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Beauty Salons and Skin Care in Indonesia

A wide range of beauty salons are available in Indonesia. Salons may range from your neighbor down the street who has opened a small one-chair business to accommodate her friends to an international standard establishment that uses brand name products. The staff employed by these salons range from relatively unskilled to a high professional level.

Several schools teach hairdressing and beauty treatments in Indonesia. Courses in these schools can range from a 3-month introductory course to a two-year program after which the student graduates with full beautician qualifications. These graduates are well qualified, by Indonesian standards, to work in salons in Indonesia. Graduates of Indonesian schools may not fulfill international standards and could need further training to qualify and seek employment in beauty salons abroad.

Skin Care and Estheticians

The rising popularity of aesthetic treatments and skilled estheticians has led to the development of professional skin care clinics in recent years. You can expect to get quality facials, anti-aging treatments, acne treatments, laser hair removal, permanent makeup, collagen replacement in the larger cities where specialized skin care and treatment clinics can be found. You'll find products and techniques that you are familiar with from your home country as well as treatments with an Indonesian touch!

Beauty Treatments

Many types of facials and facial treatments are available in Indonesia. Facials can be done at almost any beauty salon and specialty aesthetic/skin clinics. The humidity in Indonesia is very high, averaging in the eighties and nineties. While high humidity does prevent your skin from drying and prematurely aging, the air quality is quite bad in most major cities. Because of the high level of impurities and pollution in the air, a facial every month or quarterly helps to keep your skin clean. If you undergo professional skin treatments on a regular basis, an improvement can be seen in the condition of your skin.

Manicure / Pedicure

Manicures, acrylic nails and pedicures are also available using imported or local products and polishes.

It is possible to get a bacterial, fungal or even viral infections from nail files and other manicure instruments that are not properly sterilized in a disinfecting machine after each customer. Just dipping them in alcohol or other solutions is not adequate to kill microorganisms. If you are concerned about the transmission of infections, bring your manicure set from home.

Waxing and Hair Removal

Waxing of the legs, lip, chest, back and other areas of the body is also available in Indonesia, usually in better beauty treatment centers. Some lower end salons reheat and then strain hair out of the wax so that it can be reused. If this concerns you, ask if the wax is new or recycled.

See also - Traditional Indonesian Spa and Beauty Treatments

Hair Cuts, Styling and Treatments

What Constitutes a Good Hairdresser

The trip to the beauty salon should be a pleasant experience and not one where you fear that you will go home hating what has been done to your hair. A good hairdresser should be able to suggest a style and cut that would be flattering to your facial structure. Hair color should also be considered as a factor contributing to a total look as certain colors look more attractive in certain cuts cuts and are more suitable for certain skin colors.

Good hairdressers should be able to analyze all of these factors and suggest what they believe would look best on the client. This may not be what the client originally thought they wanted when they walked into the salon. Just as a patient should trust a doctor's prescription for medicine, you should be able to trust your hairdresser to make recommendations that will improve and enhance your appearance. If, however, you do not necessarily agree with what they have suggested, do not be intimated to question their suggestion. If you still are not convinced it will suit you, insist on a style that you feel is better suited for you.

Hairdressers with international training and qualifications should have the experience to make those kind of suggestions. While any hairdresser can cut a straight line, making the total look enhance and flatter the client is the talent of a good hairdresser.

Selecting a Hairdresser

Unfortunately, there are few hairdressers in Indonesia who truly fulfill international standards. Most expatriates look for a hairdresser with skills and experience in hairdressing and treatments for Caucasian or professionals that understand the characteristics of the hair conditions of other ethnicities.

Ask your friends who they use. Consult community referrals listings such as the Jakarta Shoppers' Guide for hairdressers recommended by expatriates. A visit to a couple of recommended salons will give you a feel for which salon meets your exacting standards and which person you feel comfortable with. Ask about cleanliness and hygiene procedures, what products they use and how difficult it is to get an appointment. Prior to your first appointment, speak with the person that will cut or treat your hair and ask some very pointed questions about their experience.

Professional Salons

When entering an Indonesian beauty salon your first impression is often a very good indication of what kind of establishment it is. A clean, tidy reception area is a good indication that the salon is well organized and professional. A reception desk that has empty Aqua cups scattered across it, an old notebook with a few names jotted down in it to serve as an appointment book and a receptionist that is more concerned with talking on the phone to friends than she is about serving her customers is most likely reflective of the type of service that you can expect in that salon.

A good salon should have efficient and polite receptionists as well as a record system of services provided to its regular customers. They should know the date of every visit you've made and what you had done on that visit as well as any problems that arose from the treatment. These records are especially important if the client has regular hair coloring or a permanent treatments. It will be impossible for a hairdresser to remember details months later unless they are recorded. It is the mark of a good hairdresser if they keep good client records.

Cleanliness and Hygiene

The equipment used by the beautician is normally his/her own. If you are concerned about the hygienic condition of combs and brushes and other equipment used, it is best to bring your own from home.

Although most beauticians clean their tools on a daily basis, they may never in fact be sterilized. Cleaning, with alcohol or soap solutions, is normally done at the end of the day and not after each client.

