my Nanjing guilty pleasure: getting my hair done!

So I fell in love with Mum’s hairdressers when we came to visit them in Nanjing in 2014. A salon full of these uber trendy, perfectly coiffed Chinese boys, none of whom spoke English, a deficit they more than made up for in eagerness to please. They fussed over my hair, it was wonderful and I couldn’t wait to come back.

And I wasn’t the only one… Nick was hooked too! Which isn’t really surprising. He loves his head being massaged, and every wash in China comes with a head massage when you’re getting your hair washed, and then another one before they blow dry your hair. And it was the perfect chance for him to take the plunge and change up his look. He has had long (like, looooooong!) blonde hair for most of our relationship. Early on when we were first dating, he went and got his hair cut short in an effort to tidy up his look. And I wouldn’t speak to him the whole night. He never made that mistake again! He was a sweetheart about me loving his long hair. He kept it long for me, even though it drove him nuts sometimes, especially in the height of Sydney’s summers. But he had been toying with the idea of a hair cut. It was a scary idea, for both of us! And he remembered the trendy boys at Mum’s hairdressers in Nanjing. So we decided that once we arrived in Nanjing, that he would get his hair cut.  And not just any haircut would do for my Blonde Bombshell. No way! We had something very special picked out. Special as in, the sides shaved off and a considerable chunk chopped off the remaining long hair (which by this time was well below his shoulders!). He was really really nervous when we went into the salon for the first time after we landed in Nanjing. Mum was no help. Ever since we were kids, she’s always said to both my sister and I, “Go for it. Do whatever. It’s just hair. Don’t like it? It’ll grow back!” And her reaction to Nick’s hair was no different!

We were all in the salon that day. Mum was getting her hair dyed again, a six weekly thing. Dad was getting a head massage to rule all head massages. I was having the bottom two thirds of my hair bleached and then dyed blue. And Nick was getting his sides shaved. We sure kept them busy that day!

There was much discussion about exactly what parts of Nick’s golden locks were to be shaved off. Most of the boys in the salon were part of the discussion (mainly contributing with hand gestures and facial expressions), Mum was forefront of course, and I chipped in my 2c every now and then. Song, Mum’s main hairdresser and one of the part owners of the salon, was clearly the boss in the discussion. Nick showed Song a photo of what he wanted and they all went to work. Zu Cheng very carefully chopped the length off Nick’s hair. Song directed one of the only girls in the salon to collect up Nick’s hair very carefully. They all marvelled at how beautiful, blonde and strong it was! I am pretty sure Song saved it to make a hair piece or something. Then Zu Cheng took even more care in shaving the sides just so. I was amazed at how the length of the side graduated from a little longer at the top to super short by Nick’s ears.

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My blue came out awesome. So bright and brilliant. I was super happy! And so was Song. Because my hair took so long to bleach, and then dye, the boys decided that they wanted to play with Nick’s hair while he waited for me. First, Zu Cheng did a super simple french braid, which looked awesome. He has such a feather touch that having your hair braided by him is a lot like heaven for your scalp. Then one of the other guys jumped in, deciding he wanted to do something a little more complex. He asked Nick if it was ok, and my lovely husband, in his natural laid back way, shrugged his shoulders and indicated to go for it. The result was amazing. Intricate braids with strands pulled right across his head… It was awesome!

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In the week after Nick got his sides shaved, I got very jealous. I loved it so much I started to wonder what it’d look like if I shaved one side of my hair off… The next week we went in, I got one of the boys to do a really tight french braid on my left side, to mimic what it would look like if I shaved that side off. And I loved it! So the next time we were in, I got them to shave it off.

Everyone in the salon was watching when they shaved it off. Zu Cheng shaved mine just like he did Nicks, and was just as painstakingly careful. Song saved my hair too, bleached it and tied it into my hair on the right side, so for about four weeks I had blue hair with two blonde streaks and one side shaved off completely! The boys laugh at me (good naturedly I hope!) when I get something unusual done, or when I let them do something weird to my hair. Worst case scenario, I hate what they’ve done and I simply take it out when I leave. No harm done. And I always walk out of there with lovely, soft washed hair and a wonderful feeling in my scalp from the massage!

My sister Kimberley gets in on the action when she’s here too. Last time she visited, she almost steamed her panties in excitement when she got to smoke, drink beer AND got hand delivered pork buns as they dyed her hair half purple and half red!

We’re very lucky that Song and his team know that when we come in, it’s always a rowdy, family affair! Quite often, we all take in our MacBooks and work/FaceBook/have very loud discussions about what one of the others is working on. Song’s team know they are more than welcome to have a nosy over our shoulders at whatever we are doing, and they always love to try to communicate their opinions with their hand gestures and WeChat translations! We take Airbnb guests and friends in to get their hair washed and blowdried, and Song’s team are always welcoming to anyone we bring in. We chat to other Chinese clients and make new friends, including with their children and dogs! We always have at least one Chinese passerby stop and stare at us through the glass walls that seperate us from the sidewalk.  And Zu Cheng has the most gloriously gentle fingers and he makes getting a blow wave such a beautiful, relaxing experience!

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Getting our hair washed costs us about ¥15 each. That’s about $3.40NZD, $3.12AUD or $2.30USD. Made even cheaper by Mum being a member, which is a very common practise here in Nanjing. Being a member means that you put a lump sum down as store credit, and then all of your subsequent visits are deducted from that lump sum. And the bigger the lump sum you put down initially, the bigger the discount you get. Which is amazing! It’s a weekly ritual for us now. Talk about spoilt. And every week the boys play with my hair, put braids in it, curl it this way, coif it that way… I really don’t care what they do to it. They don’t ever charge me extra for their tutu-ing, I love having people play with my hair and they seem to love experimenting on soft, fine hair like mine.

So next time you visit Nanjing, give us a yell and we can take you to be pampered, dyed and blow dried by Song and his team. A ridiculously cheap treat and a great way to wind down after a hectic week!



2 thoughts on “my Nanjing guilty pleasure: getting my hair done!

  1. Hi im moving to nanjjng in july

    I have blonde hair and i was wondering whether you could assist me with a reputable and good hair dresser tht could color my hair blonde that is not going to cost me an absolute fortune

    If so how much wouldnit be for half head blonde hightlights


    1. Hi Charlise. Wow moving to Nanjing! Thats so cool. It’s a great city. In regards to dyeing your hair blonde, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending our hairdresser to you, as he doesn’t speak any English and we tend to communicate with him through Wechat message and hand gestures! Which works for us but I’m not confident it will turn out great blonde results… My suggestion would be to search on Facebook for the group “Nanjing Expat”, request to join and post there. I remember a while back someone posted about a great hairdresser that spoke English. That would be a much safer bet until you get yourself settled in NJ 🙂


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