key is to keep hair hydrated to make sure it is in the best condition possible. ‘At the salon, we use different products, mainly top-of-the-range no-lye relaxers, serums, protein, placenta, marrow and hot oil treatments,’ she explains. ‘We also do moisturising scalp treatments to prevent flaking, mainly made with tea tree, hemp, sulphur, jojoba, shea butter, coconut and carrot oils.’ She claims the salon’s best-kept secret is an aloe vera and Dead Sea water spray, used on hair after washing and conditioning, which aims to neutralise the effects of chlorine and other chemicals that she notes tend to be associated with water in the Gulf. In terms of styling, Salama Salon offers a range of services, some with a very practical purpose. ‘Braids and cornrows are very popular in summer to protect the hair from damage,’ she explains, ‘Dreadlocks are popular with ladies who don’t use any type of relaxer and are keen to keep their hair natural.’ Whatever you opt for, Nancy has a final word of advice. ‘Regular steaming with hot oil and protein deep-conditioning treatments are an absolute must for afro hair, but a good diet, lots of water and a multi-vitamin is a winner for all hair types.’
Cornrows and braids from Dhs400; dreadlocks from Dhs350; relaxers, protein treatments and colouring from Dhs200. Salama Salon, Deira, www.afrosalondubai.com (04 273 3424).
Black Hair Salon
This salon claims to specialise exclusively in what it describes as ‘Afro-American, Caribbean and dark Arab’ hair. Services offered include braiding, weaving, perms, wash and roller sets, straightening and dreadlocks, as well as extras such as mani-pedis and gel nails. It also stocks lace wigs.
Open daily 9am-8pm. Opposite Hyatt Regency, Deira (04 427 3424).
Zulekha Ladies Salon
Specialising in ‘all types of afro hair,’ this salon uses brands such as Dark N Lovely, Exelle, Soft N Beautiful, Motions, Beginnings and TCB. It also provides braiding and weaving services, using a range of different hairpieces, along with relaxers, dreadlocks, cornrows, dying, hot oil and steams.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-9pm, Fri noon-9pm. Behind Ministry of Health building, Karama (04 357 1666).
South-East and East Asian hair
Avoid: Oily products aren’t good for South-East and East Asian hair types. ‘Generally, a shampoo or conditioner will state on the bottle which hair type it’s most suitable for, but if you’re in a salon, ask the stylist – they should be able to prescribe the best product,’ says Michelle Kim, the South Korean manager of the beauty centre at Dubai’s Asiana Hotel. As South-East and East Asian hair is generally thick, Michelle suggests also avoiding styling products, as they will simply weigh the hair down.
Try: Use thick creams at home to nourish the hair, but if you stick to ordinary shampoo and conditioner (for your hair type) on a regular basis, you shouldn’t need to do much to maintain natural good condition. Michelle suggests that drying the hair thoroughly after washing will help keep hair strong, and applying serum to the ends (carefully avoiding the scalp) will help protect it from the effects of the environment. ‘Digital perms have become very popular in Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan, and often they leave hair feeling softer, smoother and shinier than before,’ she adds. For extra protection, there’s also the option to have ‘waxing colour’ – a protective layer that Michelle describes as similar to putting a bandage over a graze or cut.
Waxing colour from Dhs300, digital perms from Dhs800. Beauty Centre, Asiana Hotel, Deira (04 238 7777).
Korean Beauty Salon
Home to five Korean hair stylists, this salon offers a range of treatments ‘specifically for Asian hair types’. Digital perms are available if you’re looking for waves, thermal hair straightening if you want a sleeker look, and ‘natural volume rebounding’ which gives you a straightened look with natural waves towards the ends of the hair. The salon also offers colouring, party hair styling and manicures.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-9pm, closed Fri. Opposite Lamcy Plaza, Oud Metha (04 335 8042).
Thai Privilege Spa
As well as its traditional spa services, TPS also offers haircare, with ‘a particular focus on Asian and Arabic hair types’. Services include colouring using Davines, which uses 98 percent natural ingredients, and a Davines melu hair treatment for dry, brittle hair that has reacted badly to the environment and pollution.
Open daily 10am-10pm. Al Wasl Road (04 348 9679).