Alison discovers that getting a curly cut is all about communication.

Alison Zwecker

I prepared for my first curly haircut like one might prepare for the SATs or the GRE or a driver’s exam for your first tractor: research, Google image searches and polling of as many curly consumers as I could get a hold of, all while chewing a piece of straw. With all that prep work, I wasn’t as overwhelmed or shocked by my experience as I had assumed.

The stylists analyzed my hair while it was dry, then cut, then washed, dried and did some final touch-ups. I remember the mosquito-netting draped over the sinks, laying flat on my back while I was washed and the detailed description of all the products used. Most of all, I felt like my curls were understood, but not in a personal way, more akin to fitting them into a generalized category in order to determine a plan of attack.

So while I appreciated and was a believer in the curly-specific cut after my first go-around, I chose a different salon and stylist for my second trip. And that was when the real surprise came — the “curly cut” that I had assumed was standard throughout the curly hair industry was not actually a common practice. My second curly cut was as different from my first as compared to a non-curly salon. My hair was cut wet, the products used had water-soluble silicones, and the stylist used a non-microfiber towel (gasp!).

The end result, after my personal routine was applied, was pretty much the same, truth be told. So of course, my next cut was at yet another salon. This, like the others, was a place known for being THE institution in curly cut techniques. You know, "the industry standard." The flagship, mecca, homeland of the curly, if you will. And yet again, the process was different. This time cut wet, I was hushed at my mention of “layers,” and sat quietly while two stylists consulted about what direction to turn the scissors as they approached my head.

Having experienced these three mega-infamous salons in New York City, and three “the only way” curly haircuts, I have to say that I have a new perspective on curly hair care. Did my hair look great after each process? Generally, yes, but the means to that end were not at all the same. So I began to realize that, while I myself hold fast to my own sacred routine, there may not be one answer for everyone.

Curly hair is about communication: listening to the way the client speaks and the way the hair reacts. And curly hair has countless dialects of accents and languages even within the greater scheme of the poof. It’s easy for a salon or a stylist to tote their method as the end-all-be-all in hair care, but the proof is in the curling. Along those lines, there is a great market out there for collaborative work between these salons and stylists; if they work together (despite that not exactly making the most business sense, I have to admit), they can address the needs of more clients, and do so more completely.

That’s what really excites me about the upcoming "Texture on the Runway" event. We will see a range of professionals and products, and experience for ourselves how that may or may not work for our own head of hair. Curly hair is exciting because it’s about experimenting with your own canvas. It’s thrilling to find something that works, even if that method is not one that is recommended by your favorite salon. I’m looking forward to being an individual curly girl on the hunt at the "Texture on the Runway" event — to see how all these diverse methods can approach hair care, and do so in ways that will revolutionize all the things going on on-top of my head and inside it!