Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

The Break-Up

By January 27th, 202132 Comments

The Break-Up

by Alisha of Because I Said So

I think I broke up with my hair stylist. Well, I did in my head, at least.

To bring you up to speed, I’m “going natural.” I haven’t had a relaxer since December 12, 2009. That’s a mighty long time, and I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I recently heard growing out relaxers described as the new black. Everybody’s doing it.

Negative. Especially not in my stylist’s shop… Nothing but perms and weaves are done. Our business relationship is similar to a dead-end romantic relationship. You don’t want to believe it’s coming, but you can see it a mile away. There’s nowhere to go, but the other way to get out. Don’t get me wrong—I love her to death. I’ve tried to hold on to her, getting spiral curls and even twists to get me through, but as I sat in her chair last week, I knew I wouldn’t be back for a long time.

Why, you ask? Because she doesn’t know how to style “virgin” hair. How dreadful. Maybe she just doesn’t want to. When I made the decision to transition, we talked about my options and the fact that she’d no longer be my stylist after a while. The conversation was refreshing. Thankfully, she’s not the type to get offended if a client goes elsewhere for services, but I don’t think she thought I’d go this long. My visits have dwindled from every other week to once or twice a month, if that.

My hair grows like weeds, so after two months, it was a beast. Instead of random “beauty shop” conversation, I listened to her talk about how long it was going to take to spiral, how she doesn’t have the patience to deal with it and how I’m going through a phase. I didn’t pay for that; I paid for styling services. End of story.

Take away the customer service component (which is stellar usually), and my main gripe is stylists’ limited skill sets. Why don’t they know how to handle transitioning or natural hair? Why do I have to go to an older stylist or one who “specializes” in children’s hair? I don’t think natural hair should be a specialty. It should be a requirement because we don’t come out of the womb with relaxed hair. Yes, natural hair is fragile and needs special care, but so does relaxed hair. So why aren’t both taught in cosmetology school?

According to the State of Tennessee Board of Cosmetology, a cosmetologist, which requires 1,500 hours, and a natural hairstylist, which requires only 300 hours, are two separate classifications. Moreover, I think that proves the takeover of relaxed hair. Yes, I understand that some women’s hair requires so much to maintain, perhaps, a perm is “needed.” Even better, I understand that the unbe”weave”able world of weaves and perms is where the money is, but are we so far gone that some “stylists” don’t even know what hair without a perm feels like?

Unfortunately, there’s an ignorance about our hair in the African -American community. I’m far from what the natural community calls a “hair nazi,” I don’t want to rock ‘fros and twists or emulate Angela Davis or Jill Scott. I’ll most likely continue to wear it flat ironed because that’s what works for me. I don’t know if I’ve had any self-discoveries that many women talk about, but I have gotten a glimpse of the lack of education about what grows out of our very heads.

Maybe I’m selfish in feeling like my stylist should be able to do all things cosmetology. I doubt that natural hairstyling was even apart of the curriculum when she took state board exams. Even so, I think a stylist should be trained to work with all types of hair. I pray styling options are added to state boards nationally because contrary to popular belief, everyone does not have a relaxer.

I’m not venting because I think natural hair is the only way to go. No elitism here. There are days when I want to run to the chair and feel that cold Mizani cream on my scalp, and who knows–I might do just that. My biggest concern is the miseducation about hair–- period. For far too long, we’ve been sitting in the chair or even standing behind it without knowing what’s really going on. Our only mission is to make it pretty.

Aside from my rant, the obvious solution to my problem is simply to find another stylist. Already taken care of, whether she knows it or not. In addition, I know how to do my own hair, and did so weekly for years. Luckily, I inherited those skills from my granny, who was a cosmetologist for 40 years. When I don’t feel like dealing with it, which is often, I pay someone else to do it. Complaints and jokes about what I do with my hair isn’t apart of the agreement.

It’s been great, but I’ve got to say goodbye now.

32 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Great post. I understand completely what you are going through! I experienced the same thing when I was a walk-in client at an upscale salon once. "OMG your hair is sooo thick, omg.." then the $20 upcharge for a blowout because I was "natural" I was only 6months into transition so the majority of my hair was still relaxed! To the stylist defense, a lot of them didnt sign up to do natural hair, they went to school to learn how to fry, dye, and lay to the side so I dont think you should be to harsh on her. Thats like having one job and and then your boss telling you to do another. So I dont have any animosity towards those who decline to do natural hair. My gripe is with those who claim to know how to do natural hair in order to maintain a client but don't!

