Cyrus Bulsara, president of Professional Consultants & Resources, notes that salon visit frequencies only grew at suite-rentals, family-economy chains and some independent artistic salons.
“Rentals do not retail well, thus impacting growth, and diversion flourishes,” noted Bulsara. “Premium, mall-based salon chains like Regis, Toni & Guy, JCPenney and Ratner, continue declines in both clients and revenues, while economy chains like Great Clips and Sport Clips grow.”
He pointed out that salons in strong economic areas are making gains, however poor economy areas are posting service and retail declines.
“This is the multiplicity of factors that is impacting and hampering salon industry growth,” Bulsara explained.
Turning from economics to artistry, no major change in hairstyles or length have occurred. New sleek and straight versions of the bob, lob and pixie, and longer shoulder-length hair are in fashion, according to Bulsara. But longer hair lengths mean fewer haircuts.
Among other salon services, there has been minor price increases in cutting, styling and coloring, lifting salon service revenues. Keratin services are in low-growth mode, and perms are flat, according to PCR.
Good news is that blow dry bars are a high-growth sector, with a 25% YOY growth in revenues and locations, noted Bulsara.
Such is the ebb and flow in the salon market.
But enough about numbers. To find out what’s happening at hair salons across the country, Happi checked in with leading stylists to get a frontline look at what they’re delivering to their clients, what products they are using, and the support they want for their business.
Design 1 Salon Spa
Grand Rapids, MI
The Look: Wispy/feathery hair around the face with fun, strong curtain fringe/bang with medium-to-long textured layers is popular. It gives a soft, care-free look, yet still makes a bold, individual statement.
Get It: To create this look, I apply a soft-weight mousse and then finger-diffuse the sides and back, while styling the front curtain fridge bang over a Denman brush. To finish, I apply a stretchy fiber pomade and a light touchable working hairspray.
What’s Next: Our stylists at Design 1 see more straight, hard-line geometric shapes as the next big trend.
Help Wanted: We would like hair care companies to provide complimentary trial/travel sizes of products to play with personally and professionally and a small flip chart on the product with bullet points on the whys, hows and the hair type for which the product is recommended. That would truly help us until we receive a product knowledge class.
HOF Salon (Haus of Flint)
The Look: Shags are still huge because they offer a low-maintenance, effortless, trendy look. This is definitely the year of self-love and a huge part of that is taking care of your hair—but not over-stressing about it.
Get It: Once you’ve cut the shag based on the client’s texture, home-care is everything to keep it looking fresh. Stylists must educate their clients on the why behind the product, put it in their hands and show them how to create the effortless style themselves at home.
Must Haves: First, determine whether or not heat will be used in your clients’ at-home hair-styling routine. Keune Haircosmetics has everything you need to customize an after-care product package, whether your clients have fine hair; thick, coarse hair; curly hair or anything in between! A few of my no-heat favorite products for naturally-textured hair and effortless styling are Keune Blend Salt Mousse, paired with Keune Refreshing Balm, which is a dry shampoo balm to help matte any grease at the root, give volume at the root, add a little bit of grit with the texture of the balm and let you piece out the ends.
What’s Next: Micro fringe is making a comeback, along with other creative fringe styles. You’re also going to see more effortless, natural hair coloring and new blonding techniques. For fashion colors, subtle dusty tones and a good mix of vibrant stunning copper reds will be popular, especially as we reach the end of summer and head into fall.
Help Wanted: Continuing education and follow through are crucial. Companies need to build this into their yearly budgets. I also highly recommend local or regional brand ambassadors and educators who teach and collaborate with local artists to empower them to teach their ways and spread the knowledge.
J. Gordon Designs
The Look: The bob is a classic cut that never goes completely out of style, but with all of the long hair we have seen in recent years, it is making a strong showing. We are getting lots of requests for bobs that are above the shoulder, and for those who are bit more daring—chin length. The bobs this season have a stronger design line, think the A-line bob, and less texture than in seasons past.
Get It: The key is tailoring the look to your client’s proportions. When cut well with a strong design line, a good bob can be a real show-stopper.
Must Haves: High-gloss hair is super-popular right now. One of my favorite products is Dream Coat by Color Wow. It leaves the hair almost glassy looking, with incredible shine. It acts as a sealant to help fight frizz that is caused by humidity.
