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Why I’ve Returned to the Black Salon When Folks Are Leaving in Droves

Avatar • May 22, 2015
Stylists Joelle Mitchell and Gwen Fields mix hair color at Halcyon Salon in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2015, before doing my hair.

Stylists Joelle Mitchell and Gwen Fields mix hair color at Halcyon Salon in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2015, before doing my hair.

By Danielle C. Belton of TheRoot.com

The long waits. The double-booking. The general “unprofessionalism.” The cost. I had a lot of reasons to give up on hair salons, specifically black ones, more than 10 years ago.

In the early years of the recession, there was story after story of black salons struggling as more and more black women moved away from the shop, citing every reason I listed above, to do their own hair or go to Dominican stylists who easily could “blow-fry” their scalps for half the cost and time.

And who could blame anyone for leaving or me for leaving? How many Saturdays of my youth did I lose to the creamy crack? Me and a roomful of women, waiting the length of The Godfather II to get a perm, reading old Jet magazines and eating Chinese takeout while sitting in a gossipy, dingy salon that hadn’t been remodeled since the 1980s.

And yet, three years ago, I, the prodigal scalp, returned to the black hair salon.

Like many women, I left the salon to go back to my roots—literally. I went natural and started doing my own hair in the kitchen as my mother had done for me when I was a child. It was much better than enduring snide remarks about how my hair seemed “hard” or “matted” simply because some perm-addicted stylist had no clue how to handle nonchemically-induced curls.

I’ll do it myself!” I said, feeling empowered.

Unfortunately, though, since I had gone natural, I, too, had little clue as to what to do with my own hair. I’d had a perm from age 13 to age 21. Meaning, I spent about a decade experimenting on my own head trying to re-create curly looks to which my natural hair had no interest in conforming.

My hair went through a brittle phase, a dry phase, a brittle and dry phase. (Thank you, clear hair gel!) I cut it off a few times to start all over. I didn’t figure out how to do my own hair reliably and consistently until about 2009 and the results were awesome, but as has been documented on this site before, the only person who hates doing my hair more than rude, overcharging stylists is me. But at least my own personal dislike of doing hair came free. The only thing I lost turning my hair from dull to Chaka Khan-dazzling was time.

But it was time I didn’t want to spend.

So I began the journey back. Back to black stylists. Back to black salons.

Click to read the rest at TheRoot.com

What do you think ladies? Would you give a traditional black salon a second chance?

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JenniD
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JenniD

I’m all for hair stylist of any color IF you can afford it. Nobody and I do mean nobody NEEDS to go to a hair dresser. Plenty of people the world over get by without. Places like salons, spas, nail shops etc. are luxury items in my opinion. People keep trying to shame us DIY naturals into returning to salons but nobody wanna talk about prices though lol. I can afford to a salon every few months or so but many of these places are $100 and above for appointments. That’s not good money sense to me. Think of all… Read more »

Deedeemaha
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Deedeemaha

JenniD makes some very good points. My visits to the salon were about every 6 weeks at about 110 plus that’s approximately $990.00 X 6 years = $5, 940 plus saved. And I only went every 6 we maintained my own hair in between visits. I already had to buy my own products which were better then the salon had many times. At the same time I stop getting my nails and feet done. I DIY and keep it clean and simple. I have naturally spoiled myself for 6 years. I got a housekeeper every 2 weeks on those days… Read more »

LBell
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LBell

You hit the nail on the head: Salons are a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have. For far too long black women have been made to feel like they were a need-to-have. Hell, I certainly did…like most upwardly mobile black women who came from upwardly mobile black families I believed that I had to have a certain look to succeed in the white world and if my genes didn’t allow me to have the “right” hair texture then off to the salon I had to go to get that magic cream that would make me *marginally* more acceptable. I look back on… Read more »

