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Curly Nikki

Nostalgia: Black Hair Salons

By January 27th, 202156 Comments
Nostalgia: Black Hair Salons
Do you ever miss the ‘hair did’ atmosphere of the salon?
by KurlyBella of K is for Kinky

I used to loathe and love getting my hair “did” when I was relaxed as I kept my once to twice monthly appointments – a relaxer on the first visit and a wash and set on the second. As a natural, I step foot into a salon only once a year to get my highlights redone and that step will be skipped this year all together.

Walking into a hair salon was an interesting experience. Pulling into an overly stuffed parking lot in futile anticipation of being in and out “in a decent time.” opening the salon door and walking into a room overflowing with peering eyes full of a mixture of both curiosity and judgment that covers you from your head to the bottom of your favorite shoes. Slinking slowing into chairs that go from stuffed and comfortable to hard as steel while waiting for the appointment that was due more than an hour ago. Out bursts of group laughter, “girllll, no she didn’t”‘s and “say what now?!”‘s coupled with the familiar smell of hair sheen spray and neutralizing shampoo that seeps through the fog of sporadic steam that fills the air from the super-wattage, neck-burning hair dyers, steamers and marcel “top of your ear frying” irons, reminds you that this is going to be long day.

I have to admit, the hair salon, less the scalp burns and ear burns, can be a nostalgic place. My experiences were varied – I’ve been to awful salons, braid salons, gossip filled salons, and really good salons. They all encompass my salon experience and I liked being waited on and catered to, people watching, laughing and the community socialization that I got to experience. I kinda miss it.

What say you? I know there are many naturals that go to the salon on the regular but if you are a diy girl, do you ever miss the “hair did” atmosphere of the salon? Do you have memorable salon experiences that you care to share?


  • Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    I'm only 5 months post relaxer, but I do go to a salon about once every 2-3 month and get my hair straightened (basically with the change of season).

    I love being natural and rocking my curls and waves, but sometimes I like something different and love to see my length. I don't use heat at all at home, so I figure 4-6xs a year is ok. And, my salon is a spa, so in addition to hair straightening, I sometimes treat myself to one other treatment like eyebrows, nails, facial, or a massage.

    It helps that my stylist did the big chop last year and sports a natural style w/ an occasional straightening or braids, so she knows how to handle natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    This is so crazy! I just had this thought a few weeks ago. I hate the waiting and routine of the salon, but I still miss it! Great post.

  • Anonymous says:

    I miss having someone else do my hair regularly, watching others get their hair did (even if I could/would not wear their style) andfeeling like a model when I stepped out of the salon.
    Very fortunate that my last 2 stylists (blk and dominican) were punctual and reasonably priced. On occassion, I had to pick up my hairdresser back home and stop for breakfast or hair supplies, and sometimes a mall run, but since she nurtured my hair back to life and gave me the best wash n sets i've ever had,it was well worth it. Soon as my finances recover I will be getting my hair done every 2 weeks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I miss having someone else do my hair regularly, watching others get their hair did (even if I could/would not wear their style) andfeeling like a model when I stepped out of the salon.
    Very fortunate that my last 2 stylists (blk and dominican) were punctual and reasonably priced. On occassion, I had to pick up my hairdresser back home and stop for breakfast or hair supplies, and sometimes a mall run, but since she nurtured my hair back to life and gave me the best wash n sets i've ever had,it was well worth it. Soon as my finances recover I will be getting my hair done every 2 weeks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I stopped going to the hair salon 7 months ago. I have so much extra money now that I was able to purchase a 42 inch flat screen tv for my bedroom this month. I have also been using the extra money for facials, manicures, pedicures and massages. I have also been able to save an extra $200 per month on average. I will admit, anonymously on the internet, that I used to spend around $2,500 per year on hair extensions. Plus, at least 200-400 per month for washes/maintenance. Approximately, $5,000.00 per year on hair… minimum! Plus tips. Plus I purchased all of my hair products from my stylist. My bad experience was that my stylist didn't tell me that the extensions were damaging my hair because it was more profitable for her to let me keep getting them. When I decided to stop wearing the extensions 8 months ago, I found out that my hair was extremely damaged. That my stylist, who I trusted 100%, lied when she would tell me how healthy and great my hair was doing with the extensions. I stopped going to my stylist. She violated my trust. I am 7 months post relaxer/post salon. My hair is growing back nicely but it is going to take time for my hair to get back to normal. I will never trust another stylist with my hair again. She is not my first bad encounter. But she will be the last.