  • Lovnmicurls says:

    I am a hair stylist and I don't feel that the problem is that we are not taught to do natural hair. The thing about doing hair is that we basically can choose what we want to do. I went to a girl who only did wraps. She didn't do any other styles, not because she didn't know how, she just didn't want to. It's good you found a new stylist because the one you had wasn't interested in natural hair. The funny thing is that natural hair does take a little bit longer to do than relaxed hair (time is money), but her only doing relaxers seems to be very limiting and she could be missing out on a lot of money. I love natural hair and if your in the metro Detroit area I'll hook you up lol

  • gloria says:

    Same experience. I announced that I could not continue to do relaxer and color, it was killing my hair. My stylist said "well you are too young to go grey." So no more relaxer. But her heart was not in it nor her skills. So 2 years ago I left and never looked back. I have gone to several natural salons in my area, but in good conscience can not see paying on average $100- $200 to do my short natural hair, it is just bottom ear length. So I take care of my own hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    this post is so true.Its exactly what happened to me. I loved my hairdresser but once i transitioned she didnt have a clue how to do my hair.I dont go to her anymore and I miss her,but she just doesnt know what to do with natural hair and I am talking about the basics like detangling.!

  • Anonymous says:

    Not sure what happened to my post, but it disappeared.
    Just expressing my opinion about stylists and requirements necessary to be able to market oneself as a stylist. Also mentioned my thoughts about what constitutes an ethical stylist . . one who does not perform something which can be damaging/traumatizing to hair and scalp on someone who already clearly has unhealthy scalp/hair. One should be able to sue a bad stylist for salon/hair care malpractice.

  • Anonymous says:

    This post really resonates with me. I started telling my stylist I wanted to go natural in late 2009 & she really tried to discourage me–even told me my hair was too straight to nap up. We started doing roller sets & twists in Feb. 2010 & I broke up with her in May. After scouring natural sites and watching numerous Youtube videos, I soon knew much more than she did. That was not unforgiveable because I would have worked with her; what was unforgiveable was that she had no interest in learning how to care for or style natural hair, and she gave me so much wrong information & advice. When she told me my hair was too straight to go natural, she was referring to the damaged 5-6" ends of my hair that had a straighter texture from years of coloring. My actual natural texture is 4a-4b, which she could have plainly seen because I had stopped coloring my hair and had about 3" of new kinky curly growth at that time. With the help of the natural community, I have learned how to care for, nourish & cut my own hair and it is thriving. All of the colored & straight ends are gone, and I'm 100% natural with about 7" of length. Woohooo!!! I don't see myself going to a salon any time in the near future.

  • Anonymous says:

    This was indeed very refreshing to read. I am in TN as well. Ironically, I have spent the the past two weeks contemplating firing my stylist and doing my hair myself ( I am 8 months into transition).
    We become dependent in a way because we have come to believe that they are "professionals" and somehow you hair is in better, more capable hands when they style your hair. However, I agree with earlier posts that they lack knowledge about healthy hair care and non-toxic hair products. I spent 15 minutes trying to explain what sulfate-free shampoo was.
    This is a new day for many of us and I hope that as time goes on and more women explore natural hair styling options, the stylists become better educated on how to care for chemical-free hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 4:52 I think your comment highlights the difference between "hair stylists" and professionals who perform "hair care." Many people (not all) are in it for money and hair STYLING pays well! I think hair care is a higher standard that has been lost. When I was a kid, the lady who pressed our hair professionally was usually mean as a snack but our mothers sent us to her because her clients had long, healthy hair. If a new person burned our hair or it broke off we did not go back to her.

    I am a devoted diyer, but I know one EXCELLENT hairstylist that does both relaxed and natural hair. I've been to her doing both phases and she was outstanding. My hair was beautiful and I never had a scalp burn even with her chemical services. If I ever relaxed again (NOT- lol!) she'd be my girl no doubt. If I ever colored or needed a professional trim also. She is in every way a professional including getting lots of continuing ed from Paul Mitchell etc. I wonder if it's because she has a diverse clientele and doesn't just do "black" hair. Sometimes I really feel our community is its own worst enemy. We lack respect and care for each other and that reflects in our business practices.

  • Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, there are stylists who are ethical about their business practices and some who are not. . . just like any other business. An ethical stylist will not weave, relax, color or thermal style hair of a person who exhibits seriously damaged scalp and or hair. S/he would suggest healthy alternatives -EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT PROFITABLE.

    First of all, as a stylist, one who promotes "styling hair", I think a GOOD one would know how to style whatever type of hair walks through that salon door. If it is human hair, the stylist should be competent in being able to style it. Otherwise, there should be a sign on the door, a disclaimer on the website, that this stylist "only knows how to do (fill in the blank) type of hair" and be certified in a limited fashion. Other professionals dont usually have the benefit of picking and chosing what they will be competent in and yet still marketing themselves as an expert in a given area (in this care HAIR), so why should stylists?
    In addition, I think that the damage being done to some of us in the name of profit, should allow for stylist malpractice lawsuits- much like healthcare professionals can be sued for medical malpractice.

    I am a healthcare professional who works in an arena which allows me to see the horrific damage being done to the scalps and hair of black women and it is criminal, in my opinion. The saddest part is that we are doing it to each other.

  • Sista Curl says:

    Reading these comments I am very thankful for the stylist I have. She wears her natural 3C curls and when I come in and sit in her chair, before she even starts on my head, she tells me how much she loves my 4B hair. She went to Ouidad salon in New York to learn more about caring and cutting curly hair. We discuss different products and she is willing to apply any product for me that I bring in.

    She is expensive so I just go when I need my roots touched up. I noticed the last time how much time she spent on my hair. The other stylst, a white woman who was coloring the hair of another white woman, was half way done with her second client by the time I got out from under the hooded dryer with my curly 'fro.

    A stylist has to make money and pay her bills like anyone else. Blow drying and flat ironing is faster and easier. Weaving pays well. When a stylist can make just as much money styling natural hair as he or she can relaxing, weaving or flatironing hair, then we'll see that long desired revolution in the cosmetics industry.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think stylists need to be more flexible and enterprising. They are almost unwilling to invest in their skills (their business and how they get paid) to make more money by expanding their offerings in order to gain more/new clients. Many of them try to talk you out of it or want you to do what is easiest or most convenient for them (i.e. slap in a perm vs. twisting or properly flat ironing natural hair. What business does not expand (add new produts and services) and/or make changes in operations occasionally in order to increase their revenue/profit? Not many or they will eventually cease to exist. I think the market for Black hair care will continue to be dominated by relaxers/weaves and toxic products but know that as more women realize they need to let those items go in order to even have any hair, particularly as they age, there will be a shift – it's already happening. These stylists need to wake up and expand their minds and stop doing everything so basic. There isn't one who can do it all but be open to new opportunties is all I'm saying.

  • Anonymous says:

    I need to break up with my stylist. I go every 6 months to get my split ends trimmed and after leaving my stylist the last time I noticed that she had not trimmed them quite enough. So here I am fresh from the salon with unwanted split ends and I dont know if I should just get a new stylist or give this one a chance.

  • Yam84 says:

    I just had this conversation with my BFF who is a hair stylist! I am going to send her this article. She told me the same thing…"natural hair takes to much work…". I tried to tell her she's limiting her money making options by not accepting the current trends. Luckily, during my transition, my stylist didn't try to talk me out of growing out my relaxer…nor did she have an attitude when she noticed I stopped coming every two weeks. I still patronize her business occasionally bc I love her as a person and want to support black businesses, but I can do a fierce twist out on my own hair for pennies, and weekly, for what she would charge $45-$50 for. It's much more cost efficient for me to do it myself.

  • willi77 says:

    Alisha, I totally agree with you!!! I've been transitioning since May and the last time I seen my stylist was in July for a deep conditioning treatment and roller set. First of all she has no clue about no sulfates and non-paraben products and charges $70 CDN, for that when I can treat my own hair better for the right price…FREE! My natural friend watched a video about trimming and trims my hair for me. So I'm officially done with my stylist…she was a sweetheart, but it's over! Ironically, my stylist now has sisterlocks…but she has no clue about natural products…very sad indeed.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great article!That happened to me in my mind a long while gao and i tried to go again this year for a Bob cut and that was my last relaxer!

