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Curly Nikki

What ‘is’ a Natural Hair Salon, Really?

By January 27th, 202128 Comments

What 'is' a Natural Hair Salon, Really?
Sue writes:

After reading the recent “Qualities to look for in a natural stylist” post and looking up various salons listed on natural hair blogs and forums, it got me thinking- – what is a natural hair salon? I looked up a natural hair salon listed on a blog that included relaxers and other chemical services as a part of their repertoire.

If the stylists know how to properly take care of natural hair as well, do they still qualify? What sort of products should they use? Might some be using this label just to attract new clientele?

I’m curious to see what the CurlyNikki community thinks!


  • Milund Mathieu says:

    Wow this is interesting! Im a cosmetology student and my goal is to open up a salon to care for many hair textures especially for ethnic clientele. I want to open one up in Northern, MN because there is a demand but no one is really educated in natural care except the hot comb and creamy crack but after reading this artical. Ladies if you be so kind to give me more info I want to grow out hair and I want to learn how to keep it healthy. I'am struggling how to grow out my own hair and I love hair extentions and building wigs but my school only teach you how to care for white people hair because that is mostly there clientele up here but I'am determine to make my dreams come true up North and there is a need! or

  • Anonymous says:

    well, my question is this, if you know so much about taking care of your natural hair, why go to a salon only to question a stylists authority?

  • Curly hair says:

    I do agree with Miss Curly. Unless you are doing something really special like curly extensions or something that you cannot do yourself like a really complicated style, going to a natural hair salon may be useless.

    I think doing your research before you go is key. I remember going to a salon years ago before I stopped using heat and asking if they worked on natural hair and they told me "of course!"

    As I was sitting in the chair after the stylist blew my hair out, the owner came over to me and said, "uh oh, that's a lot of hair, we're going to have to charge you more" I was like "huh?"

    As a natural stylist you should be able to see my shrunken curly hair and estimate the actual length or just stretch it to be sure.

    Now I know there are some tried and true natural salons, but I do believe they are extremely rare.

  • Andrea P. aka LongLeggedLife says:

    LOL, at the first comment. I went through something similar. I was finally giving up on my 'year to transition' to do the BC. I had happened upon a chick who approached me in the store. She saw I was transtioning & I told her about my wanting to BC. She quickly & proudly told me how she was natural, (which I hope she was having a bad day, because her hair looked quite thirsty, lol) & did natural hair. As I start asking about the products & sulfates, paraben, phatlates (my spelling is off) she looked at me like I broke out speaking Martian, lol. I feel like this, if you (the "professional") don't have a clue what I'm talking about, that's at least a strong sign to keep on moving. Beauty school was supposed to be over Boo boo.

  • Chocolate Mom aka Blupoetres says:

    I actually had to hit up your dictionary to learn what a co-wash was…so much information to get natural! Whew!

  • Ms. Sassy says:

    I think a stylist can specialize in many things if they have proper training and experience. I don't think they should be limited but yes, there are people out there that do not know how to truly care for natural hair and call themselves specialist. I think there are hair care (maintenance) stylist and then there are those who can just style really great. I think a variety of products should be available. Not every natural girl wants natural (organic) products.In my city, there aren't many people that say they specialize in natural hair but there are many natural hair stylist around. It sucks so I take care of my own hair!!

  • FrouLaLa says:

    OMG, this post is right on time! I have been struggling to find a natural hair salon/stylist for my transitioning mother in San Antonio, Texas. It is practically impossible! I think it is an urban legend there or something! Living in Miami, there are certainly those that use the label because it is trendy and when I get there it is painfully obvious that they know very little about what they are doing. Many do other types of chemical services. Personally, I dont care if they chemical services (to each his/her own) as long as they know their stuff about healthy natural hair, as well as natural hair products, and dont try to get me to relax my hair.

  • naturallyu says:

    Most of the time I believe it is a label that salons use to boost clientele and only offer heat straightening services. However, there are some that exist to really improve the quality of natural hair and offer numerous services. Besides twists, braids, or locs, the stylist can offer coils, rollersets, strawsets, rodsets, updo's etc. that some people cannot do on their own and would like the services of a professional. I see nothing wrong with it as long as the stylist is trustworthy and knowledgeable about natural hair care.

