LAS VEGAS — For three days, the throng of people dabbled, smeared, buffed and primped. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center was a one-stop shop for hair, skin and nail care. For beauty addicts, this was paradise, sampling new products alongside 25,000-plus attendees at this year’s Cosmoprof North America beauty trade show.
Beauty leaders, distributors, salon owners and spa professionals deciphered and scouted innovative brands to captivate consumers worldwide. Last year, keratin (the naturally occurring protein in hair and nails) led the charge in a bevy of hair-straightening systems. But fashion is cyclical. Cosmoprof provides a glimpse of things to come, and girls with curls are the divas of the moment.
After a long run, shellacked, pin-straight hair has taken a back seat to curls, waves and all things textured. So girls, break out the hot rollers. Volume is back!
Women want flexibility and options. Men want more grooming choices, and they’re getting it.
During the show, many hair stylists were on the lookout for innovative tools, such as brushes with handles that can be detached and transformed into high-quality ceramic rollers and flat irons that can straighten and curl. Women want flexibility and options. Men want more grooming choices, and they’re getting it.
I came across two terrific lines for men (more on them later). I tried an overwhelming number of samples and made an earnest attempt to test as many hand creams, shaving balms, eye serums and nail polishes as possible. I even slathered on a cream made with snail secretions. I’ll go through any lengths in the name of preservation.
Chilean-based PetitGris (which translates to “brown snails”) says its cream is great for treating acne and scars. Admittedly, many samples landed in the trash; others I toted home, like the now-indispensable Wet Brush that I can use on my daughter’s fragile wet hair. Life is tough, I know.
Many products featured this year will go on life support unless they can establish strong distribution channels to reach salon professionals and end-users. The annual Cosmoprof is where these brands woo influential national and international buyers and distributors, who can blaze the path to stardom. From Sexy Hair to Essie, anybody who was anybody started on the convention show floor. They’re still here, but now, with their own private suites.
Just for men: Barbershop-inspired products & eye patches
Now that every hair brand on the planet has a “miracle oil,” there wasn’t much buzz in the hair-care world. But that’s not to say a trend didn’t emerge, and a close-shaved one at that. At Cosmoprof, there were more than a handful of companies redefining the future by revisiting the past with their barbershop-inspired products.
“The barbershop culture is exploding. It’s like a rebirth that started in black communities and now everyone is catching on,” says barbershop pole maker Robert Marvy of William Marvy Company, adding that trendy barbershops have opened in London, Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York, and yes, even good ol’ Houston.
“The barbershop culture is exploding. It’s like a rebirth that started in black communities and now everyone is catching on,” says barbershop pole maker Robert Marvy.
At Cosmoprof, two barbershop brands stood out. Pennellificio Omega Spa makes high-quality Italian shaving brushes, whereas Florence-based Proraso makes soaps and shaving creams distributed by C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.
What I love about Proraso is that you get a department store-quality product at drugstore prices. Shaving creams and foams are $10 and $9, respectively, and they feel sumptuous and smell delicious. The original in the green-and-white stripe packaging is scented with eucalyptus and menthol. It is bracingly sexy, like James Bond in a Lamborghini. New to the line is a sandalwood shaving cream and foam, made with shea butter to soften steel-wool coarse hair.
When I saw the eye patches by Recipe for Men, I chuckled. Really? That evening, I made my brother try them. He loved them, and he’s a big guy, a former football player and high school football coach, so his face regimen usually consists of whatever soap is on hand and water.
The patches deflated bags underneath his eyes, and in a world where women have the benefit of concealer and men don’t, I can see how these eye patches might come in handy. The patches help to minimize dark circles, deflate bags and tighten delicate skin around the eyes.
They’re not cheap though. They come three to a pack and sell for $36. Another unique product from this Scandinavian brand is the Anti-shine Moisturizer for $37, made with micronized pearl powder to soak up shine. With larger pores, men tend to be twice as oily as women.
Just for women: Gel polishes & tattoo trends
This year, nail products took center stage. A barrage of companies introduced gel polish, a soak-off hybrid between a gel and polish. These lacquer paints are cured onto nails with an ultraviolet lamp and last about two weeks, or until soaked off.
Currently, Creative Nail Design, or CND, is the current leader in the category, but the competition is heating up — literally. I came across a temperature-activated version at Le Chat. Its Perfect Match Mood Gel Polish came in 12 colors, retailing for about $15 each. The colors were boldly whimsical, like Katy Perry. In fact, the pop star could easily fall in love with a nude color that morphs into green as temperatures rise. Another one went from brilliant blue to purple.
Instead of dripping in diamonds, women were dripping in glitter, fashioned to look like painted-on jewelry.
At Cuccio Colour, I came across gel polishes and the not-yet-available regular nail lacquers in 60 colors. The company plans to launch the line early next year to salons only and will retail between $9-$12. Meanwhile, I got a glimpse of things to come. One word to sum up Cuccio’s intense colors: Wow. Its triple-pigment technology results in a shiny shellac dream that would allow us gals to get away with just one coat. The colors are deep and rich, gorgeous. OPI, you got competition here.
All that glitter might turn into gold if the glitter tattoo trend picks up steam, which it seems to be doing. Instead of dripping in diamonds, women were dripping in glitter, fashioned to look like painted-on jewelry.
At Blink Lash Stylish and Care, a Korean faux lash manufacturer, an artist was creating glittering designs with color glitters. Several rows over at The Body Art Professional, women were lining up to get cherry blossoms, dragonflies, butterflies and other tattoos.
I’m predicting that the accessory of choice during prom season next year will be glittering body tattoos rather than cubic zirconia. A retail kit sells for about $29, or for intricate designs, go to a professional and pay from $10 to $100 for a tattoo.
Or if you’re bold, tattoo your lips with temporary appliqués in various designs from Violent Lips. These nonlatex tattoos, from $7.99 to $13.95, are smoothed onto lips to create unforgettable puckers. My personal favorite is the cheetah and various flag designs. Talk about making a statement.
For all of the above: Miracle oils & natural skin care
With hundreds of exhibitors, the difficulty wasn’t what to write about, but which products to write about. There are so many good ones. But in the beauty world, marketing is just as important. Hopefully, the following two standout brands will make it to the masses.
Goldfaden MD is a dermatologist-based natural skin care line from Floridian dermatologist Gary Goldfaden. The line will launch with seven products. Among them is a medical-grade exfoliator with ruby crystals.
If used correctly, the Doctor’s Scrub at $75 is nearly as effective as getting a professional facial. Also, launching next spring, the Sun Visor at $38 is an effortless way to reapply sunscreen without scrubbing off your makeup. You only have to spray on this fine, greaseless SPF 30 mist, which disappears in 30 seconds. It’s a keeper.
If you’re on the lookout for the next big thing in “miracle oils,” and I always am for some reason, then one to consider is marula, pressed from omega-rich African marula nuts. The Marula — The Leakey Collection is beautifully packaged, but you’ll pay $78 for less than 2 ounces. Or purchase 2 ounces of 100-percent, virgin marula oil for $18 from Shea Terra Organics. In fact, you can find argan oil here, too, for about half the cost of what most beauty companies charge.