Blowouts And Breakage: I Love You Dominican Hair Salons, But You’re Killing My Hair Softly…

November 4, 2012  |  



The road to natural hair is paved with good intentions. The joy of not being a slave to routine chemical processing and heat styling certainly is alluring for many. Many natural hair divas will tell you they find there’s more freedom and versatility in styling hair in its natural state. There are many more positive reasons for going natural; it all depends on who you ask.

I went natural for all those reasons three years ago, ready to embrace my natural coils and free up my schedule and budget in the process. Unlike many other naturalistas, I didn’t do the “big chop” (or BC as it is called in the natural hair community). I just let the relaxer grow out, relying on weaves and blowouts during the transition phase. When the relaxed hair finally grew out, I tried out a few low-maintenance natural hair styles, but was disappointed that I didn’t have the length or the talent to recreate all the fabulously luscious styles I saw the natural hair divas on YouTube rocking.

One attempt at a two-strand twist turned into a messy four-hour ordeal that left me with disastrous results. I followed the directions on the curling product jar to a T, or so I thought. The end result was a frizzy, tangled mess that looked like the ‘before’ picture in a hair product ad. Talk about an epic fail. I felt as if I had let my natural hair sisters down. I was losing hope.

Impatient and indecisive about the direction I wanted to take with my hair, I weaved it up for a couple of months while I decided what my next style move would be. After the weave I thought I would get a blowout for a couple of weeks, mainly to check my hair growth. There was only one place I would go for my blowout; the place where dreams were born and legends were made. Several of my natural hair girlfriends went to the same Dominican salon and their hair looked healthy, flawless and fabulous. I didn’t need much convincing or an appointment for that matter. So to the Dominican salon I went.

I had heard horror stories about the excruciating heat you’re subjected to at the Dominican salon. Someone told me about her one and only experience at a Dominican salon, complete with amusing re-enactments of weeping and gnashing of teeth. She made it sound like it was hell fire and damnation. But I had so many other friends who went to these salons and had great experiences and hair to prove it. I decided I would go through the experience just one time to check my growth and wear my hair in a different style for a couple of weeks.

The stylists at the Dominican salon were wonderful. They welcomed me into the Sisterhood of the Fabulously Flowing Blowouts with open arms. Literally. When I walked into the salon, I was greeted with a hug and immediately ushered back to the spa-like shampoo room. I walked past rows of women under dryers with what looked like ear muffs on their ears. Ladies in the stylist chairs getting their hair blown out didn’t seem to be in tears or crying out in pain. All I knew was that I wanted to get the same flowing end-results they were getting.

When it was my turn to meet the hair dryer, it was hotter than I would have preferred, but it didn’t kill me. All I knew was that 45 minutes after I walked into the Dominican salon with my tightly coiled afro, I was leaving with a sleek, bouncy chin-length bob. I was now a member of the Sisterhood of the Fabulously Flowing Blowouts.

Fast-forward three months later. My visits every two to three weeks were starting to take a toll on my hair. I started noticing hair breaking off around my temples and along my hairline. The strain of the heat was beginning to show. No amount of sisterhood hugs could erase the fact that I was losing the natural hair I had spent more than two years to grow. As much as I hated to admit it, I had to leave the sisterhood.

When it comes to Dominican salons, I can say I’ve been there and done that. I’m not knocking the experience though. I have countless family members and friends who have been going to Dominican salons for years, and their hair is so sleek and healthy you’d think they had perms. I just know that it’s not for me. It’s been almost three months since my last visit to the Dominican salon, and I’m starting to see a little evidence of growth around my edges. Maybe after all I put it through, my hair has forgiven me.

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  • Debbie Martins

    Wow it’s interesting to read the comments below. We’re only just finding out about Dominican hair products here in the UK. My experience of using the products have been great. We don’t have Dominican salons here so I can’t comment on the services they offer. I have to say using the products at home hasn’t proved a bad investment for me personally. Just my two cents….

