“The greatest sounds cannot be heard, and the greatest image has no form.” — This is a famous quote from Laozi’s “Tao Te Ching”, meaning that silence can be deafening and that the most all-encompassing and informative image may not have shape or structure. This philosophy lies at the core of SHHH Salon on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan and is where the store’s Chinese name 「希聲」was taken from. “Our starting point can be summarised in this quote: ‘It is better to teach a man to fish than to give a man a fish’”, explained founder Marvin Lin. Her salon not only offers haircuts, but also shares the importance of scalp care. Thus, it is no surprise that the launch of her OMG hair care series changed the public’s perception of hair care.
When you walk into a hair salon, you’re probably expecting a fresh new cut and style. SHHH Salon takes this one step further. Paying close attention to the integrity and quality of each customer’s hair, SHHH Salon launched its OMG care series, which bottles up precious ingredients into a salon quality product offering results you can achieve at home. “You could say that we’re sharing our secret recipe to the public”, Marvin laughs.
Why is it that a hair salon would dedicate such extensive resources to hair care instead of styling? It all began when Marvin first ventured into the hair industry over 20 years ago. Working with royal families, celebrity clientele, and in fashion shows, Marvin created unique hairstyles to match different looks. Many performers were concerned with the state of their hair after performances or events – something which became especially clear to Marvin after her work at a hair styling exhibition.
“Although I won the best image and hair design award, after the show drew to a close one of the models said to me: ‘Oh my God, my hair is so dry! Why does your styling look so good, but my hair is a wreck off stage?” This model’s look required a lot of hairspray and since her hair was already damaged, when I took apart her hairstyle her hair kept breaking, which she was very upset about. Models don’t have a choice with the products used in their hair, and after that experience I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could improve hair care.”
“No one paid attention to or advocated for scalp care back then – they just used standard shampoo and conditioner. At first I wondered if I could solve the problem of hair loss with a treatment or a haircut, but of course models didn’t want to cut their hair short and even wanted to continue bleaching and dyeing their hair. My job is not only to create a stunning hairstyle, but also to take care of the model’s hair needs before and after the show, to ensure the long term health and comfort of their hair. The truth is that people from all walks of life need to take care of their hair, regardless of if they are a celebrity, on stage, behind the scenes, at the office, etc. And the sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy the results. Just like how makeup can cover up blemishes but won’t fix the inherent problem, hairstyling is one in the same. I want to teach people how to take care of their hair before they need to style it to look beautiful”, says Marvin.
While most people already know about the importance of skincare, hair care is still very much a foreign concept. If you’re trying out a new hairstyle, it’s incredibly important to have healthy hair – and healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. When your scalp is healthy, you can have more flexibility to experiment with daring styles.
“I believe everyone knows what hair care is, but why should you need to care about your scalp? Your hair follicles are planted deep within your scalp. Using our understanding of the cells in the scalp, we have formulated products with ingredients that can enhance skin cells and their ability to metabolise, making the hair follicles less prone to damage while thickening the hair. Only then can we discuss the thickness, density and gloss of the hair, as well as the styling of the haircut.” Marvin has been involved in scalp research for more than ten years and graduated from Harvard Medical School with first class honours in a Foundation of Chemistry. With her foundation in biochem and years of practical experience, she knows how to “save” everyone’s hair. Among the solutions, scalp care is very important, but is seldom mentioned in the industry, where people often only advocate for cutting and dyeing or using additional hair styling equipment to solve the problem. “That’s why I want to start with my customers’ knowledge and teach them basic scalp and hair care, which they can then share with others around them. These are no longer industry secrets, and everyone can take care of their hair at home with just a few simple steps. The OMG care series is aimed at different hair problems, so that everyone can use higher quality products to repair damage and improve hair quality from the comfort of their own home.”
Good skin makes for a flawless makeup base, and the same goes for hair. A hairstyle can make or break an entire look. Even if you’re wearing stylish clothes and gorgeous makeup, flat and lifeless hair will ruin your look.
“Without good hair quality, your hairstyle won’t last long. Although my work can feature a lot of trendy styling, in order to keep up with current styles you need to have a solid foundation of strong, healthy hair to begin with. If your hair is well maintained and with adequate density and thickness, your hairstyle can last a long time after electro-dyeing. However, a hair stylist will only do the “make-up” (through hair perming or hair colouring) for you, but they won’t focus on the condition of the scalp nor hair. So I would like to share this recipe with you, hoping that you will know when and where your hair is damaged and know how to treat the symptoms.
