Ok, so here I am, months later. I tried Na'Klectic and The Hair Connoisseur. Here are the reviews. This is quite long....
is nicer on the website than in person. It's in I believe Charles Village, the upper area of kind of sketchy rowhomes. You have to take your shoes off at the door, so wear socks. I think they have some slippers if you'd like them. Don't wear nice shoes when you go I guess.
Na'Klectic is kind of disorganized. I went on a Saturday with a 10:30 appointment back in March or April...can't recall. You have to ring a doorbell to get in, which makes you really anxious. I rang it multiple times before someone came down to let me in. No one was sure who was going to do me, and this woman washed my hair kind of rough. I was sitting in her chair and she was about to start when they realized that I was supposed to get done by someone else.
Anyway, when they figured out who I was supposed to be with, I got a flexirod set, I'm sure I had close to 100 flexirods in my head y'all. And she had them in tight. My head was like "whoa". She had herself triple booked, and took a lunch break while doing my hair. It's a unisex salon. I watched her retwist the roots of this guy's locks while I sat under the hood dryer....which I sat under for almost two hours. Yes. TWO. HOURS. It looked good when she was done, and she took photos. It only cost 60 dollars (plus tip), so that was great. However all told, I was there for 8 hours. Yes! EIGHT HOURS! My worst salon time to date. That's like a dang full time job. I left thinking "this is why I hated going to salons," and "I hope my car didn't get towed or broken into on that side street." It lasted a week before I felt compelled to wash my hair. Although the stylist was really nice (can't recall her name), I decided not to go back. My time is too valuable...I may go back if I'm the first person in the door or if I really want a particular natural style. The stylists there really do turn out some nice styles; I wished I'd gotten twists instead.
Last week, I tried The Hair Connoisseur
. I made an appointment a month prior for the week before Thanksgiving. Initially I had an appointment for 10; they moved it to 8 at my request since I wanted to go to the Amish store. The person who was supposed to do me the Saturday before Thanksgiving (Tamara, the owner), called to reschedule because of her son. I switched to the Saturday after Thanksgiving (same time), but it worked out because I wanted to go to the Amish market that day and didn't think she'd be done by noon. I warned her that I had mid-back length natural hair, she said no problem.
So I show up early on a cold Saturday morning for the 8am appointment. There was some construction in the back where parking is. Unfortunately, I didn't know you could just go to the lower level to get in for some reason, duh. I walked around the building to the front. It was locked, but another woman waiting outside the salon let me in.
The person who opened up, Brittany, was nice. She said she was 18 and in beauty school. She washes the hair, and when she washed mine later she did a good job, not rough at all. I like how she distributes the conditioner. Seriously A+ job, and she got a big tip at the end. I also got my first steam treatment here. It was something like 20 dollars, but I thought it wouldn't give me a little more of a safety net since I was about to put so much heat on my hair. It felt good....totally want a steamer now.
Tamara was 45 minutes late, so I sat in a chair reading my Nook during that time. I almost wanted to walk out, but I'm glad I didn't. This salon is like your standard salon. No weird quirks like shoes off at the door. Unisex salon. She has majority black customers but I saw one white guy come in to get his hair cut by Tamara.
Let me just say I was scared ****less. Tamara was overbooked and she had another stylist there. I hate that I cannot remember her name, but I think it was Stephanie. She has waist- length locks. Anyway, I was transferred to her chair. I could tell she didn't believe me when I said I had mid back length hair that was no doubt super-tangled after the wash and condition. I told her if she at any point needed help to let me know. And within the first 10 minutes she broke a comb in my hair. So, she pretty much yanked through my hair as she blew it out with the blow dryer. Like many, my hair is kinkier in the back and less kinky in the front, so it went from "wowza!" to smooth sailing. We both took a bathroom break, and then she started flat ironing. I was so scared. But it went well. You can tell they don't do a lot of blow outs on naturals, because they were kind of amazed that my hair was indeed mid back length. Of course they oohed and aahed over the flat ironed results.
My hair was super straight and super long and actually much thicker than I realized. She used the flat iron to curl the ends of my hair after she cut off, my guess, 2 inches. I needed that cut, so I wasn't sweating it. My hair is now bra strap length or so, maybe a bit shorter. I was told repeatedly I now had "man-catching hair" and I should proceed to go to the mall to buy shoes or get a makeover at MAC before I go out to the club (I did none of those things; went to the bookstore). I liked the results, but it felt really odd. The last time I had my hair blown out and flat ironed like that was like 2007. The entire time I had a sinking feeling that I would have heat damage, that my hair would not revert. I do not recall her using any heat protectant (I even brought my own), and I hoped the steam treatment and deep conditions I did in the days prior helped me.
I washed my hair tonight. As soon as I wet it, I felt it curl up in my hands. Slathered on conditioner, and it is perfectly fine. Not a damaged hair in sight. She must have used something. Plus all that conditioning and the steam treatment helped I guess.
It took 4.25 hours (including the 45 minutes of waiting). That's the best salon time I've had to date.
So now I can safely recommend The Hair Connoisseur for natural hair blow outs. Other than Tamara being late and start of the blow out (rough!), it was great. No weird people hanging around outside or in the salon. They offer you coffee and snacks. The hours on Saturdays are weird: they do indeed close early on Saturday (noon!) which explains what happened last time I was there. Stephanie also works at the Aveda in the Columbia Mall. I will remember her when I want another blow out, and I promised her I'd recommend her (she didn't know I was waiting to see if my hair would revert first).
Hope this helps someone!