Picture this, you walk into a salon with a head full of textured hair and all you’re looking for is a cut and style. The stylist looks at you quizzically and says, “We don’t really do that kind of hair here.” If I was that person, I would be embarrassed and most likely never step foot in that salon ever again. Where do I go to save myself a repeat humiliation?
Now, what if you were the stylist on the other side of that conversation? You’re embarrassed that you had to turn someone away because you are uneducated on the subject of highly textured hair. This humiliation on both ends is something that gets experienced far too often.
When is enough, enough?
When will we as hairdressers meet the demands of the client who is embracing their natural texture?
Natural/highly textured hair as a whole has taken our industry by storm. The media has done its fair share of being a textured hair cheerleader for the consumer. While many of us salon professionals have also embraced this movement, a majority of stylists are still lagging behind.
As an African American stylist, I am well versed in all hair types and textures because that is the way of the world for me. But on the other end of the spectrum, it is not the same, especially for stylists who don’t have the opportunity to get their hands in some natural texture on a regular basis.
So I ask you, from salon professional to salon professional, how can we bridge this gap, because let’s face it, we must focus on bridging the gap. Not just for our sake as professionals, but for the sake of our clients and all those potential clients that are getting turned away and feeling humiliated.
Here is what I propose:
Step 1: Remove the Fear & Assumptions Regarding Highly Textured Hair
- DO…understand that ALL hair is like a fabric: silk, cotton, and wool.
- DO…ask yourself the following: How would you care for these garments? Would you treat them all the same? Work with it, treat it and care for it like you would these fine fibers.
- DO…have those uncomfortable conversations before giving up or turning them away. Ask this potential client what they are looking for? You may be surprised that you can actually do it.
- REMEMBER…textured hair is, at most times, virgin hair. I’ll explain. Most women have been coloring or chemically processing their hair since high school. Over the past 6-7 years, we’ve seen a surge of what we like to call the “BC” better known as the “Big Chop.” This is when you cut off the chemically treated portion of the hair down to the new growth. What is left is virgin hair. This creates a huge opportunity to profit from the virgin world. The key is to understand texture and how to maintain its integrity.
STEP 2: Further Your Education
- Enroll in a course to learn more about the different textures and how to care for them. Continuing Ed is imperative for our success, and if you are presented with the opportunity, even if it is from your local distributor, attend it. It could very well be a tax write-off for you.
- Attend events and shows like America’s Beauty Show, ISSE and IBS. These offer a large amount of education in the form of workshops and hands-on classes that may come at a minimal cost to take, but the payoff for the education you receive is priceless.
- Find support with a manufacturer. Brands such as Mizani offer extended education and they have a curl key that you can reference as well. DevaCurl and Ouidad also have outstanding support and information for us salon pros.
- Follow respected industry professionals such as Diane C. Bailey (@emerge_nbia) who is a major influence and contributor to the natural hair community. Felicia Leatherwood (@lovingyourhair) is also on Instagram and is another person I like to follow. These ladies will keep you inspired every day. And you can always follow me (@rdbeautystudio) on Instagram.
- Educate yourself on the products necessary for detangling and managing highly textured hair. Understand why wide-tooth combs are essential, what brushes are required, the right type of clips to use and the proper drying/styling techniques.
- Finally, practice.
We have been met with a bit of classism when it comes to hair texture in our industry. I feel it’s great to see so many pop-up product lines being created for textured hair, and I feel like some of the larger manufacturers are missing the mark when it comes to natural texture and what that all entails and require. Many big-market companies have amazing products that work very well for textured hair, but the focus seems to only be on straight hair, blondes, redheads, and brunettes.
Remember this, hair is hair! We ALL need to be well versed in ALL hair textures. Textured hair represents a gaping hole in our industry. It is a marketing opportunity, a revenue builder, and a career changer.
By adding these simple steps to your arsenal, you will begin the process of bridging the gap.
My question to you is, will you take them?
Love & Light –