Salon alaykum! Ladies-only beauty shop caters to Muslim modesty

Safe haven: Beautician Huda Quhshi designed Le’Jemalik as a beauty safe haven for Muslim women to quite literally let their hair down.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

A Muslim beautician is opening a women-only salon in Bay Ridge so hijab-wearing ladies can literally let their hair down without fear a man will walk in while they are baring more than they ought to.

As a measure of modesty, many observant Muslim women do not let men outside of their immediate family see their hair — some borough beauty shops accommodate the requirement by shuffling clients off to back rooms or basements where they are out of the public eye, but the founder of forthcoming Le’Jemalik Salon and Boutique on Fifth Avenue wanted to give fellow Muslim women a more dignified solution to a unique conflict, she said.

“I’ve heard client horror stories where they had to be taken down to the basement so they could get their hair done,” said owner Huda Quhshi, who was born and raised in Greenpoint. “Just experiencing and hearing that over the years — where people have to be taken to a back-room closet just to get their hair done — I said, ‘You know what? I have to do this for them. They need this. We need this.’ ”

Bay Ridge is peppered with beauty salons that advertise private rooms for covered gals, but man-free salons where ladies can luxuriate without the stress of strangers popping in is a rarity — and Le’Jemalik is likely the first of its kind in Bay Ridge, according to a rep with the Arab American Association of New York.

It is refreshing to find a beauty parlor that caters to specific religious needs, said one Muslim woman.

“It’s great that it’s just women, because when men come in we literally have to cover up in the middle of getting our hair done. We’re a huge population, but we are very overlooked. And I think it’s because people don’t understand the culture,” said Bensonhurster Yomna Negm. “But here I know a man isn’t going to suddenly come in. It’s a beautiful idea. It’s like a beauty safe haven.”

The reception area of Le’Jemalik — which means “for beauty” in Arabic — separates clients from the main space and allows husbands and brothers to make appointments or wait for their loved ones without impinging on salon-goers’ modesty.

The joint is intended as a one-stop shop where women can get their hair cut and styled, nails painted, makeup done, and even receive skin-care treatments.

The basement boasts a bridal boutique that features modest threads for Muslim women who still want to leave a little to the imagination.

Quhshi, a 37-year-old licensed cosmetologist specializing in bridal hair and makeup, has catered to her family’s beauty needs since age 10 when she began painting henna tattoos on her mother. By 14 she was doing her family and friends’ hair and makeup for special occasions, and by 19 she was painting henna tattoos on street-fair revelers across the borough.

She opened her parlor in Bay Ridge, because much of her freelance clientele was from the area, she said.

The salon will begin accepting clients on Jan. 29.

Le’Jemalik Salon and Boutique [6915 Fifth Ave. between Ovington and Bay Ridge avenues, www.lejemalik.com, (917) 378–8993].

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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