All Articles Tagged "black hair stylists"
Finding a hairstylist can be a daunting task. I was never the girl who enjoyed getting my hair done. I am very low maintenance and prefer to just roll out of bed, fluff and go. Back in the late nineties, I dabbled into natural hair territory, and back then it was almost a taboo. It wasn’t the celebrated statement it has now become. My friends and family members were concerned and begged me to Please Get My Hair Done Already!
I ended up finding an upscale haven nestled in the middle of Soho, New York. It was 2001, and my hair was long, thick and ready to be dolled up. I am always nervous walking into an unfamiliar space, and subjecting myself to people I don’t know. What if she does a great job but her attitude sucks? What if they are so crowded all the time and I am forced to sacrifice a whole day for every appointment. The list goes on. And since I have pessimistic tendencies, I was instinctively guarded.
I was pleasantly surprised. I was matched up with a spunky young stylist who whipped my hair into shape and inspired me to fall head over heels in love with my hair again. Of course when your hair is in great condition it makes the process a lot easier. But she knew what was up! She understood what products to use and why. When I wanted a texturizer, she convinced me that a perm would a better option. She was right and I was in heaven. We both went on to have an intensely fulfilling relationship. It was too good to be true but I accepted my stroke of good luck with immense gratitude.
I ended up moving to LA and we lost touch. But I was back two years later pounding the pavement in the concrete jungle searching for a job and another fabulous stylist who could deal with my fragile strands that were already showing signs of distress due to my gray epidemic. By some miracle I was able to track down My Girl! A handful of years had gone by and in that time she had set herself up nicely in a brownstone and business was thriving. I wasn’t surprised by her success, after years slaving away for numerous salon owners, it was nice to see her reap the rewards of her labor.
After almost a decade apart, I didn’t think that things would click back to the way they used to be, but I had to admit that our reunion wasn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped. She seemed distracted and it took a while for her to warm up to my hair. And as a result what used to feel so familiar seemed awkwardly foreign. Granted, the quality of my hair had been reduced considerably, which obviously presented new challenges and I could sense her struggle.
It was a little disconcerting to me that things were taking a turn for the worst. My friends had to step in and break it down for me. It was time to move on. But I have always been loyal to a fault and I refused to accept the fact that the spark was fading. As insane as it sounds I went back for more and then it happened. I went in for a color application and I was quite nervous, because I had just recovered from the awful breakage I suffered from the last keratin treatment and after months of intense work, my hair was finally reasonably healthy.
She convinced me to step away from the “glaze” and graduate to permanent color in order to successfully battle my gray strands. I agreed and said a silent prayer as she dutifully swept my hair with solution. Afterwards I looked in the mirror and even though the color was nice enough, it wasn’t what I had asked for. I requested a dark brown hue and I could tell that it wasn’t quite as dark as I wanted it and I knew that after a few washes it would be even lighter. But I masked my disappointment by giving her the impression that I was “pleased.”
Weeks later, my hair became very ill. At first I thought I was shedding so much because of the arctic weather, but I was spending way too much time cleaning up my sink, bathroom floor and bathtub, it was clear that once again, I had fallen victim to another ill-fated process. I called her immediately and this time I didn’t hide my frustration. At first she was sympathetic and asked the usual investigative questions. But things got a bit heated when she claimed to have given me a “glaze” and when I insisted she actually gave me a permanent color she reluctantly agreed. Then she insisted that my hair was already damaged when I arrived for my appointment. She went there! She was no longer my trusted hair care provider; she had evolved into the very thing that I abhorred.
At the end of the conversation, she recommended that I come in so she could she survey the damage and put me on a conditioning regimen. I told her that my schedule was pretty chaotic but that I would give her call later. But I knew I would never see or speak to her again. After we hung up, I sat there in a daze. I couldn’t believe that I was back on the market, after years of enjoying a secure relationship with my stylist. But this was the last straw and there was no turning back.