What’s Next: I’m really hopeful that we will see some great razor-cut shorter hair styles. More stylists are learning to use a razor, which gives a softer, more contemporary look. There are so many cool people out there in the world today adorning themselves in so many ways—from tattoos to piercings to creative hair colors. Razor cuts can be so cool! And, shorter styles start one way, then grow and evolve, just as people do. That’s why I believe a shorter razor cut is the perfect complement to just about anybody. I have a razor cut, and I’m loving it! The hair just moves so differently than it does when it is cut with a scissor. And, might I add, nobody is more brilliant with a razor than Nick Arrojo of Arrojo NYC. He has trained many hairdressers all across the country on how to use a razor.
Help Wanted: Hair care companies introduce too many products too soon. Before we have the opportunity to work with a new product and share it with our clients, they come out with another one. It would be nice if they slowed it down a bit. We all have way too much inventory on our shelves!
Orabella Hair Studio
The Look: Curtain bangs and the modern shag are the hottest trends right now. Both give freedom and ease of styling with minimal effort. Plus, they grow out stylishly.
Get It: A razor will give you more of a textured, carefree look with interior texture, while using a shear will allow for more weight on fine hair. I take pie sections throughout the head at a 90-degree elevation, removing length at the top and texturizing the interior. For curtain bangs, take a 2-inch section into the hairline, grab the entire section in your fingers, twist once, then again, hold together to desired length and point cut to remove length. Elevate to 90 degrees, point cut to remove weight, creating airiness to blend into the sides.
Must Haves: A diffuser and a medium round brush. Apply new Keune Style Line Curl Cream and dry through your diffuser to enhance your wavy texture set. Apply Curl Cream to curtain bangs for added volume and control. As an option, apply new Keune Style Line Style Straight Cream and dry over a round brush for controlled volume and a smooth finish.
What’s Next: Sharp bobs will be making a big come back, as we move away from the more casual lob. Smooth, sleek, “gloss hair” will take off as we move into fall, and brunettes will be the catalyst to show off that shine. For those who love a lot of volume, BIG hair is on its way back. Think sleek around the face, and volume in the top and back inspired by the high, big ponies on the fall runways!
Help Wanted: Hair care companies can help make our jobs easier by staying on trend, and keeping SKUs to a manageable level.
Prep & Foxx, Associates
The Look: The look today is “effortless, lived-in hair.” People want subtle textures and soft volume that looks like the beach air created it. The hair color is multi-dimensional but brighter around the hairline and face. A natural rooted regrowth that melts into a brighter shade throughout the length and ends of the hair lends the client less hair color maintenance frequency.
Get It: For the style, beachy waves with soft volume can accentuate texture with iron styling. To create the waves, blow dry the hair first, then use a 1-inch or 1¼-inch curling iron, depending on the length and density of the hair. Part the hair where you would normally part it, and begin by sectioning the hair into vertical sections, starting from the top of the head. Split the vertical sections horizontally in half and curl the hair with the iron inserted vertically upright. Start by curling the hair closest to the roots and move outward toward the ends, and pull straight down to help elongate the curl to make it less Shirley Temple-esque. Repeat throughout the head, making sure to alternate directions of the curl pattern.
Must Haves: My must-haves are a leave-in conditioner and a wet-and-dry styling product. A leave-in conditioner is very important, although commonly overlooked, because clients think it will weigh down the hair. I use skin care as an analogy. Leave-in conditioner is similar to the moisturizer you use before putting on your foundation; your foundation or base makeup is your wet styling product and your finishing makeup like eyeshadow and blush will be your dry styling product.
Davines Dede Leave In Hair Mist is an absolute because it’s the lightest weight leave-in to help detangle and hydrate any hair type. Then, I’ll grab Davines Curl Building Serum, which has a soft, medium, flexible hold and will help to retain moisture in the hair during heat styling. I apply a small, nickel-size amount through to the lengths and ends on slightly wet hair and always comb or brush through all products to ensure even saturation. Then, I blow dry and curl with an iron. I’ll finish piecing out certain waves with either Davines Strong Moulding Clay, which has a matte finish, or Davines Your Hair Assistant Perfecting Hair Spray for a long- lasting, flexible hold.
What’s Next: The next big thing for hair is going to be Halo Pro Hair Extensions. Extensions provide instant gratification with the flexibility of no-commitment color, so clients can change it every few months without any long, extensive color services. These extensions also help build volume and density to fine hair and tons of length—a great option if they’ve ever dreamed of super-long, long hair.
