I believe that it is best-fit for ladies traveling in Istanbul to also experience the beauty saloons of Istanbul besides the usual
Turkish hammam and the Grand Bazaar.
The reason behind is that the Turkish way of getting your hair and nails done is much different than compared to the European way; and the entire thing is pretty much cultural. First of all, we are not very much pro-prosthesis nails. That means, ladies frequently and regularly go to beauty saloons to have their nails done with nail clamps and file. (Therefore) Second, ladies go to the beauty saloons as if they were going to a friend’s house. You shall not be surprised if you see a lady walk in and kiss each member of the staff, laugh hilariously loud and fluff her hair either way. For many ladies a Saturday is not complete without a visit to the hairdresser’s. Depending on her daily routine, the lady may go very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon -just before going out for dinner. She will have her hair straightened out or curled, nails done; whilst going through the weekly gossip magazines and drink her Turkish coffee. You might even see that she gets her fortune told by her manicurist. From time to time you will see clients kissing and hugging as well. That is because as frequenters of a certain beauty saloon, clients know each other as well.
While this is the typical scene for many beauty saloons and many women; it would be wrong to say that all women enjoy this much patting, hugging, kissing and gossip. Some women prefer the less hectic morning hours only for this reason; or they have a manicurist come to them (to their homes) for a bit higher price for a more comprehensive service.
Naturally, the hairdressers also vary by nature, by town, by crowd and most importantly by “price”. In that case where should you go to for a typical experience?
The best is to go to where your local friend goes to. That is because where she goes to is already part of the family, so you would be treated well and enjoy a full-fledged experience. If that is not an option, you have two scenarios: a) get ripped off at an elite hairdresser in an elite town with superb service and leave like a star; b) find a decent neighborhood saloon, wait for a bit too much, people watch, pay less and get a not-so-bad service, leave like a decent person
Either way is fine, depends on what you are after.
Almost all hairdressers in Bebek fall into category a. Department store hairdressers fall into category a. Most of the hairdressers within chic malls, such as Kanyon and İstinye Park fall into category a. From within a-category hairdressers Ata Kuafor in Kanyon, also known as the Harvey Nichols’ hairdressing saloon, is located on the premises of Harvey Nichols. It is also one of the most expensive hairdressers in town: (in TRY) Manicure:50, Pededicure:60, Getting your hair done:200, Eyebrowns:20. Ata Kuaför also appeared in a well known and highly popular local TV series and has thus been marked as the elite segments’ elite hairdressers. Yıldırım Özdemir on the bottom of the hill connecting Etiler to Bebek is another well-known place that is also frequented by stars, actresses, singers and ex-models. It is a male-female unisex place. Ata is also a unisex hairdresser, but as male you may be less intimidated at Yıldırım’s place. As any time you go there is likely to be at least two males getting their haircut. Yıldırım, who has given his name to his place, is the “man” here. He is very good at what he does, as he only needs to touch your hair for once to know what your need is. As he is so good at what he does, there is always a line of demand for his services. You may wait for 1 to 3 hours to have your hair cut by him. The other hairdressers are also very very good. You wait less for their services and pay less as you leave. Yıldırım has a loyal clientele that does not like to test other new services. Prices in try: Manicure 45, pedicure: 50, getting your hair done: 150-180.
Hairdressers within neighborhoods are mostly cat-b with a few exceptions. Most in Levent, Ulus, Göztepe (Asian side) etc. fall into somewhere in between. At these hairdressers you leave paying much less like 20 liras for your manicure, 50-80 TRY for your hair, 25-35 Lira for you pedicure. There are so many of them that it is needless to start naming them or even give examples.
Then there is Erdem Kramer – a pioneer perhaps in what he is doing. He opened his first shop in Nişantaşı -a category “a” shop in a category “a” neighborhood- in the 1960s. Since then he has worked in tandem with French professionals and Loreal and Dessange Paris in bringing and creating new brands in Turkey. “Makas” is his son’s latest project in which father and son, they have opened an academy to teach young hairdressers the key points of the profession. At Makas, the prices are very very low, as low as a neighborhood hairdresser and maybe even more and the staff is very very young; yet there are also very very talented. You naturally have to wait a lot more at a place such as this: affordable prices with a good name behind.
Do ask for tips if you plan to see a beauty saloon whilst here.