x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hair-warming tales with Charbel

Submit to the talent of the Abu Dhabi-based hair artist Charbel, and you're likely to leave with a spring in your step and bouncy, shiny hair.

The Lebanese stylist Charbel Doumit styles Sarah Ferguson hair at his salon, Hairwaves, in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National
The Lebanese stylist Charbel Doumit styles Sarah Ferguson hair at his salon, Hairwaves, in Abu Dhabi. Sammy Dallal / The National

Charbel Doumit is not merely a hair stylist. Known simply as Charbel to his friends, family and clients, the Abu Dhabi-based Lebanese “hair artist” has a long list of celebrity clients.

Professional discretion and 18 years of experience means he he won’t give up names, although he does let the name La Toya Jackson slip.

Charbel’s approach to hair is an organic process, he says. He takes time to study each client’s facial features and complexion, and find out a bit about their lifestyle and personality before working his magic on their locks.

With this in mind, I head to Hairwaves salon at Khalidiya Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi, prepared to let Charbel do whatever he wants. The thought makes me nervous: I have had many bad hair-salon experiences over the years, so I avoid visits for as long as possible.

My hair is dry and damaged from colour and heat abuse and the colour is a bit too light for me. I have also been trying to grow my hair out, so I am convinced Charbel will want to cut off as much as possible.

But first, the colour. Charbel declares a warm mocha will suit me, but decides to keep the underlying layer a shade lighter to give the ends a sun-kissed effect. So far, so great.

Then it’s time for the cut. This is where the nerves set in.

“Hmm,” Charbel muses. “I like your length so I am just going to trim a little and add subtle layers for texture.” I breathe an inward sigh of relief. The mental image I had of ending up with a platinum-blonde pixie cut quickly vanishes, and I relax as Charbel gets to work.

A quick blow-dry later, I’m done – and delighted with the end result.

But Charbel isn’t finished with me yet, and tells me I need to return for a hair Botox treatment. Intrigued, I head back three days later to try the deep-conditioning, anti-frizz treatment, which is not unlike the Brazilian Blowout or keratin treatments, but without the formaldehyde. A special mask is applied to every strand of hair and then heat (blow-dryer and flat irons) is used to seal in the product, followed by a rinse and dry.

Charbel says the treatment – which lasts for up to 12 weeks – is perfect for my hair type, which is naturally curly and, therefore, difficult to manage in the summer humidity. I leave the salon with a spring in my step, shiny, soft hair and a single, long-stemmed rose that Charbel hands me because I visit on the eve of Valentine’s Day.

• Hairwaves by Charbel is at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan Hotel, Abu Dhabi. Call 02 657 9537 or visit www.hairwavesbycharbel.com Cut and blow-dry from Dh350; colour from Dh300; hair Botox from Dh1,500, depending on hair length

Q&A with the Lebanese hair artist Charbel

Any fashion cuts or hairstyles for this season?

It is a close tie between the panel cut and the channel technique, with a short fringe. With regards to the colour, I recommend mocha or amaretto, earthy colours signifying the end of winter and the onslaught of summer in the UAE.

How long should a woman keep her hairstyle?

The hairstyle can stay the whole year. However, I advise my clients to change the colour of their hair every season; It not only keeps them looking chic, but also radiates confidence.

Is it true that the hair colour has four seasons? What are they?

Yes, each season depicts a certain mood that can be reflected in colours and hues, all of which provide hints about a woman’s personality. It all really depends on her face shape, skin tone and personality. In spring, for example, it is sun-kissed.

How do you differentiate yourself with other stylists?

I try to understand them [each client], and that usually gives me an insight into the style that will most suit them. I work to bring their personality traits to the forefront by emphasising their features.

What is trendy for men’s cuts this year?

A wet look, neatly combed with a visible side parting, with the sides and back cropped short.

What’s your advice for treatments or styles that wear well and are easy to maintain in the harsh summer here?

Short hair is the way to go – it’s fashionable, hassle-free and neat. But if you would like to keep it longer, go for hair Botox to liven and give your hair longevity and combat the effects of pollution and the sun.