All The Rage

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International Salon and Spa Expo brings its three-ring circus to Long Beach

February 1, 2011 |  5:08 pm

ISSE - Models on stilts and performers (2) The RuPaul was pumping, the hairspray was flying and the flat-irons were steaming the aisles.

That was the scene at the International Salon and Spa Expo, which wrapped up a three-day run at the Long Beach Convention Center on Monday. By the time it was all over, about 40,000 industry professionals had stepped into the expo’s alternative universe where spray tans, lash extensions, gel nails and so-called 10-minute face lifts ruled the day. Edgy stylists with brightly colored pink and blue hair extensions created bombshell hairstyles for statuesque live mannequins who stomped the trade show runways, stood frozen on tiny turning pedestals or availed themselves of on-the-spot Svengali-like makeovers in front of the crowd.

The expo was equal parts three-ring circus, graduate level beauty school and rock concert. Sure, there may have been Bloody Marys in hand, thanks to the onsite bar, but make no mistake: The stylists and aestheticians who attend this show take their craft very seriously.

The expo, sponsored by the Professional Beauty Assn., is an opportunity for them to brush up old skills, learn new ones and sample all the latest products that, in the long run, will make their clients happy. Besides a packed exhibition hall displaying the latest in nail gels, Moroccan Oils, appliances and more, there were classes, formal and impromptu, including hands-on learning opportunities. Some were taught by celebrities in the field, such as the shined, buffed and blond Kim Vo of the B2V Salon, who’s been on shows such as “Extreme Makeover,” E!'s “Daily 10” and Bravo’s “Shear Genius.”

One surprising thing I learned: it would be nice if the rest of us sharpen our skills as clients. When it comes to the person doing your hair, skin and nails, “you’re in a relationship,” says Jaime Schrabeck, owner of Precision Nails in Carmel, Calif., who was teaching the class “Clients Behaving Badly.”
According to Schrabeck, ideal clients:

  • Respect the professional’s time
  • Appreciate quality more than convenience
  • Value professional opinions
  • Insist on trained and licensed professionals
  • Expect a clean, organized environment
  • Encourage the stylist or aesthetician’s efforts to improve their skills

"If we’re in a relationship that’s not healthy and productive then we need to evaluate how we allowed that person to get on our schedule or make a correction,” Schrabeck said. “Sometimes you just have to let that client go. Just like you don’t want to be in an unhealthy personal relationship you don’t want to be in an unhealthy professional relationship.” In beauty, as in life, “It’s OK to be selective.”

-- Alene Dawson

Photo: Models on stilts and other performers added to the three-ring-circus flavor at the International Salon and Spa Expo in Long Beach. Credit: Alene Dawson