FROM straightforward to very curly indeed. There was scarcely a hair out of place in Dublin's RDS yesterday, as some of the world's top hair stylists competed at the European and Irish hairdressing competitions.
More than 400 stylists from 24 countries attended the OMC European Cup, and they competed in 19 categories ranging from the easily limited 'Long Hair Ladies' competition to the completely unrestricted 'Fantasy' category.
It was in the fantasy competition that Joanne O'Neill from Dunloy in Antrim won Ireland's only gold medal last night.
The President of the Irish Hairdressing Federation Saundra Fabian said the event had brought an estimated 5,000 visitors to the RDS since Sunday.
"You may not think it from looking at this competition but the hairdressing industry has been hit really badly," she said.
"It is suffering. Say if a client would have gotten their hair done every three months, they are now getting it done every four months.
"But to see this and to see the excitement and the people who have turned up for this, it's phenomenal," Ms Fabian said.
Wayne Lloyd, who runs his own salon in the west Cork village of Ballydehob, said that, despite the recession, there remained a market for high-end hairdressers. "A lot of our clients have D4 addresses, people will travel 200 or 300 miles to get their hair cut," he said.
Mr Lloyd is the current global men's stylist of the year and held the title for women's stylist last year. Surprisingly, his 28-year career only took off when he traded his native London for west Cork.
"I moved over in 2007 and just thought I'd have a little salon and chill out and take it easy and then I got talent spotted and went on to the Irish team," he told the Irish Independent.
"Not all the best hairdressers have to be in Dublin."
The winner of the Irish hairdresser of the year award went to Louise Jordan from MOHH salon in Galway.
Her colleague Mary Duffy competed in six categories in the competition and spent between six and seven months preparing her designs.
"There wasn't much socialising, it's all work, you have to concentrate. It's very demanding," she said.
The model for one of her creations, Cathy Hunt from Wexford, was in make-up since 7.30am yesterday and had been sporting a black catsuit, six inch stilettos and massive headdress throughout the day.
"It is tiring, sometimes I wonder why I do it but you just make sure you have plenty of water and sugary food," Ms Hunt said.
"This costume compared to the others is comfortable but I won't be tempted to leave it on once I finish up tonight," she joked.