Even if the equipment for sterilization is provided in the salon this does not necessarily mean that the employees will use it. The lasers or chemicals that are used to sterilize combs, brushes and scissors will often strip the finish off locally made equipment. This causes the equipment to be ruined after just a few sterilizations. Most beauticians choose local equipment, which they can more easily afford, instead of imported tools that can withstand these sterilization processes.

Hair Treatments

Most hair treatments available abroad can be performed in Indonesia. All beauty salons can provide you with a basic haircut and blow. Shampooing is usually done by an employee whose sole responsibility is for shampooing. Your head can be scrubbed quite vigorously and become a mini massage of your head.

While many Indonesians appreciate a very firm massage during their shampoo, expatriates may not used to such hard, uncomfortable pressure being applied to the scalp. If this is the case, don't hesitate to tell to the person that the shampooing has become terlalu keras (too hard) and they will lighten up.

A common hair treatment is a cream bath, wherein a thick conditioning cream is massaged into the hair and scalp while you are sitting up. The ensuing massage continues from the head to the neck and upper back and arms and is extremely relaxing. If your hair has had a permanent, you may want to avoid a cream bath, as the conditioner serves to relax the curls thereby destroying the permanent.

Most salons can offer perms. It is worth looking for a salon that regularly deals with expatriate hair if you are considering perming or coloring as the structure of Asian hair is much coarser than Caucasian hair and therefore reacts differently to the chemicals that are used in the curling or coloring processes. If a hairdresser is not familiar with these characteristics and the differences in the amount of time that the chemicals will react, Caucasian hair can become damaged through over treatment.

Not all salons carry a wide range of hair colors. If you are considering an unusual color, inquire ahead as the salon may have to order the color. Highlights to your hair should be applied through using lighter hair colors, not by bleaching the hair.

Hair extensions are also available in the better salons. In this process extensions (a few strands of hair) are actually glued onto existing hair to make it longer. It is often difficult to find matching hair color for foreigners, so the hair will have to be ordered first and can normally be obtained within a few days. After this process is completed the hair can be combed and washed as usual without fear of the extensions coming off. As the gluing process is done almost strand by strand it can take two or three days of three- or four-hour sessions to complete the process. So you don't look funny in the transition stage, the hairdresser will glue the extensions all over the scalp on the first day and then fill in during subsequent appointments. Needless to say, hair extensions require a lot of patience on the part of both the client and the hairdresser.

Makeup Application

Indonesian women may have their makeup professionally done if they are going to an important function or wedding. Most salons offer makeup application.

Before wearing professionally applied makeup to an important function, it would be best to conduct a trial before the event. Skin color and bone structure differ greatly between Asians, Caucasians and other races. A makeup artist who is talented with Asian skin types and oriental shaped eyes may not necessarily be able to enhance an expatriate's skin and bone structure with cosmetics.

If you are not sure about the colors or shades that will look best on you, the make-up artist can make up the right and the left side of the face differently during the trial makeup session. For example, he could use pinks and reds on the right side of the face and oranges and browns of the left side. This gives you the opportunity to compare and choose which is more flattering. Many salons offer makeup application for quite a reasonable price so many women like to take advantage of this service.

Trial sessions before the wedding day are also conducted on the elaborate makeup customarily done for brides so the bride will be confident that she looks her best. This also gives the makeup artist an opportunity to practice so things go quicker and smoother on the wedding day. For weddings, often the makeup session will start very early in the morning and the “service” will include touch ups throughout the day. The makeup artist is expected to come to the bride's home or hotel where she is staying and meet her at other locations later in the day, for example, prior to the reception or photo session just to make sure that the make up is still pristine.

Some of the bigger salons and bridal studios offer portraits taken in traditional Indonesian dress. A big part of this service is having traditional hairstyle and makeup done to complement the traditional dress. This traditional portrait could be a fun and invaluable memento of your stay in Indonesia.

Some Indonesians tattoo their eyebrows as well as their inner eyelids. This process is permanent and cannot be reversed. It can be lightened but never completely erased. The process utilized is the same as the tattoo process on other parts of the body where ink is injected into the skin with needles to create permanent marks on the skin. Needless to say it is quite painful to have this done in the eye area and usually causes puffiness for a day or two afterwards. It does, however, eliminate the need to ever buy eyeliner again!

Prices and Tipping

Prices for having your hair done depend on what kind of salon you go to. Prices can range from unbelievably cheap, at your neighborhood salon, to near international-standard prices (in dollars) in salons located in a five-star hotel or a well-known exclusive salon.

Tipping is common in beauty salons. A small tip of Rp 20,000 or Rp 30,000 is given to the person who shampoos your hair, manicurist or other assistants, but the total would depend on the salon and the total amount of the services that had been given to you! The tip given to the hairdresser is normally the largest, however, would depend on what treatments they did for you; approximately 10-20% would be a common tip.

There may be more than one person that has given you service in the salon and under normal conditions, they are all hoping for a tip. Do not feel obligated to tip everyone, however it is certainly a nice gesture and in most cases assures you better service on your next visit.