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Downtown has new beauty bar and med spa that will give you a 'blowout' and 'semi-permanent makeup'

As a general rule, I don’t use a blow dryer on my hair. With male pattern baldness in my family tree, even windy days worry me. But one new Lawrence business is betting that a good shampoo and a blow-dry are counted by many people as one of life’s little treats.

The shop called "& Blowdry" opened recently on the ground floor of the relatively new 888 multistory apartment building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets. The business bills itself as a “premier beauty bar and med spa.” But don’t get confused by the description. A beauty bar is not that mythical tavern where everyone really does get more beautiful the longer you stay. This beauty bar doesn’t serve any drinks, but rather hopes to serve as a break from the daily grind.

“We are Lawrence’s trendy one-stop shop for affordable glam,” said Jessica Howard, who is a co-owner and manager of the shop. “It is really a pretty space for women, or men, to come and be pampered in a luxury setting.”

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by Chad Lawhorn

The business offers a full nail bar, manicures, pedicures, waxing and several other services. But the shop’s main service is something called a “blowout.” While my picture that runs with this column wouldn’t suggest it, I’m actually not up to speed on all the hair trends. I would have guessed that a blowout was something that would require me to wear a stocking cap for a week and explain why there are five empty Nair bottles in the trash.

But actually a blowout is the name for about a 45-minute session that involves a shampoo, a blow-dry and a hair styling that could involve a curling iron or some other type of “hot tool.”

Blowouts have become a big trend in larger cities, Howard said. In fact, there are many salons that have stopped offering haircuts and instead have focused on the blowouts. That’s the strategy at & Blowdry. While the business does offer trims, it doesn’t do full-on haircuts, Howard said.

“A traditional salon is doing the major hair services that you maybe only need every six weeks or so,” Howard said. “We are kind of the old-school weekly place where you can go for in-between services.

“Maybe you just want to get dolled up for a night out or for a weekend. And, we have a lot of people who are excited just to take a break from doing their own hair.”

The business has adopted a pricing structure that encourages that frequent visitor. A single blowout costs $40, but you can pay $99 and get as many blowouts as you want in a month.

Another part of the business that may be unexpected is the idea of spa parties. Women rent out the facility as place to get together, socialize and have their hair done.

“I definitely think a big part of this is just the vibe,” Howard said. “It is an escape from life.”

The med spa part of the business is run by Shonn Tew, who is a co-owner of the shop and also a registered nurse. The med spa offers services including Botox cosmetics, laser hair removal, skin resurfacing and several types of facials.

The spa also offers something called “semi-permanent makeup,” which also was a new phrase to me. (I once woke up with Sharpie drawings on my face, but I don’t think that counts.) Instead, Howard told me that an example of semi-permanent makeup is a procedure that involves micro-tattooing on your eyebrows, which eliminates the need to use an eyebrow pencil. It is semi-permanent because the micro-tattoo fades after about two years, she said.

The Lawrence shop is actually the second for & Blowdry. Its original location is on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was founded by Lesley Compton, who also is a co-owner of the Lawrence location.

And while some men may be thinking that a hair place can’t be a hair place in downtown Lawrence unless the person behind the chair can talk a little bit about KU basketball, you might find out that & Blowdry has someone pretty well versed in that too. Howard is married to KU assistant basketball coach Jerrance Howard.

In other news and notes from around town:

• The ground floor space of the 888 building also landed one other tenant recently. The Edward Jones financial services office of John Gascon opened in space next to the hair salon. Gascon previously operated an Edward Jones office in Topeka, but moved the business to be closer to his East Lawrence home, he said.

Gascon, who previously was an architect, designed the office space to also double as gallery space. It will host its first show during Final Fridays later this month.

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