Phnom Penh's salon business thrives as increasingly appearance-conscious young men become avid clients
Photo by: Sovann Philong
Sok Sopha and Sok Sokhun undergo beauty treatment in a Phnom Penh salon.
PHNOM Penh's numerous beauty salons have enjoyed a thriving trade in recent years, according to shop owners, who add that a growing number of their regular clients are men.
Some men frequent the capital's beauty salons because they want more people to think they are handsome and to attract women, while others do so simply to feel better about themselves.
But all agree, say salon owners, that a healthy and attractive appearance these days has become as important to men as it has been to women.
Srey Mey, 23, owns a beauty salon in Phnom Penh that sees up to 10 male clients each day.
"Most of the guys who come into my shop are young, around 20 years old, and they come in for hair highlights, facial massages and hair styling, as well as manicures and pedicures," Srey Mey said.
"In the past, I've normally seen women going to the beauty shops, but today there are almost more men than women coming to the salon every day," she said.
Change is in the air
Srey Mey said more Cambodians, particularly men, are starting to think about their appearance.
"Most guys who are obsessed with their appearance are young and want to look good for their friends or girlfriends," she said.
Twenty-two-year-old Long Charya opened her Skin Care Beauty Salon in Koh Kong last year.
She says of the 30 or more customers she sees each day, at least five or six are men.
"I have never seen men come to beauty shops like this in the year that I've been in the business. It's always been women who are interested in their beauty," she told the Post.
I feel different before and
after I get make-up put on. Afterwards, many people admire me and say that I am more beautiful.
"I asked some of the guys who come to my shop why they are there, and they say that they want to look pretty and attractive for other people," she said.
Sok Sopha, 24, works in the production department of an entertainment company and says he visits the beauty shop two or three times a month.
"I get my hair styled or highlighted, a face massage or steaming, and sometimes I have make-up done if I have an important meeting or party," he said.
"It's not so strange for me to visit the beauty shop because all people want to be prettier or more attractive to other people around them. We need to pay attention to our beauty because it will not last forever," he said.
"I feel different before and after I get make-up put on. Afterwards, many people admire me and say that I am more beautiful," he said.
"I am happy when they say that and I also see for myself that I am more handsome than before."
Sok Sopha says he has only been going to beauty shops in the last few years.
Prior to that, he paid little attention to his appearance, but he said seeing more men taking better care of their appearance inspired him to take the plunge and go to a beauty salon for treatment.
"My parents have never blamed me for this. Sometimes, they even try to correct me when I make the wrong style choice," he said. "They want me to look good and I am happy about that."
He said that his improved appearance has even made some of his female friends envious.
"There are some women who are jealous of me and ask me how come I look so pretty," he said. "Then, I introduce them to my beauty shop and my beautician and they follow my advice."
At 22, Sour Sokun is a second-year student at the National University of Management and visits a salon up to twice a month, although he keeps his beauty regime simple.
"I spend about US$2.50 to get my hair washed and highlighted at the salon and that is about it," he said.
"My parents have never said that I should not go to the beauty shop because I am a man," he added.
"I have never thought that women are jealous of me. I just want to feel good and be more attractive."