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Hair > Articles > BFF: Teens and Your Salon

By Victoria Thomas

She morphs from dorky kid-sister to mini-fashionista. At 15, 16, 17, she may still be too young to vote or--more importantly--to drive to the mall, but she's the target market that has the world's branding mavens salivating. And she's on her way to your salon.

Teens are the new demographic darlings, representing 78 million children born since 1978. They spend an estimated $94.7 billion each year, or $3,309 per person, and many sources confirm that both teen income and spending are on the rise, as much as 29 per cent in the last five years. According to MSN's Money Central, one in three high school seniors now has a credit card-and according to the Ceridian Corporation, teens no longer need parental consent to get their own plastic.

Teen girls are primed to become loyal clients for hair, skin care, nail and make-up salon services. In these years, passionate professional loyalties may be cemented, especially if you're the beauty guru who helped her grow out her "gross" bangs in time for prom, or cleared up her skin before her first day of class as a college freshman.

Teen clients idolize Hilary Duff

Her biggest beauty priority: hair. The cusp years between high school and college are typically when a teen girl makes the leap from virgin hair, often all one length and often longish, to something more sophisticated. NICOLE LEAL, color expert at MARK ERIK'S BEAUTY LOUNGE in

Northridge, CA and member of WELLA's Power Pack Team, explains that the first step for a fresh back-to-school may be damage control. She should know--many of her clients are in the 15-19 age range, with the California State University at Northridge (CSUN) campus nearby. "Even if a teen has never colored her hair," she says, "the stylist's first priority may be restoring and protecting the hair's quality and integrity. The ends of the hair may often be dried out and porous, especially after the summer. Chlorine is a big factor, and so are alcohol-based styling products, particularly when the hair has been exposed to a lot of sun."

Trimming off a couple of inches is usually the place to start, followed by a deep-clarifying shampoo "to pull out the mineral deposits which can build up in hair," explains Leal. "And minimally, I also recommend a clear shine deposit, to glaze and seal hair and make it glossy." Leal also recommends a polishing serum which may be smoothed over dry hair (2 - 3 drops) or worked into damp hair.

The O.C's Mischa Barton is another trendsetter

JORDAN MOOS, senior designer for the SEVENTEEN STUDIO SPA SALON and BUMBLE AND BUMBLE network educator says, "Soft is definitely what's happening for fall. Girls are asking for naturally-placed highlights, or just going back to their natural color if they've done too much experimenting over the summer."

Moos comments that the basic look requested for back-to-school

by the pink cell-phone set is, well, basic: above the shoulder, lightly layered, and precociously polished. "Our teen clients want the hair just above the shoulder at its shortest point," she says. "They also want a few long layers, usually with a sideswept bang. The girls all say they want to be able to put their hair up for going out, and that means hair which is not too short, but also not too long. If hair is mid-back or longer, an updo becomes tricky, because there is so much hair and it gets heavy and hard to hold with a clip." Moos cautions stylists from cutting short layers, short fringe-bangs should reach the cheekbone-- or taking the ends above chin-length, "unless you want to deal with lots of tears," she says. "At this age, they are very sensitive. I advise staying away from anything severe."

Color's the big step, but Leal says that parents have less to fear than in seasons past in terms of daughters being swept up into extreme 'dos. This fall's trend is toward upscale, statement-making fashions, along with lady-like hair. "For young clients, I am seeing mid-length cuts and essentially solid color," she says. If a young client's ends are noticeably sun-bleached, she does recommend treatment with a demi-permanent product to balance out the color. "As far as introducing color as part of the style, I'd try a few really fine slices and weaves of highlighting on the surface only, not going down into the depths of the hair, which is a much greater expense and commitment in terms of upkeep."

While the days of maniacally flattening hair into stick-straightness are over, Leal's young clients often use heat styling tools to create loose, voluptuous waves. "A product like Wella Color Preserve Thermal Protecting Spray keeps them from frying their hair," she says. "This is a client who may heat-style her hair two or three times a day," (because you never know when you might be invited out for a late night laundry-and-latte date.)

