This old salon has been around as long as I can remember. A gang of hairdressers operating out of three small rooms on Vajira Road, with a branch in Mount Lavinia.
A recent refurbishment means the rooms are clean and well lit but somehow the place seems smaller than it was before. A handful of barbers’ chairs means that at peek times- evenings 6-8, there can be a bit of a wait (max 15 mins) for a cut, but at other times (they are opened till midnight) you can walk in and be attended to immediately.
Once inside you have a choice; either allow any of the idling hairdressers to get to work or select a favorite. Over the years you tend to pick out the one who best understand the contours of your skull. The various practitioners are arranged by number- I recommend number 8, Kulasekera.
Once your chosen hairdresser has sat you in the barber’s chair you explain what needs to be done. Again, remember this is Sleek so nothing too fancy. Short on the sides long on top, or the classic tikak kota karanna (make it a little shorter) are good choices. Anything more complicated and you’re entering dangerously innovative territory.
Note- As a much younger buck I bleached my hair for the first and only time at Sleek Salon- this was a mistake.
After your styling selection you can chose whether you want a shampoo cut or any other additional trimmings. I always take the full works- shampoo, cut, shave and massage.
This is when the fun really starts.
Shampoo: Add Rs 150. The initial wash was fine, could have been a bit more thorough. The hair washing process can be quite relaxing but this was a bit hurried, the cheap mint smelling shampoo is slightly off putting.
Cut: Rs 500. I asked him to make everything a bit shorter. The scissorwork was efficient and acceptable no fancy flourishes but did manage to stick to the plan- no added steps, or fades. Attention to detail like the line at the back, trimming sideburns etc good.
Again the process did feel slightly rushed but can’t really fault the result, perhaps still guilty of leaving the top slightly too long. (Interestingly this seems to be a pan-asian failing from SL-to Indonesia and China barbers have mushroom as their default setting.)
Shave: Rs. 250. This is where Sleek comes into its own. A very thorough initial trim with the beard trimmer, then a good layer of shaving cream and once over with the cut throat razor, a bit of a wash then another layer of shaving cream for a twice over amazingly clean shave. This is fully recommended– no better shave in Colombo.
Head Massagee: Rs 350. Generous amounts of hair tonic (hopefully I don’t need this yet, but the good people at Sleek are preparing for the worst). Lots of pressure, practiced movements, great work on the ears and temples. Transports you to another world for half an hour and for Rs 350 that’s good value. On balance though I think I prefer the head and shoulder massage to the pure head massage.
Total Damage: Rs 1200.
This is the problem. Sleek’s standards have remained pretty consistent (ie consistently inconsistent) but the full works used to be 500 rupees. The jump in price is eating into the value. A high end men’s haircut at say Ramani’s wasn’t much more than a 1000 until recently.