Las Vegas' Blow-Dry Bar Boom

August 27, 2012 | by —vishaka robinson
| Style & Beauty

Adding the finishing touches to a blow-out at a Los Angeles-area Drybar, opening soon in Vegas

No other beauty treatment has the speed-to-impact ratio of a perfect blowout—clients step in frazzled and bedraggled, but leave transformed a mere 40 minutes later. So it’s little surprise that time-conscious women looking for a polished look have jumped onto the blow-dry-bar bandwagon, causing the number of local salons hawking blowout-centric services to flourish.

By the end of this year, with the much-anticipated opening of Drybar on the Strip, there will be five or six bona-fide blowout bars—up from just one only months ago. That forerunner is Platinum Entourage, which opened in 2010 in the southwest part of town with a simple style menu of six blowdries costing just $35 each. “When I launched, people told me not to do it,” says the salon’s owner, Todd White, who had noticed the trend gaining speed in LA and New York. “They didn’t understand the concept. Well, we’ve proved them wrong. The demand here is phenomenal—we do more than 100 blowouts a week and are planning an expansion in the next six months that will make us the largest blow-dry bar in the nation.”

Just as Platinum Entourage plans to be the biggest, each of its competitors is carving out a niche. Miracle Mile Shops’ Dollheads has made an art of styling hair with extensions in addition to blowouts, while iBlowdry near Decatur and Tropicana, which was founded by two single working moms, has become a go-to for ultra-feminine blowouts, and is open until 11 PM. “Our most requested style is Dandelion, which is smooth but with a soft wave,” says co-owner Melissa Bordinhao. It remains to be seen how Drybar (which is currently deliberating the perfect Vegas location), and the blowout bar opening soon at Tivoli Village’s The Market LV, will differentiate themselves.

Alli Webb has opened more than a dozen outposts of her LA-born Drybar, yet she saw something unique in the Las Vegas market. “While women get blowouts even when they don’t have a special occasion, the fact that there’s always something exciting going on in Vegas creates even more of a need,” she says, adding that our dry climate is also far better for maintaining heat-styled locks than a more humid one. “Vegas blowouts hold up beautifully.”

Part of our current devotion to the hair dryer can be traced back to recent high-tech product developments that allow our hair to take the heat (literally) of regular blowouts. “The ability to deliver conditioning and heat protectants has fundamentally changed how we style and wear our hair,” says trichologist Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, who has been studying hair and scalp health for 22 years. “We have, over the past three decades, gone from ‘setting and spraying’ the hair into a helmetlike shield, which lasted a week, to sleek, shiny, tactile hair that we can wash daily.”

Along with a raft of low-watt, ionized dryers and prep sprays designed to work at 200 degrees-plus, there’s also a new generation of super conditioners at our disposal. “You need to balance the toll you take on your hair with powerful hydrating products,” says Webb—whose hero product is the Hydrating Styling Cream by Moroccanoil, offered for sale at both Dollheads and Platinum Entourage.

The Vegas blowout-bar boom is indicative of what’s happening in the industry as a whole: Blow-dry chains have prospered as economic fortunes have floundered. Toronto-based Blo, the salon that kick-started the trend, opened its first location five years ago, just as the sub-prime mortgage crisis started to unravel. But the company blossomed (they now have 21 locations with more openings planned for 2012), while Sin City-bound Drybar (the only chain in the Vegas bunch) will more than double its number of salons from 13 to 28 by the end of the year.

For now, the era of leisurely afternoons at the salon are over. In these times of job insecurity, a fast, affordable coif is the name of the game. “If I have a key presentation or event, getting prepped with a great blowout is an essential part of feeling confident and put together,” says local account manager Alisha Puella, who gets her long hair coaxed into elegant waves several times a month at Platinum Entourage. “But more than that, it’s the chance to take time out of your day, even if it’s just an hour. As a busy working mom, it’s heaven to sit and be pampered and have a little downtime.” Local TV personality Lacey Jones, who says she’s “addicted” to blowouts, agrees: “If I’ve had a blow-dry, I always get compliments.”

And perhaps that’s the real reason behind the boom. In these uncertain, stressful times, we are also enchanted by the throwback ritual of being massaged and styled on a weekly basis.

Todd White puts it best: “Vegas is all about glamour, escape, and dressing up. So retreating to a blow-dry bar and emerging looking like a star fits perfectly into that fantasy. It’s the most affordable way I know of looking like an A-lister fast.”

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