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Tresses tended tenderly at hair salon

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French hairstylist Melanie Montembault has set up shop at Prince d’Angkor. Photograph: Claire Byrne /Phnom Penh Post

A trip to the hair salon is a ritual most western women relish. But for foreigners in Siem Reap, traditional salons are slim on the ground. So with just a couple of counterparts, Siem Reap’s latest hairdressing salon opening prompted much jubilation earlier this year.

The new western-style venue, L’Atelier Coiffure, is at the Prince d’Angkor Hotel & Spa, and the woman behind the haircuts is Melanie Montembault, a French hairstylist with ten years’ experience in salons around the world.

Walking into her salon feels like stepping into a big city shop, with a pair of professional sinks, walls of mirrors and dozens of luxury products lined-up in a row.

“The idea of the hotel is that we want to always improve,” says Laura Dávila, PR executive for Prince d’Angkor. “We are nominated again for the World Travel Awards. Last year we won for the Leading Hotel in Cambodia, so we are always looking for different things to do and ways to get noticed.”

Laura says that Melanie was the obvious choice to run the salon due to her experience both in Cambodia and abroad and her connections with brands like L’Oreal and Furterer.

While the salon has been popular with hotel guests, locals have also flocked to Melanie to have their tresses tended. Melanie says that the keratin straightening treatment is particularly popular with westerners in the humid Cambodian climate.

While other salons offer cuts, colours and blow-drys, the real selling points of L’Atelier Coiffure are its tailor-made treatments.

“People don’t realise that you need to treat the scalp first. If you have a healthy scalp you will have beautiful hair,” explains Melanie. “We can do a special massage and it can open the pores and prepare your scalp to receive the treatments.”

Melanie says that the products used for the treatments, (which smell incredible) contain lots of natural ingredients.

After the scalp massage and treatment, a mask is applied to condition the hair. A full hair-health diagnosis is given and Melanie can recommend products to use at home. “Everybody has their own prescription. For example, for oily hair we apply a mask that absorbs any excess sebum and we use a shampoo that’s adapted to it. If you have itching or redness, or you’re sensitive, we have products that aren’t so strong.”

Along with the treatments, Melanie also provides a more thorough scalp analysis using a special machine.

“Every few months we get this machine in and we can check your hair and scalp. It’s very interesting to know how it works. Even in France only a few salons offer this,” she explains.

So whether you’re after an in-depth scalp check or just a wash and blow-dry, sit back, relax and wash your hair worries away in comfort.

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