  • Anonymous says:

    When I am considering going to a stylist, I setup a consultation as an opportunity to see if we are on the same page. The stylist gets to question me and I get to question him / her. Most stylist are surprised by my questions and knowledge about my hair, but sometimes it is hard to figurer out if they are just telling me what I want to hear. At this time, I am the only person that does my hair and my decision sits well with me.
    Personally, I think it is a personal choice and you have to go with your gut. I am currently developing a relationship with my friend's sister for she is a stylist and I trust her, but I still am not ready due to negative experiences with other stylist in the past and the relaxer cocktail fiasco. I encourage others to do what they think is best and post the info online if you find an awesome stylist.
    Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop

  • Sabrina says:

    Sad News: Whoopi Goldberg's announced on the season premiere of The View that her mother Emma Johnson died of a stroke 10 days ago on Aug 29 after having a sudden stroke, she was just 66yrs old. They looked juste alike her mother was a pretty lady, my prayers are with her family. Here's the link and a picture of her mom is on it as well.…/whoopi-goldbergs-mother-e_n_707478.html

  • Unika Molden says:

    After reading all of the posts from the ladies in this thread, I realized that there are several different interpretations to the term "natural hair". I have done a vast amount of research on how to style and care for my hair.

    Curly Nikki has given me a plethora of information which has led to me transitioning and finally doing a big chop (BC) just today. The salon that I use specializes in "healthy hair". My stylist does both natural and relaxed hair.

    When contemplating a salon or stylist you should ask 3 major questions:

    1)What makes you a natural hair cair stylist or what makes your salon a natural hair care salon?
    2)What type/brand name products do you all use?
    3)Do you do natural hair care styles? If so, what kind?

    Never assume that a salon/stylist has the same interpretation of "natural hair" that you do. Some people may think that being perm-free makes one natural while others may think that being perm-free and using only natural products makes one natural.

    Just my thoughts!

  • StaceyMarie says:

    It's often hit and miss with there being a broad definition for what is considered natural, usually among stylists who are not natural themselves. My cousin is growing locs and several of my friends who are loc veterans feel that his loctician at a popular natural shop is not competent based on the look of his locs, which have been growing for about a year. A friend who is a cosmetologist and was natural for about 5-6 years recently decided to get a relaxer. She told me that you're not natural unless you don't put anything in your hair, including conditioner, and I assume, a comb and brush, because natural is "the way that hair grows out of your head". I think she was trying to make herself feel better for succumbing to the call of the creamy crack to "ease" her struggles. I tried to explain the difference between a chemical change (relaxer, Jheri curl) and a physical change (conditioner, oil) to her, but she remains steadfast.

    While transitioning, I went to a Dominican chain shop and noticed that they do not know how to handle natural hair other than to try to convince you to perm it. After chopping, I went to a natural stylist ; however, she works with others who use chemicals and her own hair is dyed blonde. She did a great job caring for my hair even though she used shampoo, and I only use castile soap shampoo rarely, but the kicker was that my double strands were $60 and I was told that I could only keep them in for a week before they would "bud". I quickly learned how to do my own (which I wear for 1-3 weeks). I've been blessed to find a great natural stylist here for when I get my semi-annual trims; however, her co-stylist did my hair last week and she ripped a paddle brush through my hair (I noticed fairy knots afterward). Of course when I go back, I'll be bringing my own Denman brush and gently reminding her to brush out from the ends! And everyone in this shop (Suffolk, VA) is natural. The owner/stylist does a great job and takes pride in caring for natural hair and doesn't ask for your first born! My blowout/silk wrap/trim was $30, compared with the $60 twists and my old $45 relaxed silk wrap and $60 relaxer.

    My grandmother started sending me to a shop every two weeks to get my hair done when I was a little girl (I'm 30 now), because my mother didn't do hair except basic plaits. I kept the "tradition" going up until I chopped my hair and while doing my hair is my new favorite hobby, it's nice to let someone else do it once in a while. Arthritis runs in the family and I need back-up in place for the day I can't do my own!

  • butterfly3000 says:

    I have a friend who's newly natural and cant do her own hair. I tried to explain a twist out and she just didn't get it. She lives in the DC area and I know there's got to be salons up there that specialize in natural hair….Chocolate City right?

