Extreme Hair and Beauty at New Styling Competition Battle of the Strands

We spent the afternoon at an extreme hair show. One salon's motto? "When life gives you shit...throw some glitter on it." And boy, did they.
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We spent the afternoon at an extreme hair show. One salon's motto? "When life gives you shit...throw some glitter on it." And boy, did they.
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Extreme hair styling competitions are like the X Games for hair stylists: The higher and bigger you go, the better.

There are tons of extreme hair competitions held locally, not to mention the UK's massive Alternative Hair Show and Oxygen's reality show devoted to the phenomenon called Hair Battle Spectacular. But apparently there's room for more. A new extreme hair, makeup, and wardrobe competition, cleverly named "Battle of the Strands," is hoping to entertain viewers with its extensions-on-steroids looks.

The premise? Salon teams compete to come up with a full look inspired by couture and the avant-garde. After qualifying rounds in five cities, the finalists will go to Las Vegas to compete for a $100,000 prize, and presumably whatever glory comes with winning a reality TV show. (The show is being filmed by High Noon Entertainment, the company responsible for Cake Boss and House Hunters, but it hasn't been picked up by a network yet.)

The first qualifying for "Battle of the Strands" was held at a gallery space in Chelsea on April 14. The judging panel included YouTube makeup artist Kandee Johnson; Kelley Donahue, the editor-in-chief of American Salon magazine; and celeb hair guru, Kim Vo, who's no stranger to hair reality TV, having been a judge on Bravo's Shear Genius. "We’re looking for fantasy avant garde, what could be on the runway but what we haven’t seen before," Vo told me. "I think it's like artwork--you want to be moved and provoked and you really want to see something different."

And the rules? "Honey, they can put a kitchen sink in there!" Vo said. "I do look for architectural balance and strength. I don't want to see the thing moving. At the end of the day, do I want tacky? No."

We're not quite sure that any of the contestants succeeded in that regard, but it was pretty fun to watch. The five teams came from salons handpicked from cities across America and offered looks inspired by Central Park, which included an apple-shaped purse covered in ombre hair and a girl falling into a cotton candy machine, among other things. My favorite salon motto? "When life gives you shit...throw some glitter on it." And boy, did they.

Click through to see all five looks with a play-by-play of the show, as well as the backstage chaos. Photos: Courtesy