There is a new salon in town: The Beauty Box. The place is cute and feminine and makes you feel empowered. Team OHLALA paid a visit to find out more.
Bahrain’s female community can celebrate the opening of another beauty destination. The Beauty Box is owned by Zara Ismail, a British-born entrepreneur who, like many expats (myself included), now calls Bahrain home. She is the force behind this new venture, a space that offers hair, nails and other beauty treatments with much more to come.
Located on Budaiya Road at Grove Village, it is a great addition to this neighbourhood, with a mix of expats and locals always looking for a ‘closeby’ salon to have their beauty needs sorted. OHLALA was invited to try some of their treatments, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to get my golden locks looked after.
If you are a highlights enthusiast like me, you must know that it is not easy to find a place to carry out this style with the necessary attention required. Even though we have a mix of different nationalities on the island, not all salons have experienced staff to offer this kind of service. It is also laborious work that can take long hours, so a patient hairdresser that knows what she is doing is very important. Not to mention that it is a type of hair process that can go wrong very quickly. If you open social media channels, you will see many hair disasters related to highlights. This means that I always have a slight concern when trying a new place, but after talking to Zara, I felt confident and was excited to visit the salon.
The Grove Village is a small street mall with facades looking like charming little houses. The Beauty Box is one of them and as you enter the space, you can see that the décor has been carefully chosen to give a cosy yet modern vibe. A soft pink with a gracious old rose tint and black accents paint the space with encouraging sayings all over the place – lots of Instagrammable corners.
I went there with my colleague, who experienced a manicure and pedicure while I had my hair revamped. One of the things I liked a lot about my experience was that I had a long talk with Rupa, the hairdresser, before she started working on my tresses. I told her what I wanted done, she then gave me her input and ideas and, together, we decided how to move forward. As I have a lot of grey hair (signs of experience), I have been getting really light highlights, almost platinum. She advised me to go for a more natural effect to match my complexion and reduce the contrast with my roots – we then decided to go for this option.
If you have highlights, you must know that it takes time to achieve the best result, so I went prepared to sit for a while. I once went to a place that did it in two hours and the result was dreadful. I was glad that Rupa was on the same page and took her time to make sure the bleaching process of each section was removed when it was time before moving on to other parts of my hair – it’s meticulous work that involves a bit of science, knowledge and patience.
My hair was in a poor state and after the highlights and toner, Rupa treated my locks with L’Oreal’s Vitamino Color, which gives radiance to coloured hair, leaving it nourished, soft and shiny. It protects the hair fibre against oxidants that affect the vibrance of salon hair colour services. I usually don’t give enough credit to hair treatments, but they make a big difference and even after the bleaching session, my hair felt soft and bouncy. I do need to create the habit of treating my locks more often – note to self!
My worry about going for a more natural blond effect was that it wouldn’t cover my grey hair, but it actually blended very well and I am very pleased with the final colour. They will definitely see me again in the future. Being blonde requires a lot of maintenance and frequent visits to the salon are a must!
Regarding the manicure and pedicure, this is what my colleague Tanushree Mathur had to say about her experience: “A big fan of bright colours, I walked over to the funky nail wall, and my eyes went immediately to this fabulous tropical green! I usually stick to regular polish, but Zara asked me to give gel a try – since it lasts much longer and stands the test of home chores and vigorous workout sessions, I was convinced to give it a go. I was very hesitant at first since my past experience of gel polish in a different salon was not a positive one and it almost destroyed my fingertips. However, my nail technician, Maya, assured me she would take care of my nails, especially when it is time to remove them.
I then sat on the comfortable green chairs in the salon’s nail area right in front of a fun sign that says: Nails Before Males. That made me giggle a bit and, to be fair, actually put me at ease. Underneath my feet there was a basin with a tap. The feeling of the warm water on my feet was just amazing! For the pre-preparation, Maya added lavender salt and gave my feet a good soak. The next steps were cutting and filing the toenails and then trimming the extra skin in the cuticles with a cuticle eraser. I am also very picky with my cuticles, as I have had a bad experience with this in the past too, Maya was extremely gentle with my feet and hands. She started with a nice scrub, followed by filing the hard skin on my heels and calloused areas.
Completely at ease and totally relaxed, Maya dried my feet, gave me a relaxing massage with a 24-carat gold scrub before applying the nail polish and the cuticle oil. My feet felt so soft and hydrated. She then moved to my hands. The same process started, cutting and filing the nails and then gently working through my fingers. She used a lovely scrub and a soft massage to finish the session, and I absolutely loved it! She went on to apply the gel nail polish and then I was done.
With treated hands and eye-catching nails, I was ready to take on the day!”
We had the opportunity of having a long chat with Zara Ismail, The Beauty Box owner and director, and we bring more details about this new beauty haven.
OHLALA – How did your passion for beauty become your professional career? What made you create The Beauty Box?
Zara Ismail – When I first moved to the Gulf 10 years ago from the UK, I struggled to find a salon that felt anything like the salon experience we had in London at the time. I found either the salon staff were really good at their craft but didn’t have the personality to build a friendly rapport with their clients or the opposite, really friendly and chatty but not great at hair or nails. I have lived in Kuwait, Qatar and now Bahrain and there were only a few salons that delivered on quality, experience and price for me, which should not be the case considering how many salons there are in these markets. I come from a retail operations background, mainly having managed beauty brands, so I really understand the importance of customer experience and how personal it is when you are having treatments done at the salon.
As a client, I want expert staff, products and services – you shouldn’t have to compromise on one or the other – you can and should have it all!
OHLALA – And for whom did you create it?
Zara – All women! Whether you are in your teens or your eighties, housewife or working mum, Bahraini or Expat – it doesn’t matter – The Beauty Box is for all! This was one of the main reasons for creating the brand. Women from all backgrounds, shapes, sizes and colours are welcome – it’s an inviting, fun and friendly place for all.
OHLALA – What can they expect at The Beauty Box? What is the message you want to pass to your customers?
Zara – We aim to provide that UK feel of an expert salon with new and trendy products and services alongside a friendly, professional team of experts in their fields. That being said, we provide a quality experience at an affordable price. Looking after how you look and feel without having to break the bank – it is a luxury, but it’s a luxury we all deserve.
OHLALA – What is the central concept, and what is the biggest differential of The Beauty Box?
Zara – The biggest differential point is that I want this business to become a real force for good. We have already started a collaboration with the Little Princess Trust in the UK, which collects hair donations from all over the world and makes wigs for children and young people who have lost their hair due to cancer or other treatments. When coming up with the salon plan, which has been literally years in the making for me, it was very important to use it to give back to the community too. I grew up with my parents doing a lot of charity work in the UK, which has stayed with me in adulthood. My father uses his business to do good in the world and I want to be able to do the same with The Beauty Box.
OHLALA – What are the services offered at the salon? Which one would you highlight?
Zara – The reason I named the salon The Beauty Box was because I wanted it to be a one-stop shop – all of your beauty needs in one box. We have a wide variety of services, but we mainly specialise in hair cuts, colours and treatments and nail services from manicures and pedicures to nail extensions. We also offer hair removal, such as waxing and threading, and eyelash extensions. As our team grows, we will provide other services such as facials, permanent make-up, etc.
OHLALA – What are the plans for this beauty haven?
Zara – Watch this space – I can’t tell you all my secrets!