Catonsville High School junior prom

Kathie Nilsen, right, puts the finishing touches on her daughter, Bridget's, hair as the Catonsville High School sophomore got her hair styled at Kathie's Hair M salon for the Catonsville High School junior prom May 5. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda / May 4, 2012)

Move over, Aqua Net and tiers of tulle. For today's female promgoers, it's thermal heat protective hair products, pop idol-inspired curls, swanky dresses and spray tans.

Before local hair salons see their fair share of June brides, there is that period of time brimming with nearly as much excitement for clients and stylists alike: Prom Season.

In less than two weeks, Catonsville High School's senior prom will take place at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, on Aliceanna Street near Harbor East.

On May 12, Mount St. Joseph High School, the all-boys Catholic High School on Frederick Avenue, hosts its senior prom at M & T Bank Stadium.

"Like" explorebaltimorecounty's Facebook page

The home of the Baltimore Ravens football team also is the site for the May 11 senior prom for Western School of Technology and Environmental Science, the Baltimore County magnet high school on Kenwood Avenue in Catonsville.

The combined prom for the juniors and seniors at Seton Keough High School, the all-girls Catholic high school on Caton Avenue, was May 4.

Catonsville High School's junior prom was May 5 and salons in Catonsville were buzzing as teenage girls prepared for the event later that night.

At the Perfect Touch Hair Salon & Day Spa on Frederick Road, 16-year-old Shannon Avara sat patiently as stylist Cara Platter wrapped her long brunet locks around the barrel of a specialized curling rod to create a head full of "Taylor Swift curls" after the teen received a full color treatment.

"The Taylor Swift curls are very popular this year," said Platter, referring to the ringlets of curls worn by the Grammy Award-winning pop singer.

"Anything wavy and curly is in," as are side ponytails, she said.

Avara said she wanted to wear her hair differently than her everyday look, which often meant it was up in a ponytail while she played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring.

Her white dress was purchased at the Columbia Mall.

"White is a very hot color this year," Platter said.

Add to the dress white-and-gold stilettos and a tiara and Shannon's outfit is completed while her mom's wallet is depleted.

"It was about $200 for the dress, $50 for the shoes, $50 for a "mani" and "pedi," the hair session is $50 to 65," said Denise Avara. "It all adds up and it can be quite expensive. But it's one day a year. I didn't go to my prom. I want her to enjoy this."

While Shannon Avara said some of her classmates were getting spray tans for the junior prom, she opted for a much cheaper alternative: Jergens Natural Glow moisturizer.

"Much less expensive" than hitting a tanning salon, her mom noted.

A matter of style

"For us, this is the calm before the storm," Platter said of Saturday afternoon's schedule.

All the stylists will be working at once to accommodate the appointments that have been booked from the time the doors open until the last bobby pin has been put in place and the shop closes.