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Curly Nikki

Qualities to Look for in Natural Stylists

By January 27th, 202117 Comments

Qualities to Look for in Natural Stylists

Sam writes:

For the past two years I have been transitioning to natural (I’m 100% natural now!) and I have been going to a hair stylist. Unfortunately, they have never been able to give me any good advice on caring for my natural hair. Right now I’m experiencing a lot of breakage and thinning and I don’t know what to do. I really would like to go to a natural hair stylist who can give me an honest consultation and show me how I should care for my natural hair.

So my question is what qualities should I look for in a natural hair stylist/salon????

CN writes: Although I don’t have a stylist, I would recommend the following-

-Be the expert- Learn your stuff. Don’t trust that any stylist will know (or even should know) your hair better than you. You’re with your hair 24/7, 365. Your stylist may see you once or twice a month. Take on the responsibility of learning what styling and caring techniques work best for you and relay that to your stylist. Let them do their job, but it never hurts to have some knowledge to bring to the table.

-Reputation- If I wanted a new cut tomorrow, I’d ask around. Before jumping on the internet (which is usually my first move), I’d talk to my natural girlfriends, family members, even strangers (with healthy looking hair of course) about who does their hair.
More than likely, I’ll end up booking with one of their stylists.

-Rapport, rapport, rapport… first and foremost, you have to work with someone you trust. You are entrusting your hair to this person! You should feel free to speak up, protest, and also give credit where credit is due 🙂 Building a working relationship is half the battle.

-Clientele- talk to the stylist about who they usually see. Is their typical client relaxed or natural? What is their philosophy? My sister’s stylist in St. Louis knows how to work with relaxed hair, but she prefers to do natural hair and even encourages women to explore that route. Other stylists (like the one my mother and I previously had) may know how to work with natural hair but prefer to work with relaxed heads (easier, quicker money). That preference for relaxed hair may manifest in sly negative comments of which you don’t need!

-Products- What do they have sitting out? Jane Carter or Motions? I’m not saying products are everything, but the quality of product (and ingredients) truly tells you how well versed
the stylist is in the natural world.

What am I missing? What would you look for in a natural stylist?


  • FuzzyPuff says:

    This is my first post! Whenever I was looking into finding a stylist, I looked at the cleanliness of the shop / styling area. Then I looked at the stylist's own NATURAL hair. I then asked if she did her own (and the answer better be yes) Then I would ask if I could please touch it. Their hair had better been moisterized and uncrispy. The stylist needed to be open and friendly, and willing to answer my questions. I did exactly this when I walked into a salon on a whim, and my eventual stylist was very polite and professional. She was currently styling a client's hair, but she took the time to explain how she washed and prepped the lady's hair for palm rolling. I loved her from that moment on. I was sad when I moved out of state.

  • NaturallyNay says:

    My sister has decided to go natural and started going to a natural salon to help her through the transition. Her natural stylist can style her butt off but she doesn't know the first thing about natural hair care…and she's a natural! After I saw my sister's hair I was very excited to try her stylist on my visit home so I called my sister to book an appointment for me and through the course of the conversation I asked what kind of products her stylist used. I was mortified! Hair grease, sulfate ridden shampoo (my sister has terrible dandruff and I've been trying to convince her to co-wash for years), clear conditioners and no leave-in??? LBell is correct…ask about their knowledge of the online community and the kinds of products they use. Natural or not, stylists are all trained the same way and salons often carry brands of products that all stylist must use.

    If I ever go it will be for styling only!

  • Natural Hair T Shirts says:

    I know it seems simple, but stylists that have natural hair are a plus. Because then, they also deal with natural hair themselves on daily basis, their own.

    Now that's not to say someone who has relaxed hair couldn't be a good natural stylist. It just takes one to know one.

  • Anonymous says:

    Since i am nearing one year natural, I have begun searching for a salon to trim and straighten my hair from time to time. One thing I've noticed about natural stylists is that some make consultations seem like a burden. One salon I was particularly interested in, I tried talking to the owner and setting up a consultation to check out her salon, get a feel for her, and see what info she could give me about my hair.

    Surprisingly, she subtly turned me away from getting a consultation and tried to persuade me to jump in and get a style, and use her products. That kind of turned me off. I have yet to visit her salon because I felt like she rushed the relationship and tried to pressure me into getting my hair straightened ($65). I felt like by asking her to consult with me, I was wasting her time. She also offered to give me advice via online, which thought was backwards.

    Moral of this and I live by this rule now, if a stylist doesn't want to consult with you and/or they quickly push their services onto you…avoid them.

    I want a stylist who cares for my hair's health as much as I do and actually does the free consultation. If she would of conveyed more interest in my hair's health, I would of gladly used her services.

  • Jamila Reddy says:

    This is SO helpful.

