A while back I saw a few posts about The Dry Bar from various people on social media. I’ve always heard of The Dry Bar and there’s one right by my house in LA. But what I didn’t know is that The Dry Bar was for girls with natural hair just as much as it was for those without kinks and curls. I’m sharing my experience because aside from a few random Yelp reviews I found, I really didn’t find much information about the Drybar for natural hair.
I first experienced The Drybar when I was in Philadelphia. I had a conference to attend and for whatever reason I forgot to pack my hair essentials. I made a last minute decision at 2am for a 7:30am appointment. I couldn’t find many reviews but a few people had vouched for it on social media including Elyse from Love and the Sky so I figured I’d take the plunge.
What is The Drybar?
Basically, The Drybar is a hair salon that specializes in blowdrying. They wash and condition your hair (extra deep conditioning treatments are ~$20 extra) and then they blow you out. They also use flat irons and curling irons to finish off your look. Most people are in and out in about 1 hour but if you have thick natural hair expect your appointment to take about 2 hours.
All of the styles at the dry bar are named after drinks (i.e straight up, the Manhattan, and they even have a Shirley Temple for kids). I think it’s super cute how they are consistent with the bar theme. After you get washed you sit around a “bar” that has mirrors. They also have a TV and great tunes playing. The salon is very white & bright and although I was groggy when I first showed up to my appointment, I was fully awake once I stepped foot into the salon.
My Experience: The Drybar Philadelphia
Like I mentioned before, I was in Philly for a conference and decided at the last minute I wanted to get my hair done. I was able to book online and had up to 2 hours before your appointment to cancel for free. If you are a no show you are charged $35.
My experience at The Drybar Philadelphia was amazing. I was nervous because I have thick natural hair (type 4a/4b). I opted to get a conditioning treatment (extra $20) because my hair was so dry and in such a horrible state. This was my first time straightening my hair in a while and I wanted to take all of the necessary precautions to prevent damage.
The wash experience was lovely and my stylist worked the deep conditioner through my hair and wasn’t stingy at all. I get so mad when stylists use the dime size amount recommended on the back of the bottle. That won’t even cover a quarter of my hair. But my stylist ensured that every strand was coated with product and she even finger detangled my hair to prevent breakage.
Afterwards she blowdried my hair with a round brush and then flat ironed, and then curled it with a flat iron. The results were shiny, sleek, bouncy hair.
My Experience: The Drybar Manhattan (Bryant Park)
Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a quick turnaround trip planned to Boston for the Harvard Yale Football Game. After I realized that my train from Grand Central was right around the corner from The Drybar Bryant Park location I had to make another appointment.
This time I opted out of the deep conditioner but she gave me a complimentary scalp massage that felt AMAZING. My stylist ended up using a lot of products before blowdrying and my hair was extremely soft. Blowdrying usually makes my hair feel rough or like straw but my hair was so soft I couldn’t stop touching it.
When I got my hair done the second time at Bryant Park, my stylist was not able to get my hair as straight. She did use less heat, which I appreciated, but I don’t think she was really equipped to tackle my thick natural hair. Personally I don’t mind a textured blow out, so I didn’t complain. However if you’re one who likes your hair to look freshly pressed and sleek then you wouldn’t have been impressed.
Because my hair was textured, my curls dropped quickly and my hair did not last throughout the day. A used a light oil and pin curled my hair at night but by mid day, my hair had puffed up again. I think the difference between my Philly experience and my NY experience was that 1) the NY stylist was not as skilled in dealing with thick natural hair and 2) the NY stylist used a lot of water based product prior to styling, which helped prevent heat damage but also limited the sleek effect I was going for.
Overall Impression: The Drybar for Natural Hair
Overall I would rate my Drybar experience a 4/5. I took away 1 full star for inconsistency. If all the stylists were trained like my Philly stylist then they would get a 5/5.
My suggestion is that if you do have natural hair, it would be wise to call ahead and make sure they know your hair type and can find a qualified person to handle your hair. When I was at the Bryant Park location, there were several women of color working but they already had clients. Perhaps if I had called ahead, they could have ensured that one of them was free for my appointment. With that being said, just because someone looks like you, it doesn’t mean they know what to do with your hair. Some of my favorite stylists and colorists are of a different race and ethnicity than me.
At the end of the day, The Drybar is an awesome place if you need a quick service, want to be able to schedule yourself last minute and want an affordable style. I was annoyed that my hair puffed up at Harvard Yale (I ended up throwing it in a bun by the middle of the game) but the fact that I only paid $45 (compared to $80-90 at other salons I’ve gone to) made me less angry.
My last bit of advice is that as a natural girl, if you have options, try to go to a salon in a more diverse area. For instance in LA there’s multiple Drybars to choose from so I’d probably visit the Culver City location over the Brentwood location because personally, I feel that it’s a bit more diverse in Culver City. As a result, there’s a higher likelihood that they’ve dealt with my hair type before.
Have you tried The Drybar? Let me know in the comments below! P.S. because of Black Friday the products are 20% off until Monday! I know for a fact I’m going to get the Velvet Hammer (pictured above). I’ll let you know how I like it!