As my transitioning journey came to a close in July, I started looking for natural hair salons in my area to visit for my long-awaited Big Chop. After calling several shops that not only questioned me when mentioning “B.C.” and “co-wash,” and were also rude when I questioned their understanding of natural hair “lingo,” I began to panic. Was I going to be able to find a natural hair salon that was knowledgeable about natural hair practices and make me feel comfortable at a time I was sure to be nervous?
After cringing at the thought of giving myself the B.C., I stumbled upon NaturallyCurly.com and found Serendipity, a natural hair salon in Ann Arbor, a predominately white city here in Michigan. Although reviews of the salon and stylists were excellent, 2A curly heads left most of them. Only one review was left by an African American (as she said stated in her post), who happened to have a hair type of 3C. Though I did not know my hair type at the time, I knew for sure it wasn’t anything lower than 4 and higher than b.
To get all of my questions answered, I simply called the salon. Who knew that would be the last call I had to make on my quest of destination: Big Chop. Carmen, the stylist answered all of my questions and even said they practiced the Curly Girl method also known as, the “no-poo” method. I then booked my appointment, more anxious than ever to reveal my all-natural beauty.
After traveling one hour and back to and from the salon, I came home with video camera evidence of the chop. After showing footage and photos from the big debacle, the number one thing family and friends had to comment on, surprisingly, not my hair, but the fact that I left my hair in the hands of a white woman.
After explaining that she was a natural hair stylist, people were still not convinced. “I don’t care what she is, I wouldn’t dare let a white woman touch my hair.” “You’re crazy. I’m surprised she didn’t jack your hair up.”
Shrugging that off as typical ignorant chatter, I posted the video on YouTube and though most responses were positive, I also got a couple of comments that focused solely on the race of my stylist.
It amused me that people would judge the stylist on her skin tone even though she is specializes in natural hair. In addition to cutting my hair, she gave me a consultation on how to care for my curls and what products should and shouldn’t be used on my 4A tresses. To make my services even more amazing, she called me a week later to “check and see how me and my curls were doing.” I’ve never had such great customer service anywhere, regardless of what race serviced me.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to give my business to a fellow sister, but if I call your salon and you’re rude over the phone, I can only assume what business I will receive once I’m in your establishment.
*What do you guys think of this situation. Would you choose what salon you attend strictly on the race of the stylist or the service and customer service you foresee to receive?*
I really don't think it matters whether white or black as long as they have the knowlegde and expertise and have a great attitude b/c attitude is always key in the business world I would be willing to give any race a try.
Tell you what its not race but attitude qualification, and respect of this hair. Unfortunately people don't really respect African-Americans natural non-chemical hair, or anyone for that matter who they (the stylist) think needs a chemical. Or they are not able to deliver the job of treating natural hair without static. So I say absoulutely, and hats off to the non-african american that wants to give of her time and service to our hair, and make us feel positive and good about ourselves when we walk out. And of course do a good job!
I think that your post underlines a very interesting topic. Indeed I am a French natural that comes from the West Indies.
I have been natural most of life. I did try texturizing and relaxer three times in life. Every time a complete failure with major hair loss and high scalp sensitivity.
My problem was that I didn't know how to take care of that natural hair of mine (MOISTURIZING, GROWING and STYLING). Extremely thin, extra-dry, porous and breakable (EVEN IN ITS NATURAL STATE). So, I looked for hair specialists in Martinique were I was raised and afterwards in Paris where I now live.
At that time I thought that hair specialists were dermatologists and hairdressers. So, I met several of them. The majority of them were black people surrounded by black patrons. Dermatologists proposed me medication that would make my hair even drier and vitamins that didn't work. The medication did absolutely not take into account the fragile and the kinky nature of my hair.
In my opinion, even if these doctors were black they did not know the profound nature of kinky hair. Let me explain it.
Charnika you talk of segregation. In the French West Indies there are a lot of mixed persons with hair that is generally naturally stronger and longer than hair with less mixed heritage. So, the "GOOD HAIR" complex is highly present in this place.
So, if your hair is not in good shape it is probably because you don't have the "right" hair type and that is your destiny. No one can help you.
Hairdressers didn't help more because all that they ever propose was at best to crop my hair really short in a TWA for them to grow stonger.Unfortunately, it never worked because my hair was even drier, the growth not harmonious and the hair damaged by lack of adequate routine and regimen.On top of that, TWAs ABSOLUTELY DON'T SUIT ME.
Otherwise I spent most of my life wearing braids with extension.
Concerning haircare, they tried to sell me the products and the haircare that they proposed with no specific knowledge of my hair texture and needs.
In Paris it was even worse because most of the proposals were to relax my hair because just didn't know what to do with this kind of hair.
So, I try to understand why supposed "(black)certified professionals" didn't knwo how to take care of kinky hair.
I discovered that in France hairdressers were not taught about black hair (THAT IS TRUE)in hairdressers' schools. Now, the progress is that they are taught about relaxers. YES FOR DECADES,IN FRANCE, HAIRDRESSERS USED RELAXERS AND NOT WERE EDUCATED ABOUT IT IN HAIRDRESSERS' SCHOOLS.
Moreover, some of them had disdain concerning my hair while proposing me to relax it. One hairdresser, that I ask for a reversible relaxer told me that there was no problem it was reversible I just had to cut my hair to have my nature back.