  • Black Girl says:

    lol@ the Funny stories…My hair stylist was very nice BUT if I gave her less that a 5 dollar tip she would have this mad look on her face and if I tried to do my hair myself by braiding it and didn't come to her salon for a couple of months, she would greet me with a certain look like "Where the hell have you been?" and tell me that I could get alopecia if I braid my hair! I mean… really? Come on.. I know you just want my dough. Now that I do not press anymore, she will never see my money again! I realized that I am my best hair stylist. My hair has grown so much since I dumped my stylist.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have to say I do not miss it, I did not go to the best hair salons. I went to hairstylists that allowed customers to bring alot of nonsense into their shops and the hairdressers had alot of their own nonsense (baby father's, lots of children running around), the person on the corner that comes into the salon wanting to sell you things, I do not miss the experience I had at all.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hell to the no! I like that I can wash when I need to. ANd like many of you said no extra hours of waiting. I am so liberated from that.

  • Anonymous says:

    I really wish salon owners could read this post. Most of them obviously don't have a clue.

    The 1st time I bc'd was because I hated going to the "hair dresser". Quadruple bookings, gossiping, attitude; I got sick of it and wore my hair natural for almost 2 years. But that was before the natural hair movement was so prominent, and I relaxed again. I found a downtown stylist–a white woman–who did my hair beautifully. When I walked in the door, the previous customer was walking out. No attitude, no 5 hour appointments. The price was much higher, but it was worth every cent.

    It would be nice to let a natural hair professional style my hair occasionally, but I'd have to get a really good recommendation before I step my big toe in another salon.

  • honeybrown1976 says:

    Nah, I'm good. I don't miss the hours lost nor the expense either. There's a natural hair salon I want to try in Los Angeles. I just have to brave the traffic, though.

  • Anonymous says:

    I miss the good stylist that i had, i do not miss the Salon. I spent all my money trying to get my hair done sometimes. And when the place went a'lacart oh my i was in trouble. Also I would spend all day in that place. The stylist i had she was awesome and friendly and did what i asked or wanted and notice when my hair broke off and actually encouraged me to hold off a bit. When i finally cut all the relaxer off I will go back to her to do it and thank her for her service. But the over all experience nope i don't miss it at all. And i now have more money in my pockets.

  • Anonymous says:

    Although I'm a DIYer I do enjoy someone doing my hair for me from time to time the salon i go to does mainly all natural hair and is so professional when I go its truly a treat

  • slmargaritas says:

    One word. Na-uh. Mo' money in my pockets and more time spent doing what I want. Again, na-uh.

  • Dolores says:

    NO WAY. One of the best things about being natural is that my hair is DYI! I almost had a panic attack the last time I had to go in for a trim. Now, I take better care of my ends, and I don't need trims! If I ever do, I will trim the ends of my twists. There is no other reason for me to see a stylist.

  • Jeannette says:

    I do not miss the, 'hair did' experience. Being pampered is one thing but a Black hair salon is a totally different ballgame. Right before I became natural I actually found a stylist that was very good and created a nice atmosphere. However, no matter where I went, it was a matter of my time having an appointment at one time and being serviced about an hour later. I couldn't stand it. Now that I'm natural and if I choose to go to a salon I have a great stylist that only works on one head at a time. No waiting, just me and her with nice music, laughter and a great stylist.

  • Annie L. says:

    @Anonymous 8.43, O-kay!!!

