I have a typical curly story: nobody in my family knew how to manage my 3a hair, so they'd brush my curls and frizz them out. I learned in high school not to do that, but my hair was cut by people who also disliked my hair and had no idea how to manage curls, so I went through life with a permanent case of triangle head. Enter Marty. Marty is a quiet person and curl genius. He has been doing nothing but styling hair in the city for 14 years (he must have started when he was fifteen, because he doesn't look that old). Since he first cut my hair four years ago, I have not let anyone else touch it. I have followed him to another salon and back again. I never had such beautiful cuts before. They really show off the curls' shape, and yet still manage any style I want and grow out looking great the whole time. I used to have hair that I never wore down: now I have wash and wear hair. And I only have to cut my hair once or twice a year. I am getting married this year, and I know I could just roll out of bed, shower, and have my hair wedding-ready with minimal effort. In fact, I might do it! Basically, my hair's life is divided into BM and AM: Before Marty and After Marty. If you are a curly girl in the SF Bay Area, you have to see what I'm talking about. At the end of your haircut, ask him to style your hair "in ringlets". He'll send home with beautiful spiral curls.
I've been going to Hair Play to have my hair done by Denise for about 10 years. I have mixed African-American and Indonesian heritage, so my hair doesn't always respond as some of even the most experienced straight perm stylists wrongly expect. Some mixed hair (like mine) falls out or is damaged with stronger perm formulas, or is curly in some parts but straighter in others. Unlike many stylists catering to curly hair, Denise gets to know *your* hair. She keeps a note card of all your preferences (how you usually wear it, what style she did for you last) and a hair profile on how it responds to chemicals, color, etc., and she doesn't bug you if you want to stick to your 'do'. I usually have a texturizer done with an air-dry style, and a trim if needed. I do this about every 6 months because it's better for the environment and better for my health. Other stylists used to berate me for this (even some older women!) but Denise respects my style. Many of the stylists at Hair Play juggle many clients at one time, and I've seen reviews in other places about the long wait. For them it means they are seeing more clients in a day. I used to consider this a big inconvenience, but then I realized that on those longer visits I would get long deep-conditioning sessions and more thoughtful styling of my hair. This is great if you have the time, and I've come to love it and just make the time because I really don't want to go elsewhere and that's just how it is at Hair Play. BUT, if you don't have the time every once in a while, then let Denise know before your appointment and she'll work with you.
Fritz, the owner, is a god. Curly-headed women of every race and shade flock here to sit with hair dripping with water and his special setting lotion to emerge with perfect ringlets with not an ounce of frizz. Even if they say he is booked for two months, see him once and you will become a believer. He can do any hair, any texture, and way and COLOR!!! Honey he can take even dark brown relaxed African American hair to a believable multi-shade blonde. He is truly amazing. Caution: Fritz is a believer in scissors (unraveling rug is his favorite line) so don't go to him if you have damaged ends that you don't want to cut. But he will give you the haircut of a lifetime.
I've never bought into the salons or stylists that say they specialize in curly hair but Matthew really does! I leave most salsons crying because my hair was cut too short, too triangular, or I look like I have a mushroom cap on my head. Matthew completely understood what I wanted and did a fantastic job! I even went back to go shorter which I never do. I recently moved from San Francisco and don't think I'll ever find someone as good as him!
The reviews on this site about Courtney almost scared me away from her, but I scheduled the appointment anyways on the advice of the receptionist and I am so GLAD! I have struggled forever with my curly hair- never wearing it down just because I feel like it always looks horrible and frizzy. Courtney has changed all that. She gave me a great cut that not only looked awesome leaving the salon, but amazing again when I styled it myself the next day. She sold me the products she used on me which are great products and products I never even thought about using. I could not be happier. So I guess everyone has a different experience but I am definitely going back to Courtney. PS She was super nice and fun to talk to too