Hanoi salons overrun by festival rush

By Minh Chau, Nguyen Ngoan   January 21, 2020 | 08:56 pm PT
Hanoi salons overrun by festival rush
Hairdressers serve customers at a salon in Cau Giay District, Hanoi on January 20, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Ngoan.
With people keen on looking their best for Tet and willing to pay premium prices for the service, hairdressers are making a killing.

At noon, it is difficult to find walking space in an alley on Cau Giay District in Hanoi. Home to many salons, the alley is packed to the gills with motorbikes of clients eager to get their hair done before the advent of the Lunar New Year.

One of the salons, run by Phan Quang Tam, has been opening as early as 3 a.m. in recent days to serve the surging number of customers unable to fit beautification services into their daytime schedule.

Tam said earlier, customers had started queuing up 8 a.m. although the salon only opened an hour later.

"Our staff had to take turns to have lunch. Some don’t have time for lunch at all," he said, as he worked quickly, applying hair dye for a customer.

Lunch is also a luxury for some customers these days. Pham Thi Thuy, who spent her lunch break queuing up at Tam’s salon, had her banh my (Vietnamese sandwich) as she waited for her hairdresser to finish with another customer.

With very limited time before the holiday starts Thursday, she prioritized hair services over lunch to make sure she would be most presentable during the holiday.

Beauty salons across the capital city report receiving four times the normal customer intake ahead of Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is the most important national festival. The Tet holiday falls January 23-29 this year.

Many Vietnamese believe that starting a new year with a new look, including a new hairstyle, will bring them good luck. This has had most hairdressers working extra hours in recent days.

Nam in Cau Giay District had planned to close his salon on Thursday, one day before the first day of the Lunar New Year, so that his staff could travel to their hometown and spend time with their families.

But this plan had been scrapped as some of his staff have received service requests from regular customers who are only free on that day.

Salon owners say they are charging VND200,000-2 million ($8.6-86) for a hair service these days, 20 percent more than normal, but demand keeps rising and not just among women.

Trinh Xuan Quynh, a 24-year-old university student, came to the salon at 2 p.m. Monday for a haircut and curl, but his hairdressers told him that he wouldn’t be able to leave before 6 p.m.

All beauty services and the beauticians are in high demand. Pham Mai Huong, an eyelash and nail technician, said that she had been reaching her maximum capacity of 8-10 customers a day, after a long time.

With customers paying VND200,000-1 million ($8.6-43) for a nail session, Huong’s salon will open until 8 p.m. on the last day of the lunar year.

An eyelash technician lengthens a customers eyelashes in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Ngoan.

A beautician lengthens a customer's eyelashes in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Ngoan.

Many salons are turning down customers because they don’t have staff to service them. Ngoc’s salon in Dong Da District, where the number of customers has tripled, has suspended shampooing and drying services as her hairdressers are prioritized for other duties.

Some customers have actually given up their plans to get a new hairstyle and a new look for the Lunar New Year after failing to book an appointment with several salons that are overwhelmed with orders.

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