    I regret each time I succumb to self-imposed drama and go to a salon. I always swear it's my last time. I went to a salon for the first time in 1 year on Friday and got cornrows – I took them out yesterday. The bad parting was pulling too tight on some strands. She tried to comb my hair w/a fine-toothed comb and then a seriously jacked up paddle brush all the while she and the owner were lecturing me on what I was doing wrong at home. Meanwhile the owner was coiling some guy's hair w/that horrid throwback black gel *sigh*. I have too many salon disasters permed and natural to count but I do miss Jamillah at Khamit Kinks. I used to get baby curl twist extensions from her from 2002-06 and she was the most talented, innovative and gentle stylist. I also miss an innovative weavologist I used to see back in college but other than that pfft! I'm done this time and am teaching myself how to flat twist properly!

  • Anonymous says:

    I love it. But it does only happens very few times, cuzz braids and that is so exspensive. I have been with very nice persons i knew a little bit before espectular one she was so sweet and funny to talk with, that was very nice to get my hair fixed there. my dad also knew her, so the 7 hours i spend there did not seem like that much time. i did also once get my hair braided in Egypt that was only mens there, they were a bit silly and funny to be around but the guy who was braiding my hair kept complaining about how thick it was, lol, but the other was very funny.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've had mostly good salon experiences, but I don't miss going one bit. I did not appreciate the waiting and I resented the tipping. I don't mind tipping at all when service is good. I don't care how good a stylist is…If my appointment is at 9 am and I am still waiting at 10:15 am, there's a problem. I love all of the money that I'm NOT spending in a salon. And I love that my scalp no longer had to be traumatized. LOL.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hell naw! Lol sorry every experience I've had has been an unpleasant one. No thank you!

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't understand at the salon you can do more that relax or press your hair.

    You can trim your it, shape it, dye it etc…

    I have natural but still go to salon.

  • CurlySha says:

    I don't miss the salon. I've been getting my hair done by my Aunt for free since I was 4 years old and before I BC'd in August of 2010, I was going every 2-3 months for a perm. Though I am so grateful that I never had to pay for my hair, I hated having to wait around to get my hair done and honestly doing my own hair is not only freeing but gives me a sense of womanhood I hadn't felt before 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I absolutely cannot stand the salon experience. Why make an appointment if I have to wait an hour to be seen. I cannot stand listening to the gossip/sob stories while in the chair. I cannot stand sitting under the dryer for an hour because you need to start/finish someone else. I cannot stand the music/viewing choices that are played. I cannot stand you telling me you can do the style that I gave you a picture and instructions for and you cannot. I cannot stand the outrageous prices and the fact that I know I should tip because it's the right thing to do. Give me "kitchen hair" or I will do it myself.

  • Anonymous says:

    Don't miss the smells and spending 3-5 hours (for a relaxer or keratin treatment!) and $200+ to get my hair done. My stylist was a lovely woman but she was PAINFULLY slow and we always talked about serious stuff so it wasn't the most relaxing experience. Towards the end I was only going to see her about every 8-10 weeks for straightening only because I promised her not to do it on my own so there was no chemical mixing…

  • The Chocolate Loveliness That Is Fraña says:

    To be perfectly honest… No. Even with permed hair I never went to the salon much. I think I maybe went once a year if that. I did my own relaxers, hair cuts, conditioning treatments, coloring, etc. I figured if I messed it up it's cool because I did it, not someone I paid too damn much money to.
    Don't get me wrong, I had a go to guy who was awesome. But he gave me an awesome line of products to use and tips on how to keep my hair looking amazing. He loved my hair and I loved how it looked swaying in the wind while walking past all the salon haters. 😉 The funny thing about that was when a fellow sista approached me asking me where I got my hair done and I told her I did it myself I'd get an attitude. They would think I was trying to keep my stylist to myself. I'd give them his number but would stress I would only go to him once a year. Or my favorite "compliment" while permed would be "Ooo girl, where'd you get the bangin wig, that is tight." Lol obviously I was doing something right.
    Truthfully, I was never into all that drama. My grandma was a well known hair stylist back in the day who even got invited to events by President Regan in the 80's. So I watched her do hair a lot.
    I love doing my own hair, I wasn't girly growing up but I loved my hair. I still do love my hair, I enjoy my intimate time with Celeste because she is fully and beautiful.
    I honestly feel like salons are over rated. Now if AZ had some natural hair salons, I'd probably go every 4 to 6 months. But I don't know of any out here. So Le Boutique O' Franyae's Bathroom it is. Lol!

