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Finding a good hairdresser that you can rely on to keep your tresses in tip top shape is as hard as finding that LBD that will fit you in all the right places – virtually impossible.
Luckily, we’ve tried and tested a host of hair stylists and salons in the region and have shortlisted our favourites. We will continue to update this list so save it and check in on us, your most trusted friend, from time to time.
The salon: Trevor Sorbie Arabia, Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall, (04) 388 8440
Hairdresser to ask for: Fiona (for colour) and Serena (for cuts)
The service: We’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening of this UK import—its founder and namesake has cut the hair of Grace Jones and Helen Mirren, and his salon is famed for its exacting standards.
The space itself is gorgeous, all high ceilings and grey stone with lush foliage hanging on the walls and from above. Set in the brand new Fashion Avenue extension of The Dubai Mall, it’s got a very luxurious vibe.
So we knew we were dealing with experts with the top-tier team of Fiona and Serena, brought over from the Manchester salon to set the tone here in Dubai. Their friendly, knowledgable manner set us at ease right away, with Fiona knowing just what we meant by ‘not too Instagram-looking,’ and Serena assuring us that the remnants of a grown-out fringe wouldn’t pose a problem.
We settled in with a coffee while Fiona got to work on our balayage, which she made admirably quick work of considering the amount of hair she had to deal with, and then headed to the sink for a wash and a tone.
The result? Rosy gold lengths that strike the balance between a bit of fun and almost natural. Impressive stuff.
With an efficient, confident trim and style from Serena (see this woman next time you need some bouncy waves) we were feeling ourselves, and out the door. This might be the best we’ve felt about our hair in years, and if the comments we’ve had are anything to go by, it’s a crowd pleaser.
We’re already pencilling ourselves in for a repeat visit. It’s a new favourite.
Price: Cut from Dhs470 from a top stylist, or Dhs370 from a stylist. Balayage from Dhs570 from a director and Dhs470 from a technician.
The salon: Rossano Ferretti, Villa 306, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, (04) 330 0073
Hairdresser to ask for: Elisa (Method Director).
The service: When a salon’s signature cut has been devised by a man entrusted with the Duchess of Cambridge’s iconic locks, you know you’re in safe hands.
Hence why expectations were high when we entered Rossano Ferretti’s first Dubai salon—and we were impressed from the outset. Clad in dark woods, marbles and glossy surfaces as far as the eye can see, the villa more resembled a high-end boutique than a place to get your split ends chopped off.
Yet that’s what was in store as Method Director Elisa grasped our in-need-of-a-trim strands. Asking to be subtly lightened into a dark blonde, Elisa instantly understood the exact hue we were after, using a colour guide to ensure we knew what we were in store for. With an efficient assistant beside her, the pair quickly whipped up a full head of highlights in record time (we barely even managed to finish our americano).
Before we knew it, we were washed and back at our seat, asking for a small trim to ensure some uneven layers continued to grow out. Rightfully diagnosing the mistake a previous stylist had made in feathering our fine hair, she assured us she’d create a blunt style that would grow out beautifully (and she wasn’t wrong). Elisa also suggested a gently sweeping fringe—we’ve always harboured a desire for our stylists to tell us what exactly would suit our face shape, and her assured tone convinced us she knew her stuff. Again, Elisa wasn’t wrong.
In all our 15+ years of dyeing our hair, we walked out with the most seamless, almost imperceptible (yet still very much there) colour we’ve ever had. And trust us, we’ve tried many a salon around the world. The expensive, natural-looking shade had no lines or harsh edges, nor looks touched by bleach, while the restrained cut tackled frizzy ends without stripping too much length. Yes, taking off an inch here really does mean an inch.
We arrived questioning if the Rossano Ferretti name would live up to the hype; we left with no doubt about it. In fact, we’ve already booked in for a repeat visit (and is there any greater praise than that?).
Price: Cut from Dhs450 by a Method Director, or from Dhs250 by a stylist. Highlights from Dhs390 for a half head, or Dhs580 for a full head.
The salon: La Loge Jose Eber, The Address Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, (04) 452 9328
Hairdresser to ask for: Hani.
The service: This salon is opulent – it’s dripping in gold, topped off with chandeliers and is tucked away inside the new Address Boulevard in Downtown Dubai (and its prices match the interior, with cuts costing Dhs400).
If you’re after highlights that are natural and work well with your born-with-it colour, you can’t go past La Loge’s stylist and colourist Hani.
