After reading Did Natural Hair Kill the Black Salon? on AlantaBlackStar.com and my own recent experience, I was inspired to share my thoughts. I can already see this being a wildly unpopular post, but oh well I am going to post it anyway! I have never been a huge salon person to begin with mostly because I never wanted to pay salon prices. At this point, I usually don’t go unless I want my hair trimmed or there is a certain style that I know I am not great at achieving on my own.
It should be noted that my experience is limited to my location (South Jersey) which is not at all particularly known for the best of the best natural hair salons. I am sure if I were living in NYC or ATL where there are a plethora of expert stylists, maybe my experience would be different. With that being said, that is why when I am asked by readers what salons do I recommend, my honest answer is I don’t have any.
Here goes my reasons for why I am not a frequent customer of the black salon:
Lack of KnowledgeAfter I traded in my dreadlocks for a fro, for my first style I wore my hair straightened because the stylist said it would be easier to determine how much hair should be trimmed. After I wore my hair pressed for a week or two, I washed my hair and that is the first time I became familiar with heat damage. After cleansing, some sections of my hair remained straight and would not revert back to my natural texture. When I asked her about this upon returning to the salon, she said “There is no way that this can be avoided” and at the time I actually believed her. When I reflect about this now, I can’t believe she said this! Yes, there is a risk of damage every time you straighten but there are preventative measures you can take so the risk is greatly reduced. The truth is she used entirely too much heat and most likely exposed a section of hair to heat more times than necessary.
Terrible DetanglersAnytime your head hurts when it is being combed, it is being done ALL WRONG. Surprisingly every black salon in my area that I have been to detangles my hair super rough and I cringe because I know in the process my hair is probably being broken off.
There was this salon I started to get comfortable with and then I eventually backed off. One day the stylist doing my hair was combing my hair all rough and complaining to another co-worker about how rough it was to get through asking for assistance. Shortly after that I found myself never returning there. Now when I need a trim or want my hair pressed for whatever reason, I actually go to Hair Cuttery…yes Hair Cuttery. My stylist there is Latina and does the best job detangling my hair. She never does it roughly, she goes through my hair section by section, combing from ends to roots. Never seems to have a struggle to get through it either. I also have not had heat damage using her. I think that is seriously sad! You would think black people would know black hair better than anyone else but sadly this isn’t always the case.
The TimeThe Black Salon is infamous for long waits and essentially taking up your whole day. I do realize that styling black hair can be time consuming, which of course attributes to the wait. However, in many cases it is straight up disorganization.
I won’t lie I usually always find myself running late, but every time I happen to be on time for something for whatever reason it just doesn’t pay off. I ended up coming 10 minutes early to my appointment for my trial run for my wedding day hairstyle and I wasn’t seen until almost 3 hours after the fact!
This past weekend, I was in my best friend’s wedding and my hair appointment was scheduled a month in advanced. Before the styling began, I showed the stylist the hairstyle for the wedding. After she completed the style, I felt like it did not resemble the hair bun in the picture so I asked that she make it more full. She then told me that I am going to have to wait until she takes other customer’s first, so I then decided to leave, go home and fix it myself. I wasn’t spending my day waiting for her to make one simple fix! If the style resembled the photo and then I complained I could understand, but it didn’t.
I left the salon looking like this:
I was much happier once I went home and fixed it myself. I was also pissed that I spent $45 for her to slick my hair back and throw a ponytail in my hair (something I could have done myself).
Granted the first style in the front it was just plain (not busted per say) and I personally hate my hair slicked straight back (that’s why that pic looks like a mug shot, I absolutely hated it!) But the point was the bun had a more loose full style!
In comparison when I go to Hair Cuttery for my trims and occasional straightening I end up spending 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours tops!
The CostYes, black hair is time consuming which is why I get that it comes at a price. However, sometimes some salons go too far. I have inside knowledge that a salon that I use to frequent purposely made a habit of telling their customers about the terrible shape their hair was in to sell other services. In some cases, they were probably just being honest and in others they were attempting to upsell a deep conditioning treatment. I understand you want to sell, but as a beauty salon your ultimate goal should be to leave your customer feeling good about themselves.
My Experience and My Opinion OnlyThis post if anything should be taken as constructive criticism and maybe used to improve the salon experience to revive the black salon. As mentioned previously, your location matters. In my area, there a good amount of naturals, but relaxers are still quite popular which is why salons in my area are most likely not well versed in natural hair care.
I am perfectly happy going to Hair Cuttery for my regular trims and occasions when I would like to wear my hair straightened. The majority of styles I like to wear are achievable on my own, my hair is in great shape and I just see no need for it.
I do realize that some people can largely benefit from a salon, as some people need time to learn how to style their own hair, if they find the right stylist they can provide a wealth of info and guidance. At some point I will even be looking to add resource section with reputable salons with authentic and great reviews.