FORTUNATELY, I have found after YEARS of research a French black hairdresser taught about hair in the UK that did understand and respect natural kinky hair.
It was in its salon that they told me that my hair was great and that I could wear it without braids and extension.
I did that, still my hair was breaking and the dryness problem still present until I MET 2 GIRLS ( a WHITE and a BLACK one) in a shop selling natural products that gave me advice that change the life of my hair (CASTOR OIL SECRET). I also started looking for US weblogs on natural hair on the advice of one the girl and I found CURLY NIKKI WEBLOG. MANY THANKS, a whole new world to me…
Now, French black girls ask me about my hair what I do, my routine and regimen because they find my hair magnificent.
SO, THE KEY IS IN KNOWLEDGE, RESPECT and INFORMATION SHARING NOT IN THE COLOR OF THE PERSONS. Moreover, there is always hope for your hair no matter what…
Honestly I have preferred going to white salons for trims hahaha. I found white stylist to be much more thorough with cuts and trims than black stylists. Black stylists don't do many cuts or thorough trims because most black women try to hold on to every little breaking strand making the stylist scissor conservative. I would literally get into heated debates with black stylists to pleeeeease trim the dead ends off ALL OF THEM! haha I got tired of the headache with black stylists and their scissors. Because white women, with straight hair especially, don't have as much versatility with their hair because of its texture, many times they cut or color to change up their style. This gives white stylists much more practice and comfort with those scissors. Idk… when it comes to cuts and trims specifically I prefer white stylists. When I was relaxed I would only let a black person (preferably male) style my hair. NOW…. I don't care who you are as long as you're familiar and trained to work with natural black hair.
Wow. I think a person that is knowledgeable about natural hair care is a good choice period. White black, blue, purple.. it shouldn't matter. I've had good and bad experiences with black hair salons. It depends on the person. If I want the best natural hair care, of course the person servicing me would have to know natural hair care terminology.
I think that it's ridiculous for someone to choose a hairstylist based on their race. I'm African American and I've had people of the same race not know how to do my hair. If the person is a pro at what he or she does, then I don't care if they're pink with blue polka dots, I'd be willing to let that person style my hair.
soooooooooo off topic but HONEY….where did you get that tshirt?
I know a stylist before she started working and she went to a well known hair styling school. The taught her how to do track extension and deal with my type of hair (4a). So she used me as real life experience. So stylist are fully trained on all types right now she works for salon in one of the high end tourist malls Toronto and is very busy. She great, and very honest on her ability which is very important. I find a lot of stylists are very honest in Toronto if your willing to ask.
I don't currently use a stylist but that is because I for a 3 year period I kept jumping stylist ever few months, trust issues (they were all black, this was when my friend stylist was still in school). I might consider going to stylist once I decide on what I want.
Very interesting! People by nature are so divisive. Race shouldn't dictate who can do you hair… only skill/expertise and personality.
Well, I'm just going to keep it nice and short. If I know they can get the job done and they know what they're doing, then race does not matter to me.
As a young person, I believe in spending my money locally, but I don't agree with giving people my money just because they are the same color as I am and live in my community. You better be qualified and have an understanding of customer service.
No disrespect to anyone, but that is what the baby boomers and my great grandmother taught me growing up on the island.
In regards to touching my hair or coming into my personal area, you better ask first and be receptive if I respectfully decline. I have let people and my students touch my hair for I want to educate people about it and knowledge is the best way to combat ignorance. Please note that I don't let every Tom, Dick, or Harriet touch my hair, but I believe in using all teachable moments to educate others. In addition, I had one young black high school student that just started taking care of her natural hair and she couldn't believe the texture and possibilities of growing natural hair.
How will people learn unless we teach them in a positive way that makes them receptive to the information. Just food for thought.
Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop
I went to an Aveda salaon when I had a TWA just to look for products. The woman there was of another race and provided excellent customer service and was knowledgeable about the types of products I needed. I told her that my hair was very coily and she replied, "Ooooh look at your little curls, I've never seen little curls like this–can I touch it?" I gave her the side-eye of course. Total ignorance.
Race doesn't matter but rude, offensive comments do matter.
Competency has no color.
If the stylist knows what she's doing and is knowledgeable about natural hair, then I wouldn't hesitate to give that person my business.
I hate to say it and generalize, but the "customer service" skills are still lacking in some black salons. Sorry, but it's true. Even on the phone you are representing your business, so speak like it and address me as if you want my business instead of like you are doing me a favor!
This is a wake up call to AA Stylists who aren't listening to their customers. If you don't get your act together there are many other global professionals who will take your business out from under you.
If someone ever masters are hair and starts a chain like supercuts and do a great job, most of you hairdressers will be out of business; between folks wearing wigs and natural hair you will have no customers left.
I'll check back in a couple of years and verify that this post qualified as a prediction of the future.
Customer service supersedes the race of the stylist(s).
So I am not taking sides because it all goes back to preference. Not much you can mess up on natural hair but cutting a little too much. And if that is the case hair grows back. Now if you was getting a relaxer then I feel that is what matters. bald spots are not a cute look and I doubt anyone wants them.
I know this is waay off topic – but where did she get the t-shirt in the picture? It's soo cute.
