Finding a good hair salon and a stylist who you can trust not to bodge up your locks can be a real mission in Hong Kong. If you’re willing to spend big bucks then there are countless high-end salons to choose from, but taking a chance on a cheaper, local salon can be risky business. Luckily, we’ve discovered a place that doesn’t fail to disappoint and is worth every penny – O2 Hair Studio.
Located on 38 Wyndham Street, O2 boats a lovely, minimalist, but spacious venue and some of the most skilled hair stylists I have ever come across in Hong Kong. Having read rave reviews about the salon which opened in 1997, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about – and I’m very glad I did. First of all, this place is deceptively huge and stretches all the way back into the building to create an airy setting decorated with tile and wooden flooring, white brick walls, lush green pot plants, and the occasional Buddha head with gives it a stylish and earthy Asian vibe.
Given that I hadn’t had my balayage highlights touched up or my hair cut in seven months (it’s bad – I know), it’s fair to say my locks were well overdue for some love and attention when I entered the salon on a clammy Wednesday evening – and that’s exactly what they got! I was met with a huge smile from stylist Jerry Shiu and knew I was onto a winner when he told me he’d been working in the industry for 15 years and that balayage was his absolute favourite technique to use.
If you don’t know already – balayage is a technique used to create sun-kissed, natural looking highlights with softer, less noticeable regrowth lines – perfect for low-maintenance girls who don’t wish to spend half their life (or money) in hair salons getting re-touches. Named after the French word meaning “to sweep” or “to paint”, the method involves applying the hair colour below the roots, meaning the highlights can be left to grow out naturally without having to pop back for re-touches every six weeks or so. This has made it a hugely popular (and cheaper) option for women the world over – including many Hollywood A-listers who want that “I just stepped of a beach in California” look.
Sat in my comfy swivel chair, with a stack of magazines in one hand and a chilled glass of white wine in the other (they sure know how to treat a girl), I let Jerry begin working his magic on my long, straw-like hair. Teasing small sections of it, he began painting on two different shades of blonde (one bleach and the other a more natural tone) using a comb to apply it below the root. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, unlike the previous salons I have been to for balayage, he didn’t use foils in the process, which meant I was in for a more comfortable experience. Instead, he relied on his incredible eye for detail and steady hand to freestyle it like a painter working on a canvas.
Every now and then Jerry would stand back and observe his canvas before selecting a few more strands to paint – it was quite fascinating watching him in his element and seeing just how much he enjoy this technique. He even painted sections on the underside of my hair so that the highlights would show when I wear my hair up on those sweltering Hong Kong days.
After his painting was complete, I spent twenty-odd minutes sat under a heater reading about Brangelina’s ongoing divorce (*yawn*) before it was time to hit the wash basin and indulge in a relaxing head massage and copious bottles of gorgeous-smelling hair products. Another thing that differentiates my O2 experience from other salons is that they didn’t apply a toner at this stage, as there was no need to given that I had two shades on the go.
As Jerry began to comb and blow dry small sections of my hair using a big barrel brush to create soft curls, gorgeous tones of gold began to emerge and I breathed a huge sigh of relief that they weren’t bright orange or blue (now that’s another story). My natural beachy look came to life – but my split ends were definitely in need of a trim. Respecting that I love my long locks, Jerry promised only to take an inch or two off the ends and didn’t try to bully me into going much shorter or worse – lop it off without asking me first which has happened in the past!
As he glided the scissors through my hair, chopping into the ends with swift precision, he offered me some great advice on how to maintain it better. It turns out I have been brushing my hair wrong all these years by starting at the roots and not the tips, which explains why I have a lot of breakage and shorter hairs on top. He also encouraged me to play around with different partings in order to add more volume to my hair – something I’ve never even thought about before. One thing that really came across about Jerry – aside from his incredibly charming personality and sense of humour – was that he really cares about his clients’ hair and wants to help them keep it healthy and gorgeous with minimum effort. This is rare in Hong Kong!
Jerry also told me about the selection of after care products the salon offers, which help to preserve the colour for as long as possible. I took his advice and gave the PHYTO Paris PHYTOCITRUS colour protect radiance shampoo and mask a go, as well as the PHYTOKERATINE repairing thermal protectant spray. Now these products don’t come cheap (around the $400 mark), but I have to say the results are really noticeable. Aside from smelling incredible (without that chemical undertone), they make my hair feel silky and frizz-free without creating that heavy build-up or plastic feel that comes with some high-street brands. It’s incredibly helpful to have an expert help you choose the best products for your hair type too. So if you’re looking for quality service, expert skill, and a stylist who cares about your hair as much as you do – O2 is your place.
Balayage highlights start from $1,200 and a ladies hair cut from $600 (please note prices depend on your hair length and stylist etc)
O2 Hair Studio, G/F, 38 Wyndham Street, Central, (+852) 2529 6289