    As for me, sometimes I just need a break and want to get someone else to do it. Get pampered for a change.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think demand drives supply. The more women change from relaxing and go natural, the more we'll see stylists get it together and begin to learn proper natural hair care and start providing the service.

    In reply to MissCurly, there are many ladies out there who just don't want or aren't able to do their own hair. I have a friend who, to this day, has never done her own hair. She has a relaxer, but if she were to go natural, I don't think that would change. Another friend of mine has fibromyalgia. She's a natural, but she wears wigs. She'd like to try some natural styles, but it would be problematic with her condition.

  • Anonymous says:

    let's face it, the number of true natural hair stylists are few and far between. i believe that a number of these so-called natural stylists are only calling themselves that so that they can up their clientele. once you get in their chair, they start trying to push either hot combing or relaxing to make it "easier." Easier for who? once they finish "naturally processing" your hair, they then want to push you into buying their so-called "natural products" which usually contain all kinds of ish that most people can't even pronounce. this is exactly why i am a diy-er and i am very thankful to sites like curly nikki and youtube.

  • MissCurly says:

    No offense to anyone but I'm still trying to figure out the point behind a natural hair salon. Unless your getting cornrows or twists/ extentions that you can't do yourself what services are they really providing.

    I worked with another natural and she would go to a salon every week and get her fro washed and styled in the same fro. I asked why she went to a salon for something she could do herself she replied well because they do such a nice job and the lady also blows my hair out when I want it straight.

    Maybe it's just me but…. huhhh????

    Again if your wearing just a regular fro or puff whats the point of paying someone to do that???

    Just my opinion

  • Anonymous says:

    I think that if you advertise yourself as "natural hair" stylist, or salon, that you should keep up with the latest information, research, products, etc on natural hair. If I were a natural hair stylist and my client knew more basic info than me, i.e. cowash, I would be embarassed and be motivated to educate myself on natural hair care. Otherwise, I would stop saying I could do natural hair care. I do my own hair and have easily found information; why can't a stylist?

  • Anonymous says:

    I hung out with a group of natural hair ladies from meetup and the host was a natural hair stylist (who also does relaxers) but she didn't know what cowashing was either. Her response was that when she went natural (she has locs), this was before all of the information you can now get online, etc. and that's why she doesn't know a lot of the natural hair lingo. I think she may have a point. We all were still shocked she didn't know about it though but I guess we can't expect everyone to. ~KF519

  • LaTasha says:

    When I first went natural I was so happy to find a 'natural stylist' near me in Cary, NC. I had read a tremendous amount of information on how to handle natural hair (NH) and the types of products and styles that work well with NH. My first appointment I found out the only thing she knew to do with natural hair was to hot comb and flat iron it. She had the never to get upset with me when I told her no thanks and I would not be back. I also advised her to be specific about her natural hair services on the NH board she posted to to gain clients. I felt her advertisment was misleading…hhmm, maybe that was what upset her. LOL.

    Also, it cost too much to go to a NH stylist and have them charge me for styles I can do on my own head, and with youtube and sites such as this one more NH women/men are empowered and informed enough to go it on their own.

    My $0.02

  • Anonymous says:

    "Anonymous said…
    It's for the money… it seems to me that any stylist should know how to properly maintain virgin hair prior to perms, relaxers, etc."

    Ain't it the truth? But I guess when so many black women were doing relaxers, they figured why bother to learn anything about it since it's just new growth to be plastered with chemicals anyway. Ooooh, I can't stand to walk into a place and hear "You need a relaxer" And you need not do my hair. Thanks.

  • Erin says:

    There is no absolute method that works without a hitch for every curly girl. We are all so different. Some people have found shampoos that are awesome. Some prefer to co-wash or they find that their hair has become a tangled matted mess. We all have such different hair, and even those of us who consider ourselves "hair twins" may have totally different hair regimens.

    That said, it's no one's responsibility to walk into a salon and condescend to tell a stylist (who was doing just fine before you walked in) how to do her job. If you want to share with people, I think the ladies who do the meet-ups and the workshops have the right idea, inviting people to come learn new things or talk to people who practices similar hair methods to get ideas. It's up to you to find a salon that works for you. It's arrogant to talk down to a stylist that way. I'm sure you were going to a similar stylist when you were relaxed (if you were relaxed). You wouldn't want someone to come to your job and speak to you that way.