  • Anonymous says:

    I was just thinking about this the other day lOl. I miss someone else doing my hair & just relaxing. Even though the waits were long, and the prices were meh (I usually got press and curls in my straight natural days), my overall experience in salons weren't horrible.

  • AishaSaidIt says:

    No I don't miss it AT ALL. I use to rely on it once a week for years. I remember all the time I spent just sitting there waiting and praying for some sort of savant to make my hair just like the picture I saw. And don’t get me started on the prices. I could scream right now. Maybe one day I’ll start to trust again but today I stay far away. As you can see I am bitter.

  • WMH says:

    I miss the scalp massage that I would get while the shampoo lady washed my hair. It was very relaxing. Other than that I don't miss it at all. I enjoy having that time back as well as the cash back in my wallet. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I was thinking about it the other day because I wanted my hair braided into a mohawk *sigh wish I could braid. That's the only time I miss a salon.

  • Anonymous says:

    I do not miss the salon AT ALL. I had a cousin who pressed my hair as a child. She was a beauticician and would press n curl my hair 2x/month. She was moody at times. no fun. Lol

    Then when I started relaxing, I went to the same person for several yrs. She was very nice and very gentle, but I did not like the salon atmosphere. Too much gossiping and cattiness.

    I have been blessed with wonderful stylists who have amazing personalities, but going to the salon is like going to the dentist. You can have the best person working on you, but its what they have to do you that is not very pleasant.

    I very rarely go now- only for a professional trim.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nope! Not one bit! I dreaded it! I hated the fact that I was told to come a certain time only to arrive and see sooo many people ahead of me. Hated the gossiping and endless talking to the point that hands would be in the air to express their point instead of my hair! Lol Hated that a simple press and curl could go from 7am to 3pm. Got to the point that I would wash my OWN hair before I got there just to make it go quicker when I got there. No sir. Don’t miss it one bit thank you very much! Lol

  • Black Girl says:

    When I first started going to my hair salon to get my hair pressed I enjoyed it. But after a while I hated it! Every two weeks on a Saturday, even if I made an appointment at 10 a.m., I would end up leaving the salon around 5 p.m. because my stylist accepted so many walk-ins and would do other people's hair before and during my time! Now that I educated myself, I remember all the things that she did WRONG! Detangling my hair with a small tooth comb prior and after washing. Sitting me under the dryer for deep conditioning AND drying, then blow drying my hair afterward and tugging on it like she was playing tug of war!She then would use a hot comb on it with no heat protectant and then flat iron it on top of that. But I must say I never got any heat damage from her until I tried the Dominican salons. Don't even get me started on that! What a waste of time I spent to get my hair tortured and blow fried with their round brushes and their fire-breathing blow dryers! I will never miss it. The only thing I miss is having someone else do my hair while I relaxed in a chair. I must admit natural hair can be a lot of work.

  • Napfrocurlzgirl says:

    I'm a DIYer, for about 20 years now, and I truly do miss the salon experience…my mom used to take me for my bi-monthly press and curl. She still goes and sometimes I'd like to go with her, but I wouldn't let them touch my head now and definitely wouldn't let them use their products in my hair now, either.

  • Anonymous says:

    No. Unfortunately, I don't miss going to the salon! I really like my last two hair stylists (both are top of the line hair stylists and very professional) so every once a year or so I drop in to say, "hi." They are happy to see me and me them and that's when I get in some good ole shop talk. I don't miss getting my hair did at a salon. I find doing my own hair sometimes can be very therapeutic and relaxing, besides I do my hair just like I like it.

  • Jenny says:

    I loved going to the salon. As a child it was something that my grandmother and I did together. I enjoyed spending that time with her every Saturday. As an adult I found a stylist that became my friend so I again fell in love with the salon. When I decided to transition I was afraid I would never see my stylist again. My stylist recently bc'd and moved to a salon that had a bigger focus on natural hair. So I plan on returning to see her and let her experiment with my hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    To be honest, a big reason why I was so happy to start going natural is because I've always hated going to salons. They're always loud, and there's this smell that I can't even describe properly. I would end up waiting forever to get into the stylist's chair, normally. And my other stylist was even worse, she never washed my hair thoroughly, as if she was just looking to save time so she could get on to her next appointment, and whenever I'd hit about 5 or 6 weeks post-relaxer she'd always comment on how I need to get a relaxer and how much easier it is to handle my hair when it's relaxed. Another stylist I had insisted on trying all kinds of chemicals on my hair. So, needless to say, I do NOT miss going to hair salons at all.

