Skip to main content

3 Steps Naturals Can Take to Avoid a Hair Salon Disaster

Avatar • Feb 4, 2015
Getty Images

Getty Images

Ever so often, I hear a horror story of how a trip to the hair salon went horribly wrong. For women with natural hair, the worst of these stories typically involve one of four scenarios:

1) rough detangling using a fine toothed comb

2) a “trim” that resulted in a serious hair cut

3) heated styling tools that lead to permanent damage

4) adding a chemical relaxer to conditioners to “loosen” the curl pattern without informing the customer.

These are frustrating experiences that highlight the lack of care and understanding illustrated by stylists unfamiliar with natural hair. So, how do you avoid repeating a negative experience? How can you prepare yourself for visiting the stylist for the first time after you began wearing your hair naturally? Here, I provide a few tips that will hopefully make your next hair experience one that you won’t regret.

Bring Your Preferred Products

When you go a salon you are likely paying for a service that includes the products used by the stylist, such as shampoo, conditioner, oils, etc. However, if you know that there are certain products that you prefer feel free to ask the salon if they carry the product in stock and if not don’t hesitate to bring your preferred products with you. Not only will you be more comfortable with the products used in your hair, but you can also be more confident that the stylist won’t add harsh chemicals while washing or conditioning your hair because they now have the option of citing your products as the cause for any undesirable outcomes. However, this won’t prevent a stylist bent on harming your hair with chemicals. In this case, you’ll want to screen salons before booking your appointment.

The Screening Process

Just because a salon provides the service you’re seeking doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right place for you or your hair. The last time I had my hair straightened at a salon I got the impression, based on the stylist’s “advice,” that she had very little experience with tightly coiled hair. For example, she told me that I shouldn’t twist my hair because it compromises the health my hair. At the time, my hair was around waist length, thick and healthy so her advice seemed odd, to say the least. Trust me, you do NOT want to be a natural hair practice for your stylist; Be sure they have experience working with your hair type. If the salon isn’t one that specializes in natural hair then I recommend interviewing a stylist and asking the following questions:

Which size of combs would you use for my hair type? 

What type of shampoo do you use? (if they are experienced with natural hair care they should have non sulfate shampoos in their inventory)

What is your method of straightening? (if that is the service you are requesting)

Trims, Cuts and Heat Damage

This is a tricky area because well-meaning stylists can be so focused on having your straightened hair appear “even” that they don’t consider how a cut will impact the styling of your naturally curly/coily hair. There are two ways to go about addressing this issue:

1. Ask that the stylist not cut your hair at all because you plan on cutting it yourself later. 

2. Request that no more than “X” inches be trimmed but be sure to underestimate. So, if you truly want a trim not to exceed 3 inches then ask that no more than one or two inches be trimmed.  If they exceed you request by an inch or two, your trim will not exceed your personal preference

When it comes to the use of heat on your hair, call the salon ahead and ask what heat protectants they use. If you prefer, you can even bring your own heat protectant, if you think it may be better for your hair. As for the straightening tool, feel free to ask the model of flat iron they use and explain that some flat irons have heating settings that work poorly on your hair. Once you have the model name, look up the specs of the brand so that you can request that stylist not exceed a certain setting. Be sure to tell him or her that you are less concerned with bone straight hair, so that they don’t feel the need to use the highest heat setting, which is typically the case for tightly coiled hair.

I know that some of these tips may seem overly cautious, but if you’ve ever had a bad salon experience then you know that best remedy is prevention.

 

Share you salon disasters. What do you do to insure that you are satisfied with your salon experience?

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
27 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pat
pat
5 years ago

It is a shame that professional salons still don’t know how to handle natural hair in 2015. They are losing so much business.

Dee
Dee
5 years ago
Reply to  pat

It’s not their fault that cosmetology schools usually don’t teach students how to care for natural hair. I only know of two schools (one right outside of Washington, DC) that teaches natural haircare exclusively.

The ones that don’t really teach natural haircare are usually Caucasian owned. A lot of Black women that I know of can do braids, cornrows, etc. but they do not know how to moisturize, comb, wash, and use heat on natural hair sadly.

Ajah
Ajah
5 years ago

When my hair dresser moved away she gave me to my new hair stylist. I happened to choose at that time to go natural. I told him and he said calmly, “ok… sure, let’s do it”. I put my full trust in him and I’m glad I did because I am basically his practice. He hasn’t done black natural hair before and I transitioned, so he had to work with multiple textures. I’m glad that we learned together. If I don’t want a lot cut off my hair I say I want my ends dusted. I don’t say trim unless… Read more »

Mango
Mango
5 years ago

The last time I went to a hair salon — the ‘ladies’ fought over who was going to do my hair … and I had my hair nearly tugged off in the process. NO JOKE. Apparently they had been having a feuding battle over old customers — since one lady said I was her long time customer (took me a while to remember since I haven’t been to a salon in years) so she thought she should do my hair yet I approached the other lady first. Yes, I sat there after my hair was blow fired and in the… Read more »

tasha
tasha
5 years ago

I am afraid of someone slipping a chemical into my hair lol. I have that tight 4c hair that has been ripped through with a fine comb. And I went to someone who said they had experience but they really didn’t.

I only go to one person who is specifically a natural stylist so I don’t have to worry about the above problems listed above.

JenniD
JenniD
5 years ago

This was very detailed lol. I think you kinda have to be this way though. Even if you are relaxed the questions above would still apply. Although unless I was highly allergic to various ingredients I wouldn’t bring my own products. If I’m paying for a service, products are included in the cost. Bringing my own stuff without a percentage off is kinda silly.

