When Will Hair Salons Be As Multicultural As The Neighborhoods They Are In?
In 2021, it is difficult for a person that wears their hair naturally wavy, curly or coily to find a hair salon. No matter their sex, men and women alike that have textured hair struggle to find a stylist. They are left to ask friends, family, coworkers or people on the street they see with hair like theirs, where they get their hair done. It is a never-ending struggle! If you are one of the few that have an amazing stylist, then you are lucky, so is the stylist if they if they have one of these customers because they will never depart their blessed hands. But what happens if your stylist moves farther away from you? If it is a drivable distance (under 3 hours) you follow them, because god forbid that you must start all over again!
The issue starts with training, if a stylist attends beauty school, most beauty schools focus on mastering techniques for straight or straightened hair, but they leave little room for textured hair. Textured hair is generally more of a specialty for stylists where they go to external programs like Ouidad Education, Deva Curl Education or up and coming textured hair educating boutiques like RËZO Hair Care or Cut it Kinky. During these specialty programs, which are treated like continuing education, stylists learn how to maintain, care for, cut and style all textured hair types.
The problem is that these stylists are few and far between, the qualified stylists are overloaded and it is difficult for them to take on more customers. The customers have many needs, however the biggest is finding a qualified stylist. They lack trust and they do not see the expected results when they visit stylists that are underqualified to do their textured hair. Other issues that customers in the market experience is pricing. When they find a qualified stylist they are often exorbitantly expensive, even more than stylists that straighten their hair. This screams that there needs to be more talent in the market as there is a lack of supply.
Upon conducting a study of over 700 participants where over 530 had textured hair, there was a common theme that shined through the data. Customers are not happy, if they can find stylists to maintain their hair, they are either far away, lacking in skills or they are expensive. Not to say that we should not pay for quality but if many clients surveyed are concerned about distance, price and skillset then there is an issue. Looking at the word cloud of the surveyed participants you can see the issues that stand out.
Please do not misunderstand me, my reason for writing this is to say that there should be a range of stylists to support their client’s needs. This includes a price and skill range. There should be an arrangement of high, medium and low priced stylists who are able to satisfy all price points for the economy that they serve. I should be able to find a stylist that will give me a Bentley of a natural haircut cut with golden scissors, champagne toasts and a spa scalp massage. Or a mid-range cut served with service at heart and a knowledgeable product understanding. There should also be Super-Cut like salon with my price point in mind and a satisfying haircut. There must be a range to serve the overall community without damaging people’s coveted coifs.
Why is this important? Research shows that 40% of people in the world have wavy hair and an addition 15% have curly to very curly hair. This means that most of the world has textured hair! This is race and continent agnostic. How was the standard of beauty set to only 45% of the market? The concepts of beauty in most of the modern world and the skill set of stylists has pushed most to straightening their hair.
Given that we are now living in a time when people are concerned with what they put in or on their bodies, the next logical space is hair, which is inclusive of the beauty industry. What are you using to straighten your hair? What harm does heat cause to when straightening your hair? How do the chemicals used to straighten your hair for relaxers or other hair straightening systems affect your hair and your body? This should be discussed with clients and there should be options given to them so they can make a more informed decision.
The process to straighten hair is often difficult. There are many processes that one can take to straighten their hair, but the effects can be permanent and damaging. The most common chemical way of straightening your hair is with relaxers that contain lye. Lye relaxers are most used by professional stylist and the common ingredient is Sodium Hydroxide. Once one’s hair has been processed by a chemical relaxer it is permanently straightened until the client’s hair has grown out. Or the Brazilian Blow Out, Yuko system or other straightening systems apply a chemical Methylene Glycol and Formaldehyde which wraps and binds keratin to the hair when straightened with heat. Using this product or any straightening system similar even if it says it is Formaldehyde free puts the stylist and the clients at risk and must be effectively explained and understood. Companies that produce this product may say it only contains Methylene Glycol (liquid form) because the process to measure Formaldehyde (gaseous) form is debatable. There is also the method of straightening a client’s hair using heat. Heat is the safer option for straightening, however if done improperly by using too much or too high levels of heat on a clients hair, one can permanently damage their existing hair.
It is a person’s choice to decide how and what they do to their hair, but if the options are unattainable or unaffordable, is there really an option? There is a need and a desire to promote curly hair education to stylists as an option for the market they serve. Communities are searching for a higher skill set that will bring loyal clientele if they are served correctly.
Awoke from dreams of my curls flowing wild and free. Felt a slight breeze and realized I was me. -Phoebe Ash