After colouring or perming their hair, more people are concerned about hair damage and have begun to pay more attention to hair care. But this does not mean that you shouldn’t care about your hair on a daily basis. You wouldn’t apply skin care products only when you have pimples, right? Instead, we should take a more preventative approach to solve potential problems. Marvin also shared a simple self-examination method to determine your hair’s unique needs.
“Pay attention to whether your scalp is more oily, dry or prone to dandruff. The best time to check your scalp is when shampooing, and you can check the health of your head and scalp by applying pressure from the front, middle and back of your head to the Fengchi acupoint. The state of your scalp is closely related to whether or not you get acne, headaches, shoulder and neck pain. Hair grows best in spring and summer, while growth is slowed during autumn and winter. Early and adequate care in autumn is needed to prevent dryness and hair loss in winter. Hair accounts for 40% of the face, and the condition of your hair often reflects your skin complexion. When your hair is more shiny, the skin often looks more lively and energised. But if the hair is dry, even moisturised, awake skin can look dull and yellow. When I offer visual direction to help create movie characters of different ages and personalities, I also need to consider how different hair styles and hair colours make the audience feel. However, in everyday life, when people wear masks, hair is so important to appearance and image, and hairstyle is an essential component to both life and fashion. Therefore, we need to embrace and face our own scalp and hair problems in order to improve them quickly.”
Marvin has been researching, refining and promoting the importance of scalp care since 2012, when she started building a team to develop scalp care and related formulas. “I have worked as a consultant for different brands on their formulations and asked if it was possible to add different ingredients to scalp care. At the time it was not possible because of cost. But I don’t think it’s a matter of price, it’s a matter of public demand. Once I built up my team and got the support of clients from all over the world, the Middle East and foreign royalty, I started to contact different experts for consultation and research. At first it was really for a small number of people and some of the ingredients in the treatments were quite rare. But as more and more people started to experience hair problems, and media coverage made more people aware of OMG products, the new OMG+ series was launched to quickly solve most people’s hair problems and improve hair quality with valuable and precious ingredients.
OMG Hair Care offers three collections to target different problems. The three collections, Scalp, Airy and Glossy, feature argan stem cells, collagen and hyaluronic acid, and can be used alone or in conjunction with each other depending on the day’s needs or an individual’s hair concerns. Scalp is a basic scalp care line with Ginseng Root Extract and Japanese Dang Yak (Senjin) to solve scalp related problems such as itching, acne and oil production, and to reduce grey hair while preventing hair loss. For flat hair, Airy is infused with more than 15 kinds of plant extracts and essential oils to give a voluminous effect. Glossy, with honey protein and water-soluble keratin, penetrates deep into the hair to tackle frizzy, dry and brittle hair, and contains ingredients that boost and lock in moisture 1,000 times faster than hyaluronic acid. This is an effective repair treatment for those who bleach and dye or use heated tools such as hair dryers and curlers.
“Due to the humid weather in Hong Kong, the difference in temperature and humidity between indoor and outdoor air conditioning is huge. Therefore, the skin on the head tends to be oily, resulting in flattened hair and acne or scalp problems due to excess oil production. When hair problems occur, some people will go to hair salons for deep cleansing or conditioning masks, but the result can either be too dry or lead to unbalanced oil secretion. In fact, you can achieve similar and more desirable results at home! Just use a different amount and apply for a slightly longer period of time. In addition to using the OMG series, be sure to blow dry your hair within 20 minutes after shampooing to help reduce the growth of bacteria. Feeling good and comfortable is the ideal scalp health,” Marvin says.
OMG’s strength lies in its comprehensive, holistic approach. Not only does it use precious ingredients and years of research and technology, but it also considers sustainability and the environment: the label design on the recycled bottle won the Japanese Design Award. OMG also launched a 100% recycled plastic refill bottle in 2020. “The pandemic presented challenges for SHHH Salon, but there is always a silver lining. During the pandemic, we saw more and more orders for the OMG line. We advised our customers not to stock up, but they said they had more time to spend with their families during the pandemic, and they recommended OMG to each other, so more people knew about and used the product. As sales increased, we thought about how we could do better, and one of the things we did was to introduce refills and focus more on how to reduce the amount of plastic waste on the planet. While people were looking for alcohol-based sanitisers or masks, we spent six months looking for our current 100% recyclable plastic bottle material. In addition, we donated 1% of profits from every bottle sold to environmental protection organisations. These are the things we always think about doing more of, and they align with SHHH Salon’s philosophy. While many may think that hair products just offer a cleansing purpose, they actually can bring overall improvements and benefits to an individual. After teaching customers how to choose their products properly, we can empower customers to become their own stylist!”
