Whether it is cost considerations or COVID-19, many of us have delayed heading to the hair salons for the past year or two.
Why spend the money, since we're not seeing our colleagues and friends anyway?
As COVID-19 becomes endemic and the long period of negligence negatively impacting our confidence and sense of identity, many of us are heading back to the salon for some minimal maintenance - be it haircut, colour or treatment.
It is natural for most of us to feel moved and tempted after seeing promotions on Instagram and Facebook. After all, prices can be as low as $48 for hair colours.
But is the deal too good to be true? Many friends who went down for such deals will tell you of long waiting times, deceptive practices and less-than-satisfactory hair colours. Many of those who promise $199 for unlimited bleaching don't actually bleach your hair more than once and are unable to attain your desired colour. Other times, you may hear the stylist upselling you treatments and memberships you do not need; in the end, you end up paying $600-$800 for services you did not intend to do.
Believing that this behaviour is not right, Singaporean stylist and colour expert Selyn, along with perm specialist Qiu have partnered up to stand against this negative behaviour with a new salon experience they call The Better HAF.
At its core, HAF is the acronym for Hair And Fashion. With many years at one of Singapore's top Korean salons, both co-founders are strong in Korean perms and trending colours, and hence, aim to change customers' life through hair.
This is where most salons stop - they bait you with beautiful hairstyles at artificially low prices but upsell you a lot when you actually come down.
Believing that your experience at the salon should not be this way, Selyn and Qiu built HAF Salon to provide customers with a stress-free time at the salon. This means:
1) No Hardselling / Upselling
Understanding that everyone has their own budget constraints, the stylists actively shy away from upselling services. If you're here just for a haircut, you can come by for a haircut and not be worried that the stylist will upsell you treatments or colours to go along with it.
2) Being Transparent and Honest with the Customers
It doesn't mean that Selyn and Qiu would totally not recommend add-ons here. If you're going for hair colour for example, they would still recommend you to add hair treatments because it is genuinely useful in extending the life of your colour and make your hair less frizzy afterwards. The difference is their commitment to be transparent and check the price with you to make sure that you're all okay.
As customer Eva shares, the stylists here are genuinely honest with what you can and should do with your hair, so you can have a peace of mind that they have your interests at heart.
If your hair health is not ideal, they may actually talk you out of your intended hair colour and go for something more easily manageable for your needs.
3) Using only good-quality products from reputable brands
You will also not find Selyn or Qiu using products from dodgy brands because they genuinely care about hair and scalp health. In fact, they are exploring ways to make hairdressing more sustainable by sourcing products from more sustainable haircare brands.
As much as upfront prices at HAF Salon appear slightly higher than other salons, customers who go to HAF will tell you that often, the actual bill here is less than what they get elsewhere. That's because of the transparent pricing that allows many of the services to be priced in as well as the stylists' emphasis on honesty and value.
Take for example, natural curls. If your hair is naturally curly, you may hear Qiu or Selyn advising you on getting a cut and teaching you how to style your hair rather than go for the more expensive rebonding or straightening.
So for those looking for not just gorgeous hairstyles but also, a stress-free experience to go along with it, HAF Salon is definitely our first port-of-call.
Want to see what an experience here is like? We follow Agent D to HAF Salon.
Hi, I'm Agent D, a student in her penultimate year of study in University.
I can blame COVID-19, the lack of makeup or whatever but regardless, I know I look pretty bad in here. I mean, I even had strangers or colleagues who see me for the first time on Zoom wondering if I'm really an intern because I look older than I really am.
That got me seeking help from Agent G, the resident fairy godmother here on Beauty Undercover.
Pls, I don't know what you're talking about. Your features are beautiful! Hmm... I do think your hair is a little long and flat... and is possibly hiding your beautiful features. When was the last time you went to the hair salon?
Ages ago. The usual hairstylist I usually go to disappeared one day. This got me finding hair salons around my house and somehow I stumbled upon this hair salon in AMK from Instagram. While the price was attractive, the stylists here try to upsell me some colour and treatment whenever I head down.
Could I please enjoy the hair experience in peace?
Apparently, this type of thing happens quite often. I've got friends who went down to those "popular" hair salons on Instagram which quoted them hair colours at $200-$300 only to pay $600-$800 when they actually go down.
$800 for a hair service? NO WAY.
My own experience + hearing others turned me off hair salons for a while.
Ah, have you heard of HAF Salon near school? I think you should check it out.
A quick search on Beauty Undercover revealed an instagrammable hair salon with its turquoise blue and pastel pink exterior. Ooh the perms and colours look really good too!
Ah the stylists here used to be from a top Korean hair salon, so it is not surprising to find that their perms and colours are good. But that's not why I introduced HAF Salon to you. I like this place a lot because the stylists here are very nice and genuine... and will never pressure you to do a hair service. In fact, they may even dissuade you from doing a hair service and delay it the next time!
This got my interest piqued.
You see, I've been eyeing curls like this for some time. Many of my friends have been going for perms lately but I've been staying away because of what my bad experiences with salons so far.
Can HAF Salon can give me this without making me astronomical amounts? If so, I'm willing to try.
So there I went on my first visit to HAF Salon.
Far East Plaza may not be the most atas mall in Orchard but it is in places like this that ends up being a treasure trove of gems. HAF Salon appears to be one of them.