That was three months ago. I am still searching for a replacement and I know it’s going to be even harder for me to trust again but like every breakup, you have to get up, dust yourself off and keep it moving. I can’t help remembering the good times we shared and I will always have those to use as a guide for what I am looking for in the future. I am happy that I made the decision to cut ties but I can’t deny that it hurts like hell!
When my hairstylist posted a status the other day that read “I hate Tara hair”, I just knew there had to be a number of other offenses that we clients commit when it comes to getting our hair fried, dyed and laid to the side. With the help of my stylist, Ramika of Shear Ingenuity Hair Salon in Philadelphia, here are 10 minor annoyances that hair stylists feel makes their job just a tad bit more difficult:
A few years ago, I was at a local hair school and flat out told the receptionist (loud enough for everyone to hear) that I would wait all day if it meant waiting on a black girl to do my hair. It was not my proudest moment, but I admit I have a serious complex when it comes to letting women who are not black style my hair.
I’ve been that way ever since “the hair incident”. It happened when I was seven years old. I had a thick mane that reached the middle of my back. My mom would braid my hair, put it in ponytails and press it with a hot comb, but her hard work rarely lasted past recess as I had dreams back then of being the first girl in the NFL and used touch football games with the boys on the playground to practice. I was a roughhouser, but I wanted my hair straight. Looking for an easier way to manage my hair, my mom let her white friend Christina – who was a licensed cosmetologist and had been doing my hair for the past year and a half – put in a relaxer.
I remember sitting under the dryer that fateful day and I reached up to feel the top of my hair. It was rock hard as though she had smoothed a thick layer of ProStyles black hair gel from my roots to my ends. I tipped the hooded dryer up and whispered to my mom, “My hair feels hard.” Overhearing, Christina replied, “It shouldn’t feel hard.”
I don’t remember much else after that, but my mom says, later she was combing my hair and immediately noticed it was falling out in chunks. In addition, I was completely bald around the edges. My mom says my hair felt hard and jagged and she had never seen anything like it. She asked her friend what happened and Christina said she “got a hold of a bad perm”. She hypothesized that maybe the “Super” was in the “Regular” container. All I know is, I haven’t seen Christina since.
Not wanting to go completely bald at any point, a new (black) hairstylist helped me transition. She eventually cut off the scraggly, damaged, ends when my new growth finally reached my shoulders about a year later. By the time I was in 5th grade, the remnants of the relaxer that destroyed my hair were gone, but the memory of the white woman who did it was not and I swore my allegiance to black hairstylists from then on.
Lately though I’ve been wondering if this stance has any merit. There are scores of black women who will tell you about the time a relaxer damaged their hair — and that relaxer was applied by a black woman. In my case, I assume my stylist didn’t have any experience applying chemicals to black hair, (how else would she have accidentally applied a Super?) but does that mean all white women don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to black hair?
One day, probably fifteen years after the hair incident, I let a white girl wash and flat iron my hair. My roots weren’t completely dry when she flat ironed my hair, so, of course, about 30 minutes after leaving the salon it was like I never went.
I had the same experience with a girl whose nationality I cannot pinpoint. Then, I had a great experience with a white beautician in a Walmart salon. I initially refused to let her do my hair, but she told me a license is a license and promised that she could straighten anyone’s hair. Reluctant but desperate, I let her give it a try. She washed; deep conditioned, blow-dried and flat-ironed my hair in 60 minutes flat. I was impressed, but I am still not totally convinced.
My instant reflex is to firmly decline when a white girl (or someone who isn’t black) offers to do my hair. I know that it was only one serious incident and others have had poor results from black cosmetologists as well, but I just cannot sit comfortably when the person doing my hair isn’t a black female. Is this a form of discrimination or just common sense? All black hair isn’t created equal and I know that just because a person is black doesn’t mean she knows what she is doing with my hair in particular; but I am about one thousand times more willing to try my luck with a black hairstylist than a non-black hairstylist. If it helps, I don’t let men do my hair either.
What do you think? Do you let people of other nationalities do your hair?
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