Great topic! I think that race has nothing to do with it for me. I have "white" women cut my hair flat iron my hair and I have "black" women who cut and style my hair.. For one hair is hair. I look at your technique for one a woman of color could do my hair and it look a hot mess and the say goes for a white woman. So for me it depends on the stylist and their technique. Being PuertoRican and black my hair is thick and curly but i feel that it all depends on the stylist technique. I think many people should stop basing it on color and base it on the technique that is used and how many years that person has been a stylist. I just wish I had a picture to show you when this "white" woman did my hair it turned out wonderful.
Most AA stylists I've been to offer crappy service at best. I never thought about going to a white stylists and this article opened my eyes about who can do my hair. I'll definetly widen my prospects in my search for my next hair stylists.
I prefer to go to a Black-owned salon to keep MY money and those jobs in our community. Plain and simple. Nothing "amusing" about it. It's just common sense, a practice the younger generations have lost.
Labeling this "segregation" is baiting at best.
LOL. I stay in the middle…..Dominicans or Puerto Ricans,since they come from "worlds" with a mix of hair!
my best relaxer and trim was done by a white student stylist, I was terrified but her instructor came over and told her what to do and he was a white stylist to and he knew what he was talking about, she did a great job, and the black student who thought she knew it all jacked up the woman next to me, my best color was done by a white stylist and this was the first time I went natural. One thing I also like about the white stylists in dealing with natural hair is they dont jack up the price on you because they have to deal with your natural hair or lie to you that their special hair dryer for natural hair is broke because they think it will take longer to do a blowout, for a blowout or color I prefer a white stylist, they know how to work a blow dryer and I never need them to go back through with a flat iron, and they also listen to you, when I tell them what kind of products work on my hair.
I receive nearly all of my trims from white stylists. ITA that some AA salons tend to not listen to the customer. I have walked out of many AA salons with all of my hair cut completely off when I ask for a simple trim. Then you are afraid to return based upon previous experience. While I am sure not all AA salons are poor salons, the ones that I have frequented make me scared to return. I am a huge do it yourself person
Great Post! I personally let my boyfriend who cuts hair on the side cut off my relaxed ends and he did an amazing job! Many people thought I was crazy for selecting him, but I had simailar road blocks with finding a natural salon/stylist that could meet my demands, and I wasn't willing to let anyone cut my hair just because they were the same color or gender as me if I didn't feel comfortable with them. Therefore at the end of the day I choose someone that I trusted and who personally supported me through my transition, and in doing so it was one more step towards me only accepting the best for my hair and making decisions that didn't involve others peoples input.
As long as they know what they're doing and have a professional approach to their work and their clients, I don't care how much or how little melanin they have or whether they have the same hair texture as me.
I just moved to Ann Arbor in August. Before I got a job with Google here, Ann Arbor was not a city on my radar. Once I moved here I realized it is predominantly White and yet still surprisingly diverse but greatly lacking in any curly or kinky specialist hair salons or supply stores. I searched for a stylist here for my 4b hair and came across raving reviews for Carmen at Serendipity. I booked an appointment, went in and got a trim. She did a good job on my hair, although it was overpriced. Surprisingly, when she cut my White boyfriends semi curly hair, it was literally the worst cut he's ever gotten. My experience just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Interesting story. I have been natural now for about a year and I happen to live in the Ann Arbor area. I haven't ventured into looking for a salon because I am still in the learning phase.So thanks for your article.
Finally! A salon in michigan! Lol I thought ill never see the day where there is a natural salon in michigan. 🙂
Service matters most to me. I would be surprised to know that there was a white woman who knew how to handle our hair, but hey…I'm not complaining. Race shouldn't matter at all. I'm bi-racial so the race thing doesn't matter. I think it's cool to see a white woman who knows how to work with natural hair. I don't want to be in a RUDE, unwelcoming place even if the stylist is a SISTA!
Personally, I believe the quality of someone's work should speak for its' self, because I know black and white stylist that will never touch my head again. I no longer expect people to know more about my hair than I do, but I will question you like it is the grand inquisition before you put your hands in my hair (No matter what color you are!).
As someone who would schedule hair appointments around visiting family in Southern California or on the Island, I know what is means to trust someone with growing hands in your hair. But now I depend on my growing hands, but I am looking for a stylist to flat iron and trim my hair. It will take time and as the search continues I am gradually learning to trim my ends. This is what I would do and I hope this helps.
Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop
Thx for the tip Anonymous 6:27. That's VERY close to where I live. If not walking, biking distance.
Great post! I don't think it should matter what the stylist race is, as long as they know what they are doing and you are comfortable with them styling your hair.
If you live in Metro Detroit, try the Megan Mitchell Salon in Ferndale on 9 mile and Woodward (if you don't feel like making that Ann Arbor trip). They cater to both natural and relaxed. It's such a friendly and comfortable environment – no rudeness at all. It's hard to find a salon in MI where you know your natural hair will be taken care of, but this is an amazing salon to go to.
Hum well I personally have never had a white person to do my hair before, although many have been curious about it. But I would be open to having this done on my hair as long as they knew what they were doing. I have been in black hair salons where it's like I have been working an 8hr shift, get there at 7am and dont leave until 4pm. I'm like like dayum can I get a discount or something concerning the fact that you're on the phone, on a break eating food, or on the other side hammering it up with the male barbers. I would like to go into a salon and be done with 2hrs max depending on what I'm having done to my hair, and no I have never tipped before in my life.
