There's a reason European women look so great, and it's not just because they've mastered portion control. I'm crediting the blow out, the weekly professional washing and drying of hair by trained stylists.
"In Europe, in general, I know people who never wash their own hair," Fiona McIntee, an Irish attorney who owns Blowtique, 1 E. Huron, told me. "I was really surprised when I moved here there was no feasible option."
Blow out salons are spreading their hot air throughout the country but so far Chicago has mostly missed this trend (read more about it in Wednesday's Chicago Sun-Times). For $35, you're supposed to get a hair style that looks great and lasts three days.
There are currently two blow out salons in the city of Chicago - Blow By Blow, 67 E. Oak St., and Blowtique (the chain Drybar is opening in the next six months in Lincoln Park, as first reported by the Sun-Times here). I flipped a coin last Wednesday and called Blow by Blow, which was all booked. So I went to Blowtique as a walk in, which was also booked. First lesson - call ahead.
Not mentioning I was a reporter, I booked an appointment at Blow by Blow for 4 p.m. Thursday. I went in with hair looking like:
There was only one stylist, Timmy, working, which was probably why I couldn't just walk in (Katie Gagnon, who co-owns Blow by Blow with her mother, said definitely call ahead. Weekends book up fully so there are no walk-ins).
As advertised, it took Timmy 45 minutes to wash and straighten my mane, creating plenty of volume, curling the ends with a brush and magically removing all the frizz. Timmy was friendly, chatty and something of a philanthropist - before moving to Chicago he traveled the country doing hair for women and children living in shelters and receiving other social services.
To make my blow out last, he suggested buying a $2 no crease hair tie (they sell these) and sleeping with it in a bun. It worked. I pulled it down Friday morning and, unbelievably, it unfurled into the nearly identical 'do I had when I left the salon.
I was skeptical that this would last longer than a night but my hair looked great through three nights of sleep and three Dailey Method classes (not super sweaty exercise classes). I can't say if there is a connection between blow outs and the Dailey Method, but they also sell those no crease hair ties.
I used dry shampoo Saturday and Sunday mornings to freshen it up, which I'm not sure did anything. By Sunday night, though, my hair and I had had enough. It looked droopy and dirty; I really wanted to wash it:
The verdict: Maybe my naturally wavy hair helped, but this worked as promised. It was a treat to get my hair washed and styled by Timmy's capable hands, and it took me no time to get ready in the morning. I won't be a regular -- $35 a week is far beyond my hair budget, and I don't live or work close to either blow dry salon. But I would definitely return before a big night out.