Expert Tips for Managing Awkward Hair (or The Soda Spa at le blanc by mashu)

I have to confess that I have been neglecting my own personal hair care in favour of learning how to manage Little E’s curly locks. Fortunately, I have straight hair which is generally pretty easy to manage. My challenge is finding the time to style it all pretty and visit the hairdressers.

To be perfectly honest, getting to the hairdressers is a real big deal for me because I have to find time in my weekday schedule (or rather, the children’s schedules) and then co-ordinate with the Aged Ps to find a time where babysitting the kids is a possibility. Which is why my current method of hairstyling consists of the following steps:

  1. Visit hairdresser and get hair cut short. Really short. Preferably into a bob which requires little attention.
  2. Allow hair to grow out for about 6 months until it reaches Awkward Hair Stage where it is neither long nor short and just looks untidy all the time.
  3. Look untidy all the time until hair grows long enough to tie into a pony tail or until it is convenient to visit the hairdresser.

My utter failure to pay attention to my crowning glory (or haystack, as it was beginning to resemble) has gotten much worse lately due to Baby #3. Pregnancy hormones usually lead to a change in hair growth, quality and texture, which usually leads to most expectant moms sporting thicker, glossier-looking manes. In my case, unfortunately, my hair became both coarse and dry.

This change in texture, combined with the fact that my hair had reached Awkward Hair Stage was really starting to get me down so I was overjoyed when the up-and-coming hair salon, le blanc by mashu, invited me for a haircut-and-styling session (with their Creative Director Masaeki Ueda) and their signature Soda Spa Scalp Treatment!

le blanc by mashu is a well-established (25 years and counting!), award-winning chain of hair salons in Osaka, Japan, with a reputation for not only customising the latest trends to suit each individual’s style and natural beauty but is also committed to affordability.

The team of Japanese hairstylists working at the newly opened Plaza Singapura location have flown in from Osaka to establish themselves under the watchful eye of Creative Director, Masaeki Ueda, whose goal is to empower women to style their own hair without breaking their bank accounts. I was surprised to find out that rates for a senior hairstylist at le blanc by mashu starts at a mere SGD$45 which is about half of what other premium hair salons are charging!

le-blanc-mashu-japanese-hairdressing-salon

le blanc by mashu – a very plush hair salon!

I have to say that the interior of the salon is very welcoming and comfortable! I was ushered to my chair and served a very refreshing cup of green tea, then taken to the shampoo room for the Soda Spa Scalp Treatment.

Now, one of the signature hair services provided by le blanc by mashu is the use of carbonated water or ‘tansan‘ spa water as part of their hair-washing regime. As far as I understand it, every customer will enjoy having their hair washed and rinsed in bubbly ‘tansan‘ water, which is reputed to deep cleanse hair follicles and improve circulation to the scalp.

The Soda Spa Scalp Treatment (SGD$110) is a more intense treatment which is supposed to improve hair quality, reduce hair loss and maintain a healthy, dandruff-free scalp. This involves massaging a large quantity frothy and pleasant-smelling Soda Spa Foam, a mousse containing concentrated carbon dioxide (you can see the pink Soda Spa Foam bottle in the picture above) into the scalp and hair which is then wrapped in a towel and steamed for ten minutes. After the foam is rinsed off with more ‘tansan’ spa water, Sparkling Spa Shower hair tonic (from the gold bottle in the picture above) is applied liberally to the scalp. This is a fizzy blend of concentrated carbon dioxide with all sorts of interesting herbal extracts including ginseng, ginger, witch hazel and angelica root which feels highly refreshing and energising!

WARNING: SCIENCE!!!

Now, I am quite a skeptical person, so I did a little bit of research into the effects of carbonated water on the skin. We all know that throughout history, people have built health farms around bubbling hot springs and visiting these spas to ‘take the waters’ has long been touted to have positive health benefits especially for those people suffering from skin lesions. I always maintained that it was the act of relaxing in a steaming long bath and being massaged by warm hands that improved circulation and general well-being.

