Chalk Dubai Review: “Not too cool for school”
It turns out I have been washing my hair wrong for the better part of 30-years.
“For your type of hair, only wash it once every two days,” says Fayeez, my barber, as he runs his hands through my dishevelled mop of hair. “And when you wash it, don’t use hot water. It needs to be lukewarm. Cold is even better.”
I am being schooled in the hirsute arts at Chalk, Dubai’s latest and greatest addition to the world of hair care. Not a barbershop (because it serves both men and women), Chalk self-styles itself as a “hair salon for rebels, creative thinkers and disrupters” – but don’t worry, they also cut the hair of regular people like you and me, too.
The salon is located in ultra-hip Alserkal Avenue, home to art galleries, co-working spaces and restaurants where vegan food isn’t just on the menu; it is the menu. And Chalk certainly fits right in.
Chalk is cool, to say the least, bordering on try-hard. The space is spread out over two floors (women below, men up top) and includes a small area that hosts pop-up displays from local fashion designers, a permanent ice cream machine (that spits out black and white soft serve – gluten and sugar-free, of course) and its very own ‘#chalkbooth’, a photo booth with a booming soundtrack and customised lighting so you can “show off your final look on the ‘gram”.
There are also inspiring murals painted on its otherwise bare walls (“I think you should just go for it”) and the salon only uses ‘environmentally conscious’ and ‘cruelty-free’ products. Did I mention Chalk was cool? Good.
But a good hair salon is so much more than the sum of its branded towels and energising mocktail selection (Chalk has them both). Without the ability to, you know, do the cutting of the hair, it doesn’t matter how tasty your double vanilla swirl cone is. Fortunately, Chalk has employed some highly-competent barbers – the aforementioned Fayeez being one of them.
“I think you need to grow out your beard a little bit,” he says. “I will trim it down, but if you grow it out at the bottom you will look really good”.
Generally, I abhor typical ‘barbershop chat’. There are only so many times I can reference the weather, count the number of years I have been in Dubai and say where I am from. But here the chat is less to fill the awkward silence between scissor snips and more to educate my dumb ass on how I should be doing my hair. “What products do you use at home? How do you typically style your beard? Electric shaver or wet razor? Have you ever combed your hair like this? It looks good; you should try it” And you know what? I didn’t hate it.
Beyond a haircut, the salon also has a signature shave with all the bells and whistles – hot towel, nutrient-rich oils, aftershave gels, the whole lot. “So the next time you trim your beard, just make sure to start from the middle and work to the sides,” says my new-found hair guru, using a comb to mimic the motions of my electric shaver.
My time in the barber chair didn’t just leave me with a new look, but a personal education in grooming. Heck, I half expected to receive some sort of certificate on my way out.
Chalk certainly is the hip new salon on the block, but for reasons far beyond its bite-sized brownies (which are presented alongside the complimentary coffee) and disco photo booth.
It backs up its irrefutable cool with knowledge and knowhow, and more importantly, delivers a sweet haircut at the end of it (quickly followed by a scoop of double vanilla whip, naturally).