He’s a man of few words, which sometimes we actually prefer – it means you can get through many magazines – and he specialises in crafting simple colour that matches skin tones. “I do only what suits people,” he told us before giving us a full head of ashy highlights, adding in a brunette layer that matched our natural colour (the regrowth period has been less harsh than normal).
He’s a fast, confident cutter and he gave us layers without them being obvious (which is key). He also put our highlights in at slightly different levels on the root line to give our hair that more-natural ‘a-week-after-colouring’ look from the moment we walked out of the salon. A nice touch.
Top tip: We’re all about multitasking and so got a quick polish change (Dhs60) while waiting for our colour to set, and it was one of the most thorough we’ve had in Dubai. Plus, they use Delfy London polishes, which last really well so you’re looking at a week sans chips.
Price: Dhs400 for cut and Dhs200 for blowdry and Dhs550 for half-head highlights.
The salon: Toni&Guy, Dukes Dubai Hotel, Palm Jumeirah, (04) 512 9292
Hairdressers to ask for: Dale for cuts and Silvia for colour
The service: When we book our appointment, we’re asked if we wouldn’t mind popping in for a consult beforehand, so the stylists can see our hair type, work out exactly how much time will be needed, and ensure our expectations are clear. We immediately feel like we’re in expert hands.
We come in with the most vague of requests: Something natural and low-maintenance. We admit the last time we had our blonde highlights freshened up was six months ago, and that our styling tools have long been banished to the depths of our wardrobe.
Fortunately, Dale and Silvia – both new to Dubai from the UK – totally get our vibe, and suggest a beachy, sun-kissed look that will grow out beautifully on its own. “You don’t need to be using straighteners in this weather, anyway,” Dale says. We love a hairdresser who doesn’t make us feel bad about our limited styling skills.
A few days later, we’re back in the chair while Silvia works her balayage magic. We’ve had foils in the past, which have disappointingly merged into two block colours. Silvia explains that with balayage, when done correctly, you should never be able to tell where the highlights begin. The freehand technique allows for a more subtle colour through the roots, which means you can go for months without needing a touch-up. We also love a hairdresser who doesn’t guilt us into parting with our dirhams every six weeks on the dot.
Before long, we’re sitting comfortably at the basin (no painful foils to be pulled out) enjoying the beautiful views over The Palm and Dubai Marina, while Silvia massages a toner through our locks to neutralise any brassiness. Then, we’re passed over to Dale, who gives us one of Toni&Guy’s signature “transient cuts” – a great option for mid-length hair, with flattering choppy layers.
Dale demonstrates how we can use a hairdryer and sea salt spray to create relaxed, touseled waves, and suggests we try leaving our hair in braids overnight for more texture. “Anyone can do a nice job for when you walk out of the salon,” he says. “But I want to make sure the client walks out of here knowing exactly how to recreate the look at home.”
Dale and Silvia are the dream team. They came up with a style that suited both our hair and our styling routine (or, erm, lack thereof), which meant there were no surprises after that all-important first wash. We’re confident our look will last for months as promised, but we enjoyed the experience so much that we’d happily return sooner.
Price: From Dhs345 for a cut, from Dhs640 for a half head of highlights and from Dhs770 for a full head of highlights.
The salon: Gloss, Villa 869, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, (04) 321 6588
Hairdresser to ask for: Director Deborah Whitehead.
The service: As the woman who has taught stylists around Dubai how to cut hair, you know you’re in safe hands with this sensei of the scissors. Deborah, who also runs the Gloss Academy, has trained stylists from both her in-house school and other salons, telling us that the most important thing a hairdresser needs to learn is to talk to their customers.
“I won’t start cutting a client’s hair until I’m 100 per cent certain of what they want,” she says, after spending several minutes talking through our own wishes at the New York-inspired salon, with its exposed brick walls and concrete floors.
As we’re currently in the process of growing out a multi-layered (and ill-advised) bob, Deborah knowledgeably prescribes a blunt trim that’ll help our locks even out into a shoulder-length style in a few short months. Colour-wise, she advises us to ditch the bleach for the time being to let our hair grow, instead adding just a touch of glossy semi-permanent colour to cover up some stray greys.
To boost our hair’s strength, we’re given an INNOluxe treatment at the sink; a 20-minute protein repair solution that makes our strands far less prone to snapping (trust us, we gave them a yank to test).
As she whips our candyfloss-textured hair into a sleek blowdry, she’s encouraging about the state of our fine locks, talking us through how to see real results in no time at all. From telling us how to manage day-to-day styling to opening our eyes to some gummy-bear supplements that her clients have had success with, we buoyantly leave feeling optimistic about our hair’s future.