Once a young client is in your booking system, send her periodic updates, anticipating prom, graduation, semester and quarter breaks when her locks will need care. Today's tech-whiz teens may be able to email, chat, text and IM simultaneously, but they're still prone to be notoriously forgetful when it comes to details and sticking to a regimen.

Toward the end of summer, Leal begins offering a back-to-school special which includes cut, a percentage of the cost of color, and a make-up consultation. Leal says her teen clients "idolize Lindsay, Hilary, Mischa and Ashlee, but I train them to come in with more than one idea in mind. Hair professionals can help young clients avoid disappointment by talking to them about how making a cut and style work, one that client can really live with, depends on many things, including face shape and hair texture."

Professional skin care for teens often begins as problem-solving, usually for acne. But the benefits of treatment and learning proper product use can build long-term loyalty. LISA SPIERING, Los Angeles-based licensed esthetician, corporate trainer and senior educator for THE INTERNATIONAL DERMAL INSTITUTE and DERMALOGICA, says undoing myths and acquiring a few good habits are the keys.
"Skin therapists need to demystify acne for all clients, especially teens," she says. "The fact is that severe, cystic acne appears be genetic in origin, while the more isolated monthly blemish, especially around the chin, is probably the result of hormonal activity."
Dirty skin is not the problem, she says-in fact, overzealous cleansing can make matters worse by escalating sebum production. The worst idea: using bar soap (especially a boyfriend's deodorant bar!) on the face, since soap is by definition alkaline, which upsets skin's acidic pH. And, soaps usually contain artificial fragrances which are known irritants.

What about diet? Spiering says, "There is not a demonstrated correlation between food and acne, although of course good nutrition supports all aspects of good health. But no, eating pizza and chocolate will not cause acne. I do advise that teens learn to kick their soda habit early, though-I'm convinced that soda makes the skin sallow, and there does appear to be a link between soda and cellulite, not to mention osteoporosis later in life."

Another no-no: harsh scrubs. "Most scrubs contain ground-up apricot pits and walnut shells," comments Spiering. "Those little particles always remain pointed and jagged, no matter how finely they are milled, and the sharp edges scratch and irritate the skin. This is not good, especially for acne." Acneic skin does require gentle exfoliation, however. For home use on mild acne as well as teen skin which simply produces abundant natural sebum, she recommends Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant, which whisks away dulling surface debris with superfine rice bran, as well as rice enzymes. For skin which is not inflamed, Dermalogica's Skin Prep Scrub polishes and refines skin with corn cob meal, a non-abrasive powder of naturally round particles.

"The best advice a professional can give a teen about her skin," says Spiering, "is not to sleep in her makeup, and not to pick or pierce a blemish once it manifests, although an ice-cube in a clean washcloth can bring down the redness and swelling. A gentle cleanser containing triclosan, and a spot-treatment like Dermalogica's Medicated Clearing Gel, which contains salicylic acid, a mild exfoliant as well as an antibacterial, are a must for her backpack if she's blemish-prone." Another clear-skin must: Dermalogica's moist, hygienic Skin Purifying Wipes, perfect for on-the-go cleansing without stripping the skin.

has worked with nails for more than a decade, today representing CREATIVE NAIL DESIGN in New York City. "Nicole Ritchie and lots of other young celebs like their nails short and dark," she says. "Nicole's nails are just over the tip of the finger, squoval, and dark-she loves our Voodoo enamel," which is a glossy, patent-leather black.
Other teen favorites: crayon-brights and deep berry tones. Strictly for soccer-moms: "Severely squared-off nails. And, the hard-looking pink-and-white is definitely not in tune with this demographic," says Valinoti. Except for special occasions, Valinoti doesn't recommend enhancements for younger clients, since even the most advanced processes such as Creative's new Custom Blended Manicure require "balancing" (fills) every two to three weeks.
When sending nail-biters off to college, prepare a "stress" package containing a purse-sized emery board; a tiny, flat container of Creative Nail Design's Solar Balm for dry cuticles to prevent hangnails (the almond-oil scent is like candy), and a pack of sugarless gum. "Since in terms of fashion they aren't usually overly obsessed with having super-long nails," says Valinotti, "the most important thing to teach them is to not damage the nail-bed by tearing at themselves, and keeping the nails and hands moisturized and in good condition."

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