The newest hairstyling “weapon”, OMG+, has finally launched. The eco-friendly bottle comprises 30% biomass, while the collection itself is an upgraded version of the existing OMG series, also divided into Scalp, Airy and Glossy – but with rarer ingredients and an advanced, anti-ageing formula. “OMG+ is the secret weapon to become a goddess at home!” Marvin laughs. “OMG+ is amazing because it can repair damaged, split ends and bleached hair in a short period of time because of the addition of low-molecular ingredients, which are optimised to deeply replenish the structure of hair strands that often get damaged in daily life. Not to mention the addition of cape jasmine plant stem cells on top of the argan plant stem cells in our original lineup to augment the anti-ageing effect.” But what is the difference between OMG+ and the previous OMG series? Marvin paints a clear picture. “OMG+ is an extension of the OMG line, but with more powerful and concentrated ingredients to deliver enhanced anti-ageing and restorative results for both hair and scalp. Although they are both used in the same way, it depends on your needs and which one you choose.”
You won’t change the way you wear your shoes, but you may opt for a different pair of shoes each day. OMG is like wearing your everyday sneakers, while OMG+ is like wearing heels or combat boots – you have super powers when you wear them!
Just like an omakase, OMG may represent 5 pieces of sushi. But if you want to satisfy some people who want to eat nine pieces, you might just need OMG+. “More and more locations, such as Rosewood, Sephora and Lane Crawford, will also sell our products, and of course OMG+ is no exception. Although the OMG series is very popular, customers always ask ‘Can you make it a little more potent?’. So, at the request of the public, we decided to launch OMG+ for everyone.” You can continue to use the OMG series for daily maintenance, but when your hair and scalp need a little extra TLC, you can use the enhanced version of OMG+.
Nowadays, many products offer personalisation elements. The OMG series can be mixed and matched as desired. After the launch of OMG+, we asked if Marvin had any plans to incorporate personalisable hair care. “The treatment at SHHH Salon offers these customisable elements! But we have no intention of expanding this to the public for the time being. We are worried that customers will not know how to use it, and we will never launch a product that the market does not need. OMG is a series that offers powerful effects with minimal choices. We don’t want to complicate the process and cause confusion for the customer. Even though the names of the products are Shampoo and Treatment, the formula is completely different from a regular shampoo. We simply changed the name to Shampoo to make it easy for every customer to understand how to use it.”
From the styling and hair treatment at SHHH Salon, to at-home hair care in the OMG series, Marvin has been launching different products to cater to everyone’s needs. Marvin even launched gold and silver-plated accessories with natural pearls in collaboration with CLINQ in Berlin, Germany. Marvin also crafted a hand-made massage blow-dry comb in collaboration with Italian family brand Mariella Martinato, and a limited-edition bamboo charcoal incense with Kohchosai Kosuga, a Kyoto bamboo crafts brand that has over 100 years of history.
It’s clear that Marvin is not simply satisfied with “hair styling” alone. She takes care of the real needs of each and every customer. “In the past, I taught different stylists, but now I teach the public directly, so that everyone can solve their own problems and improve their hair at home. At the same time, our customers can help others around them and keep passing on the importance of hair care, which is what I’ve always wanted. We never have to follow trends, we just focus on what our customers really need. Remember that everyone has the right to look good, no matter their job or age. You should have fun [with your hair] because hair is an extension of your personality and also because, why not! What makes me happy is that everyone can try different hairstyles without any restrictions.”
During the interview, Marvin mentioned the phrase ‘a cut above’, which is one of the many compliments guests have given to SHHH Salon, both literally and figuratively. Everything starts from a haircut but it is never quite that simple. In order to realise her full potential and create products that aligned with her holistic philosophy, Marvin looked inwards while taking into account the wants and needs of everyone around her.