South Korea is well known for setting the beauty standard in Asia. We visit the newest salon import for a manicure and haircut to see if it lives up to its reputation!
Leekaja Beauty Salon is the one-stop-shop for beauty and relaxation. Are you ready to get pampered, mama?
I was running late. What’s worse, the crowds of people on the street were slowing me down so by the time I reached Leekaja Salon, located on the chic but very busy Orchard Road, my mindset was flustered. Like crazy-hair-and-may-have-lost-my-phone level flustered.
To my delight, Leekaja Salon instantly calmed me down. Going into the salon, I had the sensation of stepping to a tranquil forest. Softly lit and decorated with wood and leather accents, the ambience was peaceful and soothing. I could almost hear a brook gurgling nearby.
I was greeted warmly by MiJoo, the manager of this salon that just opened this past December. She ushered me over to the manicure corner on one side of the sprawling space that gives you room to breathe. After consulting with NuRi, the in-house manicurist, we decided on white-grey nails, a very popular colour this season. As she shaped my cuticles, she introduced me to the brand of polish they use: called Bandi. It is the #1 nail polish brand in Korea, rivalling OPI in quality. It goes on like a gel and stays on for at least three weeks.
While she was painting my base coat, my freshly squeezed orange juice arrived with dried banana and pineapple chips made on the premises. Leekaja has a café counter with drinks ranging from freshly-squeezed juices and coffee to house wines. I started to wonder if I was still in the city or if I’d been transported to an island resort spa.
Next up was my hair appointment. My hair dresser HyeJin, a hair director at Leekaja, didn’t speak a lick of English but that was no problem at all. Her assistant was on hand, translating back and forth for HyeJin and me, and quickly we were off. HyeJin worked attentively and expertly, directing her assistant in a choreography that was mesmerising to watch. Soon my long locks were shaped into the chic bob I had asked for.
Now it was time for the Cinderella Keratin Treatment. A popular service in Korea, the treatment restores moisture to hair damaged by colouring, perms or straightening. HyeJin slathered on a solution of organic aloe vera and onion. Yes, you heard right – onion! I even got a plastic visor to shield my eyes from the tear-inducing juices while this solution sat in my hair for about half an hour. Yet after a thorough shampoo wash and blow-dry, I couldn’t believe the transformation: my hair was silky smooth and shiny, and now has a bounce that it hasn’t had since I foolishly decided to bleach it a few months ago.
Leekaja Salon caters to those who want their nails, hair and make-up done expertly in a single, and tranquil, location for a very reasonable price. Managing Director Luke Yi had a vision of bringing the expertise and hospitality of Korean beauty salons to Singapore. He plans on hosting events here in Leekaja to showcase trending Korean beauty products and techniques for anyone who is interested in learning more. In a world where people are constantly on the go and interact with each other via devices, he wants to slow things down and create a peaceful space where people can recharge, relax and rejuvenate. I couldn’t agree more. Living in a city as bustling as Singapore, I know I’ll be spending many afternoons at this gem.
Leekaja Beauty Salon, #03-13, Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road, Singapore, 238867, 6909 0504, www.leekaja.sg