Specialty Solutions

When Blow opened in New York City in 2005 as one of the world’s first blow-dry bars, a phenomenon was quickly born. A spate of blow-dry bars soon followed suit, with clients embracing trendy havens where they could stop in for a stylish blowout. Other popular blow-dry outposts that have embraced the trend include Drybar, which boasts nearly 40 locations nationwide; Blo, a popular Canadian chain; DreamDry from celeb stylist Rachel Zoe; and more. Since then, speedy, specific services delivered in a glamorous location are creating a clever niche in the wellness arena. From braid bars to waxing and skincare pit-stops, havens for fast, focused services—performed in a hip, inviting location—are booming.

“People want to feel good and look good every day, and a blowout is an affordable indulgence that creates instant confidence,” says Robin Moraetes, CEO and cofounder of DreamDry, pointing out the main driver behind this specialized trend. “Consumer habits are changing, and blowouts are becoming a part of our weekly routines—similar to a manicure.”

Another routine is waxing, and a number of wax-specific spas are making moves in the marketplace, many with clever menus, charming decor, and expert waxers. Among them are Stript Wax Bar, which has 10 California locations, Strip: Ministry of Waxing, with 30-plus locations worldwide; Uni K Wax Centers, which feature more than 30 locations throughout California, Florida, and New York, and European Wax Center, which features 657 locations.

In fact, specialization is what makes this trend truly unique. Those who want to jump onboard the hot braid trend are loving the Braid Bar at John Barrett Salon (New York City) and The Braid Bar at AMS Luxury Salon (Philadelphia). Speedy skincare aficionados can find much to love at hotspots like the Repêchage Facial Bar (multiple locations) and the Ling Face Bar (New York City), where clients can partake in 30-minute express facials to achieve an instant glow. A quick Face Mapping session and a lesson in proper product use make Dermalogica’s popular Skin Bar (multiple locations) a must for on-the-go clients. Even faster and more focused is the BeautyRX Peel Bar at Butterfly Studio Salon (New York City), where dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D., has trained staff to administer his popular two-minute 40 percent glycolic peel ($39).

Amazing Lash Studio is the first franchise specializing in eyelash extensions and eyelash-related products for women. It includes 30 locations nationwide and 35 additional openings are planned for the coming year. “Lash extensions are no longer a niche beauty service,” says cofounder and president Edward Le. “From magazines to billboards, long, luscious eyelashes are seen on women everywhere, motivating others to do the same. It has become one of the fastest growing areas in the beauty industry, accounting for $1 billion a year in a $40 billion-a-year beauty industry, with $45 million a year grossed in eyelash extensions alone.”

The Red Door–Union Square (New York City), meanwhile, offers an entire section of the spa devoted to these fast, focused services called SpeedUPStairs. Located on the street level of the bi-level spa, it features a beauty bar, a blow-dry bar, a makeup and lash bar, and a nail salon. There, clients can partake in express services highlighted in the Speed Services Menu, which offers a selection of 30-minutes-or-less treatments. “For the multi-tasking woman-on-the-go, several of these services can be performed at once, so she can be in and out in a New York minute,” says Inga Pross, vice president of marketing at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. And it is this need for specialization and speed that will help this trend continue to thrive, says Morates, who adds, “Specialized beauty destinations are here to stay.”