Afghan beauty parlours are a sanctuary for city women

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The photos in the window promise much: languorous, kohl-rimmed eyes and bright, bold nails but once you enter the beauty parlours of Kabul, it becomes clear the images outside are a pale reflection of the vibrant reality inside.

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After the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, small oases of glamour began to flourish in the Afghan capital glittering feminine spaces in stark contrast to the dusty, dangerous, male-dominated streets outside.

In Kabul’s city centre they line entire streets, their interiors protected from the male gaze by windows papered over with images of outrageous make-up and sophisticated hairstyles, their entrances barred by a screen or a simple curtain.

Once the thresholds to these sheltered boudoirs are crossed, veils and scarves are shed: girls emerge from the burqas to reveal leggings and necklines, scooped backs and even in the summer tank tops.

Scraps of conversation between women of all generations mingle with the sound of hairdryers and the smell of varnishes and lotions.

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