About a decade ago, I walked into a famed hair salon chain in Ngee Ann City looking to get a cut and colour job. It was an upgrade for me, moving from irregular neighbourhood hairdressers to a middleweight guy (let’s call him, Frankie) from a city salon. Yes, I was ready to pay a premium, but more than just getting a new ‘do, I was excited to start building that ‘hairstylist-client relationship’ I keep reading and hearing about. I wanted someone creative and trustworthy I could go to on the regular, and I thought Frankie was it.
Sitting in the chair, my hopes were dashed faster than my post-colour hair could dry. This so-called middleweight creative stylist whom I was paying extra for came to me, chatted for a minute on what I wanted to do, left, then came back after my colour job to cut my hair for ten minutes. After which I never saw him again. And guess who I had for company the whole time? A very disgruntled trainee assistant who took her frustrations out on my strands. But, as petulant as she was, she never forgot the dollars and cents – telling me my frizzy hair needs treatment this and my scalp needs ampoule that. Five hours later, I walked out with hair that’s slightly trimmed, coloured, and somewhat softer, which cost $300 more than what was initially quoted. After forking out $500+ (which was almost all of my student allowance then), I swore never to return to such salons. I was convinced that all these people cared about was pushing sales selfishly, they were far from concerned with building a genuine relationship and providing the personal touch.
As you can imagine, for many years following this incident, I’ve hopped from chair to chair in different suburban salons without ever fixing on one place. I tried giving another salon chain a go, but its hairstylist did not impress. After that I resigned myself to DIY jobs (why pay $200 when I can dye my hair for $20, and why pay $40 when I can trim my bangs and ends myself?) and haphazard attempts at beautifying my mane. Maybe that explains why I always have it tied up or in a bun – no one can see my mistakes that way.
But truth be told, I was getting tired of wearing that same look – mid-back length, heavily layered, blunt bangs. For a while now, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting pastel coloured hair and even contemplated shaving both my sides off a la Rihanna (because if not now then when?) but I never got down to it. So when the timely invitation came for a hair makeover at Backstage Hair Salon, my answer was obvious. The only question was, what style should I get?
Helmed by hair maestro Judy Koh (who once trained under David Gan), Backstage Hair Salon prides itself on being one of the country’s best, with a team of experienced stylists at the ready to craft suitable hairstyles for every customer. And for all that expertise under one roof, a haircut costs a mere $45 upwards.
I must admit I was a bit apprehensive en route to Winsland House. The thought of putting myself at the mercy of unfamiliar hands is quite daunting, plus I had no idea how exactly I wanted my hair to look. But I pushed through those glass doors anyway and met Elaine. Immediately, we hit it off and started throwing ideas back and forth with some reference pix I had. I wanted something different; a style that is forward yet easy to maintain, and one that doesn’t need tying or bunning up on hot days.
Pleasantly surprised by her seasoned cutting methods and swift ease when working, I quizzed Elaine on her background out of curiosity. She may look young but Elaine is a veteran in her field, backed by almost 20 years of experience (of which 10 was spent with Backstage). It’s no wonder then that she moves her hands in a breezy rhythm and cuts with care and precision. I spent a total of six hours in her chair (cut, bleach, colour, wash, cut, dry, style) chatting about boys, life and our jobs, and it was time well spent. At 9pm that night, I walked away with a rockin’ ‘do (shoulder length messy bob with hot pink ends and shaved side) and a new friend. And it’s stylists like Elaine who make parting good money for a quality hairstyling experience worth your every penny.
The next time you’re itching for a makeover, head on down to Backstage Hair Salon at Winsland House and hit Elaine up. And to sweeten the deal, quote my name at the start of your session and ‘like’ Backstage on Facebook to enjoy 20% discount off all services (excluding products and Director’s services) from now till January 31, 2014.
Backstage Hair Salon is located at #01-03 Winsland House One, No.3 Killiney Road, Singapore 239519, tel: 6733-6696.