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Sun, Sep 08, 2013
Urban, The Straits Times
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S'pore's top hairstylists' pet peeves about women's locks
by Gladys Chung and Leslie Lay Lim

Mr Ryu Oba, Kizuki+Lim

Since moving here in 2009, Mr Ryu Oba, 29, a Japanese stylist at the Kizuki+Lim hair salon at Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade, has learnt a thing or two about the different attitudes Japanese and Singaporean women have when it comes to their grooming regimen.

Japanese women spend a lot more time and money on beauty compared with their more laid-back Singaporean counterparts, he says.

"In Japan, I might tell a client to use a curling iron to really bring out the ends of her haircut," says the bachelor, who is often seen in his favourite signature baseball cap with a short brim.

"But here, I start off with the question, 'Do you own a hairdryer?'"

The Kyoto-born Mr Oba went to beauty school after high school and was hired by the Less Is More (LIM) hair salon chain in Osaka in 2005. There, he discovered what he loved best about the hair business.

"I think my cut and colour skills are okay," he says, humbly. "But I'm good at communicating with clients and creating a good atmosphere."

In 2009, he jumped at the chance to move to Singapore when the chain director decided to open an outlet here and asked him to head it. It was time for a change and a blank slate sounded exciting, he says.

From a little shophouse in Cantonment Road with a staff of four, the Kizuki+Lim salon has since grown to an eight-person team in a third-level space at Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade.

Last year, Kizuki+Lim expanded its reach with a spin-off salon called Pact+Lim, located at Orchard Central. Its set-up includes a cafe and boutique space.

Who cuts your hair?

I'm pretty easy-going with my own hair, so I ask any of the other Kizuki+Lim stylists - Yusuke Wakamatsu, Syunsuke Sakurai or Akiyo Fujikawa - to cut it, depending on who's free. I know their standards and they know my preferences.

What are some of your hair concerns?

I have pretty straight and coarse hair so it's hard to style without a perm of some sort. I don't colour my hair much, though, as I like it black.

What does your haircare regimen entail?

My regimen is really simple as I have short hair. I wash, condition and dry my hair with a blow-dryer every day. Some days, I'll use a little hair wax to style my hair.

What is your favourite hair product and why?

I like the Xximo Headsoap ($34 for 200ml, available at the salon). It's a Japanese mint shampoo that is really refreshing in this hot climate.

What do you think is the best beauty invention when it comes to hair?

Perming solutions and hair colour dyes are really amazing as they allow you to transform your hair. And, if you don't like a certain aspect of your hair, you can change it. They're great tools that can make people happy.

What is the one thing you wish local women would do when it comes to their hair?

I wish they would wake up 10 minutes earlier to make time for their hair. I hate the words "lazy" and "no time", which are always used as excuses.

It does take a little effort, but tending to your hair can make a big difference. You could have a nice face or a nice outfit but wet or unkempt hair can ruin the look.

What is the most ridiculous thing you ever did to your hair?

When I was at beauty school, I went out drinking with my friends one night and they took this bleach for women's leg hair and put it on my head. It created this blond circle at the top of my head and it really hurt. I definitely learnt a lesson: that only hair dye should be used on hair.

What is the best haircare advice you have received?

It isn't a big thing, but it's important to get into a systematic routine. Properly wash, condition and dry your hair every day for a healthy scalp and locks.

~ Leslie Kay Lim

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