However, there is evidence that carbon dioxide and carbonated water does have a positive effect on irritated skin (such as in dermatitis or eczema), with the mildly acidic water providing an antiseptic effect and the flushing of carbon dioxide leading to blood capillary dilatation, thereby increasing circulation to the area and stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. It is no wonder that carbon-dioxide lasers are being used in dermatology and aesthetic medicine to treat scars and improve wound healing.

I have no doubt that the soda water has a good effect on the scalp, but I was surprised to see the results of the treatment on my hair. I found that my coarse and dry hair became noticeably softer and silkier after the treatment. It was light, bouncy, and incredibly shiny. Hooray!

Although I was given a canister of Soda Spa Foam as well as sample bottles of Shiseido Fuente Forte shampoo and conditioner (the hair salon only uses Shiseido hair care products and colouring treatments) to take home so as to prolong the effects of the treatment, I decided to use my usual hair products to see how long the salon-effect would last.

Surprisingly, my hair remained at that level of silky softness for nearly 2 weeks – I would wake up every morning, run my fingers through my hair and not feel a single snag or tangle. I didn’t even have to brush it.

After the Soda Spa Treatment, I was led back to my plush chair where Mr Ueda inspected the haystack and we chatted about how best to manage the Awkward Hair Stage. Any concerns I had about communicating with the Japanese hairstylists were quickly eradicated as Mr Ueda turned out to be highly intuitive – deducing that as a busy mom, I don’t often have time to visit the hair salon or spend a lot of time styling hair.

To my surprise, he didn’t encourage me (like most other hairdressers do) to cut my hair short into a simple wash-and-wear bob or pixie crop, as in a month or so it would grow too long and no longer hold its neat shape. His advice was to neaten the ends of my hair (so that it looks less obviously like an overgrown bob, which it was) then allow the hair to grow long enough such that the weight of it would pull it straight and even. Until then, he would teach me how to manage the Awkward Hair Stage.

Here are his tips on how to manage the Awkward Hair Stage.

Masaeki Ueda’s Expert Advice on How to Manage the Awkward Hair Stage

When straight hair reaches the ‘neither long nor short’ stage, it tends to follow the curve of the head and neck, so that it is both lifeless on top and lying in untidy-looking kinks at the bottom. Here’s how to get around this problem:

  1. Perm the lower half of your hair. The ringlets will look cute and bouncy, and because they curl ‘every which way’, it is surprisingly easy to maintain – just wash, scrunch and go!
  2. For expectant moms who should not be doing chemical perms, just apply a teensy bit of hair wax to the ends of the hair, and use curling tongs lightly on the ends to achieve the same effect.
  3. When blowdrying hair, aim the nozzle of the hairdryer upwards whilst twisting sections of your hair around your finger. This will naturally make your hair curl inwards towards your face and give it more bounce on the top.
  4. Do not blow-dry hair with the nozzle facing downwards or the hair will ‘set’ against your head and neck so that your hair is flat on top and kinks out at the bottom.
  5. A zig-zag hair parting gives extra bounce to flat hair and looks interesting to boot!
Goodbye Awkward Hair!

Goodbye Awkward Hair!

Meimei, the kind folk at le blanc by mashu also gave me two vouchers for another cut-and-styling session with the Soda Spa Scalp Treatment, and I had such a great time there, I am going to give them to you and the Aged P for when you come a-visiting for that Special Occasion later this year! The both of you deserve some pampering!

As for me, I will definitely be visiting the salon again once the pregnancy hormones have worn off – and I’m going to try out that perm Mr Ueda recommended!

P.S. le blanc by mashu is running a special promotion from now until the end of March 2015 – book a Soda Spa Scalp Treatment and get 50% off the price of a hair cut! Bargain!!

le blanc et mashu

Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
#04-31
Opening Hours: Daily from 1100-1930
Tel: 6333 4681/4682
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