Skip to main content

6 Tips for Surviving a Salon Trip With Your Hair Intact

Avatar • Apr 9, 2012

The reality is that not all naturals are styling savvy. Some of us will have to make use of the styling skills of professionals to get our hair looking cute. But with all the horror stories associated with natural hair and salons, it’s easy to live in fear of professional styling. Here are six tips for surviving a trip to the salon.

1. Say NO to the trim

Unless you’re going in with the express purpose of getting your hair trimmed, don’t allow any trimming. Stylists are notoriously scissor happy, and can quickly eliminate any progress you’ve made length wise. Now if your stylist informs you that your ends are in bad shape, be CLEAR that you only want a dusting (half an inch trimmed off). Keep an eye on what your stylist is doing and, if they go beyond a half an inch, let them know they’ve done enough.

2. Come with your hair pre-washed, conditioned, detangled and (if necessary) blowdried

If you are worried about the shampoo and conditioning products that will be used, or the amount of heat and manipulation your hair will be handled with, call ahead and let your stylist know that you will prepare your hair at home. Some salons will actually charge less if you come with your hair prepared, and some stylists actually prefer hair that is ready for styling. Another benefit? Less time spent at the salon!

3. Bring Your Own Products

Now, this might not fly at some salons, but it’s worth a shot. If you’re not happy with the conditioning, moisturizing or styling products that a salon uses, offer to bring your own. Some stylists are happy to oblige because they want to know what products their customers use. Others might be offended and see this as an overstep of a client’s bounds. Plus, some salons only use certain brands of salon-quality products, and might not want to stray. Just call ahead with your request and be respectful. You never know!

4. Speak up on behalf of your edges!

If you’re going in for braided or twisted styles, make it clear to your stylist that your edges are SENSITIVE and you don’t want excessive pulling on them. Many stylists say they pull tight on the edges to keep flat twists and cornrows as neat as possible. Let your stylist know that you’re willing to sacrifice some neatness for the sake of comfort and edge protection!

5. Bring a friend or family member for reinforcement

If you’re not the outspoken type and you’re afraid that you’re going to be railroaded, bring a friend for reinforcement. While getting my hair braided at a French-speaking African salon in college, I brought a friend who was from the Ivory Coast and fluent in French. Having her there was a godsend. She was able to steer the braiders away from using synthetic hair that was too heavy, and let them know when they were pulling too hard (as evidenced by the pained expressions on my face). Admittedly, it is a time commitment for the friend, so reward them with dinner or lunch afterwards.

6. Speak out on Yelp.com

For those who don’t know, Yelp.com is the most popular customer review and search website for local businesses. If you are unhappy with the service you got at a salon, let the world know! A friend of mine had a terrible experience at a local salon and wrote a scathing (yet honest!) Yelp review. The salon called her back the next day and offered to re-style her hair free of charge! They did a great job the second time around, and my friend went on to update her Yelp review.

Extra Tip: Be mindful of heat

The most important prep work for a successful salon visit happens before you even sit in the chair. It’s important to call ahead to get an idea of how much heat a salon uses for natural hair styling. If you are heat sensitive, and a salon informs you that clients’ hair is blowdried straight prior to styling, then it’s clearly not the right place for you. Don’t take your chances when it comes to heat, because heat-damaged hair is nearly impossible to revert.

Ladies, how do you survive your salon visits? 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
57 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
LillianMae
8 years ago

My personal tip if having your hair combed for detangling purposes:
Don’t be afraid to speak up if they are using tools that you know will break your hair off! Don’t be afraid to speak up if they are using a method to detangle your hair that you know pulls your hair out…
I’ve asked a stylist (and showed her) how to comb my hair from the bottom up! She even commented that it was easier for her to detangle that way.

LillianMae
8 years ago
Reply to  LillianMae

What that last sentence was supposed to say was:
I’ve asked a stylist (and showed her) to comb my hair from the bottom up! She even commented that it was easier for her to detangle that way.

