Can A Beauty App Deliver Perfect Hair?

Beauty concierge apps: They claim to be changing the face of primping as we know it. But, do these services really work, or are they just a high-tech nightmare? To find out, we tested out three different apps that connect hairstylists to consumers, delivering services straight to your home (or, in our case, R29 HQ). Ideally, these apps make it faster and easier to get styled and on your way — you know, like Seamless, but for your hair.
We rounded up three of our beautiful staffers, and they downloaded the apps (or, in the case of one Android user, pulled up the brand's website). Then, they booked their hairstyling appointments and got groomed, all in the course of one workday. But, are these services really as user-friendly as they claim to be? Read on for our testers' full reviews — and some seriously gorgeous before-and-after shots.

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ProductSmackdown_V2_slide1Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.

Who: Cecilia Soto, executive assistant

The Contender: GLAMSQUAD

"I never get blowouts. I have a ton of fine hair that truly does nothing. I was a little nervous that I would not like the outcome — I usually only let one set of familiar hands touch my hair, so I was a bit skeptical about the stylist's capabilities.
"GLAMSQUAD's app is only available on iPhone, and I have a Samsung — but, thankfully, I was able to book online. With only a very minor snafu with an immediate email response, I was booked for a blowout that was less than three hours out. GLAMSQUAD has styles on the site that can be used as a reference, so I requested the Starlet. My stylist, Stephanie, was AMAZING.
"Stephanie walked me through my style choice and was wonderful to talk to. She was very informative and was able to tell me all about her employer and its services. We laughed and passed the time quickly while she worked on my very long locks."
ProductSmackdown_V2_slide2Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Final Verdict: "I really enjoyed the style. I am not used to seeing my hair done. Everyone in the office complimented me for the remainder of the day — and if that doesn't give you a boost of positive energy, I don't know what would! My style stayed for around 36 hours...and, if I properly knew how to maintain a blowout, I'm sure it would have easily stayed for a full two days.
"Since my hair is very fine and requires an immense amount of product for any style to hold, I would use GLAMSQUAD again for a special event or a night out. They were so quick in confirming my appointment, and best of all they came to me — at WORK!"
$50, available at GLAMSQUAD.
ProductSmackdown_V2_slide3Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.

Who: Claudine Ko, content editor

The Contender: StyleSeat

"If I had a normal life with normal weekends and downtime, I'd feel great about getting blowouts. Instead, with my current workaholic schedule, an appointment is me calling up my salon and asking if anyone is free to cut my hair in the next hour or two. If there isn't anyone available, I just skip it. At my current salon, a blowout usually comes with the haircut, but I never go for a blowout alone. StyleSeat is a company that's been around for about four years, but they've been re-tooling their app to be more consumer-friendly, so I was looking forward to giving it a go.
"StyleSeat showed up at the top of the search results and was easy to install — but what started out as a simple task I thought I could manage in a few minutes quickly turned into a half-day of work. By the second hour, I still had not booked a stylist, even though the journalist in me had made several phone calls; I had a list of leads with copious scrawled notes and dead-ends.
"I tried booking eight stylists (all of which were unavailable, MIA, or, in one case, falsely advertised a $30 blowout but then quoted me $100 over the phone) before I finally saw a listing for a 'Blow on the Go' by a stylist named Tara Decoda — exactly what I was looking for. I called, said I needed a blowout by 4 p.m. at the latest, and Tara said she'd be at our office by 3 p.m.
"When Tara finally arrived, she was very charming, so I didn't get hung up on the fact that she was 45 minutes late. Tara was very friendly, and I felt at ease with her. I asked for loose, beachy waves. It only took a little over 30 minutes, and it was a very professional job."
ProductSmackdown_V2_slide4Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The Final Verdict: "I ended up looking way more ladylike than the 'just came from the beach' look I was aiming for. In a way, it was like ordering a hamburger and getting served a quality steak. This makes sense, especially when your bill comes to $70, plus tip.
"I probably wouldn't use StyleSeat to find a new stylist. It's not very user-friendly — yet — and, as Tara explained, it's more like Facebook for stylists. But, I'd definitely recommend Tara and book her again for a very special occasion."
Prices vary, available at StyleSeat.
ProductSmackdown_V2_slide5Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.

Who: Christine Arzeno, director, editorial operations

The Contender: Priv

"I love booking a haircut every three months, but dread booking highlights, since they can be expensive and time-consuming. I only get blowouts for special occasions, and even then, I have only had about ten blowouts in the last ten years."
"It was somewhat easy. My first stylist choice populated as available at the time I was looking for, but when I confirmed the booking seconds later, she was no longer available. I went back to book another stylist, and it worked out the second time."
"My stylist showed up on time ready to go, and we started on time. Overall, the actual blowout experience was good. A round brush did get caught in my hair, and the hairspray was not cooperating, subsequently landing on my shirt in a small blob, but it turned a corner for better toward the end."
ProductSmackdown_V2_slide6Photographed by Jessica Nash; Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
The final verdict: "Ask and you shall receive. I asked for long, loose waves and that is exactly what I got. I would use this again, but only for special occasions. I prefer to let my hair air dry most days."

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