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International Salon and Spa Expo: Hair and nails and spas, oh, my!

February 1, 2010 | 11:00 am


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"Do you love hairstyling?" the young man dressed in black boomed, pausing as he cut a model's hair on a small stage in the main exhibition hall at the Long Beach Convention Center on Sunday afternoon. Over the throb of rock music, the crowd signaled its approval, as video monitors overhead gave a close-up view of the young man's handiwork.

Indeed, it is likely that almost everyone in the hall loved hairstyling -- or caring for nails, skin, faces or bodies in some way or another. With a head count expected to surpass 25,000 by the time it closes late Monday afternoon, the 2 1/2-day annual International Salon and Spa Expo is the West Coast's largest event for beauty professionals. 

The man in black was demonstrating his skills for TIGI-Bedhead, one of around 400 vendors displaying techniques and/or selling products (at an appealing discount) to working pros, who jostled elbow-to-elbow for OPI polishes priced six for $22, hair dryers, curling irons, face creams, combs, scissors and more. In the circus-like atmosphere, what could a vendor do to get attention? Good-looking men in body-paint shirts helped draw folks to the Enzo Milano Professional Styling Tools booth.

Elsewhere, models in tiny swimsuits (two women and one exceedingly hunky man) grabbed attention. Which is why I thought the very tall man in the blue micromini-dress and blond wig lounging in a salon-style chair at Dermatologica was there to get attention for the line. But soon he got up and sauntered away. Apparently he was just resting his tootsies, and, no, one really shouldn't wear sky-high plexiglass stilettos to an event that calls for covering so much territory by foot.

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No gimmicks were needed to attract the masses to the International Fashion Theater, where a day of runway shows and demonstrations was capped by the Sassoon Academy's presentation of its 2010 spring/summer collection "for the first time in North America," as the program noted. It cost $40 extra to attend Sassoon's show, but the line to get in formed early and ran deep, proving that old masters and their professional progeny are still revered. Elsewhere all manner of educational workshops were going on (dry haircutting, non-surgical face lifts, beyond basic foiling and such.)

So, dear reader, what can you expect now that your stylist or aesthetician spent the weekend in Long Beach? Here are some random trends we noted in the hustle and bustle:

--Return-to-the-'80s New Wave styles will pick up momentum.

--Natural products are getting more effective and there are more options out there.

--Makeup and nail polish colors will be bright and deep, communicating a fresh and optimistic "Wow!"

--Your spa might take advantage of new technology from California Meltology and employ their mitts, spa socks and stones, which heat up without using electricity.

--You can self-tan and repair skin damage at the same time if Fake Bake's new Platinum Face lotion lives up to its billing. 

--And -- best for last -- if you want to straighten your curly, frizzy locks, the new Brazilian Blowout is expected to "sweep through salons everywhere," as one awed stylist attendee told me (a sentiment echoed by several others). A 90-minute treatment costs around $300 to $350, and is supposed to de-frizz your hair for 12 weeks. "Feel my hair, come on, feel my hair," Atlanta-based exhibitor Ray McBride urged. So I ran my fingers through his shoulder length mane. Like stroking a kitten's fur. Purrrr.

-- Susan Denley

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Photos: Tigi's Catwalk Volume Collection on the move, top. Men in body paint and a buxom lass draw viewers to Enzo Milano's booth, right. Credit: Bridget Nottingham 

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