Danni
Danni
8 years ago
Reply to  LillianMae

I remember about a year and a half before I went natural when I went to a braiding salon to get nubian twists installed she used a metal clip to detangle my hair (yes like the ones used to hold fresh twisted lock roots) and clawed at my hair. At that time even though I was relaxed, I was still on a healthy hair journey and was hurt to know that I lost a good 2 1/2 inches that day. So please ladies, either speak up or become a DIY-er for your hairs’ sake.

hairscapades
8 years ago
Reply to  Danni

I tried to explain the “ends to roots” combing to a stylist once … she tried it, then went back to combing from the roots to the ends, stating, “I do it better this way.” Like really? I thought, “I don’t care what YOU do better … I care what’s better for MY hair.” Needless to say, that was my last visit there. And the really funny part? She had locs and is now natural. I wonder if she now combs from ends to roots. I will say, she was very nice and wasn’t too rough. But, you know what you… Read more »

KWL0711
KWL0711
8 years ago

THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!! So very timely.

Zenith
Zenith
8 years ago

IF you go to a salon which only allows for use of its own products, have them use the conditioner as a shampoo rather than risk having them use a sulfate containing shampoo. Many salons are still using shampoos which have sulfates.

T. williams
T. williams
8 years ago

I understand the caution needed since it is difficult to find a stylist who is mindful of not damaging hair by using toxic produc ts over using thermal tools or even being over zealous with a trim but your approach is all wrong . As a professional and licensed stylist I’m offended at the assumption that stylist are incompetent . Firstly don’t sit in any stylist chair that you havnt had a consultation with .ask questions re: your expectations and concerns via phone or in person. This article sounds as if the stylist is not capable , if you feel… Read more »

merry
merry
8 years ago
Reply to  T. williams

sorry but i think that when it comes to natural hair, most stylists are not competent. it would take some SERIOUS convincing to get me into anybody’s salon ever again.

i might also add that since the hair/scalp of so many black women is so bad, i could easily argue that stylists who work with black women’s hair are not that great…

i mean, stylists who work with black women are using glue, tracks, relaxers regularly and those things simply are not good for healthy hair and scalp.

Christelyn
8 years ago
Reply to  T. williams

Sorry you are offended, but when you have this many stories, from this many women, me thinks something is amiss. I think black women are just tired of being taken for grated by a startling amount of stylists. Many of us have been held hostage for so long. Natural hair has set us free. 😉

Natalie
Natalie
8 years ago
Reply to  T. williams

Dear T,

Even if you tell the stylist what you want they think they can do what they like with your hair. Even though I told my stylist don’t cut more than an inch when I got home more than an inch was missing from my hair. Sorry you are offended but your profession is full of jealous control freaks who overcharge for their services.

Zenith
Zenith
8 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Natalie The same thing happened to me years ago when I was a college student in NYC. Went to the salon and this heifer cut ALL my hair off, then turned up her nose and looked at me like, “there, I did it, whatcha gonna do about it?’ She was obviously very toxic and sick. My hair grew back out, but the level of disrespect and sickness displayed by this person gave me chills. Needless to say, I did not return to a salon for many years after that. I realize that not all stylists are like that person, but… Read more »

Canteloupe_Brown
Canteloupe_Brown
8 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Amen to that. I went to a stylist in November to celebrate my 2 year anniversary of being natural. Mind you my hair grew a lot, and I hadn’t been to a stylist in two years. I asked for a dusting. The stylish showed me, at first, how much she would be cutting off, then turned the chair around and started chopping. Let me tell you, the stylist ended up cutting off 4 to 5 inches of my hair. It was short, but I wouldn’t have been upset if I could have styled it like I could previously when I had… Read more »

Camille526
Camille526
8 years ago
Reply to  T. williams

T, I commend you for taking pride in your profession and your work. But unfortunately, there is a great deal of truth in the words that she is speaking. Natural hair is definitely a new concept for many hairdressers, and a great deal of them fall short. I think the things she recommends are very good suggestions. Detangling and washing and conditioning your hair beforehand, for instance, is an incredibly helpful medium. As far as trimming, I have yet to find a woman that has not experienced a “trim happy” hairdresser, natural or relaxed. After several bad experiences from different… Read more »

ChariB
ChariB
8 years ago

I’ve shown stylist how to detangle my hair from the bottom up also because I know thats an area that causes me to loose alot of hair. Some dont like to be told what to do but hey it’s my hair and they are there to service me is my attitude about it (in a polite way).

DatChic
DatChic
8 years ago

I will NOT be going to a stylist.. Period. Too many horror stories. I’m a lil over a year natural and so protective of my coils. I would probably wind up Laying Hands! on a stylist that did me wrong. But I’ll keep these great tips in mind for when I’m brave enough to go.

