When I went for a hair appointment two days after my 25th birthday, I was in the mood for transformation. I had no specific hairstyle in mind, just an overriding desire for personal alteration. Once in a while, I feel the urge to switch things up by getting bangs, a perm, or chopping my hair off in a dramatic way. This impulse often surfaces after I’ve moved onto another chapter of my life, possibly because of how gratifying it is for an emotional change to manifest physically.
Considering how inconsequential our hairstyles are, I care about mine more than I’d like to admit. The last time I took the plunge to get bangs, I did so after nine months of careful deliberation. In some aspects, vanity has taken the backseat after months of working from home; I have not worn a full face of makeup in a long while and lately, I simply get my hair out of the way by pinning it up with the nearest claw clip that I can get my hands on.
And so I was ready to indulge in personal maintenance once again. Whether I thought of my silver jubilee as a departure from my old self or a new beginning, a hair makeover would allow me to neatly demarcate this period of my life from the rest. Luckily for me, HaLu Hair Design was down to give me the transformation that I desired.
On a hot Sunday afternoon, I stepped into the whimsical dreamboat of a salon nestled in the shophouses along Mohamed Sultan Road. Dried flowers of all colors hung from the ceiling and a vine trailed from the potted plant next to the white timber windows.
It was my first time at the Japanese hair salon and after speaking to the stylist that I had booked, I decided to entrust him with full creative freedom. My middle-length hair was wavy from the messy bun I had hastily tied before leaving my house and my curtain bangs were long overgrown.
My stylist took a good look at me, trying to assess what would best suit me. Then, he asked if I was game for short hair.
So he got to work and began to snip my locks off.
Since I had my mask on, I asked my stylist if it was difficult to cut and style hair without being able to see his patrons’ entire faces. He nodded yes but it was not a cause of concern for me — my trust in him was unwavering, probably because I found it terribly exhilarating to relinquish control and to leave everything in a professional’s capable hands.
At one point, when my stylist was trimming my fringe, the strands of hair that fell into my mask were irritating my face so much that I had to remove my mask to get rid of them — that was when he got a glimpse of how the new cut really looked on me.
“Ohhh,” he said. Before I had the chance to ask if it was a good or bad “oh”, he nodded in approval, seemingly satisfied with his creation.
Since my hair crown was situated on the left side of my scalp, my stylist decided that it was more flattering if I had a side part. To accentuate my brows and eyes, he cut a short, straight, and asymmetrical fringe before framing my face with a no-nonsense bob.
The priority of the stylists from HaLu Hair Design is to ensure that their patrons leave with hairstyles that are easy to maintain, ones that last for months after the appointment. When I asked how I ought to maintain my bob, I was advised to blowdry my hair every day. After the blowout, he styled my hair with a hair straightener and I asked if I should do that on a daily basis too.
“No, that’s special. Just for today.” He replied. We both laughed.
It is a point of pride for the stylists from HaLu Hair Design that they do not recommend expensive packages or push products just for the sake of the business. While the salon certainly offers trendy colors, perms, and rebonds, the stylists will assess their patrons’ hair condition before recommending treatments that are more suitable for them.
During my introductory visit to the salon, I decided to set long-term goals to work towards. As my hair is naturally fine and resultantly prone to being greasy, my hair goal would be to maintain a clean and healthy scalp. Since it can take a few cuts to reach certain goals, HaLu Hair Design ensures that its prices are affordable enough for regular visits.
(Since my hair post-cut was not fully settled yet, here’s how it looked just a few hours later!)
When I bounded down the stairs of the salon, I was practically on cloud nine. It sure came as a relief that I truly adored the final look and got the transformation that I sought without any expense to my fine hair — the full-fledged transfiguration was attained simply through the deft maneuvering of scissors. Although I was no stranger to bangs or a bob, I’ve never had both at once nor fringe this short and I reveled in the novelty.
As I walked to my next destination, I realized that my physical transformation was something that strangers on the street were not privy to and wondered if they could detect my newfound spirit from the spring in my step. That was the goal of a hair makeover, after all: to feel lighter in some way.
Photography by HaLu Hair Design & Sherryl Cheong
Editor’s note: For transparency sake, this review is not a paid advertisement; the invitation to the salon was part of a media preview i.e. the service was complimentary.