  • VenusNova

    This article doesn’t deter me. Even though I had a bad experience as a teen. My plan is to go once a month or bi monthly for a fabulous blow out and deep trim. I know my hair better now, what it needs, and what I expect. Plus i’m not afraid to ask to look and inspect products (even though I usually bring my own) and ask to lower heat, use extra protectant etc.) my bad experience over 10 years ago as a teen was with them relaxing my hair and flat ironing it into a tightly, overly sheened bob. I was relaxed then and completely ignorant to hair care. So my goal is to find a great stylist, familiar with blowing out my texture, with consistency and I’ll bring my own products if I have too lol.

  • Shan Shan

    I have never been to a Dominican salon but have considered going for a blow-out recently because I love the results my cousin has had with getting them. I went inside one to talk with them about it and noticed right away that all the stylists all had short, broken off and very damaged hair and this is something I pay attention to if I am to let anyone do my hair and how well they seem to treat their own hair.

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t have anything against Dominicans (they are black, too) or any hairstylists out there. I think its about the individual who you trust caring for your hair and how seriously they take caring for the hair they are touching, and sadly many stylists will make it pretty, but can mess up years of progress with one visit and it will show when the style fades away.

    Like another woman who commented, sometimes if we want the best for our hair we have to learn to do it ourselves. I read so many horror stories about going to hairdressers in general! So for the past several years I have been doing my own. At least if it gets damaged, I can only blame myself. I would love to learn to do a blowout, maybe someday.

  • Justine

    2-3 weeks???? That seems like it was too often. It’s always best to wear a ponytail or other natural or frizzy style in between blowouts.

  • atl32

    I wouldn’t blame the Dominican Salon on her hair loss/breakage. She was the one going to the salon getting a blowout every two to three weeks. That is like going to get a relaxer every 2 to 3 weeks. Have some common sense of course your hair is going to break off. Done in moderation the blow-outs aren’t bad. And by moderation I mean once or twice a year.

    • nene


  • H Town Psych

    Agreed. I am transitoning to natural from relaxed because I want something different, but the more and more I dig into the natural hair community the more I see the subtle shade. It is really sad. Just beause their hair didn’t do well with relaxers doesn’t make relaxers, or people who relax, bad

  • Sandra70072 .

    I go to Dominican Salons,, I got the blow out 2x since then I only get wash and style. I stop going. When I first started they were really cheap. Now they cost way too much for cheap products. The stylist use better products on the Dominican clients. I do not trust them anymore.

  • Its not the fact that the heat was breaking off your hair its a combination of things. The tension that the stylist uses, what stage your hair is in, the products, brushes, combs, how long the heat is left on your hair.

  • cascabel de plata

    oh the misinformation about heat and natural hair. it’s not always a matter of “how often” to use heat. some people’s hair just can’t take heat, and they’d be advised to stay away from it at all costs. i used to flat iron my hair once a week, and my hair was 14 inches long without splits (because i regularly trimmed every few months), and i swore by my flat iron. we don’t all have the same hair, and what a lot of people don’t take into account is the fact that not everyone knows the proper way to use heat on their hair. it’s as much about technique as it is frequency.

  • natural_poison

    Natural hair (aka my afro) doesn’t fit into Uncle Sam’s hat. I’m considered “out of uniform” because of the bulk :/

  • I also was embraced with love by the stylist at the Dominican salon, but now I’m afraid I have to get a t-shirt that reads “I went to the dominican salon & all I got was hair loss.” Sad face:-(

  • Eyesus34

    I am SOOO sorry the author had such a bad experience but I have to say the fault lies in the frequency of the blow out not the technique. It’s great fun to length check your natural hair but I personally don’t think hair should be straightened more than 3 or 4 times a year. I got a blow out last February and will get another sometime in October. (I try to time my blow outs for winter since it doesn’t make since to fight humidity and moisture with a straight style during the summer). Being natural is great but you have to let go of the silky straight ideal first and embrace whatever kinky coily path your hair wants to take you down.

  • Tee

    I completely agree with the author. I used to go to the Dominican Hair Shop every two weeks faithfully, and they burnt out my ends literally. My ends started to look reddish brown after a while and would break off my ends. I go to a Black Hair dresser every two weeks and she is fabulous. I get compliments on my length and how healthy my hair looks all the time. Bottom line the Dominican Hairs shops use excessive heat, even though your hair be looking fly when you walk out. The long term damage is not worth it. Just sayin

  • Natural!

