I’ve noticed that there are quite a few new hair products, stores, and salons all dedicated to us naturals sprouting about everywhere. Firstly, I think it’s great. It’s about time that there are spaces for us to go to, to easily buy products and get our kinks and curls nurtured. What I don’t like is what I’m finding or hearing about some of them. Throughout my natural hair journey, I’ve been asked many times to recommend salons to you and I haven’t actually written a post on it yet because…I don’t have enough of them to recommend.
**I’d like to point out my disclaimer now, because I know someone will tell me not to generalise. I’m not saying all salons or all stylists. This is my experience, and it’s based on about 98% of salons I’ve been to all of my life – before and after going natural. But for the sake of this post I can’t keep saying 98% of the salons I’ve been to… so unfortunately, I have to generalise.**
My hair care is 85% DIY and I only have someone else do my hair for my protective styles. I’ve never kept it a secret that I’m generally not a fan of salons. Because so many have recently opened up, and I’m always asked for recommendations, I wanted to try and scout these newbies out and at least have something to say when you ask (me guinea pigging myself again). Earlier this year, a new natural hair salon around my neck of the woods opened up. I found it on Instagram and was intrigued. I was a bit doubtful because of my experiences with salons, but a small part of me actually got excited as it’s literally up the road from my place, it looked cute online and I wouldn’t mind the extra help with Fro. I mentioned this to Ncomeka of Wooden Mirror the other day when we were chatting and she encouraged me to jump and finally check it out.
So I popped in on Women’s Day to have a look, get a feel of the place and possibly book an appointment. My first thoughts were here we go again, another unkempt Black hair salon. I saw wet rags hanging around, an untidy workplace, random un-salon like items and a back room that needed its door firmly shut so customers wouldn’t see the inside. Why do so many look a hot mess? It just felt like no one cared. I put all of that aside & greeted the stylist who was busy weaving a customer’s hair. She seemed to be the only one working there so I asked if I can ask her a couple of questions.
What kind of treatments do you do? How much do they cost? Do you specialise in natural hair only?
Genuine customer questions right? But she answered every single one with a sigh or eye roll. I thought, maybe she’s too busy concentrating on the weaving so I just asked her if there’s a website or Facebook page I can refer to (instead of clearly wasting her time) to which she replied an abrupt no. I was with Kai and wasn’t about to let her ruin my mood and day with him with such an attitude. I suspect the lady being weaved recognised me, as she waved at me through the mirror in the beginning. As my conversation with the stylist continued, the customer even told her to inform me better or at least direct me to get in touch with the owner. The stylist shrugged and said “ya, you can ask so and so”. As if from that response, I’d know how to contact said owner.
Me: Does she have an email address or contact number?
Her: Go on the Instagram and chat to her there (siiiiigh)
That was the end of it. I told her I’ll do that and left. My heart sank. There I was, trying to support a local, Black business and possibly bring them more clients etc. But now I’ve been given so many reasons not to. I’m so genuinely sad that with the few new salons dedicated to natural hair around, we still have to put up with such disservice.
My questions are: why? Why the dirty and untidy salons? Why the rude stylists and assistants? Why am I made to always feel like they’re doing me a favour rather than treat me like a (potential) paying customer? Don’t we deserve better? Have we put up with it for too long that it’s the status quo?
How many of you have walked into a hair salon and had to ask or look for someone to help you? Instead of being greeted and welcomed, showing you who actually works there. I know I’m not the only one who’s made an appointment to do my hair, and another customer walks in to get a “quick retouch” and I’m abandoned in favour of that customer. I once told the stylist if she didn’t come back to finish me, I was walking out – hair half braided and all. They looked at me like I was crazy, but they’re the ones disrespecting my time.
Too many of my followers complain to me that their hairline is receeding but they still go back to the same stylist who caused that traction alopecia to begin with. Why? And when I ask this question, many don’t really know why they do it or there seems to be a fear of being upfront with the stylist about your hair. You’re scared to tell them not to use this comb (even though you know it’ll break your hair) or not to pull your edges so tight (but they tell you they have to, to make the style last) or to excessively blow dry it bone straight (because they can’t braid your kinky hair otherwise). Can we just let this all sink in for a minute? We pay for people to tell us what to do with our hair, abuse our hair and leave us to pick up the pieces at home. Who’s in control of your hair’s health? How has that stylist tried to help you recover your hairline? Does said stylist go home to deal with your hair falling out? No? Then who does? Who has to look in the mirror day after day, popping pain killers to kill the headache from a pulled scalp, sores and burns on your head? If the majority of salons offered a pleasant experience, listened to me as a customer and put my hair health first, I’d be a regular customer. I really wouldn’t be doing my own hair if I didn’t need to.
On another note, I’ve been on the receiving end of bad vibes and defensive comments from some salon owners or hair stylists over the years, claiming that bloggers give them a bad name. When I was frank and open about a horrible experience of mine on one of my most special days a few years ago, some told me they thought I took it too far and I shouldn’t have said anything. Why shouldn’t we say anything? I stand by my stance back then and I will do so now because I’m tired of people taking advantage of us and making us pay for rotten service, hair abuse and sub-standard facilities.
How many times have I had to become the “bougie” woman who asks them not to use a fine toothed comb on my head? Or to not use the blow dryer on high heat. Or to insist that they even put heat protectant on before they blow dry. The number of times I’ve walked into a salon and they’ve rolled their eyes at me because I’m the “difficult” customer. No guys, this is my hair. I’m paying you to do my hair, this isn’t a favour you’re doing for me. I’m tired of it seeming like it is.
Any thoughts? Fellow rants? Are you a fan of salons? If so, can you please recommend a good one so we can show it some love?
Weigh in below.