Indonesian women splash out at Islamic spas

Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:06pm EST
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By Suzanne Woo

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - Indonesian women are splashing out on treatments at spas aimed at meeting Islamic values, including paying for special headscarf styling, as affluence rises in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Around 90 percent of Indonesians are Muslim, though the country is officially secular. The majority are traditionally moderate, but some pressure groups are pushing for more adherence to Islamic values and more women are now wearing headscarves.

Eka Shanty, a marketing executive and mother of three in the capital, Jakarta, says she often goes to Salon Muslimah, an exclusive spa designed especially for Muslim women's needs, to pamper herself.

"I can get two benefits -- rational and emotional," said Shanty.

"There's also a unique ritual before the treatment...tears were falling from my eyes when I went there for the first time."

Salon Muslimah, or Salon "Muslim Women," appears little different from others around Jakarta. The stark red and black colors and minimalist style of the hairdressing salon contrast with pink curtains and floral wallpaper in the spa area.

But the salon, off limits to men, is shielded from prying eyes by one-way mirrors. Customers can also use a women-only gym on the premises or be led in prayers by a therapist.

Besides styling and ordinary treatments such as massages, customers at Salon Muslimah get halal cosmetics, or products that are completely free of any hint of pork such as the glycerine, keratin, collagen or tallow that are often used.   Continued...