13 03 white contessa logo entry FAQ

What are the Contessa awards?

Click here to read more about the Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards, which honour the best work for the year in the professional Canadian beauty industry.

How do I enter?

The Contessas are a photo-based competition. After shooting a collection, you can submit your images via mail as digital photos on a CD or submit your entry online. Follow our instructions outlined on the entry page.

Do I need to send in different discs to distinguish hi-res from low-res photographic entries?

Please send only one disc with untouched images, low-resolution images and high-resolution images of each look, as well as your bio shot. If you are entering online, only high-resolution images are needed.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

The competition is open to every bona fide, working member of a Canadian professional beauty salon, including freelancers to the industry, and salon owners. Students/apprentices who enter do not need to be licensed, but they can only enter the Canadian Salon Team and Student/Apprentice Hairstylist categories if they submit a letter from their school or salon confirming enrollment.

What are the rules?

The rules are outlined in the entry form, which you can download on our entry page. To see a list of the categories you can enter, click here.

Can I enter multiple categories? If so, can I enter different photos from the same photo shoot?

You may enter as many categories as you wish, but some categories require an exclusive collection. This means, that for those categories, the collection must have a different look and feel from your other collections.

Work submitted in the following categories cannot be shared with other categories (exceptions in brackets):

1. Canadian Hairstylist

2. Elite Master Hairstylist

3. Master Colourist

4. Session Hairstylist

5. Canadian Salon Team (with the exception of Canadian Nail Artist, Canadian Colourist and Makeup Artist)

Can the images I enter be published previously elsewhere?

Photos cannot be previously published before entering them in the Contessa awards, with the exception of: Session Stylist of the Year (previously published editorial, consumer or otherwise, allowed), Elite Master (previously published editorial work allowed), and Canadian Nail Artist (previously published editorial work allowed).

How are entries judged?

Two prestigious panels of independent experts are responsible for assessing the entrants. Judging for the photo-based awards is performed blindly with identities of the entrants remaining anonymous. The first round is live judging, with judges selected from within the Canadian professional beauty industry. The second round is completely online and judges are national and international experts in hair and beauty. In the past, this panel has included beauty editors, photographers and celebrity hairstylists. The Canadian Nail Artist and Interior Design categories are judged separately by experts in those fields. The John Steinberg Award for Community Service is also judged by an independent panel.

Where can photographers be found?

For an across-Canada list of photographers, click here.

How much photoshopping is allowed?

To ensure fair competition, extreme digital manipulation of hair is discouraged and judging points will be deducted accordingly, except for in the Avant Garde Hairstylist of the Year and Session Hairstylist of the Year categories. In extreme cases, your entry may be disqualified.

What do you mean by an 'unretouched' photo in the rules?

When submitting your photos, when it states that we require a 'pre-photoshop' or 'unretouched photo' with your entry. This is a final image that you want to submit for your collection but that is NOT digitally enhanced in any way. You will still also submit your final images, which have been photoshopped and which will be used in the judging process.

The working photo is not a photo of you working on the style. The unretouched photo is also not the same as the 'Before' image (which is required for some categories).

Is the entry deadline flexible?

No. Late entries are not accepted and no extensions are given. If your entry is sent by mail, the postmarked date must not be any later than the entry deadline date.

Where can I see past winning images?

You can view past winners and finalist collections by searching our Contessa gallery.

How are semi-finalists and finalists notified?

The 10 semi-finalists from each category and 20 semi-finalists in the Canadian Hairstylist, Canadian Salon Team, Elite Master, Master Colourist and Canadian Colourist categories are listed in the October issues of Salon Magazine English and French. The five finalists from each category and 10 finalists in the Canadian Hairstylist, Canadian Salon Team, Elite Master, Master Colourist and Canadian categories are listed in the November/December issues of both publications and are notified by email or phone. Winners are announced live at the awards gala. Find out details about the show and where to buy tickets here.

What do finalists receive?

• One complementary, non-transferable ticket to the awards gala dinner and ceremony to be held in Toronto.
• Finalist certificate.
• Their work showcased at the Contessa gala as well as the possibility of editorial in Salon Magazine and on salonmagazine.ca and salonmagazine.ca/fr

What do winners receive?

All of the above plus:
• Their winning work featured in the annual “Contessa Collector’s Edition” of Salon Magazine English and French, plus on the Contessa winners page at salonmagazine.ca.
• A crystal glass Contessa trophy.
• Possible career-boosting media coverage by the country’s foremost beauty publications and TV programs.
• Possible gifts donated courtesy of the Contessa sponsors and patrons.

To learn more about the benefits of entering, click here.
Can I display my work before the semis/finalists are announced?

All images submitted for the Contessas – The Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards should be held under embargo until after the award winners are announced, if you’re a semi-finalist or finalist.

When can I purchase tickets?

Tickets go on sale for the gala in early September. Visit the gala information page to learn how you can purchase tickets.

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

Please email any questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.