Beauty parlors are part of Azerbaijan’s popular culture. They dot villages and towns, ranging from simple, single rooms to flashy, larger salons, and provide services ranging from a manicure to a chat over tea, from a haircut to a discussion about politics. They are, however, strictly gendered.
Male-dominated and patriarchal, Azerbaijani society also separates men and women’s personal care. Unwritten social norms have it that each sex would go to its “dedicated” salon. Yet, slowly, some people, like Baku hairdresser Ulviyya Rzayeva, are challenging this attitude.
The 28-year-old has been running her beauty salon in downtown Baku for five years and is open for business to male customers as well. They come to her salon mainly for hair or tattoo-removals.
In the capital’s suburbs, however, salons remain gender-segregated and men and women move within their own kingdoms of vanity.