We Test Blowout Bars: Before & After Pics

intro-slideIllustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Blowouts: necessary luxury, or total waste of money? That's the question that we set out to answer with our latest edition of Product Smackdown. We rounded up four staffers, booked appointments, and sent them out to three different blowout bars (and one cheapie neighborhood salon) to see how the service, prices, and final results stacked up.
Our faithful staffers got shampooed, straightened, and curled — and reported back about exactly whether or not their pro 'dos were worth it (tough life, right?). Read on for all of the gory details — and bookmark their deets for the next time you're looking to schedule a pro styling session!
ProductSmackdown_blowout_2-1Photographed by Rockie Nolan; illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.

Who: Amanda Saviñón, photo assistant

The Contender: Blow, The New York Blow Dry Bar

Cost: $50

"I typically get blowouts once a month, mainly when I want to give my hair a break from all of the products I use to enhance my curls. I'm used to not putting much effort into my hair at all; I wear my hair up 96% of the time. I do like having my hair done professionally, though, so they can give me their pro opinion on the status and health of my hair — I love scoping their pro tips! I usually go to a Latina hairdresser, because they tend to have a deep knowledge of my type of hair and how to style and care for it."
"At Blow, my appointment thankfully started right on time — I love it when that happens! Jiselle, my stylist, was very kind and paid great attention to my hair. During my service, I felt very attended-to; Jiselle really made me feel at home the entire time I was there."
"My blowout took only 25 minutes (which is a pretty normal blowout timeframe for me). It was cool experiencing a new stylist's technique; for instance, Jiselle would come through my hair with one hand, and follow with a hair straightener in the other hand. Later, I realized that's the perfect way to straighten hair from the roots efficiently. Plus, I loved how the BlowPro products gave my hair so much shine."
"All in all, I really loved the finished style. I've been making it last — it's so much easier to try out hairdos like braids when my hair is nicely blown out to begin with! I should be able to make this last for two whole weeks by combing my hair and putting it up every night before bed."
ProductSmackdown_blowout_3Photographed by Rockie Nolan; illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.

Who: Sara McDowell, photo editor

The Contender: Drybar

Cost: $40

"I’ve always loved the idea of getting blowouts, but have never taken the time or effort to get them done as often as I’d like. I don’t like my hair to look too 'done' — I'd prefer my locks to look a little messy. Whenever I get my hair cut, which clearly isn’t that often, I go to Janet Waddell’s studio. Besides always giving me the best cut, she also gives the most amazing blowout. It leaves my hair with voluminous definition that usually lasts for at least five days."
"At Drybar, they were very attentive, asking several times if I wanted anything to drink, and my appointment started right on time. They were playing Clueless on little TVs all over the salon — a guilty pleasure that no girl can resist. My stylist was relatable, and clearly understood what I was asking for, which was a blowout that had body and movement, and nothing too straight. Through each step, she asked if I was okay with her using certain products, which I really appreciated."
"We started the session with a hair wash, and the head massage was definitely one of the best parts. My long locks didn’t deter her from skillfully blowing out my hair in about 40 minutes, and then using a curling iron to give it some extra body. The total process took about an hour, but considering the length of my hair, I thought it would’ve taken much longer."
"I was happy with the final hairstyle, but to be honest, I didn’t feel like it was something that I couldn’t have achieved myself. It lasted for about two days, which was a lot less than I had expected — but I think this was due to the fact that my hair was blown out straight, which made it get greasier faster."
ProductSmackdown_blowout_4Photographed by Rockie Nolan; illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.

Who: Dianna Mazzone, beauty editorial intern

The Contender: DreamDry

Cost: $40

"I'm not too big on visiting the salon for the sole purpose of a blowout, only because my fine hair forces me to wash almost every day — I wouldn't feel like I was getting a lot of bang for my buck, so to speak. I'm still searching for a go-to stylist for cuts here in New York. My search has taken me uptown, downtown, and everywhere in between, but I won't quit!"
"When I arrived at DreamDry, my appointment started right on time. My stylist, Sonia, was super-friendly. From our chat, I could tell she was one of the lead stylists — she's been with DreamDry since it was only an idea, and had helped create the 'Style Menu' of various blowouts and braids. She understood my concerns (my hair can't take too much product) and was very willing to make adjustments to the standard blowout style I had chosen to fit the needs of my hair."
"My blowout took approximately 40 minutes, and included a complimentary Kérastase Instant Treatment to celebrate the launch of the line at DreamDry. Being that my hair is on the very fine side, the timing was about what I'd expected."
"I really liked the finished result. It looked like a pumped-up version of my regular hair, so it provided a nice little boost. Plus, it made my hair look thicker — and that's always a big win in my book. Thanks to unseasonably humid weather, my hair fell a bit sooner than I would have liked. Luckily, Sonia had advised me well, and had suggested we go for the curlier blowout (the 'Sophia') as opposed to the wavy style I initially pointed out (the 'Brigitte'). Otherwise, the fallout would have been far worse! I made it through two days before washing — which, for my hair, is pretty darn good."
ProductSmackdown_blowout_1Photographed by Rockie Nolan; illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.

Who: Vanessa Golembewski, East Coast editorial assistant

What: Salon De Tops

Cost: $25

"I get blowouts maybe once a month. They're literally my favorite thing to do, and I've tried a few different places in the city. I put a moderate amount of effort into my hair, and I love getting my hair done. Since I've never colored or highlighted my hair, I just go in for the occasional trim every few months."
"Salon de Tops is a no-frills neighborhood spot in Little Italy. My stylist didn't really speak to me, which I appreciated, because it was 9:30 in the morning, and I hate making small talk during something that's supposed to be relaxing. I felt attended-to, but not overly so."
"The hair washing station was amazing. Instead of a chair that you lean back in and try to avoid that weird neck pain, it was a leather chaise that allowed you to completely relax during the hair washing part. The hair washing alone took 30 minutes. She washed my hair twice, and by wash, I mean she really went to town on my scalp. She scraped and scraped in every direction possible, and I'm unsure as to why — but it didn't feel like a massage."
"The blowout itself took about 30 minutes — and, sadly, I wasn't crazy about the results. I felt that my hair looked almost the same as when I blowdry and straighten it at home. When I go for a blowout, I like more volume and a bit of a wave — which I did communicate to my stylist — but the end result was a little flat and boring."

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