We have all noticed the fantastic pictures that emerge from hairdressing competitions. The amazing hair creations paired with dramatic makeup and costumes all seamlessly themed. One thing that not many of us have an appreciation of, is the amount of sweat, tears and actual blood (those scissors are sharp!) that goes on in order to enter these events.

First of all you find your event of choice. For Rustiq it was The ALFAPARF Milano Fantastic Hairdresser Awards 2017.  Enjoying our eighth year, these are the most prestigious awards in Ireland. The ethos of the awards is to nurture, support and encourage creativity and excellence. What better way to do that then with a little healthy competition?

Before you touch a head of hair you have to decide what categories you want to enter and once you do read the rules. Then read them again. This is your bible for the duration. The magic is in the details and you want to make sure that you are within the remit of your chosen category.

The next step is the model search. Models must be tall and slim, with good hair. If that’s not enough they have to be brave when it comes to colour and cut as well as generous with their time. It’s a tremendous opportunity for anyone who is interested in the business to get an insight to what it takes to become an award winning hair stylist. By its very nature the event wants to push boundaries and break new ground. A simple bob is not going to cut it.

The model is secured and the brain storming begins. We will use every resource for inspiration from Pinterest to the latest fashion magazines. A great visual aid is a mood board. This is where you can gather all your ideas and a visible, tangible place to go to see what works and what doesn’t. One of the aspects we research at Rustiq is the judges. You have to appeal to them and knowing what they appreciate can assist the stylist in perfecting that look. You also need a good working knowledge of previous entries and winners. Nobody wants to produce something that’s been seen before.

Once the vision is in place its preparation and practice. The hair needs to be kept in the best possible condition so there are Olaplex Treatments and regular cuts for months in advance. The costumes are sourced, some are made, some are bought and all of them make a statement. The models hair will be coloured and the upstyles repeated over and over because on the day all the stylist has is 30 minutes.

The models have to practice too. They most walk and pose and during the time of the styling hold the equipment needed during the competition.  They will have to stand for a long time so getting used to the process is paramount to making it all look effortless. To finish off the team effort, a makeup artist is brought on board to complete the concept. Makeup is important and must enhance the hair and not become the focus or distract. It’s one overall seamless composition.

Applying for these awards will mean early mornings and sleepless nights. It will mean walking past a sweet shop and seeing that perfect hue and working to recreate it in the salon. Hand sowing jewels onto neck pieces and trialling numerous make up looks to find that perfect texture or shade. Putting yourself out there to be judged is not easy. The huge effort seems to melt away when you hear the name of a colleague or the salon being called out. It makes the blood (the scissors remember?) sweat and tint stains on our hands all worthwhile.

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