    I don’t know. It seems like everytime I let someone touch my natural hair, there is almost always some kind of damage. From braids to getting it pressed…I’ve come to the conclusion that only I will style my hair, and I’m even afraid of what I could potentially do to damage it. My hair is super thick, and for some reason stylists think they have to “Go Hard” on my head (and I’m extremely tender headed!!). In the future once my hair became stronger I wanted to get a blow out…but I don’t know now….

  • I have no problems with Dominicans Salons when I used to live in Brooklyn. There was this one Dominican Salon that I went to monthly to have my hair done and I loved what the stylist did for my hair. A month back my sister in law took me to a Dominican salon in Bridgeport, for a relaxer and blow out – I was natural at the time, and I wanted to put in a relaxer anyway. I can always grow my hair out. Anyway, I hated the results. I hated how my hair felt, and how the hairdresser was so damn rough with my scalp. I missed the Dominican salon that I went to in Brooklyn, at least she knew what to do with my hair. Learned my lesson.

  • Neko

    ITA. I went to one for about 3 months and my hair not only broke off, it thinned out and the healthy looking hair I had before going was gone. Never again.

  • I lost all edges to dominicans as well as my respect for them 🙁

  • Dominican blow out is meant for special occasions with natural hair. The amount of heat and tugging on the hairline to straighten out thick hair, it’s not meant to be done on a routine basis.

  • LaLa Fisher

    The authors hair wasn’t healthy to begin with – people assume that natural equal healthy – not the case. I am ‘natural’ – have been for a couple of years now, and I go to the Dominicans at least twice a month for a wet set and blow out and my hair is fabulous! I bring my own products with me because I know what my hair likes, and they already know how much stress to put on my hair while blowing it. It doesn’t take much heat to give me that sleek look. But, you have to know your hair – don’t blame them especially since it sounds like you abused your hair. And, they usually talk women out of getting relaxers. You need to do your homework and find a salon that will cater to your hair and not just take your money.

    • Tina

      I agree with you. I don’t know what condition the author’s hair was in, but I faithfully get Dominican blowouts and not only is my hair growing but it looks great. People go natural for different reasons. I was wearing a lot of wigs and weave and just didn’t find the need to get a relaxer anymore so I decided to go natural. I like the look of straight hair but not the chemicals. My salon helps me achieve that and since I have been going I have always been encouraged not to relaxer my hair ever again.

  • why can’t you simply wear your natural hair without hot-combing it straight? i didn’t know that straightened hair,whether by perm or by heat,was considered natural.

    • Tina

      Natural to me is hair without chemicals so hot combing and blow drying is natural to me. Maybe I am naive. It just depends on the look you want and I prefer straight to an afro.

      • Daniella

        That’s exactly what natural means, no chemicals!! So Latrece, you need to make sure you know your definition. No offense. You can blow dryer, use a flat iron, it is fine, it still makes you natural.

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  • York

    I can do almost the same thing with the right straightening products, a blowdryer with a comb attachment, and a flat iron…i do love a good press, though, but it sure isn’t something I would pay for every 2-3 Weeks!

    And Dominican shops…..y’all can keep that! Anytime I hear about hair smoking, I don’t need no parts of it!

    • SunshineBlossom

      Girl I will tell you, I went to a Dominican Hair salon in Washington Heights and when a walked in a wall of smoke walked out the door… I thought these heffas were smoking (I was 15), but I looked closer and it was the women’s hair!!! I took that cloud of smoke in hand and took my behind to Duane Reade where I bought a blow dryer and did it myself.

  • NicPal

    I generally go once a year. But the last time I went in May I was like I do not think Ill be back. She pulled so much of my hair out with the type of comb she was using and then my hair smells like its burnt. It takes me like two to three washes to get that smell out my hair. I can’t stand it so I think that the only way ill do it again unless I go to a regular hair salon:)

  • Candacey Doris

    I hate to say it, but when you decided to do a blow out so often you were asking for it. I love the way my hair looks after visiting a Dominican salon, but i still only go once every two months for a blowout. The rest of the time i do my own hair or have them do something else. I’m too young to look like Naomi Campbell with 3 inches of baldness.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    When you have natural hair, heat is a once in a blue moon thing, not every 2-3 weeks. Considering how much heat they use, it’s best to keep the straightening done by them to a minimum at best. . .