  • Afro Adie says:

    I don't miss the salon at all. I stopped going altogether even when I was relaxed-I taught myself to relax, cut to style, edge it up, and all. Now that I'm totally natural, I like doing my hair in the comfort of my own home, sitting in my bed, watching what I want to watch on tv. I don't miss the hours in the salon, nor trying to find a sitter for the kids, nor re-arranging my schedule to fit the stylist's schedule. There is a style that I want that I haven't mastered myself, so I may venture into a salon just for that purpose, but otherwise, hasta la vista peluqueria!!!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    not to be argumentative but if the salon you went to was "ghetto" and physically unkempt why did you go there? The final result of your hair was uncontrollable but surely you saw the hair tumbleweeds and dirt when you entered, no?

  • LBell says:

    I basically co-sign Sonya. I am beyond grateful that I broke away from salons when I did because doing my own hair is second nature to me now. And this was when I HAD money…I spent that hair money on massages instead.

    Now that said: If I had the money, I wouldn't mind going to a salon once in a while and patronizing a stylist that respects both my time and my hair. Any stylist touching my hair has to love natural kinky-coily hair as much as I do and that's asking a LOT, lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    This was a true article. Brought back funny and some not so funny memories. I do NOT miss the salon days. It was such a tragic inconvience that I was blessed to be one who could Do My Own hair, even before I went NAPP NATURAL.I find myself now in need of a little shape-up and will go to a barber, so that I am not in a salon for 3 hours for something that should only take 15-20 minutes, and not make up something to charge me MORE!!I will be going to the salon though, in the next couple of weeks to get a certain type of coloring..But this wont happen again for at least another 3-4 months…Then I will take that over again, once it is where I need it to be..So freeing being NAPPNATURAL!!

  • mangomadness says:


  • mangomadness says:

    Nope. I've has too many bad experiences at salons for me to miss them.

    I'm glad I can do my own hair now. It;s so freeing.

  • MrsCrystal says:

    I've always been natural, but I went to salons only during my undergraduate years because I did not know how to straighten my own hair. Before that, I had never been a regular salon person. My mom and grandma did my hair, and if there was a special occasion, my cousin, who is a cosmetologist did it.

    Actually, I'm sooooo glad I do not go to hair salons anymore!!! I know how to straighten my own hair now, and since my below BSL hair became shoulder length hair during my 4 years of college, I have a fear of going, unless I know the beautician.

    I actually feared going to the salon. The entire JCPenney salon would be smoked up everytime my beautician would blow-dry my hair. It would be soooo embarrassing for me. Everyone would look my way. And plus, I always walked away paying at least $75.

  • Anonymous says:

    I rarely go to the salon. For the most part I do my own hair because I noticed that I can do my hair just as good or maybe even better than the "professionals" in a salon. I've been going back in forth about maybe even getting my license and specializing in natural because i really do love doing hair. If it's been awhile since I got my hair blown out, I will go get that done. I have found a stylist who does really good with my texture of hair and sometimes I will go to her and I'm always pleased with the results. In the past I've experienced the long waits and the really hot dryers and combs and I don't miss any of that!

  • LadyV69 says:

    I've only been to a salon once since I BC'd in September 2009 and that was to get kinky twist extensions. The salon where I got the extensions was professional and they didn't overbook, so I was done in a reasonable amount of time. I can't say the same about most of the salons I went to when I was relaxed. Most of them were entirely unprofessional. Not only did I hate getting chemical burns from the relaxer, I hated having to wait 60-90 minutes just to be able to get in the stylist's chair because they routinely overbooked. And then, I'd often end up sitting under the dryer for over an hour. During all that time, the stylists would be gossiping and a number of them were downright ghetto. I rarely got out of a black salon in less than 4 hours. The last few years I was relaxed, I went to Dominican salons, which were cheaper and the stylists tended to be more professional. I was usually out of Dominican salons in about 2 1/2 hours. I don't miss the salon experience at all and I don't plan to go regularly any time in the near future.

