Ever since I went natural, I have been very careful when it comes to choosing my hair stylist. Even if it means being in charge of the styling, treatments and handling of my hair. In the past few years that I’ve been natural, I can say that I’ve only been to the salon about ten times in total. I am finding that the longer I am Natural, the less dependent I am on a hairstylist and the better my hair styling skills gets.
So, here are the struggles that I have with finding the best hair stylist for my 4c hair
1. They Braid Too Tight
Most of them braid too tight and are always too aggressive with my hair. In the 7 years that I had my hair relaxed, I only applied relaxer in my hair about twice a year. This means that my roots were always coarse, dry and very difficult to comb.
And because I didn’t know the basics of hair care (deep conditioning and moisturizing), I would neglect my roots and only comb the relaxed part. So by the time I get to the stylist, my roots would be so matted and tangled that it’s difficult to work with.
This made my hair stylists angry at me and my hair and would take out their frustration on my hair by tearing through and aggressively combing it with a fine tooth comb.
An educated and compassionate stylist would have applied a leave-in conditioner on my hair and advice me to do the same at home, instead, they would always tell me to relax my roots before coming. Although I always came out with a nice hairstyle, I would always lose huge chunks of hair, no wonder my hair never grew past my chin!
2. Uneducated and Impatient hairstylist
EVERY hairstylist that have styled my hair have been uneducated about natural hair and weren’t willing to be educated by their client. In the short time that I’ve been to the hairstylist, NONE of them gave me a hair care tip, not even on the basics such as washing, deep conditioning and moisturizing.
To give two examples, one of my longtime hair stylists told me to buy a scented hair oil to spray on my scalp once my weave starts to get stinky.
I cringed and thought “shouldn’t you be telling me to wash my hair instead of masking it with a scent?”. Another example is of another stylist who told me that I had applied too much oil on my hair because it was too slippery for her to handle and I should have come with dry hair.
Ignorant stylists can set you back on your healthy hair journey either by braiding your hair so tight that you end up with traction alopecia, dry comb and break off all the hair you managed to retain in your last two months protective style challenge or apply a damaging product on your hair without your permission.
3. Lack of experience with natural hair
Most stylists are still uneducated and inexperienced when it comes to natural hair styling, and would prefer not to style our hair. The few that are experienced and LOVE styling natural hair are few and far in between, and if you live in a city with very few Blacks, they might not even exist.
Luckily for me, I live in a big city with many Natural hair salons and so I have the option to pick. However, bad reviews from other naturalistas on Natural hair salons have prevented me from going to one. Since I would like to grow my hair long, I’d rather style my hair at home and avoid being someone’s guinea pig.
Speaking of time, I also don’t have the time sit and wait for hours for my hair to be done at the salon. Also, the time that I would have spent getting to the stylist and waiting to get my hair done, I would have installed a Marley twist in the comfort of my bedroom.
4. No time to prep hair before going to the salon
I don’t have the time to prep my hair to be styled by a stylist. No matter how experienced a stylist may be with Natural hair, it’s always advised to go with stretched and combed hair so that it’s easier to manipulate and handle. Hair that’s in this “friendly” form is quicker and easier to style, resulting in a pain-free and breakage free styling session.
The only problem with this is that in order to get my hair in a “friendly” state, I would have to spend about two hours doing a blowout, which I could have spent twisting or flat twisting my hair up for the week or two weeks.
Another stretching method such as braiding and flat twisting doesn’t stretch my hair enough and I might have to re-braid my hair over the course of about two days to get it to be perfectly stretched. And to perfectly detangle my hair, I’d have to spend extra time combing it prior to going to the stylist. As I don’t like to comb my hair too often, I figure the only way I could avoid a comb is for me to style my hair myself.
5. Can’t afford them
I’m too educated about my hair to fork out the cash. As we all know, Black hair care is VERY expensive and can cost up to thousands of dollars yearly. To prove this point, I kept a record of my hair care expenses in 2008 and discovered that I spent about $500 on my hair in that year, this expenses included hair products and synthetic hair that were used on my hair during that year.
Because I only knew how to wash and plait my hair, I HAD to go to the stylist every 2-3 months, with each visit costing an average of $80. This was a problem for me because I was a student and shouldn’t be spending that much on hair. With hair care gurus, I have been able to master the art of hair styling and thus save hundreds of dollars.
This have also given me some allowance to buy and experiment different hair products, especially the ones with reduced chemicals. What’s also great about this is that these products sometimes lasts me for about a year! Also, I no longer see myself paying someone to tear my hair, destroying all my hard work and put me through pain.
6. Can’t afford the setback and breakage
I can’t afford any setback. As mentioned in the first two points, ignorant stylists can make you lose the hair you’ve worked so hard to retain in the last few months in just one styling session.
Since I am my stylist, I can tell when a particular style is too tight and adjust accordingly, I can also choose to use my finger as the main tool and skip the comb in order to keep more hair on my head and less on the floor, even if this means a less perfect hairstyle.
Now, I am not trying to say that I will never go to the stylist because I’m aware that intricate styles such as cornrows will still need to be styled by someone. And so, I don’t mind spending some extra time at home stretching my hair and paying a highly rated natural hairstylist to style my hair every once in a while.
How often do you go to the stylist? How many times have you been this year?