  • WestPhillyGal

    The trick is finding what suits your hair the best.The blowout works for me,but it may not work for others.I have thick,tightly coiled( I kinda want to say nappy lol)hair and I’ve always had a hard time straightening it.My mama had a hard time when I was a kid!I’ve had my hair done every two weeks there for quite a few years now with a couple of breaks in-bewteen.No breakage,no damage.I wash and condition my hair at home and go to them for the roller-set and blowout.I make sure I use good quality hair products(right now I’m using Mizani) and deep condition every few weeks.I trim my ends every 4-6 weeks.So far so good.My hair is a good length and I’m always complimented on how healthy and shiny it looks.Whether you have a weave,natural or permed the most important thing is having a good hair regimen and knowing what your hair can handle.

    • Dijah

      Yessss! Luv those Mizani products- esp the Rose oil-based hairdress. Doesn’t have nearly as many harsh (and unsafe) chemicals as other products. Also pure jojoba is good for our hair, I’ve heard.

  • J A SASSY aka salon22w

    i WORK IN A SALON AND HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS..ITS EACH TO THEIR OWN . WE DONT DO THE DOMINICAN BLOW-OUT BUT WE DO PRIDE OURSELVES IN NATURAL HEALTHY HAIR, YOU CAN GET WHAT YOU WANT RELAXERS, TWIST, LOCS, DREADS, BRAID, PRESS N CURL IN OUR SHOP, ROLLER SETS, STRAW SETS, what we pride our selves mostly on is deep conditioning treatments, scalp massages, hot oil treatments and we always use on our clients what the bottle says and the best products..we have Carole’s Daughter, motions, pantenne, paul mitchell whatever you desire… i have heard of shops who use the best shampos and conditioners of their and best clients hair and use cheaper ones in the good bottles on regular customer.. how dirty is that?

  • Angie

    i use to go to one in North Philly and they did a good job and etc. but after a while it look like my hair texture changed and i wasn’t feeling it. My hair is thick (relax hair) and I didn’t like how it felt after a while. So I decided to leave and go back to my other salon, who did a good job but it was their timing as in (when you perm or halo/ touch up) but i just had to speak out and say no or request something other than what they suggest.

  • Wash and set. They do a wonderful job on natural hair when they know how to do it. Straw set etc.

    • lola289

      Luv wash & sets! I do that in between relaxer treatments…

  • TX Girl

    I went to a salon in Tampa FL end of Sept to look fly for my graduation. I knew they use alot of heat which i DONT like but i went anyway. My hair length is past my shoulders and i do use relaxers about every 7wks but i knew this was only a one-time deal. I left looking fly but noticed damage about 3-4wks later in the top if my head. So my hair is in repair mode now with ALOT of conditioning!! Doubt i’ll go back….to each’s own with the Dominican salons 🙂

  • ambi

    am I to harsh to say this author was stupid for going every 2/3 week? I mean being a natural for years should have taught you LESS heat hte BETTER, so you should have been going every 4-6 weeks tops and everyone hair is different some can take more heat some can not and Nope not a fan of their shops I went twice and they do talk about you and don’t know how to detangle(well at the one shop I went to two different ones) both and honestly I think one of them used some perm in my conditioner too

    • jazzy

      no, i’m with you, the article was kinda pointless. if the author did due diligence, she would have known that excessive heat + natural hair = damaged hair. one go round with the hot comb or an over zealous blowout can mess up your progress and you’d have to cut off the hair eventually.

    • Candacey Doris

      yeah, they dn’t really like working on natural hair. They will try to push a texturizer or relaxer on you. But the talking about you thing i don’t care about. They do it to your face (in a sneaky way) and others do it behind your back. Women just can’t seem to avoid talking about each other.

      • midori2013

        Depends upon the texture of your natural hair. They dont do that to every natural hair person.

