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Color specialist Brittany Santuccio with customer Karen Hanson of Upper Saddle River at the Eric Alt salon in Saddle River.
Color specialist Brittany Santuccio with customer Karen Hanson of Upper Saddle River at the Eric Alt salon in Saddle River.
Posted: Tuesday October 11, 2011, 1:36 PM
Pampering Women: Blow-dry bars offer an affordable luxury at the salon
By SACHI FUJIMORI of The Record

The latest in affordable pampering for North Jersey women is the blowout — shorthand for the salon service of having your hair washed, dried and styled.

It's become a weekly ritual for many women — usually with long locks — who love the sleek, polished look of professionally blow-dried hair.

Karen Hanson of Upper Saddle River gets her shoulder-length brown hair blown out about once a week at the Eric Alt Blow Out Bar in Saddle River.

"I have the kind of coarse hair that makes a good blowout last long," says Hanson, 42, a stay-at-home mom. "If I did it myself it wouldn't last, and there's frizz in it." She pays $25 for the weekly service that leaves her hair sleek and straight. "It feels better," she says.

In cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami, blow-dry-only salons are proliferating like Pilates studios and cupcake shops. These single-service beauty parlors, known as "blow-dry bars," offer quick, affordable walk-in procedures for women who want to look their best before a night on the town or heading into the office for a meeting. The ritual is reminiscent of women of the previous generation who had their weekly standing appointment at the beauty parlor.

And in a tough economy, a weekly blowout is an affordable luxury compared with spending hundreds on highlights and coloring, or undergoing costly chemical straightening treatments under recent scrutiny for being dangerous.

Eric Alt, a North Jersey salon owner, is among the first stylists to bring the trend to our area. This summer he launched blow-dry bars at his three locations. Following the urban model, women can walk in anytime without an appointment and get a 30-minute blow dry for $25. The only catch? They have to accept whichever stylist is available. "The idea is filling up space when it isn't busy," Alt says. A menu of styles offers a pin-straight flat-ironed look, voluminous bouncy hair, and a fresh-from-the-beach tousled style.

"The customers love the last-minute spontaneity," says Alt. Some clients walk in with wet hair out of the shower and have their locks styled before meeting up with friends.

For the skeptical, who wonder why not just save money and dry your hair at home, check out the polished manes of celebrities ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Sandra Bullock — those looks aren't achieved by the women themselves; they clearly have professional stylists who blow out their hair. "The way a professional blows out hair, we have the ability to smooth out the cuticle and infuse shine," Alt says.

Stylists also have serious tools: high-powered blow dryers; big, round brushes; and a collection of pomades, sprays and deep conditioners. Alt recommends that customers use a dry shampoo after getting their hair blown dry, to keep the style longer.

Victor Castro, owner of Chateau The Art of Beauty in Franklin Lakes, also saw a recent increase in the salon's blow-out customers. Next month he'll be offering a class on how to achieve these looks at home.

His blow-out clients run the gamut of ages and professions. They range from stay-at-home moms who stop by during the day to professionals getting their hair done for the week and single party girls who drop by on Thursday night to kick off the weekend.

At The Loft Salon in Wayne, manager Tracy Ciciulla says the most popular blow-out look as of late is the "Victoria's Secret model bombshell type" of hair. "With young people, the trend is bigger hair," she says. Weekly blow-out clients range from high school students to women in their 50s, she says. "It's a cheap, quick fix," she adds. "There's nothing like having a professional blow out your hair."

Locations

The Eric Alt Blow Out Bar

  • Where: 219 Valley Blvd., Wood-Ridge, 201-438-0900; 67 E. Allendale Road, Saddle River, 201-934-1150; 15 Sheridan Ave., Ho-Ho-Kus, 201-251-2222, ericaltsalon.com.
  • How much: $25 for 30 minutes; no appointment required.

Chateau The Art of Beauty

  • Where: 799 Franklin Ave., Franklin Lakes, 201-891-0077.
  • How much: Blowouts and styling $40 to $65; walk-ins and appointments.

The Loft Salon

  • Where: 1160 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, 973-305-0337, theloftsalons.com.
  • How much: Blowouts $20 to $30. Appointments are recommended.

E-mail: fujimori@northjersey.com