Hairdressing contest numbers trimmed

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Organisers of an annual Dunedin hairstyling contest are “stunned” by a lack of competitors this year.

Otago Association of Registered Hairdressers committee member and stylist Selena Aitken-Boyle, of Balclutha, had entered the association’s annual regional Stylist of the Year contest for more than 40 years.

Fewer competitors were competing for prizes in an upstairs room in the Edgar Centre on Sunday, she said.

“Our numbers are way down . . . the committee are stunned.”

The competition usually attracted stylists from across the South, she said.

This year the 17 stylists, most from Dunedin salons, had plenty of room in which to compete.

“It’s sad – it should be shoulder-to-shoulder.”

The committee lacked answers to why the contest had “slipped”.

Some stylists might not have entered due to a belief a small number of stylists continually won the categories.

“It’s a terrible attitude,” Ms Aitken-Boyle said.

The judges were not swayed by who had won previously, she said.

Another reason could be that it was becoming more difficult for stylists to find models.

People declined to be models because they did not want to sport an “extreme” hairstyle.

“Don’t be scared – the hair grows back,” Ms Aitken-Boyle said.

Stylists should enter the contest next year because the winners would represent Otago in a national competition.

Association president Kylie Crutchley, of Dunedin, said the 17 stylists competing on Sunday were half the number of entrants competing in the contest’s heyday nine years ago.

Despite the fewer competitors “the standard of work is amazing”.

“It was the cream of the crop competing.”

The lack of competitors did not indicate the industry’s strength, as business had been good for salons, she said.

Fewer apprentices had entered the contest than previous years, she said.

Salon owners used to make apprentices enter but it seemed to no longer be the case, she said.

Mrs Aitken-Boyle urged apprentices to compete in the contest, as it helped them gain confidence.

The winners of the two top prizes were from Moha Hairdressing in St Kilda.

Brooke Dawson won the next generation hair stylist of the year award. Jen Smart won the senior hair stylist of the year award.