North Carolina’s first Drybar location opened in SouthPark last week.
The beauty chain is positioned with a dead simple, focused approach to styling hair — “no cuts, no color, just blowouts.”
It’s not the first blowout bar in town. Local concepts like Blo, The Daily Details and 1890 are all built on a similar blowout-only service model, and, of course, any full-service salon will gladly style your hair without a cut.
But Drybar, a California-based chain with 70+ locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, is certainly the industry’s dominant player.
So, what exactly is a blowout and why would someone get one?
People with short hair or just a lower maintenance approach to styling in general (hello) are probably unfamiliar with the concept of paying someone else to blow dry your hair for you.
But it goes beyond just drying. Blowouts require an arsenal of products, tools and expertise to smooth, straighten, curl, texturize and volumize your hair into a desired look.
You know how good your hair looks after you get it cut and your stylist places every single strand exactly where it’s supposed to go? That, minus the cut, is basically a blowout — a seasoned professional styling your hair for you.
Most people would get a blowout for a special event like a wedding or party, but some diehard fans come in for more everyday maintenance. In fact, Drybar offers a membership program that gets you two blowouts per month for $80 (regular $45 per blowout), a free birthday blowout, 10% off all products and $5 off any blowouts beyond your membership.
I can count on two hands the number of times my very curly natural hair has been straightened or styled in my life so I decided to put Drybar to the test with it on opening day.
I don’t own a brush (I’m serious), exclusively air dried my hair until about 3 years ago and use no products beyond shampoo, conditioner and copious amounts of dry shampoo when I don’t feel like showering.
Here’s what we’re dealing with:
Drybar offers 9 blowout styles, each named after a cocktail and priced at $45.
When you come in, you’re greeted by your stylist and handed a look book with the style options, like a menu at a restaurant.
Honestly, several of them look the same to me so I kind of panicked and went with the Mai Tai, described as “effortless, messy, beachy hair” — a look my high-strung, tightly wound hair has never achieved on its own.
You can also add on braids ($10 each), a hydrating treatment mask ($20) or extensions ($20). Blowouts for kids 10 and under, called the Shirley Temple, are $32.
After selecting a style, your blowout begins — mine took exactly one hour from first greeting to check out.
First up, the wash. This, in my opinion, is the greatest hair luxury there is. Currently accepting angel investors for my new idea called Wetbar where we just wash your hair and send you out like a wet dog. Think about it.
Side note: My stylist wrapped my wet hair into the cutest, tightest little towel bun to walk from the sink back to the styling chair and I would have walked out with that as my hairstyle.
For the styling process, she used a combination of the hair dryer, rollers, a one-inch curling iron and a flat iron along with several Drybar styling products to achieve our desired result — loose, messy beach waves.
I told my stylist I’d never be able to replicate any of it and she said, “Good. That’s what you have me for. I need you to need me.”
Your stylist will walk you through all the products and tools they use during the process and then show them to you again on the retail wall before you check out.
Of course they smell incredible and have irresistibly cute branding — like Sparkling Soda Shine Mist ($28) and Southern Belle Volume-Boosting Root Lifter ($26) — but I managed to get out without bankrupting myself.
One hour later, I had a whole new look.
There wasn’t anything effortless about my effortless beach waves, and this certainly isn’t what I look like anywhere near an actual beach — but I love it. I was floored and proceeded to take 38 car selfies to get this after shot.
I still had a lot of volume and plenty of curl (which I like) but it was smoother and more polished. It’s definitely something I’d do again for a special event.
Like any normal person, I took my fresh blowout straight to the gym where I proceeded to wreak havoc on it. I wore it up to keep it away from sweat and humidity and thought it held up well and still looked pretty great afterwards.
If you avoid being that reckless and actually follow Drybar’s tips for post-service care, you can extend the life of your blowout for several days. I went back to natural curls the next day because I don’t know what I’m doing. And because people always ask, all it takes to go from styled hair back to my curls is getting my hair wet.
All that work ruined with just one shower.