Christelyn
8 years ago

I’ve done this–gone to the salon with my hair all washed and blow-dried, and the stylist had the NERVE to demand full payment for services NOT rendered.

DatChic
DatChic
8 years ago
Reply to  Christelyn

Wow, didn’t event think about that part!. Just wow lol

Natalie
Natalie
8 years ago
Reply to  Christelyn

I hope you didn’t pay. I had one hairdresser wash my hair in freezing cold water, make me wait ages and then tried to charge me. I left the salon with damp hair that had not been styled. If more people stood up to hairdressers they would not continue providing such a bad service. Why should I pay for a crappy service?

Christelyn
8 years ago
Reply to  Natalie

Alas, I did. I’m such a chicken…I didn’t want a confrontation. And back then the balance of power was shifted squarely in the hairdresser’s hand. Literally.

Cia
Cia
8 years ago

I don’t think this piece was meant to insult stylist, if you are one of the good ones then no need to take it personally, I am sure your clients and their hair sing your praises. The truth is that for many many years women have been putting their hair in the hands of stylist who care more about the style and the cash than the true health of their client’s tresses. I have seen many a stylist slap a perm in severely damaged, broken off hair, no edges and it is just sad.

Tara
Tara
8 years ago

I hate to say it but I can’t go to salons because usually for me they all get attitudes when I attempt to tell them how to work with my hair. I even call ahead of time if they are new to say hey fyi my hair is natural, long and very thick so be prepared and patient. They usually give me the “oh I do natural hair all the time” lies And of course with no fail every time, my hair is yanked, snatched through pulled out and fried like bacon and If I attempt to assist I get the… Read more »

DatChic
DatChic
8 years ago
Reply to  Tara

My thoughts exactly. I could only imagine the amount of attitude i’ll get if offer advice or as they see it “try to tell them how to do their job”

Tara
Tara
8 years ago
Reply to  DatChic

Yes! advice is not allowed. Not even on your own head…craaazy

Christelyn
8 years ago
Reply to  Tara

Tara, me too. The yanking…you ask nicely, they STILL do it. As a mom of three girls, I know I do it when I’m extremely rushed, but I try to be very careful. I think when it happens at the salon, it’s done more out of a feeling of being rushed–perhaps a line of overbooked clients, lol. BUT! this has happened to me with one hair dresser who I think was just being…I don’t know…my hair was mid-back and she just ripped and ripped, with a fine-toothed comb.

Tara
Tara
8 years ago
Reply to  Christelyn

I get what you’re saying Christelyn. I know there is no way that you could ever rake through your babies hair like a rushed unexperienced w/ natural hair stylist could because naturals usually know the right moisture level and type of comb before even attempting to begin raking.

That stylist trying to comb your hair with a rat tail comb…omg I don’t even want to imagine. The horror lol

merry
merry
8 years ago

last summer i went to a salon for the first time in more than a decade. it reminded me why i stopped going and why i will not return.

can’t stand salons and stylists.

if you have to do all that stuff to “survive” an experience you’re paying for, maybe you shouldn’t go.

African Violet
African Violet
8 years ago
Reply to  merry

And there you have it! If I have to call ahead and make sure that someone does natural hair, or if I have to show someone how to detangle my hair, or if I have to prep my hair before I go to the salon, or if I have to suggest bringing my own shampoo and conditioner…

Well, that’s just doing the most, in my opinion.

I appreciate the article, though, BGLH, because I know that there are women who do go to salons for their own personal reasons. This list could be a helpful tool for them.

Natalee
Natalee
8 years ago

I haven’t been to salon in years and haven’t bothered to blow dry or straighten my hair myself for a while now, but this great advice for when I go in the winter to get my hair straightened. Serious question though; if I shampoo my own hair, possibly deep condition it, bring my own products, etc., how much should I pay/tip?

