I discovered Drybar products back in 2015 (the year I accidentally became VIB Rouge… we don’t talk about that though) through one of the many Sephora Favorites sets I purchased. This spiralled into purchasing some of their products (I still lovingly use my Lemon Drop hairbrush and Full Pint round brush) and eventually resulted in me stalking their social media and becoming a loyal follower of the Drybar Instagram account. I would scroll for hours, admiring all the perfectly coiffed curls and before-and-afters. I fluently spoke the language of their “menu”, knowing the difference between a Cosmo and Mai-Tai and the Manhattan vs. the Straight Up. The catch, however, was that there wasn’t a Drybar location in my entire country.
Until it was announced that one would be opening inside Vancouver’s new Nordstrom.
This was excellent news, except for a minor setback: I had just chopped 20 inches off my hair. I am no stranger to the ol’ curling iron and couldn’t justify $50 for something that I could, in theory, do myself and wouldn’t even have the excuse of having *so much* hair anymore. As a student and not a professional or someone who needed to have nicely styled hair for any reason, there was no way to justify it.
Fast forward to this year, my hair has long since grown out and my bank account is pleased to report my status as employed full-time while only holding lowly “Beauty Insider” status at Sephora. Let me set the scene: I was planning a weekend trip to Tucson, Arizona and binge watching travel videos on YouTube. Some of these people said that they always get blowouts before they go away for weekend trips so they don’t have to worry about bringing shampoo, conditioner, or styling products/ tools. Depending on how I’m wearing my hair, I generally wash my hair once a week anyway but logistically with my work schedule and the timing of our flight, the stars aligned that it would make sense to finally splurge and try Drybar inside Nordstrom.
Nordstrom is located in downtown Vancouver (you can check out my vlog of the grand-opening here!), inside Pacific Centre. During my breaks between classes I would take the skytrain to Granville Station and wander around Pacific Centre, always feeling severely underdressed and impoverished while walking by people carrying huge Holt Renfrew bags. If you’re dressed casually (like I generally was while attending university or even the day I went for my appointment… you can see my ultra glamorous hoodie and leggings ensemble in the reflection above) while in Pacific Centre, especially Nordstrom, it’s like being completely invisible to everyone working and shopping there. Having Drybar be inside Nordstrom feels quite intimidating, and I’d almost like it to be in a more out of the way part of town if it could be a standalone location.
I made my appointment via the iPhone app, but it’s possible to do so online (and by phone, I’d imagine) as well. Both the app and the browser website require an account to book, but it’s fairly straight forward. When my friend and I arrived, we were greeted by one of the stylists who asked if us “girls” needed anything, despite her clearly being younger than us. Again, the whole being underdressed for Nordstrom probably attributed to this, but it started the experience off with a weird vibe. Once she knew we had appointments and checked us in, her demeanour changed entirely and she welcomed us to wander around (we were early) and come back later, or have a seat inside.
Most of the Drybar reviews I had read through the years mentioned how they were served complimentary drinks ranging from tea to mimosas during their appointment, but this wasn’t the case for us. I don’t know if it’s due to being inside Nordstrom or having different regulations in Canada, but it was definitely a bit disappointing. Starbucks anyone?
The salon area was styled nicely with pops of the brand’s iconic buttercup yellow throughout, which made everything bright and cheerful and overall, really pleasant.
Drybar’s whole thing is “no cuts, no colour, just blowouts!”, which means despite essentially looking like most hair salons, they only provide washing and styling services. I discovered you can also get a “dry style” which involves just styling your hair without the wash and blow dry component. The tools and products they use are all their in-house brand, which makes for a more specialized experience.
I went into the appointment wanting a Cosmo (lots of loose curls), but was subconsciously peer pressured when I saw the lady who went before me. Her hair turned out so beautifully and Adrianna at the moment was not thinking about how the lady had thin blonde hair and Adrianna has never and will never have such hair… but alas… she is a fickle being. When the stylist asked what I wanted to go for, I asked for what she did for her previous client which was more beachy curls made with the straightener. The stylist didn’t seem to really follow the “menu”, which in hindsight is probably a good thing because the different styles listed look different from person to person.
Another part of the Drybar “experience” mentioned in the reviews was that they have fun, girly movies playing around the salon. We caught the last half of “She’s The Man” and the start of another movie that I had never seen and wasn’t really paying attention to. Any time I can experience an early 2000’s Amanda Bynes film is automatically going to be a good time.
I felt weird taking pictures while she was doing my hair so I don’t have any to show but once we actually got started, I had a great experience! I worked in customer service for a few years so starting and continuing conversations in these kind of awkward situations is something I don’t mind doing. The stylist was very sweet (and my suspicions of our age gap was confirmed when we started talking about what Disney Channel shows we were most excited about seeing on Disney+) and she did a lovely job. I have never dyed my hair and only get one haircut a year so it’s really a treat to have it washed and styled for me. It’s also worth mentioning that we weren’t pressured to buy anything at all! In fact, the products being used were barely acknowledged beyond asking if certain things were okay to use, like hairspray. This aspect of the experience was a pleasant surprise, especially since they are all Drybar branded products and easily accessible at retailers like Sephora.
I was really pleased with the end result. Her final comment was “TOTAL HAIR GOALS!” and I loved the volume and just the way the curls fell. After tax and tip, my total came to just shy of $65, which is actually more than what it costs for me to get my annual haircut.
Due to a variety of factors, like air travel and going from cold and wet Vancouver to warm and dry Tucson, the curls fell out faster than I would have liked. Usually when I curl my hair, I don’t comb through them because they loosen nicely on their own and I can get almost a week out of one wash. By the end of the weekend, my hair looked like I’d straightened it… but it did smell amazing the whole time!
Would I do it again? Possibly! It was a nice treat, and even though I’m probably not the intended clientele at that particular location, I’m a sucker for having my hair done by someone else. I’m not rushing to book another appointment at the Vancouver location anytime soon, but the stylists told us that the Drybar in Las Vegas is incredible, so I think if/ when I ever go back to Vegas it would be a fun part of the trip to get the full Drybar experience.
A more affordable alternative that I’ve tried is going to the local hair school. While the atmosphere isn’t quite the same, students will style your hair for a significantly more reasonable fee. There are also a couple “Blo” locations around me, which could be another option. At the end of the day, it might just be easier to go to a good ol’ hair salon or… you know… just spend the time and do my own hair.
Have you ever been to Drybar in Vancouver or one of the US locations? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks so much for checking out this post and I hope you have a great (hair, and otherwise) day!