Getting Hair Colored in Beijing – How to Avoid a Disaster

I’m a blonde (I mean my hair color!). At least I used to be. By now, my blonde needs a little bit of maintenance, if you understand, and also some highlights to lighten up the mutt color. No big deal, right? That’s what I thought.

color dye hair ChinaHit and miss of coloring hair in Beijing

After I ran out of the do-it-yourself hair color that I brought from the US, I asked around a bit, chatting up blonde women in the age group that may have their hair dyed, and came away with a few recommendations. One was in my price range and an expat area I knew well enough.

At the salon, they spoke very little English but used the French brand Wella. My first experience there went without a hitch. The refreshed blonde came out like I wanted it. When I went back again I few weeks later I was confident. Boy, was I wrong!

When the hair dye was washed out, my hair looking yellowish white! Panic! I called for the attention of a more senior looking and acting hair stylist, who sprung to action right away. Apparently he shared my panicked reaction. He had a new color mixed and put on my head immediately, with two people working furiously.

After this second color was washed out, my hair was not yellowish anymore. Thank goodness! Now it was more like an ash blonde. Not quite what I wanted but much better than before. During the whole experience I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.

They took great care blow drying my hear and apologizing about the mishap. I still had to pay for the coloring but they told me that the “blowjob” was free. Now I couldn’t help but laugh!

Thankfully a friend was traveling to the US and brought me my usual DIY color from there. Now I’m back to my normal blonde.

So how do you avoid an hair color nightmare like this in Beijing?

Besides bringing a big supply of do-it-yourself color from your home country, you have a few other options for getting your hair dyed in Beijing.

Two salons with great reputation among westerners for cut and color are Catherine de France and Z Hairdressing (Scarlet). They are in the same stretch of Xindong Lu in Sanlitun. Both Catherine and Scarlet are European and blonde. They and their staff know what they are doing but these skills come with a price. Expect to pay around 1,000 RMB for cut and blow-dry, around 600 for color. (They often have specials going on, so you may get it a bit cheaper.) I can only recommend them by hearsay, not from my own experience. It’s just not my price range.

For cheaper options, look in the Russian area around Ritan and Chaoyangmen. There are some hair salons that target the Russian clientele, so they are also used to working with blonde hair. I went to a guy called David, who speaks fluent Russian and pretty good English. He gave me a great haircut including blow-dry for 100 RMB. I didn’t do color there, but I heard from a gorgeous blonde Russian woman who does. I’d probably go to him next time I run out of my own stuff.

If you have your own stories or recommendations to share, or want contact info for any of the salons I mentioned, please leave a comment.

PS: I take no responsibility if you try out one of the places I mention and are not happy with the result. I know women who never are 😉


Getting Hair Colored in Beijing – How to Avoid a Disaster — 7 Comments

  1. Oh my life, I went totally orange like no other!, I cried like a child! I wanted to shave all my long hair off. I’m not sure how a person can cope in Beijing with things that’s supposed to be simple in our countries are complicated in Beijing. The only thing I still had left was my blond hair until a fool got hold of it… I just ran away with my hat on my head to never return.

    • Oh Charmaine, I’m so sorry to hear. Unfortunately, I know that experience. If you don’t mind paying a premium price, I’m sure that the Catherine de France hair salon in Sanlitun can get you back to a “normal” blonde color. Best of luck!

  2. hey all, i recently moved here from the uk , im not a hairdresser but i dye my own hair. im looking for bleach powder and 30 vol peroxide .can anyone help ? i have no idea where to look.

    • You could try a Western pharmacy or drugstore. Watson’s may have something. Taobao is another option but may only have bigger quantities. Good luck!

  3. My hair is a disaster, i went to tony studio to get my hair colored a blush rose pink. mistake one. they didnt speak english and got a translator from a bank nearby , mistake two, reassuring me through the entire day i sat in the chair from 1400 to 20.45 that the color would be no prob they just dint think a student like me had that much money 5000 RMB. yup thats how far i wax willing to go from my virgin black hair for a beautiful textured color, my hair is a meter long and after years of maintaining it , very thick and glossy. not anymore a disgusting brown color, bad hair quality and many tears and no sleeping I’m going back to dye it black again and get it maintained, needless to say when they washed my hair and it came out that color even they knew that paying them only to ruin my hair and get back to a black is unfair and stupid , they didn’t mind me not paying, but that still didn’t stop me from having nightmares the actual time i was able to sleep.

  4. My sister owns a salon in the U.S. and set me up with a supply of Wella hair color (to take to Wuhan). But rather than try to tackle it myself, I decided to go natural. My feelings are mixed. My husband loves it; I’m not so sure. But it is easy!

    For a haircut, I visit Toni&Guy in Wuhan and go with their top stylist. I pay for it ($62) but I get a decent haircut that grows out nicely so that I only have to go once every few months. I definitely recommend bringing a picture, as I have not found a stylist who speaks English. My husband made the mistake of saying “yes” when they asked if he wanted the same haircut as last time, and he got a very different look (shaved sides, bowl on top). We had a good laugh. What can you do…

    I’ve thought about getting a haircut in Beijing when I next visit, so this is good information to have. Thank you!

    • Hi Karen, your recommendation is right on. A picture is very helpful to convey what you want. I found out that Chinese hair stylists do very well with accurate cuts and struggle with a more “messy” look. For accurate cuts I found a good salon in Beijing where they charge 80-100 RMB.
      For men it’s also very hit and miss. I know of a few guys who just bought clippers and cut their hair themselves.