If you’re looking for a stylist who will genuinely tell you what your hair needs – rather than just do whatever you ask for, no matter how damaging – we say look no further.
Price: Cuts range from Dhs275 to Dhs450 depending on the stylist, semi-permanent colour starts from Dhs250.
The salon: Colour Masters, Unit 7, Level B1, Jewels Tower 2, Dubai Marina, 055 478 3882
Hairdresser to ask for: Khaled Kahel
The service: If you’re after natural blonde highlights with a side of serious real talk, then Colour Masters in Dubai Marina (and soon DIFC) is the place for you. We’re calling it: this is the number one salon for blondes in the city.
Run by the passionate and perfection-seeking Khaled Kahel, the team here are experts in both colouring and extensions.
“We shouldn’t rely on clients to voice their opinion,” Khaled explained to us last time we visited. “Like I shouldn’t have to know about the process of the dentist,” he added, “I should rely on that expert to know what they’re doing and explain the options to me.” Hear hear!
We went in to see Khaled with some particularly dodgy balayage regrowth and explained to him that the colour had never worked for us. “Ah,” he exclaimed, “my mum could do balayage. And stylists don’t educate people about what balayage means, and how they will have to style their hair EVERY day when they have it.”
He even stopped us from buying something when we said we were thinking of investing in a curling iron soon. “People sell things like curlers and show clients YouTube tutorials where it looks so easy, but those people in those videos are really talented and so people end up disappointed.
“Look in most people’s bathrooms and they will have six products they don’t need. I’d rather have a return client than just sell people things.”
We love the honesty, and we will return – we left Khaled’s care with fresh, natural and varied blonde highlights with just a touch of brunette (the colour was layered but not at all stripey).
Two months later, the colour’s kept really well and hasn’t gone even a touch brassy. Side note: the rest of his stylists are very talented too, and tend to work with him so we’d say you’re in safe hands across the board.
Price: Dhs300 for a cut and blowdry, tint colour from Dhs350 to Dhs500.
The salon: Rami Jabali Salon, JBR, Dubai, (04) 363 0369
Hairdresser to ask for: Rami Jabali
The service: Rami, who is originally from Syria, has been colouring hair for almost two decades, after learning the art from his mother. “It’s in my blood”, he tells us as we take a seat in front of the mirror.
And with that, we’d felt at ease giving him the green light to do whatever he’d like with our once-balayaged tresses, which now resembled Backstreet Boy-esque frosted tips. Obviously we weren’t looking to go Kristen Stewart and buzz it all off and dye the stubble platinum, but nonetheless we were surprised when Rami picked the relatively safe balayage and trim route. That was, until the event began.
Our colourist Amer took bunches of our hair at a time, attempting to blend some of our natural colour in with the dye job to avoid the two-toned look, carefully painting towards the roots in precise strokes.
The strong-but-silent Amer is somewhat of an anti-King Midas, because everything he touches seems to turn a honey-caramel shade, and not the least bit brassy-gold.
The cut is where Rami steps in, and we have to give him props for many things: 1. Not describing our thick hair like we have some form of unwanted condition that must be rectified. 2. Not opting to combat said thick hair with many, many choppy layers, which spring waywardly from your head like a badly pruned hedge. 3. Asking us to stand to have our hair cut, because apparently that’s the way to get the most precise length.
Our third man of the hour, Sevak, then left us with a sleek, flippy blowout that had us sleeping like a stone statue all night in the hopes it might last the weekend.
After a little less than two hours, we walked out of the salon with has-it-really-been-dyed, sun-kissed and silky honey blonde tresses that, had it not been for our pasty European skin, might have looked like we’d just spent a summer in St Tropez.
It left us inwardly battling with ourselves over forgoing getting home to cook dinner, and finding a dance club nearby to stand in front of a wind machine solo all night and flip our hair like Beyonce.
Price: From Dhs300 for a cut, and from Dhs650 for balayage.
The salon: The Cure, Building 10, Dubai Media City, (04) 391 6485
Hairdresser to ask for: Irina
The service: This woman knows hair. After a brief flick through our scraggly ends, she instantly confirmed that a previous stylist (outside of Dubai) had made a huge error in layering an uninvited bob with the enthusiasm of Edward Scissorhands.
“They clearly didn’t know how to cut fine European hair,” Irina said, hitting the nail right on the head. Instead, while comforting us with a tale of the worst haircut she’d ever been called on to fix (not ours, thankfully), she assured us we’d have the blunt, collarbone-length cut of our dreams in just a few short months. Prescribing a blunt trim to even out the ill-advised layers, Irina demonstrated just how little she would take off our ends – a mere two centimetres compared to a typical hairdressers’ ‘inch’.
