ISSE Nerd Facts

  • More than 40,000 beauty professionals attended ISSE Long Beach
  • The sold- out expo floor, consisted of more than 400 leading beauty brands, ranging from international beauty leaders that included BaBylissPRO, Clairol Professional, CND, Moroccan Oil, Orly, Repêchage, RUSK, TIGI, Wahl, and Zotos to indie trend-setters such as Body Up Pro, Hair Flairs, Rock Your Hair, and Young Nails.
  • 183 FREE classes were included in the price of the ISSE ticket.
  • The NAHA Stage, which featured many past NAHA winners such as Damien Carney, Steve Elias, Jake Thompson, and Charlie Price, was continually at room capacity. (The Hair Nerds were front and center at most of these classes)
  • Revamped Stage Concepts streamlined offerings to help attendees better access presentations and maximize their time at the show. Center Stage (formerly International Fashion Theater) and Stage Right (formerly Technical Theater) were again popular with attendees and featured top creative teams and educators from across the industry.
  • New Hair Competitions Were A Success: Open to both students and licensed professionals, the hair competitions allowed individuals to show off their skills and win cash and career prestige. For the licensed professional (senior) division, the competitions served as tryouts for the OMC HairWorld USA team for 2012
  • ISSE Midwest will be held November 4 – 5, 2012, and you know The Hair Nerds will be there!


Hair Nerds take to the skies

Nerds that fly together stay together.. well, at least until they get off the plane. It seems that all  local salons end up on the same flight heading down to Long Beach.  The energy is always heightened with so many creative personalities so beware of the Stylist Showdown  that tends to occur in the airport bathroom…

It is our personal experience that at least one of us is taken to the side for a full body pat down…  TSA obviously finds The Nerds irresistable…or perhaps they heard about our penchant for stalking.


And it begins…

Who needs to sleep? After landing, the Nerds headed upstairs to Steve Elias’  room at the Hyatt with his model in tow.  As we approached the room, we heard the loud banter of a lovers quarrel at the brink of crazy

“You kicked me in the crotch for no reason,” a booming voiced yelled.

“You’re gonna leave me?”…”YOU. are. gonna. leave. me?” a woman screamed hysterically. “That is funny because I am going to leave YOU.”

We knocked harder and laughed louder hoping to be rescued by the Stevester before the lovers opened their door and brought their rumble to the Hyatt hallway.  As we scurried in, we couldn’t help but catch the remainder of the show.

Disclaimer:  The Hair Nerds advise against kicking your significant other in the crotch.  It never seems to be welcomed… no matter how amusing we may find your hotel brawl.

We relayed the insanity to  Steve and his husband, David.  We were hanging out when a Hyatt staff member knocked on the door to let us know there had been complaints about our noise level.  Seriously?  Something about Hair Shows brings out the crazy in people!

In a stage whisper, Steve mentioned he had the layout for the February issue of   Tantalum Magazine  finished and pulled it up so we could have a sneak peek.   (The Hair Nerds assisted on the Thunderdome and Taylor shoots)

We drank pink lemonade and plotted the plan for the morning show.  Upon inspecting the model’s hair, we found she had extensions and needed to have corn rows that didn’t display this…

Nothing a little soak in the tub at 2am couldn’t fix…

We sent our lovely model to bed at 2:45 am with strict instructions to be back in our room by 6:00am and ready to go for a 6:45am model call time.  Hair Nerds don’t sleep during trade shows, ever.  It is an occupational hazard.

Good Morning, Sunshine…

Eager stylists began to pour through the glass doors at the convention center.  Steve Elias and The Teals took the stage to discuss the importance of NAHA.

During the middle of look 3 in the NAHA Room, an audience member decided it was the perfect time to get up out of her seat and help herself to the beautiful hairpieces we were extracting from the model’s head.

At first we thought she must be confused, but no, she really didn’t care there was a full room of people trying to enjoy the education on stage.  She insisted on touching the extensions and in an attempt to coax her back to her seat we let her examine them.  Thinking that was the last time we would see her, we kindly asked her to take a seat.

