I had several friends over the summer ask me about what it is like getting your hair done here in India. I finally got some pictures so I could share what the typical experience for an Indian is like — just walk around the corner, literally, and one can find a barber to trim your hair and shave your face on the sidewalk. I have found that most Indian men keep their hair very well groomed. The cost for these haircuts is very minimal.
On the other hand, I have never seen a woman sitting at one of these barbershop stands. The women here have beautiful, thick, long hair and they pull it up mostly and I do not think they get a haircut very often.
Outside of the local sidewalk barbershops, there are hair salons in every mall and every large shopping center. It has only been in the salons that I have seen Indian women getting their hair done and the women that can afford to pay for the salon haircuts are a minority in this country. I have tried a few different salons and have currently placed my loyalty with a hotel salon which seems to work best for me. I will share just a few points about my experiences:
- Power outages occur and it is awkward depending on what stage of the haircut or coloring of the hair you are at as you wait for the power to turn back on.
- The actual haircut (labor) done at salons is very reasonably priced compared to the states but the cost of having highlights or color done is just as expensive due to the import costs on the color that they use.
- In the salon, there are multiple people working on your hair — not just one stylist. There is definitely a ‘pecking’ order on who does what on your hair. For example, when it comes time to style the hair, the head stylist is working the brush but there is another person working the hair dryer.
- My hair is much different from the typical Indian woman’s hair and so I sometimes get some interesting advice — like you need to rub mustard oil in your hair a couple of times a month to thicken it up. I wish it were that easy to thicken my hair. (I have learned that Indian’s rub oil all the time on babies’ heads.)
As far as other salon services such as manicures and pedicures — I have also learned a few things:
- The few pedicures I have gotten here are the best foot massages I have ever received.
- Hygiene is the biggest unknown factor to me and as a result I pretty much have resorted to “do it myself”. I have yet to see a bowl be cleaned properly following a pedicure or a sealed, sterilized packet opened in front of me with the tools they use to file and clean the nails.
- Cost is definitely cheap compared to the states
- Indian women wear their toenails longer. The few times I have had a pedicure and asked if I could have a French pedicure done, they have all declined saying my toenails are too short. As a result, I have begun to notice just how long Indian women keep their toenails.
So where do the rest of the family get their hair done? So far, no one has asked to have it done on the sidewalk. My boys used to walk over to the American Club barbershop last year after school to get their hair cut which was so convenient. But thanks to some changes and tightened scrutiny of the Indian government, non-diplomats are no longer able to belong to the American Club so we all find our way back to the ITC hotel salon where we lived last year for a couple of months. It always feels a little like “returning home” when we walk in there and the occasional perk is had by running into the big name cricket teams that lodge there when they are in town.