Armstrong McCall, a respected marketer and distributor of top-of-the-line professional beauty supplies, held its 22nd annual World’s Fair of Cosmetic Arts & Sciences this month in Austin. The event featured the latest trends and techniques in hair color, hair styling, cosmetics, nails, and other beauty services. Thousands of students and stylists attended for the hands-on training and instruction with master stylists from all over the world. Featured hair vendors included Farouk Systems, Loreal, Matrix, American Crew, Mizani, Tigi and Aquage.

Many stylists agreed that curls and texture are indeed back. Hair experts explained that “soft, loose, and dropped” is the new trend in curly hair styling, leaving behind the big hair of the '80s. Coloring techniques featured blended multi-tonal hues instead of chunky bulks of color. The oversized billboards featuring curly hair models provided the perfect complement to the stylists’ mantras. Curls from a variety of ethnicities and hair types were prominently displayed at each vendor’s booth.

Unfortunately, very few live models were styled curly. Styles featuring defined curls were achieved through the careful use of curling irons, comb coils, or hair pieces. With the handful of models who were cut and styled to show naturally curly hair, the resulting look was full and fluffy, not the ideal soft, loose curl. For natural type 4 hair styling, information was nonexistent, but the latest in relaxing treatments were prominently featured. There were, of course, many examples of how to transform curly hair to straight with a flat iron and a dizzying array of styling products.