What comes to mind when you (presuming you are not a ‘hair professional') read seemingly random terms such as Brazilian blow dry, Keratin treatment, voluminising and rebonding? Hair ‘treatments' are the last thing, probably. For those who just came in, these are ‘treatments' for hair troubles available in the city.

What bad hair day? That may well be a thing of the past. The secret to luxuriant hair (read silky, smooth, tangle-free, non-frizzy…) lies in gooey, nice smelling stuff in alluring tubes or bottles and sometimes shapely jars. And it is all available here.

The hairdresser, formerly of the friendly neighbourhood beauty parlour, is now a hair technician a.k.a creative stylist at a swish unisex hair salon. Hair is big bucks, and a bigger preoccupation with city folks (yes, the gentlemen too). Balding? Replace it. Hair too straight? Perm it. Too frizzy/curly? Straighten it or smoothen it. Short? Extend it. Going by the number of exclusive hair salons in the city, it appears there is a solution for every hair problem.

Shweta Kunjan of Live in More Style succinctly sums it up, “earlier for women it was about lightening the skin, becoming fair. Now it is all about hair…about how it is cut, maintained and groomed.” Shweta is a trained hairstylist from the United Kingdom. Her mother Shobha Kunjan, obviously, saw a trend coming when she asked her daughter to specialise in hair styling. Shobha added a hair studio to her beauty parlour Live in Style, which is where Shweta works.

Hair treatments have, almost, overtaken ‘facials'. Sujith T. K. of Phoebe says, “How many people do you think will notice if you get a facial, manicure and pedicure done? One and that is you. But if you change your hairstyle, everybody notices. And that is what brings the women in. Daily we get at least four women demanding a ‘change'.”

Women ahead of men

Women are ahead when it comes to spending time and money on hair styling. For men, dandruff is a cause of concern besides balding and haircuts, he says. “As late as last year, men were growing their hair and coming in for straightening,” he adds.

Hair health is a concern and taking care of hair has moved beyond oil massages and henna. Conditioning, deep conditioning, hair spa…there are options aplenty for those shopping for a ‘treatment'. These can cost from Rs. 500 to a few thousands (Rs. 10,000 at a salon) depending on the salon's reputation and the products used. ‘Money is not an issue for the client', say the salons.

Earlier if a desperate ‘bob cut' meant a change in ‘look', today it is about keeping the hair and working a look around it. Working around it involves, at times, a combination of treatments. “Sometimes just a part of the hair is treated,” says Shweta.

“Cutting off the hair is not a popular option,” says Jack Gonmei, creative stylist at Makeover V.2 (SA Road). The client may want many things, but ‘we look at hair health first', he says. “If we find something is not right with the hair then we recommend a treatment,” says Jack. Treatment could be anything from a simple oil massage to an elaborate hair spa.

Curly hair and what to do with it is a big preoccupation, says Rema Sangeeth, hair technician, Talking Heads. This is where hair straightening comes in. It came and went elsewhere in the country but it is still among the popular treatments here. “It is in vogue here because women find that curly hair becomes unmanageable,” Shweta says. She goes on, “not knowing how to care for curly hair and maintaining it is the reason for aversion for curly hair.” Rema avers. Voluminising is an option for women with thinning hair or getting curls (perming) is the option women with straight hair exercise.

Maintenance matters

The treatments last from six months to a year, depending on how it is ‘maintained'. Maintenance involves visits to the salon for touch ups as the hair grows. If the treatment costs a few thousands, maintenance too is an expensive affair. Most of these rely heavily on chemicals which are used to alter hair texture. There are others which are ‘protein treatments' and not too harmful, salons say. But the jury is out on that.

Some of the treatments go under many names but essentially they are different names for the same process, says Shweta. There are protein treatments available which do not damage hair and have practically no side-effects, says Rema. “Women know what they want, all thanks to the Net,” she adds.

As far as hair goes, women seem to know what they want. We say bring on the Rapunzels!