Haircut in a City of Rapunzels

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city and its inhabitants are equally beautiful.  Everywhere I look there are skinny gorgeous women strutting their stuff all over town.  I can’t say that they are all fashionable (there is a lot of short shorts, flowery Bohemian dresses, denim everything, and fake Ray-Ban sunglasses) and I don’t quite understand the popularity of these platform Birkenstock shoes everyone is wearing.  One of the first things I noticed when I arrived here though is the hairstyle of the citizens of Buenos Aires, particularly the length of women’s hair.  Before coming to Argentina I had no idea that funky, hip, cool, edgy, or short hairstyles were not the norm in this country.  I would say 9 out of 10 women I see in Buenos Aires have long hair and out of those 9, about half of them have their hair below the shoulders or down to their waist.  Sometimes I wonder if I get stared at so much because my hair is as short, if not shorter, than most of the men here.  Everyday all around me I see women bouncing down the street with their long tresses swaying in the gentle breezes.  In this fairy tale city full of Rapunzels I am an odd ugly duckling from a faraway kingdom.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!: on Scalabrini Ortiz near by neighborhood

Getting a haircut in a foreign country is inevitable if you travel for an extended period of time like I have been.  I try to visit my regular stylist in New York shortly before, if not the day of, my departure date and this time was no exception.  But 10 weeks into my life in Argentina with at least another 10 weeks to go, it was time to find someone to cut my hair.  I didn’t think I’d have any trouble finding a good stylist in Buenos Aires (as opposed to Chennai, India) but that was before I noticed everyone with long flowing locks.  So for the past few weeks I’ve been asking a bunch of locals and expats for suggestions, and I collected a quite a few names and references.  There was José whose salon is close by on Santa Fe, Terrie who is in Belgrano, a friend’s friend who cuts hair, and so on.  I had settled on Terrie, an Irish expat who was recently featured in Time Out Buenos Aires but she happened to be on holiday when I got in touch with her.  Argh!  But by chance I accompanied my friend T to her hair appointment, and after speaking with her stylist and seeing how he cut T’s hair, I decided to trust him.  So last week I went to see Ryan, a Canadian expat and 5 year resident of Buenos Aires who works out of his beautiful apartment in Recoleta.

T and I were late getting to her appointment with Ryan the week before (we’d gone to tour El Zanjón and lunch at Tandoor that day) so this time, we (T was kind enough to come with me for moral support) were determined to be on time and showed up with gifts- something for us (a bottle of malbec) and something for Ryan (dark chocolate with orange peels).  Since he works out of his apartment, there is no sign outside his building so we just had to ring the doorbell and wait for his assistant to come and get us.  It kind of felt like going to one of those puerta cerrada, closed-door restaurants in Buenos Aires where you’re given an address when you make a reservation and you turn up to have a meal.  Well in this case, I did all of that for a haircut.

We were led through a narrow hallway that opens up to a small courtyard and to Ryan’s loft apartment.  I love buildings like this where from the outside all you see is a little door but it leads you to a space that you never expected.  It always makes me a bit giddy… I really adore Ryan’s place.  He has a great set-up with several sections of his home comfortably and seamlessly divided into his work space and where his clients can lounge.  He is a talented hairdresser who obviously takes pride in his work but is a stark contrast to my stylist at a Japanese salon in Manhattan.  I’m used to quiet and gentle movements around me and my head where I barely notice the scissors delicately cutting away strands of my hair.  Ryan, on the other hand, is a lively vortex who commands attention, almost a whirlwind or even a tornado when compared to Nao, my subdued Japanese stylist.  Not that it’s a bad thing!  I actually found it amusing and fun to be surrounded by this energy, and with all the talking and laughing our time flew by quickly.

He did a good job with my hair and I’m happy to say that everything worked out nicely.  I don’t really know the going rate for these types of services here but it was certainly more reasonable than New York.  Obviously it’s not a professional salon, in that I didn’t get a full wash, head and shoulder massage, etc, and I was covered all over in little bits of hair when I left.  But have I ever gone to get my hair done with a bottle of wine, hang out with a friend, eat chocolate, stay after my appointment to linger and chat a little more because we felt like it?  This was definitely a first.  Ryan provides a friendly and open environment for his clients in his home, knows how to work with different hairstyles (he can cut short hair!), and he was a hoot.  His dogs were adorable, too.

I’m sure Ryan wouldn’t want me to call him a fairy godmother but since I’m going with a fairy tale theme here, I would at least like to say that I left feeling a bit more like a princess fit to walk amongst all the Rapunzels in Buenos Aires.

For an appointment call Ryan’s mobile (haircut: 170 pesos): 54-15-3050-2076

I haven’t gone to Terrie but she comes recommended; in Belgrano (haircut: 100 pesos): 54-11-6173-5114

My favorite fairy tale house sandwiched between two modern buildings on Figueroa Alcorta, Buenos Aires

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8 Responses to Haircut in a City of Rapunzels

  1. Franco says:

    My friend Sabrina was just at Ryan’s the other day! He’s obtained quite the reputation!

  2. bennettxing says:

    No photos of your do? Sounds so fun–Rob makes a point to see out the most hole in the wall hair cutters he can–funny how something so simple can give you a window on another world.

  3. lunasealife says:

    I love the fairy tale house!

    And I realized why their hair seems so incredibly long – NO LAYERS. I used to have super-long unlayered hair… US hairstylists pretty much force layers upon you.

  4. We’re experiencing exactly the opposite here in South Korea – we are treated like absolute FREAKS for having long hair. We are constantly bombarded with questions about why we don’t cut our hair. There seems to be some kind of (as yet unknown to us) length that crosses the boundary from socially acceptable to leper-status, hahaha.

    Great blog 🙂

    • That’s totally hysterical! I suppose they think long hair is unruly/dirty?? Loved your post on burgers and the street art. Also I had no idea there was an Indian community in Korea, big enough to celebrate holi and whatnot. I guess I don’t know much about expats/foreigners in Korea at all… I’m looking forward to living there next year!

  5. Alexis says:

    Thx for writing about how great my brother is my not be a professional place but him in his own comforting, fun an enjoyable. I love him for what and who he has become and obviously prior to that as family I am proud to be his sister and anyone who knocks him is a competition not friend client or family.

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