by Melissa Hill

The ’80s are back in more ways than one. Just check out the fashion runways for fall—from the textured hair to the tights, the latest trends are taking cues from two decades ago. You can even see the trend in the “new” services salons are offering. In addition to more modern twists on perms, salons are listing hair and
scalp treatments on their menus, which are a big leap from the old basic conditioning treatments. These new treatments have an equal emphasis on both the results and the experience.


Pampering at the Chair

The emphasis on the experience comes from the burgeoning interest in and booming revenues associated with the spa industry. “People are more open to indulging themselves,” says Virginia Stults, senior director of U.S. hair care marketing for Matrix. “We need it. Our lives are so stressful and people can’t get away for a week, so they have quick indulgences like these that don’t take a lot of time and that they can afford.”

At Carenza Color Cutting Experience in Brookfield, Wisconsin, the $20 Zen Therapy treatment adds 15 minutes to the traditional shampoo at the bowl, with an in-depth conditioning mask and extensive massage. Every client who comes to the salon gets a free taste of the longer experience, though—a five- to seven-minute shampoo, condition and head and neck massage. The response has been terrific, says co-owner Laurence Seybold. “People are always talking about it, saying they’ve never seen anything like it.” To reflect their dedication to the experience aspect, when they moved into their new location, they even changed their name from “Carenza Color Cutting Group” to “Carenza Color Cutting Experience.”

At Aveda Fredric’s Institute in Indianapolis, the staff has added a similar free service with a shampoo, condition and mini-facial. The treatment is considered part of the overall experience, says co-owner Frederic Holzberger, although a lengthier version with a deep-conditioning hair treatment that lasts about a half an hour is also on the menu. “It has been a great way to transition these customers into the spa,” says Holzberger. “If they love this experience, it’s easier for us to book them for a facial. It lets them look behind the closed doors of the spa and they start to understand what the experience is all about.”

Building a Getaway

To create a more spa-like atmosphere, salons are taking the steps to create a specific area for hair treatments.

“This isn’t just a shampoo or a hair spa, it’s a getaway,” says Holzberger. “I think once
salons realize it’s the experience, not just the service itself they’re selling, they’ll take it to another level.”

At Holzberger’s Indianapolis location, which opened last year, they put custom-designed tables that allow guests to lie down into a specially designed round room they call the “Rejuvenation Room.” The tile on the floor and the shimmering glass tiles on the walls are all blue, as is the domed ceiling—a color chosen for its calming properties. Holzberger also commissioned a company to create a constellation of stars on the ceiling using 2,000 fiber optic lights. A football-shaped center section is lit to enable stylists to properly mix products.

At Carenza, when Seybold and his wife, Jan, went about designing their new salon, they set aside a special 650-square-foot section that is somewhat removed from the main floor. The calming “Blue Lounge” features Italian shiatsu massage chairs from Takara Belmont, which raise the body and legs and have twin shiatsu massagers that roll up and down the client’s back. According to Takara Belmont, the chairs were designed for just this type of purpose, in response to the increased interest in hair spas.

Designer and equipment manufacturer Belvedere has also noticed the trend. Several of their bowls feature neck rests made from gel or polymer that make it easier for clients to rest longer and more comfortably. Project Manager Jenny Grant says they have also seen changes in the designs of the shampoo areas. “We are seeing more privacy, lowered ceilings and better control over the lighting in these areas,” she says. “But every client we have is different—some want an open area, some want a more intimate space, and we take a lot of influence from them.”

Creating Results

Just about anyone can benefit from a hair or scalp treatment. There are formulas and products available for thinning hair, sensitive skin and dandruff, color-treated hair and dry or coarse hair.

“People are turning to pros more often to solve problems—to have more intensive treatments and more intensive results,” says Stults. It is a trend seen in the spa industry with the burgeoning medispa movement, and having specific formulas for different problems feeds into the current feeling that clients are expecting stylists to do more than just cut their hair—they are expected to be the experts in all things in hair, willing to prescribe what they think it best for hair health. It is a trend that has nothing but upsides for owners. The Biolage brand from Matrix recently rolled out its first in-salon treatment, Cera Repair Pro-4, in response to the demand for services. One box of 10 vials—one for each head—costs $15.95 or about $1.60 per treatment, while the
average service costs the customer about $20 to $25, says Stults.

“From the salon owner’s perspective, it’s generating incremental profit; from the stylists’ perspective, it’s generating client loyalty because the color stays longer and hair isn’t breaking as much, so the perception is the cut is much better,” she says. “These hair treatments take the salon beyond just cutting and coloring hair—it makes it more of a destination for the client.”

Stults, Seybold and Holzberger all agree that the concept of hair spa is only going to gather steam. “I think that most salons in five years will have this service,” says Seybold. “I can’t imagine why they would miss this trend.”



For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.