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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finding a Salon Can Be a Bit Hairy

MTJ.P. Barbers and Perfumers bills itself as the only men's grooming parlor in Moscow.
Juggling career and family responsibilities while staying youthful and well groomed is no mean feat. Finding the right beauty salon in looks-obsessed Moscow can be even more demanding.

"You don't really feel settled in a place until you have a reliable hair stylist," said Julie Smith of the American Women's Organization this week.

But despite the seeming multitude of beauty salons in town, Moscow has a long way to go when it comes to the combination of first-class service, a reasonable price and a smile, expats said.

"It is a much more competitive market for manicures and pedicures in Los Angeles, and you can get a first-rate service for a lot less," said Smith, who hails from California. "When I go to Los Angeles, I usually get off the plane and head for a nail salon."

But when in Moscow, it's most often The Expat Salon that Smith trusts, she said.

The Expat Salon (expatsalon.ru) opened last April. With a staff of 20, including English-speaking employees, the salon has about 400 clients per month, 90 percent of whom are foreigners, according to manager Flora Iton. To unwind at The Expat Salon costs 1,200 rubles ($45) for a woman's haircut, 900 rubles for a manicure, 1,600 rubles for a pedicure and 700 rubles for a 30-minute facial massage. Celebrity specialists such as Michael O'Rourke of Sexy Hair Concepts and George Schaeffer of the American cosmetics company OPI Products visit the salon for sessions from time to time, Iton said.

J.P. Barbers & Perfumers bills itself as the first and only men's grooming parlor in Moscow. As Russian men still do not buy into the beauty culture, 95 percent of its 1,800-odd customers are expatriates, said owner Tamara Perree.

Ian Schier, the managing director of Advinter, a British-based marketing company, said that he alternates between The Expat Salon and J.P. Barbers. "English is spoken at both establishments, making them very convenient for new arrivals and those who do not feel comfortable communicating with salon personnel in Russian," he said.

Employees of Deloitte and Touche, Standard and Poor's, Raiffeisen Bank and Standard Bank regularly flock to J.P. Barbers, which shares a strategic location with the businesses at the Mokhovaya Business Park. Services include $20 manicures, $25 pedicures, $60 stone therapy and a $17, 20-minute express facial, which is the most popular treatment with customers short on time, Perree said. Booking online is available at jpbarbers.ru.

Wealthy spa mavens may pamper themselves at the Guerlain Beauty Studio (beautystudio.ru), which boasts three locations in and around Moscow. The American singer Cher and the French actress Isabelle Adjani have received treatments at Guerlain while in town during the past year.

Yelena Sazhina, the studio's director, said that the salons feature the Guerlain method of face and body treatment developed in 1938. Ninety-minute-long Guerlain body treatments start at $90, manicures at $50, pedicures at $70 and haircuts at $60 for men and $80 for women.

The more budget-conscious may try Amsterdam on Tsvetnoi Bulvar (amst-salon.ru), a beauty parlor opened in 2003. It offers an hour-long, 700 ruble ($25) wet steam bath in a cedar tub with herbs handpicked in the Altai mountains. According to owner Yelena Razina, the bath comes free with a 1,400 ruble Thai foot massage on every first Monday of the month. Manicures start at 600 rubles; pedicures are 1,250 rubles; a facial, including a massage, is 850 rubles; and body wraps are 2,500 rubles.

Seven Colors, or 7 Krasok (7krasok.ru), offers an authentic Thai massage. It will send one of its 20 licensed masseuses -- most of whom are graduates of Wat Po, the famous Bangkok massage school -- to whichever one of its 25 affiliated locations in and around the city is closest to you. Prices range from 777 rubles for a 30-minute massage blitz to 3,000 rubles for a two-hour special. Gift certificates are available and are delivered by a courier.

The company plans to open its own Thai spa salon in western Moscow next month.

Laboratoriya Krasoty, or the Beauty Lab, is located in the Arbat Business Park at Smolenskaya. The lab, according to director Marina Yuryeva, has not advertised for three years and does not have a web site, but clients keep coming. Russian celebrity directors and television anchors book well in advance to get a feel-good treatment here. Ninety-minute-long herbal and mineral thermal blanket wraps are between 900 rubles and 1,200 rubles, manicures are 550 rubles, pedicures are 700 rubles, haircuts are 600 rubles and facials are 600 rubles.

"I recommend asking a lot of people for suggestions and moving slowly," Smith said in advice to newcomers.

"Nothing ruins the relocation process more than a bad haircut."