    • Tee

      Completely understand where you are coming from, but if your hair is done the right way, heat every two weeks will not damage your hair. You also make an excellent point about different textures of hair, and what it can handle. The Dominan Hair Shops use excessive heat, Ive been there and done that as well. I go to a Black hair dresser every two weeks and she is awesome. She does the usual wash, blowdry and straigtening with the ole school curlers. My hair is healthy and long

      • Detroitgirl

        Exactly. I have gone to the salon every two weeks my entire life. I am from the hair capital, Detroit. We do heair ol’ skool with old marel curling irons, wash and condition. I am so blessed to have the stylist I have. My hair has broken off since moving to Chicago and trying Chicago stylist who have adopted the Dominican techniques. My hair before was bra strap length and I never had splits. Never. Was very blessed.

      • VenusNova

        I second this comment. I don’t understand how people so easily get heat damage. Are they not using heat protectant? Is their hair dirty? Because that’s how you get heat damage. I know. Been there done that. Now dryness which can lead to breakage I understand. But that is combatted by deep conditioning and keeping your ends trimmed and deep conditioning + protein until next heat style. Only use heat once a month depending on what your hair can take should be good.

        • midori2013

          Not every black woman has the same texture of hair. Some have thin hair others have thick coarse. Black people need to realize we have different hair needs. Not everyhead is super thick. Kinky hair can take high heat, thin curly or coily hair cannot. I learned this cause my sister and I have different hair textures. My sisters hair can take more heat than mine. She has kinky 4c hair, mine is curly 3b,3c

          • RespectProtectBlackWomen

            Makes sense. I guess I’m lucky not to have that problem. Even though I have 4 hair I have fine strands so idk. I guess you just have to know your hair. Maybe those with 3 hair and thin hair like you mention should lower the heat. Or just not straighten at all

      • midori2013

        Not true some people have finer hair textures. Not every black woman can take the same amount of heat no matter how its conditioned. I learned that the hard way. I have thin strand hair but it looks thick. I cant even flat iron my hair it all falls out.

    • H Town Psych

      I agree. She was overdoing it

    • midori2013

      My hair was getting long and its 3b,3c textured. The Dominican manager without my permission cutt about 4 inches off, it was down my back cause but she said “I didnt need long pieces” and it all should be even. I had a cool asymetrical hair style. They dont know how to do good hairstyles either. To this day I still dont know why she did that. Then another one joked how my hair looked like weave when it was 100 percent real and naturally curly. I guess they were used to a different clientele.

  • unrequitedlove

    Dominican salons are overrated.They talk s#$t about you in spanish while doing your hair and they use cheap products concealed in expensive containers.When i was 16 the lady tried to wash my hair with dish liquid because according to her my hair very oily.That was the last straw for me

    • brooklynarcher

      are you freakin serious? Dish washing liquid? O_o

      • unrequitedlove

        Yes lemon ajax to be exact

        • chanela

          hell mine was orange. LMAO

        • Marier

          lmao! Not at u but the whole situation

    • Machelle Kwan

      You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s why only black folks are doing my hair. Smh.

      • H Town Psych

        Most Dominicans are black– even if they don’t want to claim it. They have the same African roots as the rest of us.

        • ok

          *SOME Dominicans are black. Not all. We all have African roots, but skin wise, we’re not all black. If we were, cool, but we are not. My whole family is Dominican and we are all tan to white colored. The majority of Dominicans are not black, rather tan. And we actually have more predominantly white individuals than predominantly black. black people just tryna claim everybody nowadays.

          • H Town Psych

            Who the are y’all for anyone to want to “claim”? You warped latinos are a trip. You jump to distance yourself from blackness (the color itself), but are quick to associate yourself with white people. Newsflash, they don’t fool with you or consider you WHITE. The Dominican Republic is just another “third world” cheap travel destination for them. You are pathetic and at the end of the day, I can guarantee you that you draw more influences from and “copy” more black people than any of us worry about Dominicans (since you want to imagine a distinction). If I am wrong, please state the last 3 songs you played in your car? The last 3 celebs you have quoted or followed on social media? Name your favorite athlete? Girl bye.

          • midori2013

            Lady you are BLACK. You are just brainwashed. All black people are not the color of black licorice. Blacks in the carribean are all colors. I have traveled to the Dominica. Republic and as a black Carribean you are just as black as Jamaicans, Trinidadians and etc. You wish you were Puerto Ricans. Stop lying.

      • midori2013

        Dominicans most are black. Read your history and travel. Dont be ignorant.

    • chanela

      my stylist did that and he was black….

    • That is so messed up!