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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Ahmed & Abdou Beauty Salon: Professional Hair Cuts in Sun City, Heliopolis
Combining shopping and beauty salons in Cairo results in a definitively win-win situation. Hidden in the far back of the third floor in Heliopolis' Sun City shopping mall, beauty salon, Ahmed & Abdou, have opened their first salon for both men and women, offering everything from hair treatments, manicures, make-up applications and hair removal.
Stepping inside, we were greeted at the reception and led inside to the main salon floor; we noticed that to the side of the receptionist's desk was a small enclosure dedicated to a barber shop for men. The women's area is far larger however, decorated with garish red vinyl patterns, accented by modern, black and white geometrical shapes whilst the comfortable waiting area is complete with a mixture of couches and chairs.
In addition to the fully-equipped hair stations, we also noticed three large pedicure chairs and a small manicure bar discreetly positioned at the side of the room. The nail varnishes used are on display at the entrance of the shop and include reputable L'Oreal products and a few from obscure brands.
Following the assistant, we were seated at an available hair basin and given a monogrammed towel to drape over our shoulders. The chairs and position of the basin was almost unbearably uncomfortable, leaving us in physical pain through the duration of the wash. Back-pain aside, the assistant provided us with a deep scalp massage that we so desperately wanted to enjoy.
After the washing, we awaited our hairdresser on yet another uncomfortable chair. Arriving a short while after, our stylist arrived dragging a portable organiser with a neatly organised compartments. We requested a quick trim (100LE), as well as a blow-dry and curling (80LE). Opting to avoid an unnecessary power struggle on the styling, we gave him the creative liberty to work as he saw fit.
Though he was off to a rather slow start, he quickly assessed our previous haircut before snipping a few ends, before he was satisfied enough to start on the fringe. Apprehensive at his somewhat haphazard style, we were immediately put at ease when he all but took out a protractor to measure which fringe style would suit our face the most. With the haircut over, an assistant came over to remove our cape and clean up the stray hairs on the floor.
For the blow-drying and curling, it was a rather typical experience, though we did note the extra volume added to our hair. The hair was then curled, befor finally, after a quick spritz of hairspray, the treatment was complete.
While the interior of Ahmed & Abdou is a rather tacky ploy to appear high-end, the experience and talent of the staff is not. Arguably, this is one of the only redeeming factors used to justify the unexpectedly high-prices of the treatments at the salon.
What better way to spend a rainy afternoon in Cairo than looking out onto the flooded streets from a warm salon chair as someone brushes your hair?
The visit to KRISS salon in New Cairo didn’t exactly start out as seamlessly, though; the telephone manner of the receptionist was found wanting, to say the least, as she opted to cover the mouthpiece with her hand instead of putting me on hold as she hollered at a colleague for help because she didn’t understand what a bleach and dye treatment was. Another let-down, was that of KRISS’ six branches, only one features a ladies-only section— the New Cairo salon located opposite Rehab Gate 6, at The Corner Mall.
However, things improved once inside the glass-front salon, which was a little on the small side square footage-wise, but cosy with cream-coloured walls, floors and decor.
After being guided to a black patent-leather salon chair, one of the two ladies’ stylists asked what was to be done. When treatments were added to the appointment that weren’t previously arranged for, she was pleasantly accommodating and began to appraise the head of hair in question before getting started.
The stylist stated that a cut would cost 150 LE, bleaching and dying would be 400 LE each (measured by how many millilitres of product was used) and the final styling would come to 100 LE. Altogether, a pricey day at the coiffeur, but the treatments are actually fairly priced when you consider them individually.
The hair was spritzed with water and combed thoroughly before being braided and cut; KRISS is one of the few salons in Cairo that understands how to cut hair that is to be donated to Cancer foundations to be made into wigs.
What they did with the remaining 12cm of hair was brilliant. Pixie cuts are becoming a trend among Egyptian women and KRISS has definitely caught on and learned a thing or two about how to create them. The stylist was precise – even snipping a little extra off after the final styling, making sure the ‘do played up bone structure (including the now close-cut back of the head and nape of the neck).
Then it was time for a bleaching – not exactly everyone’s favourite experience; the stylist made sure to dry the hair before applying the colour-zapping mixture in order to minimise the burning sensation we all dread. They were also careful to check the progress of the treatment every 15 minutes or so to make sure the hair wasn’t overly-bleached or damaged. When the desired tone was achieved, the hair was washed with L’Oreal shampoo, dried with a towel that came in plastic packaging (we’re assuming it was dry-cleaned) and brushed before L’Oreal permanent dye was applied.
Throughout the whole process, a blue plastic cape was used to ensure any spills didn’t cause dire discolorations on clothes – this was a nice change from the spare towel salons usually use.
One thing that didn’t differ between KRISS and other hair salons, however, was the stylist’s neglect to clean away excess dye from the ears during/after the dye was rinsed out.
Once the colour was set, the stylist got out the blow-dryer and flatiron and went to town, styling the ‘do almost exactly like in the reference picture that they'd been shown. Needless to say, we were well-pleased with the drastic before-after result and would definitely go again.
The salon also caters to men, so would make for a neat unconventional date (like couples’ massages, but cheaper!). In addition, KRISS features a mani-pedi section stocked with Essie polishes, including gels. To see what else KRISS offers and book an appointment, visit their Facebook page.