Management Practices

The Value of Time; Dennis Bernard

July 10, 2011 | 3:21 PM
Nearly three decades ago, hair stylist and salon owner Dennis Bernard developed The Color Accelerator, or TCA. Salon Today recently talked with Dennis to unravel TCA’s history:

The Value of Time; Dennis Bernard
Dennis Bernard, inventor of TCA.
ST: How did TCA get its start?

I invented the product in 1981, when I owned Total Image Hair Designers, a chain of salons in New Jersey. The concept evolved after my father talked about how some of the hairdressers in Italy used oils to condition the hair. We experimented with my mom, who had color-resistant hair. It typically took an hour for her to process. The first time we used the oil, it took 20 minutes. We changed the formulation and got it down to 15 minutes on her super-resistant hair, and her hair felt like silk. So I started to use the product on my own customers.

ST: How did that idea evolve into a company?
DB: Over the years, many of my employees opened up franchises of my salons or left to open their own businesses, and they asked us to give them the TCA formula so they could use the drops in their own salon. So, in 1986, we thought it was time to start marketing the product. From 1986 to 2000, I started handing out samples when I went to hair shows for my poster and book business. As stylists began trying the samples, they wanted to purchase it for their operations. Gradually, distributors began to carry the product.

ST: How does the product work?
DB: Drops of oil are mixed directly with the formula, and can be used with any manufacturer’s brand. The antioxidants in TCA work by eliminating the free radicals that occur when hair color is mixed with peroxide. This helps the hair shaft to take the pigmentation faster and infuses hair with vitamins and nutrients, which protect the hair and the color, resulting in softer, shinier hair and eliminating up to 95 percent of fadeout.

ST: How does the product impact productivity?
DB: For example, let’s consider an A stylist, one I’d say works four days a week, 12 hours each day and is booked solid. If she can cut down processing time to an average of 10 minutes, she can squeeze in another half dozen clients each day and work the same amount of hours. She can accommodate more busy clients during their lunch hour or in between errands. In fact, we’ve seen mall salons successfully market it this way—“Get your cut, color and style during your lunch hour. You bring your sandwich and soda.”

ST: What does it cost?
DB: A four-ounce bottle of TCA does about 200 heads, which brings the cost down to pennies per application.

More information about this product can be found at

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