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Dear CurlyNikki: For the past two years I have been transitioning to natural (I'm 100% natural now!) and I have been going to a hair stylist. Unfortunately, they have never been able to give me any good advice on caring for my natural hair. Right now I'm experiencing a lot of breakage and thinning and I don't know what to do. I really would like to go to a natural hair stylist who can give me an honest consultation and show me how I should care for my natural hair.
So my question is: What qualities should I look for in a natural hair stylist/salon?
Dear Sam: Although I don't have a stylist, I would recommend the following:
- Be the expert: Learn your stuff. Don't trust that any stylist will know (or even should know) your hair better than you. You're with your hair 24/7, 365. Your stylist may see you once or twice a month. Take on the responsibility of learning what styling and care techniques work best for you and relay that to your stylist. Let them do their job, but it never hurts to have some knowledge to bring to the table.
- Reputation: If I wanted a new cut tomorrow, I'd ask around. Before jumping on the internet (which is always my first move), I'd talk to my natural girlfriends, family members, even strangers (with healthy looking hair of course) about who does their hair. More than likely, I'll end up booking with one of their stylists.
- Rapport, rapport, rapport: First and foremost, you have to work with someone you trust. You are entrusting your hair to this person! You should feel free to speak up, protest, and also give credit where credit is due. Building a working relationship is half the battle.
- Clientele: Talk to the stylist about who they usually see. Is their typical client relaxed or natural? What is their philosophy? My sister's stylist in St. Louis knows how to work with relaxed hair, but she prefers to do natural hair and even encourages women to explore that route. Other stylists (like the one my mother and I previously had) may know how to work with natural hair but prefer to work with relaxed heads (easier, quicker money). That preference for relaxed hair may manifest in sly negative comments, which you don't need!
- Products: What do they have sitting out?Jane Carter or Motions? I'm not saying products are everything, but the quality of product (and ingredients) truly tells you how well versed the stylist is in the natural world.
What am I missing? What would you look for in a natural stylist?