CeCe
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CeCe

You are so right!! Salon prices are extremely high depending on where you live. I live in Atlanta, so you know the prices are through the roof. I’m on a budget and the husband is not going for $100 each time to have my hair done. The key is gaining patience to do your own hair and keeping your routine simple. I’m not anti-salon but my last visit almost pushed me there. I went to get my color touched up (2 inches of roots), a trim and just had a blow dried. I left paying $125. Definitely learning patience to… Read more »

Rose
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Rose

Although I’d prefer to go to a black salon (because you’d think they have familiarity with afro hair), I end up avoiding them all together. I live in Texas, Houston actually. The last experience I had at your typical old-school black salon, I had to tell the woman to stop because she was disgracefully foolish about natural hair. She was ripping my hair out with the comb. She was tugging and pulling at my thick, long, healthy 4c coils. She didn’t even realize natural hair 101: water is your friend. I told her to stop, as she was making a… Read more »

Nicole's Naps
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Nicole's Naps

I have no loyalties to any stylist of any race. If the stylist is conscientious, the service is good, and the price is right — I’m there.

Chevanne
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I started going to a natural hair salon when I decided to grow my hair out after several years of a cropped cut. My hair was getting longer and I wasn’t skilled enough to do any braiding or twisting. I went on a colleague’s recommendation and it was the most professional and timely black salon I’d been to. Even when I’ve had to wait, I’ve been acknowledged and have trusted my stylist is only about 15 out from finishing the current customer. Once it’s my turn, I am her only client and have her full attention. It’s a world of… Read more »

Cosita
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Cosita

I like doing my own hair. People also stop and ask me who does my hair and I proudly say I do. The only incentive I have to go to a salon is for a cut. I would like a Deva cut. Since I don’t know of any black owned salons in my area not even te natural ones with a certified Deva stylists I have no reason to go to a black salon. I had a white chick who cut my hair when I was relaxed and she was bomb so I don’t discriminate.

Yolanda
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Yolanda

I wouldn’t give a “traditional” black, white, dominican…any salon a second chance. If they are still traditional then that is why I left or didn’t go to them in the first place. When I stopped relaxing for the last and final time I was also trying to find all-natural hair care products that my hair (scalp and skin) loved ( I am very sensitive to synthetic fragrances, dyes, etc.). I tried to do this with my beloved Dominican, English-speaking, licensed cosmetologist but I think she was at a point in her career where she just wasn’t interested in going through… Read more »

Aliyah
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Aliyah

I had alot of bad experinences with salons especially when i had a perm and didnt know how to do my hair. Now i wash and detangle my own hair . I only go to the natural black hair braiding salon to get my hair braided in cornrows ( no extensions added ) and trimmed . I pay 45 to 50 dollars . I only go every 6 months so im not paying alot of money . Its a nice protective style and I love cornrows on me . It lasts me for months . I know how to do… Read more »

sanjidude
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sanjidude

The only reason I needed a salon was because I couldn’t put in the relaxer myself. Also, straight hair needs to be trimmed perfectly or it looks terrible. As a natural, I trim it myself once every 6 months.Curls don’t require a perfect cut line. And once I found great conditioners (Shea Moisture Honey and Manuka or Tigi Honey and Oatmeal), my hair was a breeze to detangle. A quick rinse and 8 twists and I’m done. Can’t ever go back to losing a whole day and half a paycheck in a salon when my own results are superior and… Read more »

Rose
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Rose

Regimen? I need to try those conditioners. Thanks for the tip. My hair is getting to that phase, but it is so thick, I have to do 16 twists. Even still, I’m getting there.

sanjidude
Guest
sanjidude

My easy peasy regimen is: — Part hair in 4 sections & work on each section one at a time (to keep the tangles down) — scrub scalp with 1/3 Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to 2/3 parts water in a squirt bottle and rinse — scrub scalp again with any low sulfate shampoo. The suds will travel down the hair and clean quite well. Rinse — condition hair with your favorite product, leave in for a few minutes and detangle — let the conditioner do the work, final rinse — then, the holy grail of leave ins (thanks Kimmaytube) —… Read more »

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