Return of the weekly salon visit

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Bouncy ringlets. A swooping French twist. S-shaped pin-curls. Hairstyles of a bygone era? Not exactly.

Thanks to a pendulum swing in fashion back to ladylike clothes — and a national love affair with the manicured, retro-’60s looks of cable show “Mad Men”— “done” hairdos are back in vogue. So much so that they’re making the loose, untamed manes of the last decade look dated.

On Hollywood’s red carpets, where runway trends often make their first appearance in the real world, ballet buns, topknots and tidy, teased coifs have replaced the requisite low, slightly messy chignons that have reigned for years.


And some hairdressers in L.A. claim that the shift toward more deliberate hair styles has resulted in the return of standing salon appointments and a chit-chatty breed of salon culture not seen since Grandma got her weekly wash-and-set.

It seems more and more women in L.A. are embracing the pre-feminism ritual of traipsing to the salon every week to get their hair done — not trimmed or colored, mind you, but styled.

“Three or four years ago, nobody wanted an updo,” said Theodore Leaf, a hairstylist at the Sally Hershberger salon in West Hollywood. “Everyone wanted it to look like they did it themselves. Now I’m doing a full style — not just a blowout — on 10 to 12 clients who book appointments every week. Everyone wants to look ‘done.’”

With the new weekly clientele, Leaf added, has come an increase in friendly banter ricocheting throughout the salon — à la the 1950s and 1960s, when women lined up next to each other under helmet-style hair dryers.

“It feels like the whole old salon culture is coming back,” Leaf said. “We all jump in on each other’s conversations and talk about this or that. It’s great — you’re sitting at the hair salon having Champagne or a cappuccino and talking to someone equally as fabulous as you are.”

Kaleen Lemmon, a client of Leaf’s who maintains a standing appointment to get her hair curled into long ringlets (which she then sleeps on to create a loose, wavy style), considers the small extravagance a worthwhile mood booster. “In depressing times, it’s nice to have a blow dry or a style,” she noted. “It makes you feel better.”


Lemmon added that she’s noticed more of her friends embracing frequent or regular styling appointments. “I do feel like salon culture is coming back,” she said. “I’ve talked to my girlfriends about this — despite the recession, everyone still spends money on their hair.”

Blow-dry bars such as Drybar, which has opened several locations in the area, helped kick off the styling-only trend in salons in L.A. And though a sleek blowout is still the most requested look, according to hairstylists, ironing board-straight hair is out. Requests for curled, teased and bobby-pinned looks are increasing.

“More-stylized hair is coming back,” said hairstylist Janine Jarman, who recently launched Foxy Fridays, a styling-only evening at her Hollywood salon, Hairroin. “Glamorous looks are back. Women are getting more comfortable with updos. They’ll come in on a Friday afternoon — sometimes with their friends — and get a great style before going out.”

Maurice Dadoun, creative director for the Frederic Fekkai salon in Los Angeles, said there has been roughly a 10% increase in styling appointments at the salon over the last year. And along with blowouts, the salon has seen a surge in standing appointments for pin curls — an old-fashioned look making a comeback.

“Having your hair styled is one more way to help you feel sexy,” Dadoun said. “It’s one of the few things that really help to boost your self-image.”

Celebrity colorist Michael Canale, who co-owns the Safire McMillan Canale salon in Malibu, said his salon has seen an uptick in requests for “refined, manicured updos,” and has noticed that clients seem to be lingering in the salon like never before.

“A couple of years ago, people were booking appointments so that the hairdressing appointment was done quickly, between two other appointments,” he said. “Now I think people are enjoying the moment a little more. This is their indulgence.”

And as far as indulgences go, $35 to $50 for a curler set isn’t nearly as serious an expenditure as the old standby feel-good purchase, designer shoes.

West Hollywood resident Melissa Boock, who gets her long, chestnut-hued locks blown out and barrel-curled via a standing Friday appointment at the Drybar in Brentwood, said the weekly ritual lends her a sense of control in topsy-turvy times. “My love life’s a disaster and my house is a disaster,” she said, “but I have this hair thing together.”