Istanbul women are well groomed. Always. Regardless of financial situation, religious affiliation, social standing they always do they best they can. Here are some tips to how this is achieved, hairdresser etiquette and how to look your best in Istanbul.
However natural, underdressed and undergroomed I am in London, as soon as I step off the plane in Istanbul one of the first things I do is to go to my hairdresser. Depending on how pretentious they are they are called Kuafor, Coiffeure, or Hair Design!
In Turkey Kuafors are in every neighbourhood, like your local grocer. I’ve never been to a hairdresser you need to book your hair appointment. You turn up and placed in a virtual queue. They are very efficient. Even if all the hairdressers are busy, they assistants or their assistant’s assistant (there are scores of them as they operate an apprentice system) would start on your hair, washing your hair, combing, getting it ready. Nearly all hair treatments from a simple blow dry to full highlights is done by at least 2 people, a master and an apprentice. So if you go just for a blowdry it takes you about 20 minutes from start to finish. Many Istanbul ladies I know go to hairdresser at least 2 days a week, especially before going out or even just meeting with friends on a Saturday afternoon. Neighbourhood hairdressers are cheap, clean, skillful. You can pay as low as £5 for a good blowdry. Who wants to wash their hair at home!! I would go to a more well known salon for highlights or a fashionable haircut. Don’t be surprised when the lead stylist attends a couple of women at the same time. They manage it very well with their assistants and are very efficient. This is how they keep their prices low, the traffic in and out of the salons is staggering, especially on a Friday afternoon.
Istanbul ladies also have impeccable nails. All hairdressers offer manicures and pedicures. And the good news is you can have your nails done while you are having your hair done. The beautician has a mobile stool where she stores her equipment under the seat in little drawers and with her assistant (of course!) she takes care of hands and feet while you have your hair done. So it is quite normal to have 3-4 people working on you at the same time, you do feel pampered!
The beautician can also thread your eyebrows while you are at the hairdressers seat and all salons have a small room reserved for all waxing services. The only service you need to book is the make-up, especially in the summer at weekends (the wedding season!!)
Couple of tips :
* The hairdressers tend to do ‘bouffant’ hair, tell them do keep it straight if you don’t want it, I find many hairdressers a bit old fashioned when it comes to styling in the end, but then Istanbul girls love big hair.
* If you don’t want your cuticles to be cut, tell (or motion/sign/gesticulate) that you only want them pushed, they are a bit too heavy handed with their tools. Also please check if the salon sterilize their tools properly, most salons I’ve been to sterilize them.
* Have highlights only in good salons, otherwise they don’t tend to blend properly and you get odd colour combinations!!
* If you don’t want bleaching with highlights (like me) tell them before, ask them if they have natural dyes if you prefer it. (they call bleaching Loreal!)
Tipping : You have to tip EVERYONE. The usual method is putting money in the pockets of the hairdressing staff and put it in the drawers of the manicurist. In total it should add up to about 10 – 15% of the total and you distribute according to their seniority. I hate all this tipping, trying to remember who attended your hair, trying to chase them in the salon (although most hover around the till while you are paying) so I leave the total amount at the till and tell the main hairdresser that I left the tip. He usually knows how to distribute.
I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for years and years but I also go to simple neighbourhood hairdressers for a quick styling as well if I don’t have time to travel.
MOS and Erdem Kramer are the 2 main exclusive chains in Istanbul. MOS operates a scheme where they train a hairdresser and then they open a new salon in partnership with their trainee. So not exactly a franchise system but a new partnership. There is the Tony and Guy chain as well.
I have been going to the main MOS salon in Nisantasi to start with the my hairdresser there opened his own salon in Etiler, in the Hillside gym and social complex of the Alkent residences. Murat, the owner speaks very good English and has lots of expat clients. He does not work on Mondays as his weekends are very busy but the salon is still open. He also has a very skillful colourist and he can use natural dyes.
http://www.moskozmetik.com/etiler.php?k=1 Phone : Tel: 0212 352 86 19
The Akmerkez mall has the great Erdem Kramer hairdresser, which may be more convenient but I have not personally been there.
The main MOS salon is in Nisantasi, an upscale Istanbul neighbourhood home to Armani, Cartier, Dior and many more.
Also most if not all malls have a good hairdresser.
But I would not worry too much about going to a local hairdresser for simple procedures like styling, manicure. You need to look your best for the Istanbul nights.