The refreshingly no-nonsense stylist, who worked in London before moving to Dubai nine years ago, also sympathised with our brassy, grown-out balayage that looked a little too two-toned for our liking. Instead of trying to even it out with yet more bleach, Irina suggested something we’d not tried solely in lieu of colour before – toning.
Tackling the yellowy blonde of our mid-lengths, just 15 minutes of basting time later we were taken to a glossy, shiny, healthy-looking light brown which, Irina knowingly told us, will fade out to a dark blonde thanks to the bleach already in our hair.
She also threw in a generously long head massage (as well as rightly advising us to add Olaplex to give our dry ends a bit of TLC), but still only kept us in the chair for just over an hour – rather than a drawn-out 2+ hours for just some parting highlights, as we’ve had in the past.
So you’re looking for someone straight-talking who truly listens (and will reassure you about how much she’s really cutting), Irina’s your woman.
Price: From Dhs220 for a cut and blowdry, from Dhs150 for toning, and from Dhs250 for a half head of highlights.
The salon: Sisters, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai, (04) 557 9595
Hairdresser to ask for: Amanda Giles (who has since left Sisters – Lucinda Gill is the new creative director).
The service: The minute we sat down in our chair – herbal tea and mini brownie in hand – Sisters’ Creative Director Amanda Giles asked us, “So what do you not want for your hair?”
This sparked a discussion about everything from stripy highlights to so-natural-it-looks-like-you-haven’t-done-anything colour, before she settled on balayage for us – giving us fresh, bleach blonde at our tips but keeping it neutral up top. We walked out looking like we’d had a change, but still feeling very us. Result. (We’d also managed to fit in an excellent mani’ while our highlights were setting – we love to multi-task.)
A Brit, Amanda’s one of the most communicative stylists we’ve ever met in Dubai – she talked us through the process step-by-step, encouraged us to express our opinions and even managed to explain Olaplex to us in a way we understood.
Her speciality is definitely shorter cuts and extreme colours – so if you’re after a unicorn pastel plait, a raspberry mohawk or the latest rose gold hue, she is your woman.
Helpful hint: Driving to Sisters at JBR? You can valet at the hotel next door, and they’ll validate your ticket in the salon.
Price: From Dhs220 for a cut, and from Dhs325 for a half-head of highlights.
The salon: JetSet, Emirates Towers Boulevard, Dubai, (04) 330 0886
Hairdresser to ask for: Mohammed.
The service: After having our fine, highlighted tresses butchered at a previous appointment (not in the UAE, we hasten to add), we didn’t give our stylist a great foundation to work with. However within about three seconds, Mohammed had diagnosed exactly what we needed to do to fix our hacked-at ‘lob’, and recommended a prescriptive chop that would ensure our locks would grow out beautifully. He also took into account our face-shape, and rightly pooh-poohed some options we had thought might suit us.
In the slick white salon, its walls lined with Redken bottles, Mohammed also dispensed a fix for some poorly maintained, chunky highlights. While JetSet doesn’t do balayage, per se, the stylist did weave in a half-head of creamy bronde colour with an almost-freehand technique, covering up dark roots while also making certain the contrast wouldn’t be too stark as the colour grew out.
JetSet truly live up to their name – we spent just 80 minutes in the salon, which included a precision toning at the sink, making this the quickest cut and colour we’ve ever experienced. So if you’re after a transformation without the time commitment, this place comes highly recommended.
(Plus, it’s been a few weeks since our appointment and, true to his word, Mohammed’s choppy bob has grown into a wavy, easy-to-style shoulder length ‘lob.).
Price: From Dhs305 for a cut, and from Dhs325 for a half-head of highlights.
The salon: Maria Dowling, Al Mina Road, Satwa, Dubai, (04) 3454225
Hairdresser to ask for: The main woman herself, Maria Dowling.
The service: There’s a reason why this remains one the top spots year after year. The level of expertise here is second to none. Maria is an absolute joy and her knowledge is so valuable when it comes to cutting your precious hair. If she doesn’t think it’s right (and as an award-winning hairdresser she should know) she will let you know and explain why.
Unlike some salons where they think they understand your hair best and go to town on a look that you hate and need to grow out for months, Maria is genius who works her magic to create a style that not only looks great but is easy for you to manage – the hair dream.
Maria Dowling salon also uses its own branded products which had have designed by, and tried and tested by Maria herself. Also, don’t be afraid to work your way through the tea menu.
