Several months ago, I overheard someone talking about opening up a new hair salon on H Street (NE). She began talking about the concept and explained that it was similar to DryBar but their focus was on catering to a more diverse clientele.
Fast forward a few months, I pulled up the website for Release The Blowdry Bar that was listed on her business card. The website had a few pictures and it mentioned the salon’s concept, which was fairly simple. Women come in get their hair shampooed, scalp massaged and blown out into one of several styles that range from totally straight to curls to up-dos. What appealed to me most was the women pictured on the website were multicultural, which meant they would be able to work with my hair.
On their website, I noticed they were opening early December so I figured I’d get in early to see what they were all about. A few days before I booked my appointment, I saw one of my favorite deal websites, LivingSocial, was offering an amazing deal. They had 4 blowouts for only $59, which meant I could get my hair done for less than $15 per appointment. What? That’s unheard of. I’ve never paid less than $45 for a shampoo and style in DC. I couldn’t resist so I bought it and encouraged several of my friends to do the same.
I went for the first time the second week of December. I made my appointment for a Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 hoping it wouldn’t be busy. When I arrived, it was a very stylish, boutique-y feeling salon, so much so I almost forgot I was on H Street NE (aka The Atlas District). What impressed me first was the elegant, mirrored reception desk right at the front of the salon, where their stylish receptionists are typically seated. She greeted me right away, offered to take my coat and asked me if I wanted a glass of wine. She didn’t have to ask me twice.
She then informed me the shampoo girl had had an emergency and because of this there was a slight back up. So I sat patiently sipping a glass of sweet red wine and read their magazine, which included photos of their hairstyles, to decide what I wanted to have done while I waited.
Around 5:30, they took me back to the shampoo area where I put on this cute, lavender Kimono-type robe. I was all set for my shampoo and 10 minute massage. Unfortunately, the shampoo was lackluster and I did not receive the massage. After my shampoo, I was switched off to another stylist, Damien, who did a great job on making my hair shiny and styling it with bouncy curls.
Overall, the experience was wonderful with the exception of the shampoo and scalp massage, or lack thereof. I decided not to let that deter me from going back because after all, the shampoo girl was not there and apparently the first stylist wasn’t very experienced in doing anything other than styling. Besides, I still had 3 appointments left, so it could or get better, right.
Two weeks later, I heard from an associate of mine that she’d gone back to Release. We both initially went on the same day and both had the exact same experience. She said this time when she went, Montoya was her stylist and she was extremely impressed with her. So I called and was able to get an appointment with Montoya the next day.
This time the shampoo girl (sorry I keep calling her that, but I’m not sure what else to call her) was there. She did a great shampoo and lightly scrubbed my scalp, just how I like it. She gave me a mini-massage, still not 10 minutes, more like three but it was definitely a better experience than before.
When I sat in Montoya’s chair, I told her basically the look I was going for and I let her do her magic. We had a great conversation, which was refreshing. Within an hour of arriving, I was done and able to go about my business.
As a busy professional, I like being able to get in and get out. Who wants to sit at the hair salon for 3-4 hours each time? I know I don’t.
I really like Release and think it’s an excellent concept. Release has shown me that they are fully capable of working with all hair types. As of now, I have one more service left on my deal and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep going after that. You really can’t beat $35 to get your hair done, plus I enjoy being able to get in and out which is definitely a major plus of going there.
Pros: Fast service, accommodating staff, complimentary wine/drinks and snacks, affordable prices.
Cons: Parking can be tricky (get there early), Unexpected additional charges (i.e. flat ironing $10), They don’t offer chemical services (relaxers, dye, etc)
Release The Blowdry
1017 H Street NE