SINGAPORE - They say first impressions count in the professional world, and one's mane is often the crowning glory to his overall presentation.
And, when you need to impress on the big stage, it takes a lot more effort and preening than just a quick brush of the hair.
So, to ensure that the 16 finalists of the My Paper Executive 2013 competition look their snazziest at the grand finals next Friday, they were given free hair makeovers at hair salon Kenaris.
Now in its sixth year, the annual contest aims to find Singapore's most-savvy executive.
The finalists will vie for the grand prize of $10,000 at the finale. The first and second runners-up will take home $5,000 and $3,000, respectively.
Seven got to jazz up their tresses last Thursday at Kenaris' flagship salon at Wheelock Place, with most opting to trim and treat their hair.
Others decided to be "safe" and opted for brown dyes, or light highlights in their locks.
An executive who wishes to present a professional demeanour cannot afford to go too wild, said Mr Ken Wong, a hairstylist and Kenaris' owner.
"You can't possibly go shocking green or blue when you are a lecturer or civil servant," he said.
Mr Nabil Mattar, 31, a foreign-exchange specialist at GFT Global Markets Asia, agreed.
He chose to dye his hair dark brown, as he wanted to come across as mature and "business-like".
"I have quite a baby face, which does not work to my advantage because of my line of work. A bright colour probably won't be too suitable," he said.
Mr Mark Ng, 27, an executive financial consultant at Great Eastern Financial Advisers, went for something more discreet too - he chose a cut and a scalp treatment.
He decided to forgo dyeing his hair as he wanted to present a "more natural" look.
"Coloured hair may lead people to form impressions, and I want to give them a good first impression. You can't go wrong with short and black," he said, laughing.
Still, being a professional does not mean being boring. You can be trendy by playing with cuts, such as spiky hair for men and asymmetrical bob cuts or short fringes for women, said Mr Wong.
"It depends on the job they are in. But, ultimately, it is whether the person is presentable and confident enough to carry the style off," he added.
Morgan Stanley banking executive Michelle Lim, 28, whose heavy locks were given texture by layering, loves her new look.
The hairdo "makes me look younger and fresher. The treatment also helped make my hair look healthier and shinier. This gives me more confidence", she enthused.
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