    I was also moving to a completely different area in London so that sealed it!I would like to go but i don't feel my hair would get catered for unless im 100% natural and get cornrows and a press! LOL So i guess im a lone ranger on my hair journey and make up for it by the blogs,sites and You Tube vids!

  • Anonymous says:

    In present times I think it is important for Black people to know that the hair products that are advertized to us have harsh chemicals and lots of alcohols. The Black hair care market that is not even owned by us has become a toxic-chemical waste dump. The United States governement placed a ban on China for supplying hair to the United States so this opened a monopoly market to the South Koreans. The United States Government and the South Korean government gave start up money to Korean-Americans and South Koreans to market their hair in URBAN areas throughout the United States. The majority of what is sold in these beauty supply stores are KOREAN products with YOUR FACE on it. Since they have control of the market down to the WHOLESALE DIVISION they are buying up BLACK OWNED MANUFACTURING COMPANIES, what the various Black hair dressers are using throughout the United States even down to the shampoos and relaxers are no longer owned by Black Manufacturing companies. There are very few Black manufacturing companies and the Koreans will buy Wholesale in LARGE Quantities from other Koreans and will buy only a minority amount of Kizuri for instance (Black manufacturer) and other few owned Black hair suppliers' products and charge at a higher retail price for them, while charging a couple of retail dollars less on the Korean products and also having more of their products in their stores. See the documentary "Black Hair DVD" the directors first name is Aranen, I do not have his last name but it is the only video out on youtube.com

  • MelMelBee says:

    It's funny, because I just thought of my stylist last night as I henna'd my hair. I was going to text her to let her know that I'm natural and that I had not "cheated" on her since January on this past year, when I decided to let the relaxer/weave go. I just stopped going. She did my hair one week, I said "I'll see you in 2 weeks" and never went back…I miss her though! LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    This post was well written and expressed how I feel exactly. I have been natural for 5 months now, and had this epiphany looking at all my old "black" hair magazines, stylists and stores. I realized that somehow their specialty is to always change hair from what it naturally is ( granted this is true for many cultures). I understand what the stylist said, that every professional will be good at all things, specialists are found in every arena. However, regardless of your judgment of what are common or good looking styles, your knowledge as any kind of black hair stylist should be about the range and care of black hair, pre and post altering.

  • Anonymous says:

    Stylists market more towards straight hair because as black women we have created the market. Changing this will be just as difficult as getting people out of the slave mentality… Relaxers have been a part of our culture for so long and it will take naturals like us to educate others about how wonderful our natural hair is in order to change it. Let's not forget that at some point we were just as hair ignorant…..

    But let's face it, stylist are in the business to make money just like anyone else who owns a business. I stopped going to my stylist not because he couldn't do natural hair but because it cost so much. Considering the cost of natural hair products and the time it takes to care for and style it, he increased his prices and I was not trying to pay $100+ to get my hair done. I can't be mad about it because the price increase was justifiable. He lost 2 heads while he was working on me. If you want someone to care for your hair you have to rely on yourself.

  • Leo the Yardie Chick says:

    I went through SO many stylists when I was a creamy crackhead that I stop keeping track. I don't relish doing that now that I'm natural again. >_< So, for now, I do my washing/conditioning myself and go to either a stylist or a friend for twists. For trims, I'll check my Mum's barber. As time goes on, we'll see.

  • luvmylocs says:

    some people are in our life for a season. that goes for stylists too. if you like her as a person you can stay in touch and be friends. you might enlighten her and she might be able to help the next transitioning girl to come through her chair.

  • Anonymous says:

    As a stylist and newly natural ( 10 months) I know that it was very difficult for me to transition because my fellow stylist kept asking when you gonna perm that mess. Like it has been mentioned before as long as relaxed hair is everywere stylist are not gonna invest in further education in order to style natural hair. It might be rude but styling natural hair is more time consuming than relaxed hair so its not as profitable unless you have someone willing to pay for your time.