  • Amber says:

    Nope. Don't miss it. I went to a Dominican salon and they gossiped about me in Spanish as I was sitting in the chair. They didn't realize I understood every word they said. And they constantly wanted me to get a relaxer every two weeks. Even when I had a relaxer, I didn't want my hair to be over processed.

    I don't mind the braiding shop I go to on occasion. They're quick, clean and on the quiet side.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have always been low maintenance when it came to my hair… Prior to cutting my own hair and going natural, I only visited the hair salon maybe once a year because of the fact that you spent your entire day there and your entire paycheck..(hehehehe). My family owns a salon in my hometown and it seemed to be a gathering place for the females in the family and long time customers. The atmosphere was warm, inviting and full of laughs.. Not so much in the City where I reside now… My worst and most memorable experience was when I started going to a stylist who ran a series of radio commercials talking about his salon had Christian atmosphere..NOT…Now that I think about it, he would always have to use a strong perm on my hair because of my naturally curly texture..dang I wish I had gone natural then….lol.. On one visit he styled my hair but HE did not like the end result so HE brushed the curls out but charged me $5 for having to recurl my hair and told me he would take $5 off my next visit.. Say what? … Needless that was my last time he touched my head!

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't miss them at all. My husband and I had a conversation about hair salons recently and he told me I spend more time now on my hair then I did when I was going to the salon and I told him, well dear that's because I am having a love affair with my hair now. I can do my hair at MY leisure not on demand for a stylist's time.

  • Anonymous says:

    NOPE…i've always hated the entire salon experience. every salon i've frequented has always been unprofessional, crowded, smelly, and kind of ghetto. But most of all, I was never pleased with my hair.

  • KC says:

    Though I don't miss the expense or time-consumption (LOL), I do kinda miss my stylist. She first did my hair for prom in 1999, and had done my hair until my big chop in 2010. She has locks, and I got to watch them grow from neck-length all the way down her back LOL!

  • Anonymous says:

    I do not in any way miss spending HOURS in a salon! I much rather get my socialization fix over cocktails rather than curling irons.

  • Pammie says:

    I have not stepped foot in a salon since 2009 –the year I cut off my relaxed hair. Honestly there isn't much that the salons can do for me since I've been natural. I hate the braiding shops especially. Certain salons I can handle but they fry my hair and make me wait, gossip and watch soap operas. I'm saving myself a ton of money by not going.
    I don't miss it enough to start going back.

  • Unknown says:

    Throughout my life starting at the age of 15, I've been to the salon a total of eight times. I went to five different salons within those eight times. I never truly liked the experience. Everytime the stylist was overbooked, I was pushed to the side for other customers, and just didn't like the gossip atmosphere. Each time I went back, I have the attitude of 'this time will be better'. Well, it wasn't. I don't miss it at all.

  • Sonya says:

    You know, this subject came up in a circle of friends (some natural and some not). Most of us admitted to loathing the salon atmosphere. Those of us who grew up getting that bimonthly press and curl, remembered the torturous sitting and waiting and the anticipation of burnt ears. And those of us who either grew up getting relaxers or began getting them as adults also remembered the dreaded scalp burns and countless hooded dryer waits. And then, of course, there was always the gossip and intrigue. This was entertaining yet grew aggravating after 4 or 5 hours of listening and waiting.

    Ultimately, the salon experience was a day-long traumatic experience for me and my friends. This is why I have an aversion to hair salons now (even the natural ones).

  • Anonymous says:

    I went to the salon a lot in the early 90's. I started getting braids in the mid 90's so the hair salon is a distant memory for me for the most part. After a 15 year absence, I have been three times in the past 12 months to get my natural hair twisted. I will admit I like it. My stylist doesn't overbook so I am in and out in a decent amount of time. She made a wig for me too and I loved the smell of the heat "burning" the wig hair and not MY hair LOL!

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