Jaz
Jaz
8 years ago

Great advice! Especially #1. Last March, I almost cried when a stylist who was supposed to be “trimming my ends” hacked off 6 months worth of growth. Then he layered it.. I was like WTH?!

monalisa
monalisa
8 years ago

Once when I was only a few months natural, I was in jamaica and my stepmother convinced me to get braids put in my hair since I wanted it done and it is so cheap there. I remember I went to the beach that day and my hair got so shrunken and tangled from not doing something to it right away and the lady was supposed to do my hair the next day. I said no I couldn’t do it and they tried to talk me into it. It was had because I’m not the outspoken type but I knew… Read more »

Sabrina
Sabrina
8 years ago

I would also suggest going to a salon that specializes in natural hair only..I’ve heard horror stories of Dominican salons as well as others applying relaxer or chemicals during the conditioning process without your permission in order to make detangling easier, smh

Tara
Tara
8 years ago
Reply to  Sabrina

Chemicals with out asking?? that is bold

Natalie
Natalie
8 years ago
Reply to  Sabrina

My friend’s son is mixed race and when he was 3 she took him to get his hair canerowed, the woman relaxed his hair, that is assault. His hair wasn’t even that difficult to deal with he has those lovely tight ringlets. This happened in the UK.

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago
Reply to  Tara

It happened to me in 2007, it was a ‘deep conditioner’ before flat ironing. I didn’t even know what hit me until the inevitable breakage.

Sunny
Sunny
8 years ago

I’ve been butchered by a so-called professional even after a lengthy conversation about my hair. I don’t trust anyone with my hair now. It was important that I retain my length after recovering from a serious illness and regrowing my hair out naturally. I also had to regrow my hair after a stylist over-processed my hair. So, I may never use a stylist again. I paid someone who was licensed and should have been clear that she intended to cut my hair to the new growth and not trim it. “Never trust a Big Butt with a pair of scissors and… Read more »

Faizahjade
8 years ago

If you all really need to continue on making list like this, then clearly, you are going to unprofessional stylist. They are few and few in between, so search throughly. But if a women needs this information, she needs to go back to a relaxer and let that take her hair out, cause women of color have gon many of years with that abuse, now they bashing natural stylist. Go to someone you trust and a list like this won’t exist. Quit going to unlicensed amateurs!

Annie L.
Annie L.
8 years ago
Reply to  Faizahjade

You are obviously not reading the posts! We’re not talking about the craptastic illegal salons located between a rock and a hard place. If you read, we’re mainly talking about LICENSED, DECORATED, POPULAR, MID-RANGE and HIGH-PRICED salons. I’ve been to them ALL and horror stories abound! Salons ‘specializing’ in natural hair and those not have aggrieved former clients with all hair types but we’re talking about naturals here and it’s still a crapshoot on decent hair practices. Stop assuming everyone is an idiot or complaining for bringing up or commenting on an issue simply because it doesn’t apply to YOU!

Canteloupe_Brown
Canteloupe_Brown
8 years ago
Reply to  Annie L.

+1. Yep. And when my hair was f’ed up it was by a licensed stylist who claimed to do natural hair.

arriva
arriva
8 years ago

I have been natural about 8 months. I wet to a Natural Stylist. Licensed, in her own Salon. She fried my hair with a hot comb. I actually saw a chunk burn out from it being too hot. I turned. Explained it was burning my hair. She grabbed my cheeks and turned me back around saying it was the heat I was smelling. She did it again. I am very polite but also very confrontational. So I yelled it this time. She mumbled under her breath that people style they hair at home being cheap so much that they believe… Read more »

Nikki
Nikki
8 years ago
Reply to  arriva

+1

arriva
arriva
8 years ago

Shorty was Shady

Natalie
Natalie
8 years ago

When I was in dreadlocs I used to bring my own loc butter to the salon and now I wear my hair out I’d only go to the salon for a trim and I wash, condition and blow dry my hair before I get there. I’m not taking any more chances. I’ve also walked out of salons more than once because of the way I have been treated by staff, they are always amazed as most black women would rather be seen dead then with a funky style on their head. I’d rather keep my principles and spend one day… Read more »

Truliecurlie
Truliecurlie
8 years ago

I just have to say that I’m a lil over 2 years since a relaxer and I have been taking care of my hair myself for most of that time. I’m satisfied with the way that I style it but I really needed a trim badly and even with youtube couldn’t get it right on my own. Every natural hair stylist I went to wanted to blowdry and flat iron to trim it so I eventually broke down and agreed… I have never been so pleased and relieved. She was awesome! She had to take about an inch (because I… Read more »

LillianMae
8 years ago
Reply to  Truliecurlie

RE: Also, just wanted to throw in that I think that because stylists are trained to do relaxed hair they have NO IDEA what to do with natural hair.

