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Behind an unmarked gray door, between a deli and a pizzeria on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, is Hairppy, the coolest New York City hair salon you’ve never heard of.
Here owner Yusuke Katsuki practices the non-rushed art of washing, cutting, and coloring clients’ hair—one customer at a time. The result is a salon atmosphere that’s almost as quiet as the whispers women are using to share word of his one-chair atelier.
“Everyone said I should name the salon after myself, but I saw the word happy, and I thought ‘All it needs is an ‘ir’ in the middle,'” Katsuki says. “That’s what I want to do—make people happy through hair.”
Katsuki, who was born in Japan, operates the salon with the help of just a front-desk assistant. He sees one client at a time (often for 2-3 hour time blocks) and takes his time analyzing skin tone, face shape, and hair texture before making decisions about cuts and shades. He’s a man of details and precision. And even brings you a basket for your purse and a tiny tray for your jewelry.
A lot of the magic happens at the sink, where Katsuki gives a deeply relaxing scalp massage, followed by a seriously skilled neck and shoulder massage. “In Japan, Shiatsu is one of the first things you learn at beauty salons,” he told me, when I asked if he’d been trained as a massage therapist.
When he deep conditions your hair, he wraps a hot lavender-scented towel around your scalp, giving your wait time a spa-like feel.
And while Hairppy isn’t a total clean-air sanctuary like Tribeca’s Hale, Katsuki is a believer in natural-leaning products. He seeks out sulfate-free shampoos, for example, and won’t do Brazilian blowouts.
His approach has allowed him to build a loyal clientele all through word-of-mouth. “Yusuke’s care and thoughtful approach is a respite from my hectic schedule,” says Erica Barrish, who recently discovered the salon. “I told a few friends about Hairppy, and each has been amazed by how nice it is to receive truly one-on-one service without interruption or pretension.”
One thing you won’t get at Hairppy: gossip. The experience is not for social salon go-ers. The results, however, speak loud and clear. After my appointment, a stylish saleswoman at Henri Bendel called after me as I walked by, “Your hair looks amazing!” —Lisa Elaine Held
Hairappy cuts cost $125–$175, color $85–$265; 259 Seventh Ave., at W. 25th St., Chelsea, 212-627-3547, www.hairppy.com