So I say this if any stylists of any race can do your hair better and give you better customer service than a black hairstylist than more power to you. Black stylist cant cry and say so and so is taking all of their clients when bytch you should do a better job of it. Sorry so long I just had to vent out some frustrations on this subject.
This is a great post! Judging by the number of comments, I think this post is popular because many of us have gone natural because of negative experiences with relaxers put in by black hairstylists. Personally, I have had negative experiences with stylists of ALL races. I am very happy doing my hair myself because I save money, it looks exactly how I want it to look, and due to gentle handing my hair is longer than it would be if I allowed a stylist (of any race) to mess with it.
Race is not important. Knowledge and exepreince with natural hair is what I am interested in.
My big chop was done by a white stylist in a black hair salon. I was happy with my results and I didin't think twice about her styling my hair.
We need to think outside the box regarding the natural air. It does not have not have to be exclusive to 'black' people. The last time I checked, it is the 21st century!
The way I see it, most black stylists have no idea what they are doing with natural hair anyway. The only 'natural' styles most know is a greasy press SMH. So go for who knows and cares, regardless of race.
A good stylist is like a good GYN, you cant just trust your tresses to anyone and the best stylist gets the job, color/race not a factor. The African American stylist I'm exposed to worked for me when I was relaxed because we had the same thing in common; dislike for our hair in its natural state, but since my attitude towards my hair has changed I need someone who can love and appreciate my kinks the way I do.
I just care if they can do the hair. A white girl just did my sew in for New York to see Diana Ross and she did a fab job and can braid her butt off. Not like lots of black women have natural hair knowledge anyway as is apparent by the rude treatment the op received. as long as they are courteous and know what they are doing, the woman would get my service.
Honestly I think that a person of another race would be a better choice. It may sound weird, but I think that since black woman already have black hair they may think they know what's best. But when a person who doesn't have the type of hair has to learn all about the hair, and what works and what doesn't I think they end up with a better "hair education."
The way I see it, most black stylists have no idea what they are doing with natural hair anyway. The only 'natural' styles most know is a greasy press SMH. So go for who knows and cares, regardless of race.
To be honest, I would have searched high and low for a an African American hair stylist who had experience with natural hair. And if I couldn't find one, I would probably settle for any African American hairstylist. I honestly would not have thought to go to any othe race because I would simply think that they don't know how to handle my texture. However, I give Charnika "two thumbs up" for doing her research and stepping outside of the box in search of a stylist that can take care of her hair…no matter what her race is. I definitely learned something from this post. Thanks for sharing!
Ok I had to chime in after my search for a natural stylist here in NYC.
Race never mattered to me before, convenience (financial and otherwise) were my top priorities. What I found when I did my search a few months ago was that "natural hair" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing to everyone. For example I found one salon here in Brooklyn (don't remember the name) that called itself natural but nowhere in the material I was able to find about the salon did I see anything to make me comfortable about having their hands in my hair. And yes, I know I could've gone in and talked to someone but I was lazy.
A little deeper in my search I found the beautiful, wonderful stylist I have now. She has a rinky dink website but her work speaks for itself. She is natural herself and while it's usually her 1-woman show against a bunch of women, i haven't felt this comfortable at a salon in a while.
the moral of the story: look past the race issue if you can but investigate a little deeper as to what natural means to the salon and stylist. as others have said, the side-eye (or stank-eye/gasface) you get from people may be all the indication you need but don't let it deter you.
This is a great post. After a year and a half, I finally found a stylist that cut my hair perfectly. She is a white woman and she cut my hair perfectly. I am so impressed with her service and knowledge of curly hair.
So ladies please don't be scared to work with someone outside of your race. A curly hair expert is a curly hair expert…
Wow this saddens me because the stylist was clearly superior to anyone else you did your necessary research on and she went above and beyond in my opinion!
I have heard of other people that had the immediate itch to BC and just walked into a salon that was usually for Caucasian people that wanted either a cut or a color and the people had the best experience they've had!! No one questioned why she wanted to cut her hair and best of all, the stylist kept telling her that her hair was beautiful which is sometimes what you need to keep your confidence after the BC. So I think it is ludicrous and totally irrational to say that someone can't care for you hair SIMPLY BECAUSE they are not black. Cuz last time I checked, a lot of fellow African American/black folks don't know what to do with our hair.
Thank you so much for sharing this story! I just love when people are actually knowledgeable about what they do and this woman that did your hair clearly was. And to top it off she gave you top notch customer service. No qualms here, she has my business next time I'm in Michigan 😉
It's natural to think someone with the same hair texture as yours or from the same race would have a much better understanding of it. That's what I thought for a long time. Now I know better and I think race does not matter. If a hair stylist learns how to manage diverse textures they can be good at it. I would not hesitate to have someone of another race do my hair if others have had a good experience and if the stylist shows that they are knowledgeable. I agree with JazBNatural above, Nicole of Beads Braids and Beyond is really good. I bet she would be an amazing hair stylist.
This is a really interesting conversation. Race doesn't matter to me at all. I've been to the top "natural" salons in Philly, and because of the texture of my hair, they claimed they didn't know what to do with it (I was wearing a W-n-G, with gel, so it looked wavy and as they'd say not "ethnic" enough to hold a style).
