Help! I need a hairdresser to tame my mane

Marissa Carruthers is a freelance journalist who, less than a month ago, left behind life in the UK for the sun and smiles of Cambodia. In her weekly column, she will be sharing the ups and downs of settling into life in Phnom Penh as a new expat.

A Cambodian wedding guest gets her hair and makeup done at a Phnom Penh salon.

Katoey or “ladyboy” salons are all the rage in Cambodia, but haven’t taken off with Westerners. Yet.

The one thing that filled me with dread when I left the UK was leaving behind my hairdresser.

My beloved, talented Jo. She knew exactly where to put the highlights and lowlights, how to feather my uncontrollable fringe and she hacked perfectly into my masses upon masses of hair to create those choppy layers that take out all of that excess weight.

It took five years of “my, don’t you have thick hair” (really, I’d never noticed) from various hairdressers, who could never manage to tame the lion’s mane, before I found her, and when I did I vowed never to let her go.

Until now. I did offer to smuggle her over to Cambodia in my suitcase when she squeezed me in for a pre-move session in October but selfishly she laughed off my offer.

So here I am, in desperate need of a haircut and a deep conditioning treatment to put some sort of life back into the bush that has settled on my head; all puffed up by the humidity, and frazzled and fried by the sun and my failed efforts with the straighteners – three minutes after straightening, the frizz and waves return rendering the whole operation utterly pointless.

All hopes that the sun would naturally lighten my roots and hide those pesky grey hairs that are starting to breed on top have also been dashed, meaning I’ll also need to get my hair highlighted pretty soon.

I’ve been frantically trawling the Internet for Western hairdressers in Phnom Penh and have actually been surprised by the number out there. But after the series of hairdressing horrors I’ve experienced back in Blighty, I really want to leave crying in the mirror as soon as I get home a thing of the past.

So I’m on the hunt for advice. In fact, I’ll rephrase that: I’m in desperate need of help and all recommendations will be oh-so-gratefully received.

8 Responses to Help! I need a hairdresser to tame my mane

    Lynda says:

    For Westerners, you have Arya Vong Kim on the Street 63 (she’s French and Cambodian), and you have the French Element at the Himawari hotel… I’m about to try the De Gran, seems a good one too…

    Lina says:

    Personally, I like the Japanese salon, De Gran (and I have very thick hair).

    Ashley says:

    Any tips? also have extremely thick hair that has been “thinned out” in all the wrong ways in the past.

    Vidal Sassoon says:

    OK. I like your writing and everything and I’ll continue to read your entries here, but here’s what needed to happen on this post: You should have gone and gotten your hair done in Cambodia and THEN written about the entire experience. What you have above is an introduction (328 words) that’s more about your hair and your stylist in England than it is about Cambodia and expat life. I’m sure you have lovely hair and she really was wonderful but on its own it’s lacking. If you’d already gotten your hair done, badda bing badda boom, you could tell us all about the experience and it’d be a complete piece. Take that as constructive criticism, I’m not knocking you or anything. Not trying to be a jerk. Just helping you to stay on topic given the nature of the site.

      Martina says:

      I disagree: I was looking for info on reliable hair salons in PP and this blob post generated a few replies, which helped me find what I was looking for. So for me this is totally on topic!

    Jo FW says:

    Open Arms at #87, Street 155 is the answer to your prayers. Pop in to lie in padded comfort while you have your hair shampooed and your head massaged ($3). They do a great treatment with steam. Trust them to cut your hair. They do exactly what you ask them to, and it seems very reasonably priced. They really transformed my hair (which was terrible after about the first week in Phnom Penh).

    I probably couldn’t adore Ryan at The Dollhouse much more than I do. 5 minutes in his chair and I trusted him to chop my looong hair into a bob and dye it blonde. Not typical for me!
    Not cheap, but you absolutely get what you pay for.
    Cheers! :)

    Shonna says:

    Dollhouse Salon yo! They will fix you up good.

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