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SIOUX CITY -- Mary Felsing has practiced the same haircare routine for as long as she can remember.

Every week, she goes to the salon and has her hair washed and curled on hard rollers, then spends 20 minutes under a domed blower dryer, sipping tea and thumbing through magazines until her silver locks are just so.

Felsing, 86, said the key to her ideal look is the wrap-around blow dryer -- not one of those hand-held ones -- that gives the right finish.

"I think my set lasts longer this way," she said.

Felsing might need to find a new technique to get her perfect coiffure, however.

Hooded dryer chairs -- those buzzing, humming mainstays of beauty parlors and hubs of neighborhood gossip -- are becoming increasingly rare. The disappearing act has been slowly happening for years, but it's picked up recently as changes in hair styles, different techniques and new tools have taken hold.

"Most of the women and girls want their hair done in blow-dry styles or using a curling iron," said Sheryl Stusse, a stylist at Belle Touche, a salon and day spa at 1722 Hamilton Blvd. in Sioux City.

The gun-like dryers have become such staples that many styles rely on blow-drying and a round curling brush, cutting out dome dryers and hard rollers entirely. It hasn't helped that the handheld variety are less expensive and take up less space than their chair-based ancestors.

That's put the older-model dryers on borrowed time.

"We only have two of those big dryers now," said master stylist Ashton Robinson, of Body & Soul, at 1101 Fourth St. "We don't use them that often for roller sets."

Those big hair dryers now often are employed only when color or permanent are applied or if hair is really long. They're also used to get a bouffant look, often for weddings or proms.

The shift has forced stylists to figure out ways to delicately encourage older customers to give the non-chair drying a try, said Lori Towler, manager of Hair by Stewarts at the Marketplace, at 2915 Hamilton Blvd.

"We have turned some of our clients from sitting under those dryers to being blown dry. Most of those who want that roller style are 60-plus," she said.

Of the area salons that have chair models, stylists said, most are kept solely for the older clientele who prefer the old-style treatment.

Felsing, who gets her hair done at Belle Touche, said her weekly appointments aren't complete without a thorough drying.

Tina Saunders, who styled Felsing during a recent visit, said there's clearly an age gap when it comes to the great hair dryer divide.

"Usually, it's the retired ladies who want their hair rolled up wet and then sit under the hair dryers," she said.

Felsing said her hair will never be the same if the chair dryers go away.

"I don't think it will ever happen," Felsing said. "There are too many old ones around like me."

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