I wasn't until I found a salon that does all hair to find a stylist that was able to really give me a "consultation" taking the time to talk about my texture, regimen, and then styled it. She happens to be African-American, but if she wasn't, I wouldn't care, because I've seen and experienced her styles and hair care and she is AWESOME!
I'm so glad so many you liked the article! And I really enjoyed reading all of your comments. It's so refreshing to hear that MOST of you wouldn't let race deter you away from visiting a salon who had stylists of a different race!
Thanks so much for commenting guys!
hmm.. okay, I'm not going to lie. I probably would be extremely apprehensive of a stylist who isn't African American as a natural hair stylist. Its not good, I know. My reason is because there are so many BLACK folks who don't know how to care for natural hair so I wouldn't expect for someone of another race to properly know how to do it.
Funny thing is that I wouldn't feel this way if my hair was relaxed (as it was in the past).
As a newly natural woman, this doesn't mean that I wouldn't use a white stylist… I am just admitting that initially in the back my head, there would be that lingering question so I would need to see his/her work before I trusted him/her with my hair.
Just being honest…..
I'm so glad to have run across this post, I live 45 mins away from Ann Arbor and go there often just to sightsee in that awesome city..I'm excited that there is a curly salon there that I can go to that will give me a good service!
When I moved to Boulder, Colorado I was apprehensive about anyone doing my hair. When I lived in Michigan, I used to drive 1.5 hours to the Detroit area to get my hair relaxed. I wasn't interested in driving all the way to Denver to get my hair done when I went natural. I found a white guy who occasionally flat irons my hair. What's great about him is that he's interested in learning more about black hair. So when I go in, he asks me what products I use, and what styles I wear. I'm happy to talk to him and encourage him to use all natural products. I'm glad I found someone in my town, regardless of race, to do my hair. And it's nice that he's interested in learning more.
Like some of the ladies have already said, back when I used to get perms, my stylist was white and she was the best hair stylist I've ever had. Race has nothing to do with. It's all about experience and professionalism.
I went to U of M in Ann Arbor and a white man did most of my friend's hair, as well as mine a few times. He knew just what he was doing.
It's probably VERY rare that a white stylist knows what to do on black, esp, natural hair, but when they do, I don't see an issue with letting them do it.
As with any stylist though, I'd have to see their work before trusting them, but that's just common sense, no matter the color of their skin.
I'm in Ann Arbor regularly – I'll be checking this place out!
I don't care what color you are.. hell – I've had black stylists TEAR ME UP! I just want someone who knows about my curly hair.. someone who can help me with it.
When I did my big chop I went to a super cuts and had a white woman cut my hair, and she did a great job. She'd actually never done the big chop on anyone before, but I had went the day before and explained to her what I wanted and asked her if she would be able to do it, and she said yes, and I let it, and it was fine.
The funny thing is, race mattered to me before I went natural. It is so weird because I don't think before I would let a non-black person come anywhere near my hair. But I guess before I was dealing with chemicals (and part ignorance) and now I have less to lose, and I firmly just believe that hair is just hair. It'll grow back, and part of going natural to me, was about not having to depend on anyone one person solely to do my hair. I don't care who I go to anymore to do a trim as as long as they know what they're doing.
This post is heaven sent! (love this blog) I've been wondering if there were any salons in Ann Arbor with stylists who had knowledge of how to care for my natural hair and BOOM! As for the race, in the pastm when I was on that "creamy crack" my stylist was black BUT he got his education on different processes from classes taught by white people. I feel as long as you are educated on the proper care it really doesn't matter to me the color of your skin. I've seen plenty of black folk who have had their hair damaged by other black folk.
My mother is the "whitest" person I know, physically and "culturally", but she had a child(me) with a black man and also went to cosmetology school. Somehow, she ended up having a main client base of black women, and although her practice focused mostly on chemical processing, she definitely was responsible for some of the best looking black heads of hair in town! She knew her craft and did it well, "race" withstanding.
I went to a white stylist for about 3 years during my 'creamy crack' days; she had actually been trained by the Soft sheen Carson dude back in the 70's and is the best stylist I've ever had, bar none. She herself has very curly hair and has relaxed hers as well so I always felt very comfortable going to her. While I didn't let her BC my hair, I did go to her for some clean up work afterwards, I felt she did an excellent job with the clean up and shaping. I haven't been to ANY salons since, and am a bit nervous as I just moved to another predominantly white state whether I can get good hair products other than online and less about getting my hair done. I'd rather take care of it myself.
This takes me back 8 years ago when I was getting married. I was still relaxed, but had my hair in a sew in weave for the big day. The day of my bridal portrait sitting I couldn't find my stylist anywhere.(another story) I went to a salon and the one Black stylist in there said that she doesn't "work behind other people" meaning I had a weave and already had work done by another stylist. I was close to tears because I needed my hair fixed for the picture…A very kind Asian lady in the salon asked me if I would allow her to do my hair. I was in a rush and all it needed was some curls and an updo. She did a beautiful job! AND…she also suggested I stop relaxing my hair!!
Bravo on the article..very interesting topic! I agree with the last comment (Annon 11:48AM) on the customer service experienced in African American salons and the overall experience..and that is sooooo true, lol, they treat you like they are doing you a favor, so I stopped going and begin going to Bob Steele Salon…and the experience that I received from Vidal Sasoon was WONDERFUL and the knowledge was great..kudos for finding a salon with great customer service and for the wonderful experience that you had…many people need to get over race in regards to what someone can or can't do or do or don't know..Thanks again for the article!
