The big curly ‘do that works well for the office and the weekend suddenly needs to be transformed into a sleek up-do and the split ends need to be trimmed...just a bit. Like most curlies you’ve been doing it all yourself, but you just don’t have the time, know-how or energy required to execute a sexy up-do or a haircut. Time to call in a professional stylist, but finding one experienced in styling natural hair is like rolling dice...and coming up with snake eyes could mean wasted time, money and a hairstyle that doesn’t meet your expectations. Here are a few considerations that can make the difference between a great hair day and a day filled with disappointment and regret.
1. Ask for salon recommendations from other curlies. Ok. This is the easy part. There are so many ways to find salons in your area. Word of mouth is your best bet, but searching online for stylists is a quick way to rack up names. Hitting up forums on blogs can net you a long list of stylists who do fabulous work. Another great way is to approach other curlies (yes, strangers) whose hair catches your eye. The bond curlies instantly form while shoe shopping or perusing the aisles for hair products can result in getting styling tips, info on the latest product finds and yes... a fantastic stylist.
2. Have a realistic expectation for your new look. If your hair has a tightly coiled 4c pattern it’s unrealistic to expect a stylist to stretch it into loose waves. Identifying pictures of models whose hair texture is close to your own is a good strategy for finding styles that may work well for you. Curl stretchers and other styling tools can help alter the appearance of the curl pattern, but loving your hair means ultimately accepting it for what it can do...and what it can’t.
3. Request a consultation prior to the appointment. Let’s face it. This is a relationship like any other and it’s worth it to know if you and the stylist will be a good fit. During the consultation does the stylist listen well and answer questions clearly? Are you comfortable with the salon environment? How well does the stylist manage their time? The consultation is an audition for the stylist and it’s your opportunity to learn as much as you can prior to committing your time and money. Inquire about any consultation fee and whether it can be credited to you when services are paid for.
4. Discuss maintenance procedures before you agree to a style. No style is worth your time or money if you don’t know how to keep it looking fresh for a reasonable amount of time. Many natural styles are easy to maintain because the strength of the curl pattern keeps the style in place. However, if you lack experience with twisting, finger coiling or other techniques, you may wind up with next-day frizz and the remnants of a cute style. Ask for recommendations on daily maintenance and how to protect hair while working out and sleeping.
5. Ask your stylist about blowing your hair straight before trimming it. Some stylists find it easier to give a precision cut when hair is somewhat smooth (not bone straight). Cutting curly hair is no problem for many experienced stylists, but some curl patterns are a challenge to cut, no matter the skill level. Before the stylist begins the trim, discuss the length that needs to be removed. It’s wise to find common ground with your stylist about how much length you’re willing to part with. If they say 1⁄2’’, ask them to show you what that looks like. Good communication will be your best friend.
6. Ask for product recommendations based on your hair texture. Your stylist is a good source of information on styling products, but don’t rely totally on their recommendations. Stylists spend only a few hours with your hair creating your look, and can’t predict exactly what maintenance routine or products will work for you every time. Finding your sweet spot with products and maintenance is a trial and error process. Do your own research for products suited for your curl type. Be open to experimenting with new things from time to time. Product reviews and maintenance techniques on Curly Nikki offer a ton of great info! If you don’t have an arsenal of products at home to maintain your hair ask your stylist if they sell the products used during your appointment. Good luck!