Help Wanted: The best thing all professional beauty companies can do is to help stop the diversion of professional products and help salons educate their clients about professional products found outside of the salon channel. As a small business owner, it is difficult to compete with big-box stores and the internet. Large companies should really try to control the market saturation, so true beauty professionals can retail the products and grow and maintain our businesses.
At Prep and Foxx, we incentivize our clients with a Frequent Buyer’s Retail Program and a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee Return Policy. That means if they do not like a product they purchased from our salon, they can bring it back, and we will swap it out for another product we carry, no questions asked. It also helps that we have Art of Business as our distributor to help offset minor returns, too!
Rev. Billy & Amanda Simmons
Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop
The Look: The look? It’s more like the feel. To be more specific…one of my professors said once that the difference between something that looks good and something that looks great is “evidence of a struggle.” It sounds weird but for every great “Look,” there is some evidence that it wasn’t that easy to achieve, that it took some work, that it might have been a struggle to get the finished great “Look.” To the average eye, the “Look” whatever it is, fashion shades, shags, mullets, balayage, retro vibes, has something that you can’t quite put your finger on, and that something is artistry, creativity, precision and the ability to create something that others want. That’s not easy, and that’s the Look.
Get It: Once a year, we have a Creative Day! This is an opportunity for us to step outside of the box as a team. It’s that simple. We, as owners and employers, pay for the product usage and give our employees carte blanche to go crazy, have fun, step outside of their comfort zones and try new things they don’t get to do on an average work day. It’s up to us to provide a creative work space, because without them, their art, hard work, creativity and ideas, we would not make it.
Must Haves: We focus on products that are sustainable, clean, cruelty-free lines. We are paying more attention to the planet we live on and not using products that harm it or anything that inhabits it. It an everyday struggle, but we all have to be aware and do our best with the resources that are available. Our favorites are Neuma, Kevin Murphy, Olaplex, Keune Haircosmetics and Crazy Color.
What’s Next: We seem to see the third law of Newton’s laws of motion, which is, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” With that being said, the world is shrinking, rapidly. There is so much stylist content that social media is able to convey very quickly, so the question isn’t an easy one to answer. Every single person in and out of the industry is challenging their peers and contemporaries, whether they/we know it or not, in both positive and negative ways. It’s for those reasons that we believe that the only realistic answer to the question is everything, more refined, natural, precise, chaotic, distilled and raw. Everything that you are seeing done differently, but really, everything you’re not doing is what’s next!
Help Wanted: What hair companies could do is really understand that it’s in their best interest to provide education for the stylists whose work they make money from—usually with no thanks or compensation—yet stylists are expected to pay for education? Many companies expect stylists to pay hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars for continuing education. Most of us are struggling, so these companies can make more money, and reach a larger demographic from our art, work, blood, sweat and tears.
Salon Rosa M
The Look: First, high, full ponytails are a can’t-miss option. More daring is the wet look to show off natural wave and texture. Think Kim Kardashian at the Met Ball. I’ve even had quite a few girls demand the wet look for prom this year.
Get It: To get the high pony look, you’ll actually create two ponytails. The reason? It creates the illusion of thicker hair and gives the finished style balance. The first creates the base and foundation in the back. Then, the second pony gives the loose, full look on top. I like to secure the hair with fabric bungee cords, because they don’t move. For the wet look, I’ll first wrap wet hair in a cotton t-shirt to soak up the water without creating friction. Then I spray on the product and start drying through my diffuser. I’ll start with wet hair, using a cotton t-shirt so there is no friction. I spray the product and diffuse. I finish with a curling iron or add the Blow Dry Primer and leave it alone. There are so many options.
Must Haves: I love a dry texture powder called Davines Your Hair Assistant Volume Creator. I use it to give curls bounce and to add volume. Simply dust it into the style and it goes to work, without ever feeling like you have product in your hair. To create the wet look, I use Davines Your Hair Assistant Blow Dry Primer. I think it’s the most underestimated product on the planet. It’s formulated to repel humidity, but when you spray it on, it gives strong hold with no alcohol and never feels greasy or gummy.
What’s Next: True American style. Think Jean Harlow. By that I mean 1920s looks, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Flapper Style, which ranges from flat on top with no volume to modern pincurls created with the fingers so they’re soft and natural.
Help Wanted: As a session stylist who travels to fashion shows and works a lot of weddings, I would love a really cool travel kit to hold all of my tools and products upright and displays them while I’m working. I currently use a makeup kit because I have yet to find a hair kit that works for me.