I concur! I made the same comment to my BFF (stylist) and sister (future stylist).

hairscapades
8 years ago
Reply to  LillianMae

But, you know the thing is, they should be treating relaxed hair just as gently, though maybe for different reasons!! The structure of relaxed hair has been compromised and shouldn’t be attacked like it’s going out of style either!! That’s the crazy thing to me. More stylist need to understand hair health means attractive hair. Eventually, no style can save damaged and frayed hair … only the scissors can! I’m planning a salon visit with a natural holistic hair practicioner in Montclair, NJ next Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed man. We talked for a while on the phone… Read more »

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

This kind of reminds me of a post I did a while back on the Lies Hairdressers tell you to keep coming back to their shop!

Truly, the trimming thing is something they swear is necessary to grow hair and while it’s true that your ends will be better for it, hair grows from the root. The split will never go all the way up the hair shaft. It will break off before it ever makes it that far. Unless your hair is only an inch. Then maybe 🙂

Duvalh3
Duvalh3
8 years ago

Tip #2 is so frustrating. I go to a reputable/“good” salon for a blowout and trim. I have been passed around to 4 different stylists and only one could detangle or blow dry my hair without yanking (the one who is always overbooked). The last time we agreed that I would wash and detangle beforehand. Resulted in much less yanking and a lower price but… ISN’T THAT THE POINT OF SOMEONE ELSE DOING YOUR HAIR FOR YOU? Most weeks I put in the time to care for my hair, can I not take one weekend off and pay someone else… Read more »

DeeKaramel1
8 years ago

I have been on both sides of the fence on this one. I went to one stylist when I used to wash and detangle my hair myself. Mainly,just to save from hearing, you need a relaxer, blah, blah, blah. Also, it saved money and time. Not to mention I got to use what I wanted to use. Now, I go to a stylist who used to have natural hair. She is much more understanding of what my hair needs. My one grip is the products that she uses. The last time I went she stated that my hair was so dry,… Read more »

Rachael
Rachael
8 years ago

Wait, why am I going to THIS hairdresser, again? Is she paying me to instruct her?

b.
b.
8 years ago
Reply to  Rachael

Now THAT is a valid question.

Princess C
Princess C
8 years ago

I havent been to a hairdressers in over two years — in fact she lives quite close and I started going to her when I first went natural and pass her shop on my way to and from work. I feel sad for her because she has hardly any customers in while I go pass nowadays, and I know she has mouths to feed, but she really did not know how to do hair — didnt want to listen to what I wanted to be done with my hair, had no consideradtion for her cusotmers schedule and charged the earth… Read more »

prettybrownness
prettybrownness
8 years ago

I think the root to a lot of these salon nightmare stories is simply an unprofessional stylist. If after speaking and even asking for a certain service/cut/detangling method and that “professional” doesn’t do it they provided poor service. You wouldn’t accept a auto shop’s actions of replacing your car’s engine instead of giving you the requested oil change. That speaks more to how we as black women relate to each other. I have had over all great experiences with stylists, but that is because I do certain things first; * rely on references- even from people who are not natural or… Read more »

prettybrownness
prettybrownness
8 years ago

FYI: natural hair cair is taught in many curriculums- they just seldom get to use it even while practicing for their certs. and licenses.

I honestly know quite a few naturals who go to barbers for maintaince like trims & cuts since they handle natural hair on a routine basis and are used to trimming without using heat.

naturalhairneedslove
naturalhairneedslove
8 years ago

Wow,hearing all these stories is reall sad and shows that their is a BIG problrm with stylist and natural har! 🙁 I am 2years relaxer free and did the big chop 5 months ago and i really need a good trim as i have been dusting my hair myslef. The key is hair education from the stylist and good communication. I haven’t experienced anything like that but i have moved town so hairdresser is the ONLY one at the moment i feel confident with,i always used to call before hand or have a consultation before anything happened to my hair and… Read more »

BoogieLurv
BoogieLurv
8 years ago

I just went to the salon for the first time in 18months today! I went to get twist extensions installed. Lawd I’ll tell you now I was so nervous last night I almost cancelled! But I stuck to my guns and went as prepared as I could; hair washed, conditioned, moisturised and stretched ahead of time. Of course when I got there the stylist was less than pleased at the stated of my hair as it was not the usual comb-friendly relaxed hair they are used to. But from the get I spoke my case,and explained that I do my… Read more »

57
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Shopping Cart