Very different from all the other shops in Far East Plaza, HAF Salon stands out with the abundant personal space and the pastel colours that made me relax the moment I entered.
I was welcomed by Qiu, who escorted me to a seat.
More like a sister than a stylist, Qiu cracked several jokes as she asked questions about the styles I like and my preferred hair length. Maybe because of her friendly demeanour, I was able to confide In her about some of my insecurities and the areas I want to conceal with a more textured hairstyle. My hair is naturally curly so I actually rebonded my hair some time ago but Qiu assured me that it is not a problem. In fact, my curly hair would probably mean that a perm will likely look more natural on my wavy hair than rebonding. To make it more easily maintainable though, she will likely straighten my roots a little and give the ends a bit more oomph for the extra texture.
With that, we're ready to go!
Qiu kickstarted the entire process with a haircut. She shared with me about how the bangs are the most important because it frames the face most obviously - a reason why shes always very careful with it and why she always starts with the bangs cut first.
Once satisfied, Qiu began snipping off the damaged hair ends and cutting layers, forming the foundations for curls later on. She shared that the layered cut near the ends will be able to show off the perm, more like a waterfall.
Qiu however understood that I wanted to keep my length and so was careful not to cut too much.
After the haircut, she sectioned my hair and applied the perm lotion.
Seeing that my hair is pretty fine, she suggested using the low-damage MUCOTA DYNA lotion from Korea. Although the perm lotion would still break the existing bonds in my hair, there are a lot of treatment within to help cushion the damage.
To minimize damage even further, Qiu applied perm lotion first to the healthy part of the hair - the roots before pausing and allowing the hair to process.
Then she applied the perm lotion to the rest of the hair.
After about 20 minutes, she was done with the application. We had to wait another 10-15 minutes for the perm lotion to finish processing though.
To make sure that's the case, Qiu did a simple check - twirling the hair around her fingers to see if the hair was truly ready. Agent G shared that not every stylist will be meticulous enough to do this, so I'm glad that Qiu is one of those who bothers!
When my hair was A-OK, I was escorted to the wash area for a hair wash.
Even though HAF Salon is in Far East Plaza, I was pretty surprised to find the hair wash area being fitted with an automatic recliner! All I needed to do is to sit down and it will automatically help me lay down straight on the basin... cool right?
During the hair wash, I took the chance to get a shut-eye as Fanny gave me a good head massage I had in a long while.
Back at the seat, Qiu and Fanny blew my hair dry and began curling my hair.
Not wanting me to look too mature, Qiu curled only the bottom half.
After curling, she then secured the curls with rubberbands and connected the rollers to a machine.
Look at my funky new hair!
My hair is heated up for about 10-15 minutes to create the curls.
After about 15 minutes, Qiu removed the rollers and began ironing the roots straight.
Qiu says that this will straighten my hair's natural waviness near the roots and make it appear less messy!
To fix the curls in this new shape, Qiu began rolling my hair ends one more time and then applied neutralizer.
This takes yet another 20 minutes.
With that, we're almost done.
Back at the seat, Qiu blew my hair dry and took time to teach me how to curl my hair outwards.
It's kind of complicated for me but I think I'm getting it.
Ready for my transformation?
My hair used to look like this:
Ready to see my transformation?
Is it me or did my vibe change quite a bit, immediately after the perm?
I don't feel exactly the same, do I?
Regardless, gonna take lots of selfies to commemorate this moment.
Oh wait wait wait... can you see this big imperfection?
Yes - my colour! I don't know whether you can see but my hair regrowth line is pretty obvious.
I thought about doing my hair colour but to minimize damage, Qiu recommended me to come back 2 weeks later. This is because the perm has already strained and damaged my hair somewhat. To prevent it from becoming too damaged and frizzy, Qiu recommended me to come back another day and to apply treatments in between to let my hair recover.
This is the first time I had a stylist dissuade me from doing more, so I was positively surprised.
I had such a good experience the first time around though that I happily made an appointment 2 weeks later for my colour.
Can you see me rock my gorgeous new curls after these 2 weeks?
Wishing to add colour this time, I looked for resident colour expert in HAF Salon, Selyn.
Understanding that I'm on internship right now, she suggested ash brown colours that would lighten my hair while still allowing me to look completely professional. To give my hair that extra dimension, Selyn would also be lightly bleaching some sections of my hair to get the balayage highlights - this way, my hair will also look more natural as it grows out.
Together with the help of Fanny, Selyn proceeded to bleach and colour my hair, a process which was surprisingly fast.
In less than 2 hours, I was done!
Can you see the ash balayage highlights amidst the hazel brown hair?
Exactly what I'm looking for!
Thank you Qiu and Selyn for the amazing makeover! I was feeling kind of down with my frustratingly flat hair over the past few months but your perm and colours gave me a new lease of life. More importantly, the entire hair experience just felt so chill and relaxing. It isn't just that the salon looked so good; Qiu and Selyn were always very transparent at every step of the way so I didn't feel any of the usual anxieties I felt when going for a new service or stylist.
Thank you once again and will definitely bring my friends along for subsequent makeovers!
Share your experience with us by leaving a review here.
Otherwise, HAF Salon is having the following all-in promotions so you are certain about the pricing and don't have to worry about bursting your budget.
1. Cut + Colour + Kerastase Treatment @ $288
2. Cut + Perm/Rebond + Kerastase Treatment @ $398
Read more reviews about HAF Salon here!