My stylist is white. I live in West Virginia – I wouldn't dare step foot in a black salon with my hair. First thing they would do is suggest a relaxer.
One of the best natural hair style/cuts I have ever seen on a black woman was cut by a white woman at Supercuts. The shape was absolutely beautiful and she did what the woman asked her to do. It is sad, but from my experience (and I am black), black stylist have the worse customer service and listening skills in the world. Not only do they treat you like they are doing you a favor, they don't give you what you ask for. I have been doing my own hair for over 20 years and have done so in part because of the salon anxiety I experienced on many occassions with these rude, overbooked, hair stylists who want to do whatever it takes to make your hair (whether you want it or not) as straight as possible. I say kudos to you for finding someone who knows how to do your hair the way you want it, keeps you involved in the service and follows up with you. If she is white, so what, and so be it.
The person who has helped my hair grow, was patient with my questions and ENCOURAGED me to go natural was a white hair stylist friend.
She does excellent work and was the first person to ever call my roots BEAUTIFUL when I had a relaxer and told me that I needed to go natural. And I'm not a 2A or full 3C. I'm a 4a with a tad of 3c in the back.
If we want others to be color blind maybe we should start trying it ourselves. It's not the color of the stylist; it's the SKILL.
This is an amazing post. I researched and found a salon that I was really curious about that worked with curly hair, but the owner wasn't AA. So I ended up going to my regular AA stylist that had taken care of my relaxed hair for over 20 years. He was also a barber and was great at maintaining twa's on men and after transitioning for 9 months, I had between 3 and 4 inches of natural hair. He did my BC on flat ironed hair and a follow up trim on scab hair a month later on blown out, light pressed hair. Well, I ended up having to research cutting my own hair because I learned the hard way that curly hair doesn't hang the same way as straight and both cuts were a disaster for curls. Great for straight styles though! Too bad I only wanted to wear my hair curly. And when I looked at my ends, the cuts occured in ALL the wrong places. This gives me the confidence to try out that salon I was interested in. I will never let a pre-supposition about who knows what based on race affect my hair decisions again. swoodward
It is so interesting that this post was added b/c I have started posting a Natural Hair tip a day on my Facebook status and today's tip was to do research.
I strongly believe in the African-American community, stylist have a sense of narrow-mindedness(is that a word?lol) in thinking that its easier for them to deal with relaxed hair than natural hair. Think about it: as a natural, we tend to take a little more time in doing our hair (i.e hour plus deep conditioning, air drying, dusting the ends, protective styling) where as relaxed hair can be done at half the time (blwing drying/flat ironing). Their trying to make a buck and its more cost efficent and less time for them to deal with relaxed hair. On top of the fact that natural hair comes in all different textures and what may work for one may not work for the next. Its all about the money. I don't mean this about ALL black salons, but just the ones that focus on only dealing with relaxed hair and have no desire to change that. I personally wouldn't have any problem with someone of a different race doing my hair,but i'm still in the phase of learning my own hair first. I'd rather jack it up then have paid someone else to…lol
Hey!I am so excited that this salon is in Michigan!! I live 30 minutes west of Ann Arbor and travel there often. I have recently decided that I would like to visit a natural salon and planned on researching them soon I am so happy you posted yor experience.
The race of the stylist does not matter to me
She found someone that worked for her and that, to me, is what is most important. The stylist did an excellent job on the young lady's hair, what does it matter the race?
+1 Kimberly. I have had some really bad exepriences while getting service at salons where everone looked like me. I am African American It was lots of attitude and little patience. I have walked out of salons (prior to service) before. And honestly the decision to go natural was based partially on my desire to NOT have to deal with that anymore. I have a 12 year old son and for years I let his barber cut my TWA. I am not letting it grow out and manage it myself at home… If I do decide to get my hair professionally done. My decision wil be based on knowledge and customer service not race. Seriously.
I'm not sure. Right now me and going to the Salon have a love hate relationship on the one hand I love for someone else to tackle my hair when I don't feel like it, but my recent experiences trying to find and then having them do my natural hair have both times been nightmare experiences. The first one put so much heat on my head she burned me and I had to restart my transition because she completely damaged my hair (I'm still suffering and that was over a year ago). The most recent one had nothing to do with the stylist, but the treatment I received from every other stylist in the salon who saw me as some kind of dark cloud descending on their chair. It was so hurtful having to wait 30 min while other walk ins got immediately seated. And then the stylist pretty much confirmed what I was thinking. I really hope more stylist become familiar with working with natural/curly hair, so it really won't matter what salon one goes to.
I don't think for me it would matter. I really just want someone I can trust with my hair on a occasion. If she/he were white, black or green as long as they knew what they were doing and did it I would be happy. I would be even more grateful to the stylist who'd fully admit to not having experience with my hair.
I agree with Monique and Kimberly. A stylist has to deliver and I want to see your work product before I turn my hair over to you (and even then, I will stop you if I don't agree with your choice of product, tool or technique because I am not a crash test dummy and I have to deal with the setback. The salon is not the place to relax and let your guard down.)I always make sure to leave a window of at least two days between a consultation and a service to make sure that I am not blinded by hype.