Rose
Rose
5 years ago

I like this article. I am strict about trimming my 4c hair. Thick, blunt ends make my styles look better, and my hair stays healthier. Plus, I have easy detangling sessions when I trim every 10–12 weeks. I used to go to my an All-Star stylist in Philadelphia, but I’ve moved back to Houston now. There are not many naturals and therefore not many natural salons. The few more well-known ones have horrible customer service. I’ve resorted to going to the woman who did my hair as a child, when I had a relaxer. I went to her 1 time… Read more »

Danielle
Danielle
5 years ago
Reply to  Rose

Great advice!

I’m currently in Philly and looking for a stylist to do natural hair. Who did you go to while you were here? Thanks in advance!

Rose
Rose
5 years ago
Reply to  Danielle

James Brown Hair! 11th and Pine. He works afros in his sleep.Make an appointment at least 6–8 weeks in advance though. He is always booked.

Bigantic
Bigantic
5 years ago

I’ve been to model castings for salon hair shows like Redken and so on. Those are the worst nightmare ever for any type 4 hair girl. If I’m not getting the evil eye from any Caucasian stylist there, I’m getting evaluated last or ignored. I’ve even been excited once to see a 3a curly girl at my most recent and LAST ever salon casting. She was brave enough to straight up ask if he does ethnic hair. He cooed “I love ethnic hair”, and explained it takes longer to do and such, and 3a girl should stay for the entire… Read more »

tolu
tolu
5 years ago

Detangle and stretch your hair before going to the salon

Miss Thang
Miss Thang
5 years ago
Reply to  tolu

YES YES YES!! They have no problem ripping those combs through your tangles, shredding your hair.

Lumy
Lumy
5 years ago

I wish I knew all this two months ago before having my hair straightened at a salon…my trim turned into a massive haircut 🙁 🙁

LBell
LBell
5 years ago

I recently visited a salon for the first time in a LONG time just to get what they called a “curly set,” aka a WNG. The stylist was experienced with curly hair — she had trained at Devachan — and to my pleasant surprise she did a really good job on my 4b coils. For better or worse, I was the only black woman in the salon…but I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. And I’m going to keep it 100 (do people still say that? lol): That was more than I could say for a few “black”… Read more »

Victoria
Victoria
5 years ago

I basically am not going to the salon…ever. Lol at her saying twisting damages your hair. I think I’ll pass. 🙂

icryclouds.blogspot.com

Brown Girl
Brown Girl
5 years ago

wait a minute hoooold up! people putting relaxers in conditioners now?? They really doing the most…I wish somebody would…

sparkle
sparkle
5 years ago

i went to a lady who “specialized” in natural hair. her own hair was natural and long i mean down her back and she def was a type 4. she used a fine tooth comb blow dried my hair without protecting it from heat and i went for a trim and she cut off 2 inches! my hair was really cute but never again. on the plus side she used some product that was so moisturizing that i went home and immediately began trying to make whatever she used (i asked but since she sells it she didnt want to… Read more »

jessica
jessica
5 years ago
Reply to  sparkle

Do you mind sharing the ingredients?

Aliyah Morrison
Aliyah Morrison
5 years ago

That’s why I don’t go to the salon anymore one lady who claimed to know natural lady gave me a bad hair cut not a trim then said I don’t want to make it too short and said she wasn’t done she will finish next time . My hair was equal lengths now I’m growing out a badly cut Bob which is all different lengths ( shoulder length when stretched ) . The last time I went to the salon she gave me the worst twist out didn’t even finish drying my hair and combed with a small tooth comb… Read more »

Aliyah Morrison
Aliyah Morrison
5 years ago

I’m A YEAR NATURAL . Even tho I achieved my goal shoulder length when stretched I still got a bad trim at the salon which set ms back my hair was a little longer than shoulder length when stretched no anymore . Well still achieved my goal but in its shrinkage state it looks like a awful version of a Bob .

sparkle
sparkle
5 years ago

im sorry i just saw this. i actually just started researching info about pH so before i give the ingredients i want to make sure its not too alkaline because i tested it before work and it was an 8!

lovelouder
lovelouder
4 years ago

Wish I had seen this article before getting my hair done earlier today. I decided to give a natural hair salon a try and I will never go back. I have very thick type 4 hair. The stylist raked through my hair using a fine tooth comb AND combed from root to tip. I was cringing the entire time and was too afraid to say anything since she’s the professional. My hair looked bomb after but I’m honestly surprised to still have hair left on my head and I’m scared to know how much hair was lost during the entire… Read more »

Shaniqua L.
Shaniqua L.
4 years ago

Can I ask the name of the school that teaches natural hair exclusively?

Dee
Dee
4 years ago
Reply to  Shaniqua L.

Madam Walker’s Braids, Lockery & School is located in the DC suburbs

Everette’s Natural Hair & Beauty School and Salon in Detroit

Kizzy
Kizzy
5 years ago

weird enough, I was thinking about this just today..After 4 years of being natural, I have only gone to the salon once and because of lack of preparation, I had to adjust on the spot…but even after following the advice above, I think I’m way too afraid of offending the stylist.. I’d rather figure out a way to style my hair myself instead of offending someone in their place of work by having to explain something that they studied and prepared for..

xyzebra
xyzebra
5 years ago

There is so much ignorance and hostility in the hairdressing community towards my natural hair texture that I have given up on going to salons. I’d rather spend that money on hair products and time at the spa. I feel way more empowered and relaxed this way.

Adía
Adía
5 years ago

the small comb when getting braid extentions in is the worst! I always ask if my hair is coming out and they say no. But i’m afraid my version of a lot of hair coming out is different for the braider

27
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x

Shopping Cart