A hair salon experience is different for everyone. Where you live, your style, recommendations, or just your mood can determine where your hair salon from year’s past may have had. I grew up with going to my aunt’s house for my press and curl until I turned 13, when I had my salon experience and relaxer. It was like stepping into a whole new world. New smells, colors, and conversations that I was not familiar with because my mother was quite sheltering. I heard gossip, news, and even some gospel music and it all came from the hair salon I grew up in during my teen years.  

As an adult, it was a tad more evolved and engrossing. I was less of a spectator and more of a participant. It was a space for women to be women without worrying. Yes, it is the place to get glammed, as you can walk in looking a hot mess and walk out strutting like a diva on the red carpet. That is what a hair salon can do for and to a woman.

Now, I no longer frequent them. After moving to Denver and experiencing the drier climate, I went natural and pretty much cut all ties from the hair salons. Over the past nine years I have gone to a few and felt a twinge of familiarity and remorse for leaving them out of my life, but for the most part they no longer played an important place in my daily, weekly, or even monthly routine. What are the valuable parts of my past I might be missing?

The Pampering

I cannot tell you how much I miss someone else slowly moving their fingertips through my tresses and massing my scalp. Before I left New Orleans, the shop I was going to was crude in nature (it was a glorified shed behind the stylist's house) but she was a master cosmetologist. Miss Jean pulled you in with her reasonable prices and she hooked you with her skills. Many have fallen asleep and even snored while she washed away your dirt and tension.

She was a masseur if you ask me. What she did to your scalp and head was amazing. I could melt in that chair because she took her time massaging every inch of your scalp as your worries and pains rinsed down the drain. Many salons are all about pampering with food, music, and the understanding that this is where women go to get away from the stresses of life.

The Gossip

Shallow? Yes. Needed? Not really. Enjoyed and expected? Most definitely! The hair salon was where women came to vent, flaunt, lie, expose, and open up. It was where you got the latest on anything from the new Bey pic (to make you question her being pregnant or not) to your neighbor’s latest conquest. It was a safe space (if you were not the topic of conversation) and a place to make you laugh so hard you would almost pee on yourself.

Gossip can be good and bad, and because its duality is accepted in the hair salon. Finding out or keeping in the know of your favorite stylists and stars is always a way to connect with others who might only see during trips to the salon. It was a way to connect with your neighbors and now that I live with a lot less black folks around it would be a great way to feel connected again and I miss that. More than I sometimes realize.

Business Connections

The hair salon breaks down barriers and there is a commonality (i.e. stylist) among the clients. You love my stylist too? Because of this, our business world naturally spills into that. We have lives outside the salon and if you want to meet clients, potentials partners, or new networks then the salon is the perfect place. From small business owners to CEOs, the salon bridges the gap and leaves everyone on equal footing.

I miss seeing new and old faces and perusing wares that are being sold at the salon. I was introduced to businesses that I did not know existed when I encountered women looking to network and talk shop. It is a great way to meet some who are not in your inner circle.

The Community

Every salon has a strong sense of community. In years past, the who, what, where, and why was found out in the salon. Do not be fooled into thinking politics were only being discussed in barbershops! Women have always had their ear to the political pulse and discussed the news of the day or even the century. Neighborhoods, subdivisions, cities, and states were discussed as well as the plight of our world, children, and relationships. It was a haven for the ones who had no one to talk to.

Inspiration

The hair salons are a breeding ground for style, fashion, and beauty. You walk in feeling low and walk out feeling like you are on cloud nine, as you have been pampered, primped, and perfected. Yes, we are more than our physicals selves, but denying the significance of outer beauty is unrealistic. All women want to be beautiful, look stunning, and feel inspired to take on the day or task at hand. Have you ever had that banging hairstyle that made your head stand higher and put more bounce in your walk? That is the power purpose of the hair salon. Ain’t many places can do that and do it well.

What are some of your nostalgic memories from the salon?