Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Few Maputo Beauty Recommendations

As a resident of Maputo now for about 3 years (and a resident of Mozambique for nearly 4!), here are some of my beauty recommendations for the capital city:

Best place for a haircut: Salão Olímpia Pinto (aka the salon on the first floor of the Polana Shopping). I cut my hair with a lady called São, who is the owner of the salon. She has a funny style of haircutting, much choppier and agressive than I am used to, and is really a fan of layers no matter what kind of cut you ask for. Personally, her style works for me, as it is good for cuts that look slightly messy. However, there are two things that really bother me about São: First, she always is overbooked, and ends up running late and cutting 2 or 3 ladies' hair at the same time. Second, she talks on her phone while she cuts your hair, holding the phone between her head and shoulder and merrily chopping away despite the fact that she isn't looking at you straight on. Still, it is worth it, as I've yet to find someone who cuts better in Maputo. Women's haircut and style runs around 650mt.

Best place for highlights: Salão Hera (aka the salon on the second floor of the Decali day spa on Av. Kenneth Kaunda, just down from the World Bank). I have the owner, a Portuguese woman called Isabella, do my highlights. She is good at listening, and works relatively quickly. They are some of the best highlights I've had in my life, if you can believe it. As always, however, there are some downsides. Isabella smokes inside the salon and blares out very, very loud dance music on the stero, which I find unprofessional. Also, I don't like her haircutting style (it tends to be too blunt for my taste), and I've had to correct crooked bangs and side pieces of my hair the last two times I've had a cut with Isabella. The highlights are so good, though, they keep me coming back. Highlights on short hair + women's haircut and style runs about 3,000mt.

Best place for a manicure: Salão Decali (on Av. Kenneth Kaunda in a white house with a green gate, just down from the World Bank). Dona Celeste, my favorite manicurist, is incredible. She does an impeccable job with nails, gives a mean arm/leg massage, and is so gentle and mothering she can be a temporary cure to my bouts of homesickness. All of the equipment is obviously clean and sterilized regularly, and tools aren't re-used or shared between clients. My manicures typically last 7 days, and my pedicures last 3 weeks. Cost for mani + pedi is 750mt if you pay in cash. (on a side note, Nail Spa is also quite good, but I don't go there anymore as I had my cell phone stolen from my purse while getting my nails done there last year - I think it was one of the clients, but I wasn't impressed with the manager's response to the situation and have never gone back).

Best place for waxing: As far as I'm concerned, the jury is still out on this one. I've had bad and good experiences at all the places I think are decent for waxing. Currently, I go to Dona Celeste at Decali, but I find she goes over the same areas with wax too many times, and tends to give my sensitive skin slight burns/bruises. I used to wax with the lady at Nail Spa at the Jardim dos Namorados, but she once botched a bikini was so severely (and painfully!) I never went back. I have several friends who swear by the salon on Av. Julius Nyerere just across from the Deli 951 (don't remember the name of the salon or the deli right now - sorry). It is near Taverna restaurant. Waxing costs vary depending on the salon, but tend to be pretty reasonable, and are much cheaper than in the US. Wherever you go, just be sure they don't recycle wax between clients. I had a horrifying experience once in Chimoio when I realized the wax the lady was using on my bikini line was already full of another woman's hairs!!

Best place for a massage: Salão Decali. My favorite is the hot rock massage with Dona Celeste. She is one of the few people in Maputo who can actually dig into my muscles hard enough for me to feel like it's a proper massage. There is always the Chinese place just off Av. Julius Nyerere near Mundo's, but I've not heard great reviews.

Best clothing botique: Papaia (next to Hotel Polana). The shop is overpriced, but the clothes are imported from Paris and Portugal and are generally good quality. Caters especially to women who are tall, or who have a slender build. I am average height and a bit curvy, so not everything there works on me, but it's definitely worth a look. Other options are the second-hand Mango shop on the side street just past Talho Polana (it is a Remar charity shop that, for some odd reason, only sells Mango brand clothes). I've never made it in there, as they only allow 2 or 3 ladies at a time and the wait can get frustrating. Several friends have found cute tops and dresses there, but I think it's a bit hit or miss. If you are into stereotypically Brazilian-style clothing (tight jeans, small tops, etc.), you might try somewhere like Loja das Damas or any of the small family-run shops around town, but I've never been enticed by their window displays or their advertising.

Best clothing retailer: I like Woolworth's and Mr. Price. Their clothes are cheap, but cute, and perfect for one-season pieces.

Best place to buy a bikini: Verd'Agua (aka gift shop a Southern Sun hotel, previously Holiday Inn). They have a decent selection of bikinis, ranging from brazilian-style cuts to more modest American-style ones. Patterns are cute, and the prices are surprisingly reasonable. I just bought a great bikini there for 1,250mt.

Best place to buy clothes from local fashion designers: Franco-Mozambican Cultural Center gift shop. The clothes are overpriced, but you can find some very unique pieces. Definitely not for everyone's taste, but if you are into fashion, you can find some interesting things. More basic locally made clothes using capulanas can be found at the Saturday Wood Market in the square just off Av. 25 de Setembro, down from Café Continental.

Best place to buy "ethnic" jewelry: Saturday wood market, or the shop on the second floor of Polana Shopping that specializes in African jewelry of slightly higher quality. And of course, there are always my pieces with Ilha de Moçambique trade beads and precious Mozambican hardwoods. :)

Best place to buy makeup/perfume/creams: Duty free in Joburg airport, or across the border in Nelspruit. I think these beauty items are ridiculously marked up in Maputo, and I am never confident that I'm not buying a knockoff product. If there is a good place here for makeup and perfume, by all means let me know!

Hope you find this helpful...


Anonymous said...

thanks for the tips!! moving to Maputo soon and am sure this will come in handy! thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there

i`m looking for a best place where i can find brazillian hair pieces in Maputo. where exactly can i find it there and price range if you know of?


Ali la Loca said...

~Anonymous - I'm not sure where to find Brazilian hair pieces or how much they might cost. I'd ask around at some of the salons to get some info.

Thomas said...


for a hair cut you should try the salon on top of Mundos, i forget the name of the place and the lady (christina) i think or the one in Kayakwanga

Anonymous said...

the other great hair salon is a new one in the Mares shopping center called Precision Cut.

Very upmarket and clean the staff know what they are doing....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips. I was just wondering if you have more specific directions for Salao Decali. I'm living in Maputo and know where to look, but haven't managed to find it yet.

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