  • LBell says:

    "Instead of random “beauty shop” conversation, I listened to her talk about how long it was going to take to spiral, how she doesn’t have the patience to deal with it and how I’m going through a phase."

    She would've lost my business right then and there. What, exactly, am I paying you for? Not therapeutic advice on whether I'm "going through a phase," that's for damn sure! If you don't have the patience then I'll find someone who does. The nerve!

    Sigh…anyway…until enough black women go natural to really impact the industry, every natural should know how to care for her hair and be able to do at least one style reasonably well. Thankfully there's lots of online information available. No one need be dependent on a stylist for their hair care.

  • Anonymous says:

    I broke up with my hairdresser over three years ago. He is great but work only with permed hair. I still refer him to people that wear perm if asked, but I love my natural hair more everyday. No going back

  • Anonymous says:

    That's my church member!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Love post. I have considered going back east to go to school to get a braiding license and take classes for natural hair care. Please note I haven't been able to locate schools on the west coast that have a blended program (natural hair, relaxers, dyes, braids, weaves, etc.), but I am still on the hunt. Thank you for your honesty and your post reminds me how happy I am to know how to take care of my hair. LLP-OCG

  • Anonymous says:

    Your hair is beautiful! Well, my stylist does know what to do with natural hair because she is natural. I found her when I was in the midst of going natural because perms where stressing my scalp too much and making my alopecia worst and the stylist was clueless about what to do with the two types of hair. I let her experiment with different products in my hair when all I am doing is going for a deep conditioning. I'll stick with her forever, just not as often.

  • Anonymous says:

    Unfotunatlly the creamy crack has ruled for so long, so sadly the hair dressers have no clue what to do with natural black hair……..eventually as natural hair becomes popular, if ever, they will know how to work it. I say patience….but until then I am right there with you- Do-It-Yourself!

  • Hillerie Camille says:

    What a great post! As a former cosmetologist, I feel compelled to speak. I've been natural for 21/2 years, and I'm still learning my hair. I started getting my hair pressed at six (every two weeks), and I got my first relaxer at 13. I wore my hair pressed or relaxed for the majority of my 39 years, so I had no CLUE what my natural hair texture was or what to do with it. I never knew there were different curl and wave patterns on one head, because nearly all of my clients came to me relaxed.

    I understand how frustrating it is to have a stylist who can't work enthusiasticly with your natural hair. There are few stylist who specialize in every type of styling. Cosmetology schools teach the basics, and as time goes on stylists mature their skills–usually in specific areas. Some people are the go to stylists for short hair, while others are known for being able to whip long hair. There are those who specialize in weaves, cuts, color, updos, blow outs, and even natural hair styles.

    It's possible we're putting too much pressure on all african american stylist to know how to do everything. It's not going to happen, because everybody is not good at everything–even hair. I say, jump for joy when you find a stylist who knows how to whip your hair just the way you want it whether you are natural, relaxed, or somewhere in between.

  • Anonymous says:

    Very well written and I share your opinions. Years ago when I knew there was something wrong with my hair (too many chemicals…relaxer, color, etc), I approached my long term friend and stylist about how I felt. When I told her I wanted to lessen the products such she said "oh you want to be all naturale". Well at the time I was uneducated about natural hair and down right scared. Needless to say, we "broke up" eventually and after some time I did find a "natural hair shop". They helped me transition but their business was flat ironing natural hair. I thought that was great but I really wanted to see what my natural hair could do, so….I broke up with them too. It's crazy because I have learned more about my natural hair from the unlicensed you tubers and blogs than from anyone who spend 1500 hours of time learning to "do hair". God Bless the stylist and I will probably patronize them for flat ironing but our relationship is over for now.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been going to my stylist for over 5 years, and when I got a caesar back in July, I refused to break up with her or go to a barbershop. I love her! She cuts my hair every week. She is natural and works with natural and many other textures of hair 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Over the course of the decades in being told our natural texture is "Bad Hair" IMHO the cosmetic industry saw no business need to promote healthy naturaly textured curly hair. After all most of us only knew of one destiny with our hair from the time of our childhoods and that's straighten or perm it. For most of us keeping it natural was not a choice we considered. No consumer demand for natural hair knowledge, no education required for stylist. I think this was somewhat self inflicted. Just mho though.

Leave a Reply