Although looking good comes effortlessly to us naturalistas, walking into a salon and finding a quality stylist is anything but. Not everyone works with afro-textured hair, and a bad experience can be devastating.
Knowing that options are limited, many stylists will advertise their “natural hair skills” without actually knowing what they are doing. They take advantage of a growing market of women who are looking for a specific type of hair care and use that to get quick clients. From there, they’ll often use your coils to learn on the job. I don’t know about you, but I’m not paying to be the guinea pig of someone trying to make a quick buck!
Despite that paragraph of negativity, finding a great stylist is possible. You’ll definitely need one for trims and general care. Here are six great tips to finding the perfect stylist for you:
It’s unlikely you are the only natural girl in your friend group, so check to see who styles the hair of your friends with enviable fros. If you can get a good referral, you're set!
Instagram is the ultimate spot to check a stylist’s portfolio. Nearly all salons now have Instagram accounts where they post pictures of some of their clients. Check to see if you like the styles that are being produced and if the stylist normally works with natural hair.
Beware: there are alot of "Natural hair salons" that really just specialize in getting kinky hair as straight as possible; while their clients may forego relaxers, they are unbothered by permanent straightening due to heat damage from the perfect "silk press"! Check for instagrams that feature the kinky afro as an "after" photo and desirable result, rather than just the "before" a flat ironing. Salon visits are an opportunity to celebrate and nourish your coils--make sure that your stylist shares this philosophy!
Also observe smaller details such as the evenness of trims and the cleanliness of the salon. Use Instagram search and hashtags to find stylists that are unassociated with salons.
Going on Yelp is usually the best way to spot red flags for stylists. If someone has a reputation of being rude to clients or just isn’t good on hair, an unsatisfied customer is sure to show up. You can also check out some customer uploaded photos and learn whether or not you are going to a place that wants to keep your natural hair coily. However, take Yelp reviews with a grain of salt. One negative review could result from a misunderstanding on the part of the client or just an honest mistake from the stylist.
A great indicator of the quality of a shop is the quality of the products they use. If you walk into a shop and they have brands such as Oribe or Pureology, that’s a good sign. If you recognize products from your local convenience store, steer clear! A good stylist should be able to know the impact that high quality products have on the hair of their clients.
Don’t Bargain Shop
Finding a hair stylist is not the time to be looking for the best bang for your buck. Save that for holiday shopping! If the price seems like you are getting the best deal in town, then there is probably a reason for that. This doesn’t mean to go find the most expensive stylist possible, but try to prioritize quality over price.
Once you think you’ve found a good stylist, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are confused about part of your hair care regiment or whether or not you should get a trim, just ask. If they start to get frustrated at your questions or don’t answer all of your questions, they are probably not the stylist for you. You’ll be able to see how professional the stylist is and their dedication to learning their craft. In addition, you’ll learn what kind of styles they love doing. If the stylist enjoys working on natural hair in the exact way you like, both parties will be happy!
How do you find stylists in your area? If you have any recommendations (or stories), let us know below!