updated 28 Jan 2014, 06:04
Login password
Tue, Jan 28, 2014
Urban, The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Home style
by Stephanie Gwee

Want your tresses styled in the comfort of your home?

That will cost you $950 if it is salon director Issac Ang from Toni & Guy that you fancy to get the job done.

Or be prepared to pay a three- to four-figure sum if you want celebrity make-up artist Clarence Lee to glam you up before a glitzy do.

Having grooming maestros make house calls come with hair-raising price tags.

A Toni & Guy director, for instance, charges $200, or about five times less, for a styling session at the salon.

That has not stopped busy bees from asking: 'Cash or cheque?'

A quick check with 10 leading hair and make-up artists showed that demand for home services is growing.

So much so that Ash Loi, a hairstylist at Estique Salon in Pacific Plaza, has a two-week waiting list filled with 'busy housewives and tai tais' who are willing to pay between $130 and $150 - $60 more compared to a salon job - for his personal attention.

The 34-year-old gets about 10 requests a month for house calls, and the number jumps to 30 at the end of the year when 'there are more balls and dinner events, and people are willing to pay a lot more to look their best'.

Lee, on the other hand, receives 'a couple' of requests mainly during the year-end festive season.

The 36-year-old declines to reveal names of his clients but he is well-known for painting the faces of socialites and celebrities, including Zhang Ziyi and Zoe Tay.

Although he does make-up for clients at David Gan's Passion salon in Palais Renaissance, he will pay house visits 'if the price is good'.

'One perk of house calls is that I can look at the architecture of my clients' homes and see how they renovated their place. It feeds the busybody in me,' he says.


For hairstylists, however, house calls are much more of a hassle.

Henne Mercer, marketing director of Toni & Guy, says it is much harder to 'conduct our full range of hair services in a home environment as we don't have our equipment and scissors with us'.

'Also, it is tedious to lug around bottles of shampoo and conditioner, as each person's scalp condition is different.'

This is the reason only Ang, the salon director, does it.

High-end beauty gurus are not the only ones who provide home services.

Industry players estimate that there are at least 40 grooming set-ups that do house calls.

Irene Tay, 36, who owns Pur Wellness And Beauty, specialises in home manicures and hairstyling services and says business has nearly tripled since she began advertising online five years ago.

While she used to receive about 10 phone inquiries every month, she now gets close to 30. She charges $60 for a manicure and pedicure, and $80 for a 60-minute body massage.

The demand is fuelled by the increasingly busy schedules of working professionals, she says.

'They don't see why they should travel all the way to a shop to get their nails done if they can just stretch out their hands on their sofa,' she adds.


Celebrity make-up artist Peter Khor, 38, notes that people are willing to pay a premium for convenience - operators usually charge 30 to 50 per cent more for house calls.

'Many of my clients prefer in-home services because they can put on their outfits, apply their make-up, style their hair and head out immediately,' he says.

'They don't have to go home to change and risk marring their make-up and hair.'

Khor, who charges a three-figure sum for an hour-long make-up session, adds: 'Some clients don't like to be seen without make-up, so they don't want to travel to get their faces done.'

Not only do they get paid extra for house calls, some also strike gold.

Loi recalls: 'I once had to go to a client's home to cut her hair for a dinner and dance. After I was done, her siblings and parents liked what they saw and asked me to cut their hair as well.

'In total, I earned about $780 from that one house call.'



Merliza Lim, 24, owner of My Hair Gallery in Sixth Avenue, who started offering home beauty services in April

Services: Hair treatments, colouring and cut as well as manicures and pedicures done by her team of six.

Lim also has an assistant who is trained in providing facial services with Jurlique products, body massages and foot reflexology.

Rates: Body massages start from $50 for a 60-minute session, while post-natal massages cost $60 for an hour-long session.

A manicure-pedicure costs $50.

There is an additional transport charge of $10 to $25 if you spend below $100.

Pros: Besides time-strapped worker bees, Lim says home services are also good for those who have kids or old folks who find it difficult to travel.

'I have a customer in Siglap who books my home massage service for her mother every month.'

The service also helps her expand her reach as her shop draws mainly residents in the Bukit Timah area.

'Also, door-to-door services are more profitable as there are no rental costs involved. I get about 10 or more customers a month who ask for more than one beauty service per house visit.'

Cons: 'The main disadvantage is that I can't offer a whole range of beauty services. For instance, I can't do hair rebonding services which require proper equipment and a wash basin.'

Most memorable experience: 'I was hired for a company's get-together in Bedok earlier this month. The group of about 20 were singing karaoke and eating while the women had their manicures and pedicures done. It was a whole load of fun seeing them enjoy themselves.'

Call 9735-1538 or 6463-3836 at least one day in advance for home booking



Penny Chew, 45, founder of Penny Chew Massage & Healthcare, an online business started in 2005

Services: Chew touts her business as a one-stop beauty and health-care service.

She has diplomas in body massages and says her specialities include Swedish massage, acupressure, post-natal massage and baby massage.

She also offers beauty services such as facials, waxing as well as pedicures and manicures, which are carried out by her team of 10.

She also stages events and workshops for occasions such as birthday parties and provides massage services for corporate functions.

Rates: Body massages start from $240 for three 60-minute sessions, while massage for babies and children cost $90 for three 30-minute sessions.

A one-hour facial starts from $80 while a manicure-pedicure costs between $40 and $50.

Pros: 'A physical store means high rental costs and requires start-up capital. With door-to-door services, I also enjoy more flexible hours and have the freedom to choose the number of hours I work every day.'

Cons: 'One disadvantage is the danger of going to a stranger's house as I can never predict what is going to happen. Because of this, we prefer to take on jobs from people we know.'

Most memorable experience: 'I once did a massage for an old German couple. It was the husband's birthday and the wife wanted to give him a surprise. It was his first massage experience and he was so touched at the wife's gesture that he cried. They even hugged and kissed when I was doing the massage for them.'

Visit, or call 9640-4308. Book your service two weeks in advance



Sandra Lim, 35, and Lynette Loh, 34, founders of Lush Spa at the Singapore Polo Club, who began offering home services in 2003

Services: Specialises in spa parties (or 'sparties', as Loh calls them) at homes where a team of up to six trained therapists deliver anything from body massages to chocolate paraffin waxing.

Food and drinks can also be arranged - they get the food from neighbourhood cafes or restaurants such as Marmalade Pantry.

Loh, who has a certificate from the International Therapy Examination Council, also does pre- and post-natal massages.

Rates: $160 and up for a 60-minute session that includes food and drinks. The pre- and post-natal package - which includes three sessions of body wraps, pre- or post-natal massages and a facial - costs $3,000.

Each massage lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

Pros: Loh says: 'Door-to-door services cater to different needs. Some people prefer to have some private time away from home, while others prefer to chill out with friends at home.

'Door-to-door service also means our overheads are much lower as we don't have to worry about rentals.'

Cons: 'The main downside is the lack of stability. Customers come on an ad hoc basis, so there are months that we see fewer clients.

'Also, people might not know that we offer these services so we have to rely mainly on word of mouth,' Loh says.

Most memorable experience: Loh says a bridal shower is always the most pleasant experience as 'the love and friendship among the bride-to-be and her friends always make a heartwarming sight'.

It can be funny too.

'Once, a bride almost wanted to punch a man who greeted her at the door as she didn't know who he was and he wanted to go into her apartment.

'She didn't know that all her friends were gathered behind the door and the guy was a male therapist that they had hired to greet her.'

Visit Bookings must be made 10 days in advance

This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

more: hair
readers' comments

Copyright © 2014 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.