Most of the damage done to AA hair is either self-inflicted or the result of bad practices by AA stylists. Harsh styling/detangling techniques, "one size fits all" products, overlapping relaxer, relaxing nape and edges first regardless of breakage,"going for the burn" before rinsing out the relaxer, failing to neutralize properly and the overuse of heat.
The failure to accumulate and pass on knowledge is also a problem. You can't teach what you don't know and let's be clear the goal at a salon is to get you in the chair, keep you coming back to the chair and selling product to you while you are in the chair. It is a business and we have to be informed consumers. Use logic when evaluating what works and why. Invest the time needed to read the label and know what you are putting on your hair. I don't think it is a conspiracy that mainstream manufacturer's are making products for AA hair, just a business strategy to target a growing segment ala Cantu's parent company:
I kinda of feel inspired to study natural hair now and set up shop here in Portsmouth, UK!!!
I would love to help Black or White women feel confident in their natural hair and in my chair too for that matter!
I have as I say been to black salons/stylist for a Relaxer and Braids etc, also Asian for weaves too and my Sister as I say who cuts my hair – and is White like me, but again, Im with most of you on, if you can make me happy, be considerate and respectful of my hair (& me), show knowledge and passion and skill – i'd also give you my business, Black, White, any!
Great post ladies dont you think? 🙂
(I'm going to google myself silly now on how to 'study/train and be qualified in Natural hair now! Exciting! xxxx
I'll admit, I watched the video last night from the link posted on NC.com and my first thought was that she wasn't a black stylist, but I grew up in an area where there weren't many black stylists and the few that were there were older ladies with very old-school methods so my hair was always relaxed bone straight and greasy. I've been to one white stylist (a man) who did an excellent job.
I was actually really surprised when I walked into Aveda recently and the white woman in there started very knowledgeably giving me information on how to help my transitioning hair.
I've learned a lot from white women with curly hair and I'm sure they are learning from black women too.
This has made me re-think my hair stylist search. I've been hesitant to call predominantly white hair salons but I think I just might do it. A good hair stylist is hard to come by, so why eliminate someone just because of his or her's race.
I have gone to a white stylist for about 7 years and she is the best stylist I have ever had. I had gone to all black stylists previously and they always took all day to do my hair and I would still have to go home and fix it. I thought about trying a black stylist to do my big chop but I went to my white stylist instead and she did an excellent job.
I have gone to white, black, and asian stylists. I have had my hair fried to a crisp by black stylists and treated wonderfully by black stylists. Interestingly enough, it was a white stylist who first told me I didn't need to relax my hair as often as I had been and cautioned me about overusing heat, and the asian stylist who first tried to convince me to stop relaxing altogether and wear my hair's natural texture. So it's not about race – it's about people. My natural inclination is to ask my sister friends for recommendations which generally leads me to an African American stylist first, but trial and error, enough years on your life and enough of an open mind may lead you to a different chair and that's alright.
I've definitely seen white women in black stylists' chairs before. The first time, the woman was getting a sew in weave.
Great story! I think that everyone, black or white has stereotypes and misconceptions about other races. My father used to have an old Asian man cut his hair and he said he gave the best cuts ever! We must ALL remember not to judge a book by it cover or color!!! Congratulations!
to be honest, i never considered going to a stylist that was white. i think its because i have gone into white hair salons and asked if they braided hair and they said no, and I walked right back out.. and whenever I visit a natural hair salon, all of the women are black. But now that you mention it, I wouldn't care what race the stylist is in a natural hair salon, as long as they knew what they're doing. As a matter of fact, I thought to myself that I wish Nikki from Beads Braids & Beyond would do my hair because shes amazing.
Interesting article and comments. When I was relaxed I had this misconception that I should only go to African American stylists. I also had an AA stylist do my big chop nearly 4 years ago after only transitioning for 6 months. That same stylist only knew how to trim my 3c/4a hair, which had grown well past my shoulders, when flat ironed straight. This was my clue to search for a stylist who was knowledgeable and trained to do a curly or deva cut. I did a ton of research and to my surprise one of the most highly recommended in my area was a White female. I must say, she did an awesome job cutting my hair to a shoulder length curly bob; she listened to my needs and clearly knew and liked working with textured hair. Never judge a book by its cover or color for that matter!
What an interesting conversation. When it comes to styling my hair race DOES matter. For a number of reasons… In fact, I think it is true for most when the option is available. I like the idea of someone working on my hair with hair of similar texture… or someone in their family has it. I pay attention to what the heads leaving their salon look like and not much else. I think most people feel that way- as I have never seen a white woman sitting in a chair at a black salon. And no one makes any bones about it. I know many people who went to beauty schools and all races learned how to do white hair but un-relaxed black hair was not part of the curriculum really. Now it is starting to be so I am not surprised that this stylist is capable. After all, everyone wants in on the natural hair market now. Bottom line- The writer had her reasons and I get them and she is satisfied with her hair so nothing else matters. It's hard to believe anyone would make negative judgements on this subject. If you like it- I love it.
Race doesnt matter to me either, back in my earlier relaxed days I would go to an older italian guy who did my hair & it was ALWAYS on point, he specialized in black hair & whenever I told people who did my hair they were always amazed because my hair looked so good; when he retired I was so upset because he did such an amazing job on my hair & I didnt want to go through the hassle of finding another stylist & for a long time I didnt, just did it myself.
