Hair Salons in Havana seem to be everywhere now since the Cuban government lifted some restrictions on private entrepreneurship about a decade ago, allowing for certain small businesses to form. Since then, legal hair salons have sprung up in backyards, porches, living rooms, and other parts of Cuban homes throughout the country. This is why it’s harder to find many salons since they’re often inside someone’s home.
While studying in Havana, I decided I wanted to join the local trend of getting balayage color for my hair. The look had called out to me for months and having just quit my corporate job, I decided it was time to take the plunge! But I wasn’t sure who to go to and many of the storefront shops were much more expensive, especially when they smell any hint of foreigner in you.
So one sunny afternoon, while walking down Calle 23, I spotted a woman with a beautiful haircut and blond balayage/hombre getting into a cab. Being the atrevida that I am, I quickly skipped over to her and asked her where she got her hair colored. She smiled and thanked me happily. “Yane!” She pointed to her friend who she’d just parted ways with and was walking away. I thanked her and ran towards her friend to set up an appointment and agreed on a great price. It was perfect. Later, I found out that the woman who was getting into the cab is a famous TV journalist in Cuba!
A Day in a Cuban Hair Salon
“I’ll be at the hair salon in the morning and then we can meet around noon,” I told my host mom who laughed. “No way. You’re going to spend the whole day there! Maybe see you at night for dinner!” Apparently, everyone but me knew that going to the hair salon in Cuba is an all-day affair. When I got to Yane’s living room salon, at the time she gave me, four other women were already there. Two on the coach. One on a picnic chair with rollers in her hair. And another getting her hair colored by Yane. I sat on the couch listening to all the local chisme (gossip) with keen interest. If you’re looking for cultural integration into the lives of Cuban women, here it is. Our conversations ranged from curly hair to LGBT rights to relationship issues. All while sipping on electrifyingly sweet cafecito that Jane’s mother-in-law had served us.
The Service at Yane’s Havana Hair Salon
When it was my turn, as the last person, I had the entire place to myself as Yane worked hard on my hair. Coloring, cutting, deep de-frizz conditioning, blowing-out, and hot-iron straightening to make sure the cut was right. She spent over 3 hours on my head. I don’t know how she did it all alone, back to back. The modern chair in the salon was perfectly comfortable for me to sit on through the experience, as I observed her shelves containing hundreds of products for coloring, conditioning, toning, bleaching, and other types of hair products I didn’t even know existed. She had it all. It was basically a salon you’d find anywhere in the U.S. but in her living room. The total was about $25 USD for something I’d been quoted $300+ in the USA.
I went back to Yane a year later to get a color touch up and this time, I asked to be her only customer because my trip to Havana was limited on time. I paid her extra to secure her time and she went at it again for 3 hours sculpting, cutting, and pasting.
If you’re considering a fun change, a touch-up, a hair cut, or just a basic styling of your hair while you’re in Havana, consider Yane’s salon. Her prices are a fraction of American/European prices and you would be supporting the local small business of a Cuban woman!
Yane’s Contact Info:
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