Things to know about Shanghai: Always clean your ears before going to the hair salon.
Because your shampoo assistant will ... be cleaning your ears - with a Q-Tip.
And you will have the most amazing shampoo of your life too. But it won't be at the sink the way it is in the US. Instead, you'll be seated at the hair station and the shampooer will have a small squeeze bottle of water and some shampoo and will work your hair into a this amazing lather (without spilling a drop of ... anything .... anywhere) for about 30 minutes or so. And -- as with virtually any salon service, apparently -- you'll also get a shoulder, neck, and head cleaning massage.
Only after being lathered for more than 20 minutes will you be escorted to the sink to be rinsed.
Oh - and you don't sit in a seat either. You will essentially recline on a sort of massage table, while your hair is "rinsed" for ... many minutes, and - again - your head, neck, and shoulders massaged. The rinse doesn't last quite as long as the shampoo (least for those with long hair), but almost. Has to be at least 20 minutes.
After being rinsed, your hair will be tied up in the most precise towel wrap you've ever experienced and you'll be escorted back to the station. And the q-tips will come out. And, as you watch, the tippy tips are pulled off/out into this long little "tail" and ... as you hold your breath not quite believing what is happening, your ears will be lightly, softly, Q-tipped. And you'll be thinking OMG, THANK GOODNESS I Q-TIPPED JUST THIS MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And, if you're at all ticklish like me, you'll be thinking OMG, THAT TICKLES SOOOOOOOOOOOO BAD BUT I CAN'T MOVE OR IT'LL PUNCTURE MY EARDRUM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then - about an hour after you walked in the salon - you'll be ready for the blow dry. Which will be as relaxing and wonderful as the shampoo/rinse process (sans the q-tip thing) - and will take about another 30-45 minutes. Not sure what the "trick" was, but my style lasted in Shanghai 80% humidity for two full days!
Oh, and, for budgeting purposes, if you want to really splurge and get the most expensive option for this nearly 2 hour experience, be prepared to pay 128 RMB.
Now, my experience here is one instance at one salon. I'll report back if this is the "normal" experience or if I just got incredibly lucky.