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Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt.
Kriss: A Funky Beauty Salon in Mohandiseen
In theory there is nothing more relaxing than spending a morning or afternoon at a beauty salon to get pampered and spoiled. Numerous adverts, films and brochures give the impression that all it takes is to lie down and have someone take care of you. Of course, in real life we all know this is not exactly the case where most of us have probably witnessed a fellow patron breaking down in tears because eyebrow shaping can be so painful. After all, the saying ‘beauty is pain’ didn’t come from nothing.
With summer approaching we felt the need to head down to a beauty salon for some necessary maintenance. We decided to try Kriss by Aswan Square in Mohandiseen, just across from Gouthe and Tornado. Kriss has several branches all over Cairo and is quite a big name in the beauty salon market.
The entrance to the salon is bright and very white; the amicable staff will help you from that point onwards. Downstairs is a section for men only, where gentlemen can enjoy a haircut for 50LE, while the upstairs division is all for the ladies. After specifying our waxing and sugaring wishes we got led into a private room with a very friendly practitioner.
The waxing (45LE) was done swiftly and with precision. After finishing, the practitioner made sure to remove all the wax residue and applied oil to soften the skin. The sugaring (70LE) process was as painful as ever but very thorough; thankfully the practitioner works really fast so you are only in pain for a maximum of ten minutes. There is a shower conveniently located in the room, making it easy to rinse off afterwards – upon finishing we were presented with a cosy towel. Though the venue is very clean overall, we still spotted some hairs on the floor and in the towels.
After finishing these treatments we decided to have a pedicure (50LE), it is shibshib season after all. The manicure/pedicure department has two chairs for pedicures and a few seats for manicures. The design is quite funky and the flowery chairs are without a doubt some of the coolest we’ve seen in a beauty salon. The pedicure started off with a nice hot bowl and afterwards came a lot of filing, buffing and cuticle cleaning; our feet also received a scrub and our nails were perfectly cut and filed. Though we wanted to have our nails polished, the pedicurist advised against it because we didn’t have flip flops. While we didn’t get our own hair done, we couldn’t help but notice how great other ladies’ looked after styling.
Apart from the treatments, Kriss also has a little shop where you can buy hair products such as shampoo, conditioner, blow dryers and hair stylers. The same brands used by the salon are on sale such as Chi and L’Oreal. With its pleasant staff and good service, we definitely wouldn’t mind returning to Kriss.
Big or small, fancy or basic, there's no end of beauty salons in Cairo. Tucked away in the heart of Masaken Sheraton, Ahmed Taha first started as a neighbourhood salon that fostered a reputation based on quality and integrity. With another Heliopolis branch established since, we decided to visit the original venue, built underneath the apartment building that the founder lived in.
While the salon cannot boast high-end status, their team of hairstylists and beauticians have either been trained in certified institutes, or have extensive experience. The shop has two entrances; the main one opens to the hairdressing floor where Ahmed Taha’s prized stylists work, whilst a smaller, private entrance was recently created for veiled women who feel uncomfortable walking through the main area to reach the back room.
The salon was recently renovated and now boasts sleeker whitewashed walls and gleaming ceramic floors as well as new equipment, including full-length mirrors and leather chairs. Offering all the services expected of a beauty parlour, Ahmed Taha does cuts (70LE), styling (40LE), colouring (200LE), waxing, threading (+15LE), and an assortment of beautifying hair masks and facials – though on good conscience, we can’t recommend that you receive your facials here.
Although we’ve had decent haircuts on previous visits, our trusted hairdresser was at their second branch, and unavailable for the day. Instead, we opted instead for a blow-dry, curling and eyebrow threading treatments. Immediately tended to, we were lead to the wash basin where our hair was shampooed and conditioned, as well as detangled with a wide-toothed comb.
While most of the hairstylists operating on the main floor are men, we found that they were much chattier than most female beauticians we have come across; the conversation was forced even during the loud roar of the blow-dryer.
Excessive small-talk aside, the styling process was efficient and full of interesting quirks as our hairstylist incorporated rarely-seen methods of volumising and curling, which made the whole experience quite exciting. Locking in the strands with a quick comb-through of a gloss serum by popular-brand, Chi, our styling was complete.
Next, we moved to the backroom where the waxing, threading and private hairdressing takes place. The environment was much livelier as most of the salon’s patrons reside in the surrounding neighbourhood, making the shop a gathering place for sewing-circle gossip. With efficient aptitude, our beautician expertly threaded our eyebrows with almost no discomfort felt on our part. Besides threading, she also plucked when needed and trimmed the longer hairs down to equal length.
Ahmed Taha may not be the most glamorous hair salon to be found in the capital, but it’s affordable prices encourages loyalty and makes the parlour a sociable, beautifying haven.