    Natural salons can mean different things. It can mean "natural" products. It can mean that they only do natural styles. It can mean that they specialize in dealing with natural hair, relaxed or natural./ There's a stylist in my city whose chair is always full because she knows how to hook it up, natural or straight. Google "natural salons" and your city and then call a few salons and talk to the stylist(s) to see if they're on board with your methods for treating curly hair. Outside of that, there are many Do-It-Yourself ladies who are doing just fine maintaining their own hair without a stylist.

  • butterfly3000 says:

    When I had locks, I went to Natural Hair Salons that specialized in lock maintenance. They DID NOT provide services for relaxers, texturizers, wave nouveau's…etc. One of my locticians did provide color because she was also a licensed cosmetologist but that's about it as far as chemicals. Now they did provide services like twist outs, braids with your own hair, bantu knot outs, flat twists, protective styling, straw sets, etc. Most of the products they used were awesome, smelled great and made by them.

    So fastforward to my latest BC. I went to a salon in May of this year, that was not a "Natural Hair Salon" but was recommended as a great salon for natural hair. The sistah that did my hair was natural and her hair looked great. She had no idea what a co-wash was, what henna does for hair and insisted on trimming my ends since I hadn't had it done since my BC in Oct. 09. I hated that I "needed" a trim since her process was to straighten my hair. Well after the whole ordeal, I was not only there from 5:30 til 10:45pm but she concluded that my ends weren't that bad and that I had been doing a good job on my own. My hair was only about 4 inches long at the time so I couldn't wrap it right and the next couple of days I looked a hot mess and smelled of hot pressing comb. Oh and it was $60.

  • Anonymous says:

    i personally think that in order for a salon, or stylist, to be listed as specializing in natural, all they do is click a box on the listing website. the whole process is very hit or miss and in order to diversify themselves, they claim to be well versed in natural hair treatment, when really they just want more business from a burgeouning market.

  • Jeannette says:

    I define a natural hair Salon that knows how to care for our natural hair. I know of two Salons that specialize in natural hair care. One (and my favorite) is Nedjetti @ Nedjetti ONLY does women with natural hair and teaches the types of products to use for our natural hair such as shampoos that hydrate etc. There is also another salon called Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn, NY that specializes in natural hair care. I do understand where Sue is coming from and also question those stylists who say they are natural Salons but don't know now to properly care for natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    It's for the money… it seems to me that any stylist should know how to properly maintain virgin hair prior to perms, relaxers, etc.

  • Unknown says:

    I have went to a few natural salons in houston, tx, and i have been to some salons that do both. I liked all but one, i didn't get my hair done there because the woman did not listen to my instructions about my purchase so i concluded that if that is so she is not going to listen to me in her chair. Most want to do a consultation before and are forever booked, some having waiting list months long. I like going to them because i don't have someone telling me how much they dislike me going natural, but i don't know if it is worth going there for a trim. Time will tell.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL… I agree^^

    To put it plainly I think a natural hair care salon should know how to properly take care of natural hair, and have plenty of styling options.

    Meaning he/she need to understand the importance of using sulfate free shampoos and conditioners, retaining moisture in the hair with water and essential oils, detangling from tip to root, etc. Yes, they should at least know what co-washing is… (and that is something that can be down with relaxed hair as well…) It would also be helpful if she understood porosity and texture.

    Furthermore, a good natural hair care beautitian should have as many styling options available to her natural hair clients as her relaxed care clients. No a press and curl does NOT count. She needs to know how to cut natural hair into a cute style and STYLE it (with options) without using heat!

    If I come to her and say, I want a co-wash, a trim, and a twisted curl, he/she should know what I am talking about and get to work!!

    That's my opinion.

  • Anonymous says:

    I went to a "natural hair salon" and I told them to co-wash me. The girl looked at me like I was speaking another language. Mind you, this is suppose to be a 'natural hair salon". I then broke it down to her why shampoo came about, who exactly the target people were for usage and what it was originally made to do. I told her my hair needs the oils and I don't want to stip my hair of the oils. She said "but you can use a moisturizing shampoo". If you are truly a "natural hair salon, I shouldn't be giving the shampoo girl a co-wash 101 lesson.

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