For years, Dennis Bernard, the founder and CEO of Dennis Bernard, Inc., Freehold, New Jersey, has created products to solve stylist’s problems and help them design beautiful color without compromising the health of their client’s hair. Most recently, Bernard developed what he considers to be his second most innovative product (the first being a color accelerator) and its success is bringing him out of semi-retirement. An industry leader who has attended 1,800 beauty shows in his career (only missing two in 38 years), Bernard spoke with MODERN about new 4Bond N’ Plex and why he’s very happy to be working so hard these days.
MS: Share a bit about your beauty background.
DB: From the time I was about five, my Dad would take me to his salon. I loved going there; all the women pinching my cheek, fussing over me and giving me money. As the years went by, I kept going and I would help out in little ways, until one day I said, ‘I’m going to school for hair.’
When I opened my first salon, I had a lucky break. I was asked to do hair for the Miss America pageant and Miss New Jersey came in as third runner up. She came to the grand opening of my salon and it was an immediate success from that point on. I would ultimately have 12 salons and around 300 employees.
MS: You were also developing products based on hairdresser requests and testing them in the salons. What were some of the highlights?
DB: In 1985, I came up with my first product, really by accident. My father had been talking about Jheri Redding’s methods of using oils as conditioners. One day, when my mother wanted me to condition her hair before doing her hair color, I added some oil into the formula. A process that usually took an hour was done in ten minutes. I couldn’t believe it.
I started incorporating this additive into my color services and client’s hair looked shiny and healthy and their color lasted longer. Soon, people were booking lunch hour appointments because now they could get a cut, color, and style in an hour. When women who had worked at my salons began opening their own salons, they asked me to supply them with ‘that ten-minute product’ which we named The Color Accelerator or TCA and put it under a line we called Powertools. I attended some shows, gave out samples, and soon we were with Armstrong McCall, RDA Beauty Supply and, today, Powertools is available through about 150 distributors, including SalonCentric and CosmoProf.
MS: Tell us about your latest innovation, 4Bond N’ Plex.
DB: In around 2000, I sold the chain of salons and really focused on manufacturing. The Powertools line is about making hairdresser’s lives easier. It was from listening to them that we brought out more products. They would say, ‘I need a better…’ and we would improve on products they were already using, developing a better stain remover or a hairspray. But I was always thinking, if I could come up with another TCA, it would be amazing. Now with 4Bond N’Plex, we have.
I set out to make a bonding product that would ensure healthy, shiny hair after all chemical and color services. It also needed to be really easy (no need to reformulate), fast processing, and at the right price point. I developed 4Bond Molecular Bond System, which improves color retention and deposit, while rebuilding the hair with a unique polymer blend (most similar products have only one polymer), plus keratin, quinoa, and baobab. It gently opens the cuticle and deposits these proteins which then work on all three layers of the hair shaft. The polymer blend locks each ingredient into the layer so the hair is strengthened and rebuilt, inside and out. This is our Smart Target Technology, meaning the blend recognizes and targets the damaged areas.
This same protein technology led us to introduce our new 4Bond N’ Plex Shampoo and Conditioner, which helps hold the color and rebuilds hair bonds, and is the perfect complement to any bonding service. It also prepares hair for the next color or chemical service because continued use means hair is being strengthened and fortified. This is the second truly innovative product that I have been waiting for and I’m very excited about it.
MS: How has this latest innovation been received in the market?
DB: We have opened up 26 countries in the EU, where it is really catching on. We have a woman representing us there who connects with champion hairdressers, gives them the products, and they love them and endorse them. We have gone through our first order and are in production for our second batch.
Anyone who was given a 4Bond N’ Plex tester has hesitated to give it back. We’ve actually had to call them in because anybody using it is loving it. I’ve never had a reaction like this since TCA. Hairdressers see instant results on their client and it’s so easy for them to use. They love the fragrance, which is a bit of vanilla and amaretto, and also the feel.
We might hesitate to use the words ‘revolutionary’ or ‘first of its kind’ but for 4Bond N' Plex, it fits. We’re the first, we’re the original, and I think my retirement days are over.