Celebrating the Canadian beauty industry at the Contessa Awards

Last night the Canadian beauty industry held its glitziest and most glamorous event, the Contessa Awards presented by Salon Magazine.

Now in their 31st year, the Contessas are the ultimate celebration of talent in the Canadian beauty industry.  Hairstylists, makeup artists and nail technicians across Canada produce incredibly artful photoshoots featuring their best stylistic work, submitting their work for consideration for one or more of the 23 Contessa categories.  More than 1,200 people attend the dinner and awards show, contestants surrounded by their mentors, peers, colleagues and sponsors, all supporting and celebrating their industry’s best and brightest and all their achievements.  Runway shows and eyepopping visuals showcasing photo submissions elicit admiring sighs, cheers and applause from the audience.  From the regional awards showcasing talent from right across the country to outstandingly artistic submissions for the coveted Avant Garde award, the hard work, dedication and talent exhibited at the Contessas is nothing short of inspiring.

*submission by Julie Vriesinga, Entrenous Salon, London ON for the Canadian Hairstylist Award

I got the chance to chat with Laura Dunphy, President Publisher at Salon Communications Inc., the company behind Salon Magazine and the Contessa Awards.  Laura is a trailblazer in the Canadian professional beauty industry, who began her 30 year career as a hairstylist, developing a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as a deep passion for her industry.  Laura some time in the corporate world, honing her skills for business before embarking on her current role with Salon. Dunphy is also the driving force behind the production of the internationally
acclaimed Contessas, applying her keen eye for great hair and style, and vast experience judging panels for national and international professional beauty competitions to putting together this epic event, that rivals the Oscars for the beauty industry.

For our readers that may be unfamiliar, what are the Contessa Awards?

The Contessa Awards are Canada’s leading professional beauty competition. It’s a photo-based competition in which entrants can enter one or more of the 23 awards categories that range from avant-garde and texture to session (editorial) hairstyling to hair color to makeup and nails. There really is something for everyone!

*submission by Frank Cini, Taz Hair Co, Toronto ON for the Canadian Hairstylist Award

Why are the Contessas so important to the beauty and aesthetics industry in Canada?

These awards are highly influential and can help create lifelong careers. It pushes this person in front of the pack!

What does it take for a stylist to get to “Contessa level” recognition?

Winning or placing in the finals or semi-finalists takes hours and hours of hard work—perfecting their art and mastering their craft!

*Submission by Ludovic Leroy-Vigier, Rayko Coiffure, Lasalle, Que. for the Avant Garge Stylist award

Do you have a favorite Contessa moment or memory?

My favorite moment is always when I get to see the reactions of the winners on stage. We see tears, absolute shock—we know it means so much to them. Even finalists often say it’s a privilege just to make it this far.

What are you most excited about for this year’s awards?

I always look forward to seeing all the amazing work from the finalists and connecting with people from across the country. Plus, we have three incredible teams presenting onstage, so it will definitely be a night to remember.


And so it was!  Rewatch the webcast of the awards event here and prepare to be dazzled by Canadian beauty at the Contessa Awards.


Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly