While growth rates overall are mired in the low single digits, there is a bright spot: blow-dry services, an emerging area that seems to be more than just a bunch of hot air. According to PCR’s data crunching, blow-dry bars and salons posted 25% growth in both service revenues and locations across the US last year, producing nearly $7 billion in service sales and $2 billion in retail sales.
Thirty percent of those revenues come from highly profitable retailing (after an average service ticket of $45), according to Cyrus Bulsara, president of PCR, which has a new dossier that offers a detailed, user-friendly executive summary and analysis of the new opportunities stemming from this growing sector.
Blow dry outlets sell soft goods and hardware at retail, and the larger players, like DryBar, have house brands. Last fall DryBar rolled out its Wrap Party curling and styling wand, and more recently, it unveiled the Southern Belle collection, a line of hair care products used to style runway models for designer Pamella Roland at New York Fashion Week. The new SKUs in the collection include Southern Belle Shampoo, a super-lightweight formula that gently cleanses while providing body and fullness to fine, limp hair; Southern Belle Mousse, which builds body and improves style memory for long-lasting, bouncy hair; and Southern Belle Root Lifter, described as a plumping spray foam that targets roots for instant lift and is said to increase volume by 99%.
Canadian company Blo Blow Dry Bar, headquartered in Ontario, bills itself as North America’s original blow dry bar, noting that it launched the “no cuts, no color” concept back in 2007. The company, which recently celebrated the sale of its 100-franchise location, opened the doors to its newest shop in Annapolis, MD in April. That shop marked Blo’s second storefront in Maryland.
“We are so thrilled to reach this important milestone which so few franchise systems ever achieve. Thanks to our dedicated franchise partners, our amazing guests, and our passionate head office team, we have reached this key benchmark. We are now better positioned than ever before for strong growth ahead,” Blo CEO Vanessa Yakobson said in a press statement. Since Yakobson has been at helm (2006), the number of Blo franchises has grown 120% and the company expects to reach 500 locations within the next few years.
Another franchise-based brand is Cherry Blow Dry Bar, which currently has 16 salons in six states (Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Texas) and, at press time, reported another 25 more under various stages of development.
Strong Through the Finish
A great blow out is coveted by clients, and to satisfy that demand, product formulators must continue to build better products for the professional marketplace.
It’s a 10 Haircare, for example, recently rolled out The Miracle Blow Dry Collection. Formulated by founder Carolyn Aronson, the products are said to bottle the technology of salon glosses and glazes into daily-use products, making it easier than ever to restore glass-like shine, re-create the perfect blow out and repair damage between styling.
“The blow dry service has evolved into its own entity. What used to be an accompaniment to receiving a cut or color is now a service that stands on its own within full-service salons and blow dry bars alike, across the country. With that in mind, I wanted to create an entire collection geared toward this independent service that has become so popular,” Aronson told Happi. “This collection gives stylists and their clients the golden ticket to a perfect, uber-glossy blow dry.”
The range, which rolled out last month at Itsa10Haircare.com and professional salons nationwide, includes Miracle Glossing Shampoo, an ultra-light daily shampoo that penetrates the hair shaft and restores moisture and shine while protecting from exterior damage, and Miracle Glossing Glaze Conditioner, billed by the company as the first formulation to convert what once only existed as an in-demand professional treatment, a restorative hair glaze, into a daily use conditioner that women can use at home.
“The Glossing Glaze Conditioner uses the absolute newest technology available so stylists can deliver instant results during their services, and give their clients something they can take home to see super glossy results,” said Aronson, who described the formulation as sheer, glaze-like and fibrous to the touch, making it much different than a traditional conditioner.
“It really mimics the feel of a glaze,” Aronson insisted. “It features a unique conditioning polymer that synergistically blends with silicone, so it creates fast detangling and instant glass-like shine, without weight—which is so rare. Typically, products that deliver the sleek, shine look must do so by depositing product onto the hair. This leaves no residue, only weightless shine. It also protects against heat damage so there is less broken hair during a blow dry, and enhances hair moisture.”
According to Aronson, It’s A 10 combined a “bunch of great ingredients” to create this new technology and collection, including hydrolyzed quinoa (which strengthens, moisturizes, and enhances shine without adding weight or build up), acrylates copolymer (a high-strength conditioner and shaper that coats the hair shaft for smooth, tangle-free texture and glossy touchable shine), citronellol (which strengthens hair against environmental hazards and dirt build), and panthenol (which attracts water and helps expand the size of strands to build volume).
The range is rounded out by Miracle Styling Balm, a lightweight cream that deeply penetrates each hair fiber to create a noticeable difference in volume, flexibility and movement. It is designed to make curls “perfectly imperfect,” according to the company, as well as add weight to give a cleaner look, all without feeling crunchy.
Aronson has high expectations for her new collection. She told Happi, “We’ve started with three essential products and are going to be expanding this concept rapidly this year, given extremely high demand...We’re going to be innovating even further in this category between now and the end of the year, launching more products that empower stylists to create a wide range of blow dry styles and textures for their clients. We’ve always been the brand that delivers miracle results for all unique hair types, and this is just the beginning,”
Salon brand Keune Haircosmetics has also added to its range of products that help achieve a great finish. Its new Keune Blend Refreshing Balm is described as a new styler that combines two favorites—dry shampoo and styling balm—for modern, cool, messy, lived-in texture. In addition to a multi-vitamin complex that moisturizes, nourishes and protects the hair as it is styled, the balm contains zeolite. This mineral’s sponge-like structure absorbs excess oil without leaving any chalky or white residue, according to the brand, which traces its history back to 1922 in Amsterdam.
Develop for Demand
New products tailored for blow drying services (and retail) provide a great opportunity for product formulators, according to industry insiders.
“This burgeoning new market sector provides a huge opportunity for professional product brands,” added Bulsara. “Only the two category leaders—Drybar and Blo Blow Dry Bar—have the scale, muscle and ability to drive their own product brands. The rest depend on exclusive, full-service professional hard goods and soft goods lines. This is a great opportunity to increase both services and sales to clients for professional companies in a flat-to-low-growth market.”