ST tries out express salon: This is what a $10 haircut looks like

Reporter Melissa Heng before (left) having her hair trimmed at Kcuts in under 20 minutes compared to how she looks after the haircut (right).
Reporter Melissa Heng before (left) having her hair trimmed at Kcuts in under 20 minutes compared to how she looks after the haircut (right). PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO

One day when I was about four, my father decided on a whim that he could cut my hair instead of taking me to the salon.

I had medium-length straight hair with soft bangs in a side parting. He took a comb, placed it slightly above my eyebrows and proceeded to give me the worst set of blunt bangs ever. They ended too high on my forehead and made me look like a doll whose owner had gone rogue with gardening shears.

I took one look in the mirror and cried my eyes out. I looked so terrible.

Since then, I’ve only trusted trained professionals to touch my hair. I don’t think I’ve ever paid less than $50 for a hair cut.

So it is safe to say that when I stepped into an express cuts salon for the first time this week, I had strong reservations about paying so little for a beauty service.

 

I cut my hair at the Kcuts outlet at Ang Mo Kio Hub for $10.

When I entered the salon around 2pm on Tuesday, I purchased a ticket with a queue number. There were three customers ahead of me and I had plenty of time to take in the scene.

The salon was clean, quiet and simple, with no fancy decorations in sight. Tea wasn’t served, unlike at full-service salons. When my number flashed on the screen after 30 minutes, a stylist ushered me to a chair. She opened the cupboard behind the mirror for me to put my bag inside. Her friendly smile and neat yet stylish long hair quelled my nervousness slightly.

I showed the stylist, who was in her 40s, some pictures of bobs and asked if she could give me a similar look.

When she nodded, I asked if she thought the cut might be too short for my round face.

She replied sweetly that I could cut it to shoulder-length or shorter, depending on my preference.

That didn’t really help me decide.

But when I asked if she could layer my hair, she advised me not to layer it too much since the style I wanted was more of a straight, blunt look.

She also mentioned that because my hair was fine, too much layering would make the hair curl outwards and look messy.

I decided to have my hair end just above the shoulders.

I took long, deep breaths as she started cutting and my locks of hair hit the floor. The last time I cut my hair this short, it was at a snazzy Korean boutique.

I had paid about $60 and discussed the cut with the stylist for almost 10 minutes. My chat with the Kcuts stylist ended in under two minutes.

After another 15 minutes, she was done. She used a “vacuum” device to pick up excess hair around my neck, combing through my hair as well.

It felt strangely comfortable.

Then she picked up a clean comb to do a final check that my hair had been cut evenly.

The ends looked a bit blunt and the finished look wasn’t styled at all, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well my hair had been cut.

It all happened so quickly.

Unlike at a regular salon, my hair wasn’t washed or blown dry, so the end result looked quite raw, compared with a fully styled look.

But I could see that my hair was in good shape and was neat.

She fluffed my hair a little and told me that the one tuft at the back that had stubbornly flipped outwards would curl inwards if I styled it with a hairdryer.

Seeing that she had done such a good job in so little time, I trusted that she knew what she was talking about.

As I picked up my bag to leave, the stylist asked if I would like to have the comb as a keepsake since it was my first time trying Kcuts.

I took the souvenir, thinking that my dad could probably use it. For his own hair, of course. Because I still don’t trust him to touch mine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline 'Snip in a snap'. Print Edition | Subscribe