Price: From Dhs410 for cut.
The salon: Marquee, Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Dubai, (04) 4207700
Hairdresser to ask for: Hamsa
The service: Hamsa is one of the few men we will trust with our tresses and for good reason – he can tell all of your hair woes just from a flick of your dull locks.
Want to try a different colour? You can 100 per cent leave your hair in the hands of Hamsa as he will actually know better than you what to opt for.
He is wonderfully honest but never rude. At the end of the day he wants your hair to be the best it can be too – essentially your his living portfolio and model. In fact Hamsa takes so much pride in his work that he often asks your permission to take photos before and after his work so you can see the difference. We guarantee you will be so pleased you will be begging him to tag you in the Instagram post.
The salon is super-glam and serves some of the best coffee we’ve had outside of our fave cafes.
Price: From Dhs325 for a cut. Half a head of highlights from Dhs460 to Dhs650
The salon: SLaM, M-19, Al Joud Building, Al Quoz, Dubai, (800) 7526
Hairdresser to ask for: Creative Director and co-owner Rachael Stevenson
The service: Any beauty buff in Dubai has SLaM on her speed dial. Rachael Stevenson, together with an all-female power team, dreamed up this Al Quoz salon two years ago and never looked back. The sleek industrial-chic space (think: exposed ceilings, graffitied walls and heavyweight mirrors hanging from thick, black chains) is often packed with new clients and loyal fans in need of their hair care fix. The menu of treatments runs the full gamut, from cut, finish and colour, to hair treatments and nail applications.
Despite its unassuming location in a desolate mall, SLaM has managed to create a cool and calm vibe that’s light-years from the haphazard streets of Al Quoz. That’s the key right there: clients wax lyrical about SLaM’s stylists for ‘actually listening,’ to what they want, and delivering it to perfection. Impressive tresses are just the icing on the cake, too, since each cut and finish is accompanied by a rather delicious head and neck massage after your shampoo.
Creative Director Rachael assumes the role of expert and best friend in one glorious amalgamation. She’ll tell you what will and won’t work for your hair and facial structure, before getting to work on your dream ‘do. And judging by the smiles reflecting in those heavyweight mirrors, her team is offering the same level of professionalism and personality to all.
Price: From Dhs360 for a cut.
The salon: Pastels, The Ritz Carlton, JBR, Dubai, (04) 399 5016
Hairdresser to ask for: Vesna
The service: Five years ago a friend of ours ended up with hair the colour of Cheetos after a clueless Dubai stylist at a now-defunct salon overzealously bleached her locks.
You know who came to the rescue? Vesna at Pastels.
The Swedish stylist has since fixed the hair emergencies of many Dubai expats and so has built up a loyal customer base.
She gets hair trends, is willing to try daring colours and different cuts. She strikes the perfect balance between really listening and giving you want you want for your hair while also advising when something’s not a good idea.
We left our last Vesna colour session with flattering, natural-looking highlights around our face that had a point of difference thanks to some painted-on brighter balayage at the tips of our locks.
Basically, she puts the time in to make sure you get what you want. In fact, she encourages people to bring in photos of what they’re after to make sure everyone’s on the same page: we’ll have the Gisele thanks.
Overall, Pastels is a busy and unfussy salon with excellent service and a good team of stylists. It was established 12 years ago and there are three locations across the city: a failsafe option for a good cut and color.
Price: From Dhs350 for a cut and blow-dry and Dhs475 for a half head of highlights
The salon: Aveda, 431 Al Wasl Road, Galleria Mall, Jumeirah 1, 800 28332
Hairdresser to ask for: Manuela
The service: Well, what an experience this place is. Not only is it one of the most swanky salons we’ve ever stepped foot in – all glam and sleek interiors – its trendy staff make it feel like you’re at a super-chic ladies night with your gal pals.
The service is impeccable with a wide selection of hot and cold beverages at a standard you would expect from a posh cafe.
Whether you’re having a simple blow-dry or getting your hair cut, the treatment starts with a head and shoulder massage – for no extra cost!
All of the products used in the salon are Aveda and all of them are organic and chemical free.
Manuela is the star of the show. Not only does she train all the staff that work in the salon but has such a friendly manner that you will instantly feel like BFFs.
Her honesty is appreciated and the result is a hairstyle you will positively love. To ensure you maintain that ‘just out of the salon look’, when at home Manuela also goes that extra mile and shows you how to style your hair yourself at home. We found her tutorial incredibly useful.
Price: Dhs450 for a cut.