Don’t worry our friend, the crazy hair snatching ban-dido,  made a second appearance later in the day.  As Jake Thompson began to clipper into his award winning (synthetic) hair piece from  NAHA 2011,  she’s back at the stage.

This time she wasn’t taking no for an answer. As each hair floats down to the floor of the stage,  she scoops it up and shoves it into a paper bag. We sat back trying to register that this was in fact happening.

Then his assistant began retrieving hair from the other side of the stage for her… hoping she would just sit down.  We realize this is a recession economy, but maybe wait until after the class to swoop in on the hair clippings?

When we weren’t in classes…

With  2.5 hours of sleep the night before, we were definitely dragging once we finally hit the floor in between classes.  As we looked at new toys and yummy smelling products Carrie gets approched from a cocky salesman looking to close a sale…

“Let me demo this iron on you,” he says.

“No thank you, I really don’t flat iron my hair,”  Carrie replies.

“Um… sure you don’t? It’s pretty fried?” comments our fake tan friend.

With no time for a badass blowout the morning of assisting;  there was no room to argue… so she  just walked away with hate in her heart and swear words under her breath!

After the assault she was looking for a little “pick me up”.. enter the line for cocktails.  Barely  12:00pm she waited in the popular  (extremely long) line for an adult beverage.  Just then, Carrie’s former instructor from Hair school bumps into her and says hello.   Gulping the drink down and tearing off her over 21 identification bracelet she cites, ” Gotta keep it classy”.

Luckily for both of our hair,  we happened upon the Number 4 Haircare booth.  This vegan line is absolutely amazing… life changing even.    We were familiar with the line, but had yet to really use it.

Cathy from Number 4 Hair Care gave us samples of the hydrating line (Thanks, Cathy!!).  Naturally, the first thing we did upon entering our hotel room at midnight was try out our new products.    It made our locks feel like they never seen a flat iron or color.  We can’t say enough about this company!

The product was so luxurious that when we hit the Salon Tech booth with David Stupplebeen the next day …Carrie whipped her hair a’la Victoria’s Secret, while David hit her with a wind machine (blow dryer) .

As Carrie flipped her hair from side to side.. her former instructor rounded the corner and caught her mid-flip…awkward..  Obviously, we shouldn’t be allowed on the floor!


The beauty of the ISSE Long Beach show is the trade show floor is an extremely diverse place.  You can take in a razor cutting demo with Gerard Scarpaci and Nick Arrojo, chat with Jeryl Spear, the creative mind behind Hot by Hairs How or grab a bag of cotton candy from a buff shirtless dude.   It just depends on what you are looking for, I suppose.

We tend to favor…

We Nerd Stalk, A LOT…

The Hair Nerds hit the Hairbrained cocktail party  after Sunday wrapped and hung out with the Stevester (Steve, David and Steve) and  The Teals (Ryan, DeAnnalyn and Tuesday). Rene Antonio, Faatemah Ampey and Jake Thompson all stopped by the tiny cocktail table we squeezed 8 people around.

We try to set aside our paparazzi stalking tendencies and leave the awesome photographs to the professionals, but it is hard.  Hair Nerds are easily spotted in the front row of education with their cameras held high in the air pointed at some unsuspecting platform artist.

Between 2 smart phones, a tablet, laptop, and digital camera we are constantly plugging into random outlets in the convention center.  Strategically, charging one device at a time and praying the others don’t die before the first is ready to go.  It is a war against technology and we won’t go down without a fight!  A sampling of our Nerd Stalking

The Teals

Faatemah Ampey


Damien Carney

Nick Arrojo


Jake Thompson

Brenton Lee

We ran into our pal, Brenton Lee, during  breakfast at the Hyatt.  Check out his new salon.


It’s a Wrap

The Hair Nerds ran on 2 meals and 8 hours of sleep split between 3 days.  You’re not Hard Core unless you Live Hard Core, right?

We have a million stories to tell about the education we took at  ISSE, but because we are such EXPERT nerd stalkers we are working on interviews with our favorite celebrity hair nerds.  You would rather hear it from them, anyways!

We managed to make it out of Long Beach in one piece and without a single restraining order… We can’t wait for ISSE Midwest in November!  Start looking up those flights and get your game plan together because you know The Hair Nerds will be there!!