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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Ahmed Taha Beauty Center: Budget Beauty Treatments in Heliopolis
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.
New Cairo is currently booming with new shops, restaurants, lounges and spas, with Ahmed & Abdou being the latest chain of beauty salons to jump on the bandwagon. We can never say no to some pampering and so, amidst shopping around the growing Cairo Festival City Mall, we found ourselves heading towards the beauty parlour for some much needed relaxation.
Located on the 2nd floor of the still pristine mall, Ahmed & Abdou gives a rather luxurious high-end vibe with its grey and white colour scheme and modern furnishings. Much to our relief, there were no stereotypical, tacky decorations, or cheap and cheesy pictures of dolled up celebrities in sight.The overall design of the place was quite classy and the coveted salon offers all kinds of hair and nail treatments.
Upon entrance, we were greeted by the cashier and receptionist who asked what treatments we wanted. Upon requesting a trim and blow-dry (200LE altogether), he typed in our names and mobile numbers and escorted us inside. The place was, much to our surprise, smaller than we thought it would be and packed to the brim with customers. We were seated on the rather uncomfortable couches and remained so for about 20 minutes before we were taken to the hair sinks.
The quick and efficient staff massaged and washed our hair with top-notch shampoos and conditioners and skilfully untangled our hair without yanking almost any strands out. Our hairdresser immediately came by and patiently listened to our requests; no-fuss trims that kept the length of our hair pretty much intact. He began to snip away with our demands in mind and, shockingly, used quite unusual trimming methods - but our gut instincts told us to remain silent and trust him.
He finished cutting away, massaged some serum into our strands and began blow-drying them. Much to our dismay, we started smelling some burned hair and the heat immediately began stinging our faces; he was using extremely high heat. The finished look was not quite how we expected it would be. The trim was on-point and he definitely listened to pleads for our hair to remain lengthy but the blow-drying was nothing special, with our hair lacking the anticipated volume.
All in all, our experience at Ahmed & Abdou was satisfactory but lacked any wow factors; we were pleased with the trim, yet unamused by the overall styling. The fact that the place was crowded also meant that it was noisy and did not allow us to unwind and relax at all. We, however, thought it’s a nice staple salon to hit during beauty emergencies.