Working at Disney and networking smarts made Lisa Poliafico the local prom hair queen.
Right about now, gaggles of girls are Googling “prom hair and makeup” and “salons for prom hair.” If you’re wishing upon a star that you had a piece of that business, master the updo (not a lot of renters specialize in them), connect with teens and pair up with a makeup pro.
“Prom season is your opportunity to be creative and to get girls to try something other than their regular hairstyles,” says Lisa Poliafico, whose BellaMaria suite is in iStudio Salons’ Dr. Phillips location, Orlando, FL. “It’s such a fun time, I don’t know why some stylists avoid learning updos. About half of my prom-goers want them—especially girls who get elegant, designed-to-impress dresses. Prom hairstyles should match all the elements of a look, including the dress, accessories, makeup and personality.”
Prom Hair Secrets
The perfect prom hair is all about styling that involves pin curls and fingerwaves, French braids, and chignons, backcombing and barrel curls. Poliafico leaned by doing princesses for parades, staged spectaculars and weddings worthy of magic kingdoms, all at Disneyworld, which hires full-time cosmetologists and puts them through six weeks of training. Who knew?
“I was working at my first salon right out of school and a client who worked at Disney told me to apply there,” says Poliafico. “I asked, doing what? I had to demo a style on a wig and didn’t even know how to pin it on the headform but somehow, I got the job.”
Training was extremely precise and demanding, in part because wigs acted as documentation for styles that had to look exactly the same—every time a Disney character appeared in public.
“I was there for six years and the work had to be very neat; the funny thing is that now the trend is toward messier loose and tousled looks,” says Poliafico “Braids, twists and buns should be kept soft and textured for a perfectly imperfect vibe. Having a loose braid or twist at the hairline also creates a soft, fashionable, feminine look. Curls should be on the voluminous side and fingercombed for a messier texture. Some Disney tricks she learned that create the looks:
- Backcombing: When teasing, always connect each section as you tease or you’ll get a lumpy effect. Once you smooth the hair, seal with a light spray.
- For an updo with a perfect back seam, tease just the underlayers and smooth them, then smooth all the outer hair that shows.
- When creating braids and curls, polish your foundational work, then deconstruct it by gently pulling it apart and pinning as desired. Practice on mannequins!
- Adds Poliafico, “Short hair can be versatile and fun—girls have the misconception it’s limited for prom styles, but you can take short hair to a new level by adding curls, flips, braids, twist, accessories or a splash of color.”
Marketing to Prom-Goers
Most of Poliafico’s prom-goes get their ideas from Pinterest. But she has a better idea than simply pinning her prom photos there. “I have a nine year-old and a 12 year-old and I go to all their activities like dance and Karate, which are open to all ages, and I talk to other Moms.”
Even if you don’t have children, you have Moms in your suite who are concerned about their daughters’ prom looks—especially now that schools are involved in dos and don’ts. Look within your suite for nail and makeup specialists, create cross-referrals and work out a scheduling flow for girls who come together. (About half of teens get prom hair with friends or a family member.) Offer to give demos and trend talks for local high school clubs and groups.
Also, network with stores that sell prom dresses and offer to do create prom styles on employees in return for referrals. Create dual social media promotions with photos of your hair and their dresses.
“Don’t forget guys; a fresh cut is a must and they want a neat neckline,” adds Poliafico. “While they’re in my suite, I’m show them how to use different styling products. Dads will refer their sons for their first “elegant-occasion look.”
Getting prom-goers in your suite has a bonus beyond keeping you creative and adding enjoyment to your day. If you can make teens look fabulous when there’s extreme competition for the wow-factor, you’ll secure a whole new generation of clients who’ll keep you busy for years to come.