The 37-year old “blowtorch barber” sprays a flammable liquid onto his client’s hair, which he then ignites, styles, cuts and straightens.
And it isn’t an experience for the faint-hearted.
“The concept is very simple, but sort of risky if you don’t have the experience in your job. These things need hair protection … in order to protect the scalp and the hair,” Odwan said in his Rafah-based shop.
“People have gone crazy about it, many people are curious to go through the experience and they are not afraid. People here love adventures,” he said.
According to Odwan, who has been in the business for 18 years, the technique is safe, and he keeps the hair ablaze on and off between 10 and 15 seconds.
Using two combs he cuts and styles a customer’s hair while it is still on fire until he’s happy with his new look.
Customers like Kamal Hamdan feel safe in Odwan’s hands.
“It’s a new experience in Palestine and it is nice. I used to straighten my hair with gel and only in the first week after using it I felt my hair was nice and unique, but after that my hair would get ruined. When I saw this technique and researched it online, I figured that it was a nice and a unique technique, despite it being risky. However, while my hair is being straightened, I don’t feel like I’m in danger,” he said.
Beauty usually comes at a price, but Odwan explains that he keeps his rates accessible to appeal to his Gaza clientele, with the treatment costing a little more than US$5.
”When it comes to the profit from using this technique, in order to make it simple to the viewers and to the people to understand, aside from the process of cutting hair, the prices start increasing. However, it stays affordable to the people (of Gaza) and the prices remain low. Since this technique became popular, the profit has been very good,” he said in between igniting hair.
Now along with Brazilian blow drys, and hot iron straightening is Odwan’s flame-straightening technique, and judging by the number of clients waiting to have their hair done, Odwan’s new styling system won’t be going up in smoke any time soon.