    I've had way too many traumatizing salon experiences to consider going back any time soon, but when I do, I'll keep these tips in mind!

  • Jacquie says:

    Look at their styling tools and products (as afore mentioned). I had my hair done without the use of extensions by someone else for the first time in YEARS, and it looked lovely… but she combed my hair whilst is was BONE DRY with the finest, narrowest of combs – the type and well informed natural avoids. To make it worse, she oiled my (already conditioned hair and scalp) with some horrible petroleum based gunk.

    I loved the style and would go to her again, but not for a while and I'll bring my own tools and products!

  • LBell says:

    One big thing I would suggest is this: Do not assume that the stylist knows ANYTHING about the natural hair community online. I used to see this fairly regularly on the boards: People were shocked that stylists didn't know about co-washing, limiting heat, even texlaxing. IMHO the online community has a greater depth of knowledge about hair IN GENERAL than what most stylists are taught today. So don't go into a natural hair salon thinking that everyone in there is on board with the hair boards, because often they're not.

    During the consultation (there should ALWAYS be a consultation before you let them in your hair; if they won't do it, WALK) consider floating a trial balloon just to see what they say: What do you think of the online community? I personally would expect a thoroughly considered response that shows that this person respects me enough to give me their honest opinion. (The best answer FOR ME would be: "Some of it I agree with, some of it I don't. For example…")

  • MsFoxxy says:

    I would suggest to lean more towards salons/stylists that do natural hair exclusively. I had a bad experience at a Dominican salon in which the stylist talked me into a texturizer (that completely straightened my har, LoL) after I'd been natural for 6mo. After that I had to start ALLLL over again, LoL. It's been almost 2 years now & anytime I feel the need to see a stylist, I make sure that they only do natural hair… I think that ensures that they won't try to talk me into any chemicals!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with everything Nikki and the others said.

    However, I just want to add, I got the best hair cut from a white woman who is trained in Devachan (the creator of the devacurl products). She actually was more knowledge than any other hair dresser i've been to. She also gave me a dynamic cut.

    She loves natural hair and really pushes it, so she has no bias of relaxed hair being easier.

  • Mitzi says:

    I haven't been to a salon in probably close to 20 years. When i want a cut or a trim i go to supercuts, yes supercuts. I started off going to an italian girl, she left then i moved to another women, I told them exactly what to do with my hair although i never had it washed there i was in and out, its funny because some stylist would have a scared look when i walk in thinking they would have to cut my hair. I built a relationship with each stylist so they knew what to do and how to do it.

  • Anonymous says:

    You know, part of the reason I went natural was my frustration with salons. I have overheard stylist on many occasions making negative remarks about the texture of some women's hair and their decision to go natural. Also, it seems that some stylist don't like for you to ask questions or come to the table with knowledge about your hair and what works for you, making comments like "Let me do my job." So frustrating.

  • Anonymous says:

    I haven't found a naturaly stylist but I can give a few tips b/c of the bad ones I've been to. lol Definitely get the free consultation before making an appointment for them to style your hair. That way you can see how clean the salon is, meet and get to know the stylist, see how the neighborhood is, and what their prices are. I also agree with reading others' reviews online. Also, don't let them do anything you don't want them to. One salon I went to, the stylist was set on blowdrying my hair even though I don't like to use heat. ~KF519

  • Anonymous says:

    When you do find a salon make sure they don't pressure you into doing something that you don't want to do. I found a salon that I really liked until they started pressuring me into locing my hair. Everytime I went there was this high pressure situation placed on me to loc my hair. It got so bad that I stopped going. They just could not understand that I had no desire to loc my hair. I have not been to a salon since.

  • Anonymous says:

    I asked around made lists of salons mentioned by friends and in the media (including blogs and natural hair sites) then I became super sleuth looking up any and every customer review I Could find, then I made free consultation appointments with those salons that made the cut, and after meeting the stylist and talking about their clientele and what I'm looking for I went back to the internet and researched any customer reviews for that specific stylist then made my final decision. Utimately I found possibly the best natural hair stylist in NYC ( love her!

  • Lovelyn says:

    I agree that asking around is a good way to start. I haven't been to a stylist in years but I've been considering going to see one. I've found a place in my area listed on that I think I might try out. All of my past salon visits have been nightmares though so I'm a little afraid.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I was on a search for a natural stylist, the first thing that I did was visit natural hair forums to find what salons were being visited in my area. Then I scheduled an appointment for a consultation with a stylist. This way you can see how they view your hair and they can tell you what styles/products would be best for you. Lastly, check out what types of products they use on their clients.

  • vonnie says:

    i would first and foremost look to see if they have a good natural clientele. I'd ask around my other fellow naturals and look up reviews online. and do they "work with natural hair" meaning to only straighten it? PASS

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