I was fortunate enough later to find my most recent stylist, whi is african american, who owns her own salon & is very professional. I stopped going to her when I went natural 4 months ago, but I know that she has experience cutting natural hair because there was a natural sister who used to come in & she used to do a great job cutting her hair. When my hair gets longer & I dont feel like doing it or it becomes too much of a hassle, I will definitely go back to her. – Onebyd42
I think the poster made the right decision. When you can "speak" the/my lingo, then I have confidence you can understand me and what I want. Doesn't matter what he/she looks like, it's what he/she knows! Great article!
Race doesn't matter to me either. Back in my relaxed days, I had a white stylist for a while and she did a great job. Now that I am natural, I would definitely go to a white stylist as long as she/he knows what they are doing.
Uhhh I dont think that I wouldn't go to a stylist just because they did not know natural hair terms.
If they know what they are doing, race doesn't matter.
First, it’s so appalling the treatment you received over the phone from ‘our’ stylist trying to get information. Even before I went natural, I hated going to African-American salons. From my experience I was treated like I wasn’t important, the lack of professionalism was unreal, and the attitude displayed was they just knew they would get my money. I fault myself for sitting there and putting up with, but that was the last time I went to a hair salon (circa 2001).
Now I know better. To me, it’s the knowledge and abilities that matter – not the race. If the stylist is knowledgeable, has a portfolio showing their work, listens to my needs and concerns, and has reasonable prices – you have my business. I think what African-Americans salons or any other business needs to know is just because your black doesn’t automatically defaults my dollars to you. You still have to earn my business like any other company.
well after i transitioned i let a white woman cut the last of my hair and she did an amazing job. the only other times i went to a salon was when i wanted my hair straightened. i wanted my hair straightened with certain products and with a ceramic iron. had no luck in our salons. so i called to other salons which had good reviews. i called had a consultation with a stylist on staff who was familiar with curly hair and our hair. she did my hair and it was great. the few times i went she had no problem using quality products and techniques.
people fail to realize and i learned this from a stylist friend. stylists unless they work in a white salon do not learn how to cut hair to precision. they learn how to chemically treat and more blowdryer/hairdry style than anything else. white stylist cut hair all day everyday so they learn different textures and products for all hair types.
one word of advice research and do a consultation to find someone who is adept in your hair.
Annoymous, I agree – Luckily for me, my big sis is a qaulified hair dresser, and has been for a few years, though she isnt an expert in AFRO hair, and i dont think she'd even consider working with e afro hair (other than mine) as there are so many textures and curl patterns arnt there, and she hasnt studied it – just luckily, she has grown up with mine, both when its stright adnd curly and has yet (touch wood!) to give me a bad cut – but i'll be honest, i'd be terrified to have to look for a new hairdressers now, the thought of sitting in their chair petrifies me lol – for all the reasons mentioned above…i did find one African lady who runs an Afro Carribean shop, but unfortunately, when she relaxed my hair, she over processed it (yearrrrss ago) and gave me a dreadful cut (could have cried – well i did!) but where I live is pretty Multi Cultural now and i notice new places here and there opening up – unfortunately, most my Black friends just get weaves or relaxers – they need to be introudcued to CN – get them Natural too 🙂
It doesn't matter what color your skin is my main concern is can you provide the service I need at the level I require.
Interesting post. I was in a similar situation regarding my hair. When my hair was relaxed and straight, I had no problems going to a white stylist to cut and color my hair. However, becoming natural I'm apprehensive. I did a LOT of research to find my natural stylist who is African American. To me it's not because of race; natural hair is a new experience and I'm learning the ends and outs myself. It just made sense to me to go to a stylist that specializes in not only natural hair but who was intimately familiar with my texture. You put total trust in a hair stylist when you sit in their chairs so my advice is to research their credentials and references regardless of race.
Thats what I was saying, some do but some dont . . . i get a lot of info from the women on here that know loads, and then from women like myself still learning, lots of tips on trial and error etc – i agree at not giving up to control to any old stylist, i have done this (well, lovely Mum did) when i was growing up – as no-one had my hair and there werent many/any Afro Salons or Natural experts known to us at the time – however, in this ladies experience, she didnt need an Afro/African American salon, but a natural one – which is what i meant by knowledge is important, not just race -with my limited knowledge and being a White girl, I would still say know more about Afro/Curly hair than typical Straight/White persons hair – Hair is personal and we all have to make best decision for us and our hair.
But as I say, I wasn't saying yourself or others dont know your/our hair, just SOME of us, its not an insult or anything meant to sound negative.
@Kez: Some of us know our hair VERY well…and aren't willing to give up all control to stylists.
I live in Iowa. Since I've decided to keep my hair short for now, at this point I'm willing to pay a professional OF ANY COLOR to keep my TWA looking neat. I really don't think it (trimming Afro-textured hair) is that hard to do. Heck…back in my early-natural days in Chicago I found an old Puerto Rican woman who did a really good job.
Sterotypically, I would want someone with Afro/similar hair to look after mine – and im White myself, so even im basing it on Race, but then again, a lot of us use this site to learn as in all honesty, a lot fof us have/had no real clue about how to care for and manage our hair anyways, so how can we judge – at least she has trained and studied 'natural hair' so more qualified than quite a few of us, maybe not all, but a i'll glady admit, i have a LOT to learn and had my hair all my life!
So perhaps colour isnt importantm knowledge and understanding is key!