Tampa, FL plus Atelier in Montreal, Quebec
The Look: With color, metallics with a powder finish will be requested by fashion-forward clients. This softer pastel effect has an antiqued, dusty finish. This is created by increasing the neutral opacity in vivid colors. With cuts, wash-and-wear is everything. Clients have no time and want to embrace their texture. This means the stylist must read the natural texture of the hair and prescribe the correct styling products.
Get It: On prelightened hair, determine the pastel tone desired using Crazy Color. Slowly introduce Natural Black drop by drop until you have created a dusty opaqueness. Apply and process for 20 minutes.
Must Haves: Crazy Color from the United Kingdom is the perfect product for this look. By using Neutral Mix and Natural Black to play with opacity, you have an infinite palette of colors.
What’s Next: No style is the next big style. Stylists will be tasked with understanding and working with natural texture to allow clients the joy of wash-and-wear hair.
Help Wanted: Great support and education are the most important ingredients in any product line. Having an educational team who can provide inspiration and increase revenue for stylists is paramount.
Urban Allure at the Newtown Athletic Club
The Look: Everything is trending! With the world changing so quickly, 80% of people don’t want a new look, because change is happening all around them. The other 20% want the opposite of what they have. For example, if they have short hair, they’re growing their length. If they’ve been embracing long locks, they’re cutting their hair off. Either way, hair color is at the forefront of their style.
Get It: In the salon, I’m doing more Beach Wave perms than ever—even on fine hair—by including Olaplex to ensure the hair isn’t damaged. Stylists need to understand all of the options they can offer to solve their clients’ challenges. Too many unperformed services are walking out of salons’ doors because they weren’t recommended.
Must Haves: I’m cocktailing new Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother with my favorite stylers—Aquage Transforming Paste Light and Ouidad Curl Quencher HydraFusion Cream—to rebuild bonds during styling.
What’s Next: We’re going to see a resurgence of chemical services like smoothing and perming to give clients styling options and more control over their hair. Smoothing services are becoming safer. We’ve been saying for years that perms are coming back. If you read the stylist forums on Facebook, there’s a greater interest in perms than there has been in decades because of Olaplex.
Help Wanted: Stop the marketing spin. Both stylists and consumers want straight talk about how the product works and what it does. When client get too little information, they go to the internet and we, as stylists, get backlash. Also, know the science behind your ingredient story. All silicones and sulfates aren’t bad for the hair—It depends on how they’re compounded and used. But clients believe they are all bad because of (false) marketing claims made by brands. Hair care companies need to assemble a panel of hairdressers whom they can trust for honest feedback on their claims and on how the products are working on their clients.
The Look: Hard parts, undercuts and comb-overs are all looks that are inspired to push the envelope and create a subtle, yet dramatic way to say, “I’m in the know.” Even professionals today find themselves with the latest hairstyles walking into the office to a room filled with directors and executives. The idea or trend is to go for contrast—very short sides and long on top. Whether that’s curls, straight hair or texture, drawing attention is key. Different variations of the fade are becoming more expressive with sharper edges and tighter blends, creating the ultimate look of short-to-long. Accompanying this look is the beard tapered down on the side with a more pronounced chin area to create a masculine jawline. This look provides a softer, more metro look to even the most masculine guy and will change the facial structure the same manner that makeup does. It’s literally contouring with hair!
Get It: Only a master at his craft will shape and mold this hairstyle to match each person’s head. It starts with the placement of the fade and how it will transition from short-to-long. This is usually done with a technique called clipper overcome in which the comb is used to customize each transition. In this, blending takes second place to shape and to restructure the patron’s profile. In a like manner, customization of the beard to mold and fit each client is key. Creating a reverse fade starting on the sideburns down to the chin is the key to this look.
Must Haves: With the long top and short sides, product is required, but not in a traditional way. Sea salt sprays and tonics will help create this look. The idea is to look as if you did not try very hard but still look great. I like Reuzel Grooming Tonic to provide a very soft, natural look while keeping the hair in place to provide small waves of texture throughout the top.
What’s Next: I see a hybrid of this look to push the envelope even more, as product lines rush to create a spray that helps create this look. I see this style sticking around. Although it does require more maintenance, it is not the full-blown long hair and is more manageable.
Help Wanted: It’s the blending of some of the best shear work that barbers provide, with the best clipper work barbers provide. It’s the blending of two worlds. As lines become blurred, both barbers and cosmetologists are pushed to become more versatile in both sectors of long and short hair. Training, education, through pop-up classes in salons and barbershops, will be key to this development.