I have yet to meet a woman with curly, coily, or wavy hair who doesn’t harbor some fear or anxiety toward salons. For many of us, the dissatisfaction started at a young age with too-short haircuts and hurtful comments from stylists who found our hair “difficult.” Once you’ve had a few of these experiences, it’s easy to understand why so many curlies swear off salons completely and take matters into their own hands.
But we want you to know that there are knowledgeable, trained stylists out there who LOVE curls, coils, and waves, and it is possible to walk out of a salon with a big smile on your face and curls that pop — you just have to know how to find them. Here are six signs to look for when searching for a stylist.
1. Their Instagram feed (or portfolio) is full of curls
Before you go to a new restaurant you probably check them out on Instagram, read a few reviews on Yelp, and look at the menu on their website — all within a matter of minutes. You know what to expect before you ever set foot in the door, and your stylist should be no different. If there’s a salon in your area that you’re interested in, get on their Instagram or website and take a look at their work; chances are they have tagged the individual stylists and you can quickly see if one stylist is consistently featuring curly clients.
2. Another curly recommended them
One of the best ways to know that a stylist is trustworthy is when another curly says so. But if you’re the only one with your hair type in your family or your friend group, don’t be discouraged! You can easily access reviews on Yelp or on our Salon Finder. And next time you see someone with a fabulous curly haircut, tell them so — and ask who does their hair! I’ve done this, and I’ve even had straight-haired friends do this for me when they spotted someone with hair like mine. Curlies are a generous bunch when it comes to sharing tips and recommendations.
3. They speak your language
Pineappling, no-poo, Type 4a — the curly community speaks its own language, and so should your stylist. When a stylist understands that you’re on the CG Method so you’re currently co-washing and avoiding cones, then you can rest assured that they are one of us. Now, I don’t think you need to quiz your stylist, but I do think it’s important to listen to the language they use to describe your hair and your hair concerns – do they want to “fix” or “tame” your “unmanageable” hair? Or do they want to enhance your natural texture so that you can fully embrace it?
4. They have curl training
Textured hair skills are still not a mandatory part of many stylists’ education and training, but luckily today there are a variety of courses, workshops, and seminars that stylists can attend to become certified in working with texture. Always feel free to ask a stylist about their training, or check their website to see if they are a Deva-Inspired stylist, Ouidad-certified, or are a member of the Curly Hair Artistry group.
5. They have a gorgeous head of curls
Of course this is not a requirement by any means, but I always feel at ease when I meet a stylist for the first time and they have healthy, curly hair. It means that not only do they share that personal experience with you, but they also embrace it by choosing to wear it curly and — if their curls are popping — then they know how to care for and style them.
6. They tell you no
There are some things that some hair types cannot or should not do, and a stylist who is experienced with textured hair knows that and will tell you. For example, if you have damaged, fragile, or chemically processed hair and you walk into the salon and ask to go blonde, a stylist should know the high risk of damage and talk to you honestly about that. I recently had a stylist tell me no when I showed her inspiration photos of short bob haircuts on fine, straight-to-wavy hair. She kindly told me that my thick, wavy curls would not behave the same way and pulled up her own curly Pinterest board so that together we could agree on a cut that would work for my hair type.