Wagman Hair

White vs. Black Hair Salons | Do You Have a Preference?

We’ve been reading reports that Black hair salons are closing at alarming rates for the past four years.  There have been several proposed reasons and I suspect the answer is probably a combination of them all:

  1. We are still very much in a recession so women are cutting back on extra splurges such as salon visits and doing their hair at home.
  2. Dominican salons have began to flourish.  Whereas once only popular in the Northeast, Dominican shops have began to expand and are found in nearly all major cities across the US and the Wall Street Journal even reports Dominican shops may be partially to blame for Black hair salons going out of business.
  3. The natural hair trend has made more women want to do their own hair.  No longer depending on relaxers means a lot of women choose low maintenance styles like twists, braids and wash & gos.  Doesn’t get much simpler than that – no salon required!
  4. This reason is always ignored by major media outlets but the truth is we Black women are simply beginning to take better care of our hair.  Instead of biweekly salon visits between which we do absolutely NOTHING to our hair in efforts to preserve the look or depending solely on our stylist for every bit of hair care and advice – we have began to educate ourselves and take control of our own hair health.  For some reason, mainstream media believes only natural women have cancelled their once standing appointments at Black hair salons.  Black women period, for one or a combination of reasons, have began to do their own hair.

black hair salons

So in the wake of the closing of many Black hair salons, what we’ve began to see is more multicultural salons catering to women of all hair types and ethnicities.  Likewise, white salon owners and stylists are beginning to educate and train themselves more on Black and textured hair care.  So, are we patronizing those salons over our own?  Would you go as far as to say we prefer white hair salons?

Admittedly, I have been known to show preference to non-Black hair salons after moving out of New Jersey.  Often times the “other” salons are well established businesses, sometimes associated with major retail chains or spas such as Aveda, JC Penney or Macy’s.  They consistently use the same quality products, are always kept clean and are run like any other successful business.  Clients aren’t overbooked, stylists absolutely cannot be no-shows or even late, and salon etiquette is enforced – no kids running around, loud music, cursing, etc.  Let’s keep it 100% real – Black hair salons have a certain (not so great) reputation of all of the aforementioned.

However, the comfort level of going to a Black hair salon will never be matched by the white or even multicultural establishments.  Nothing beats the camaraderie of sitting in the chair of your long-time stylist, who very often is a friend.  Someone who not only knows your hair in and out but also chats with you about the latest happenings in your life and pop culture.  Being able to buy everything from beauty products, to fashion accessories and sometimes the latest bootleg videos (yes, I’ve been guilty).  Chatting with the other ladies in the salon, listening to music you all enjoy, and leaving with the feeling that you just had a night out with the girls instead of just receiving a beauty service.  There is something to be said for the unique experience had at a Black hair salon!

Black hair salons - longing 4 length

I’ll be honest, while at times I prefer the service at a mixed or non-Black hair salon, I refuse to give up the experience.  Whenever my feet touch down in New Jersey, my stylist knows to expect a visit.  She’s been a friend of the family for years doing my grandmother and mother’s hair, who by the way have kept their standing appointments.  She has come to graduation celebrations and family functions.  She is more than just our hair stylist and we gladly continue to patronize her Black hair salon.

So, what are your thoughts?

Have you given up on Black hair salons?

Soul Seed Tees
Ebony C. Princess About Ebony C. Princess

A self proclaimed hair enthusiast and healthy hair advocate, Ebony C, Princess is the chief editor of Longing 4 Length. She shares her personal journey towards growing long, healthy hair while providing hair care tips and information.

  • Lisa

    I ve never been to an American hair salong but isn’t the domenican hairdressers black salongs?
    I am of mixed race so I guess it is either for me. Here were I live there are no salongs for mixed races. I do prefer however, when in England or Southafrica, to go to white salongs. I might be ignorant but I have found that the “white salongs” (I put white in brackets cos of course there are people of all races working there) I have found that they have a more broad training. In black salongs there are some that are good at braiding, some are good at treatment and some are good at cutting. In white salongs, most staff can do most things. I also found that in white salongs they are used to a lot of different hairtypes, in black salongs, they can mainly do black and maybe mixed hair. I also think that they are better at blowdrying and styling with blowdryers.
    The countries I have lived in, there has been many black people working in “white” salongs, but few white people working in “black” salong. Anybody can explain why?

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Well, most Americans consider Dominicans a Hispanic hair salon more than Black salons and they do operate completely differently. Dominican salons are known for getting you in and out and specialize in rollersets and blowouts. I’ve never seen anyone getting a weave in a Dominican salon for example.

      It’s interesting you say that because as another reader commented, I’ve found Black stylists to usually be more knowledgeable about working with all hair types whereas white stylists usually are not comfortable working with our hair, relaxed or not, which may answer your question. It’s always interesting to hear the perspective of ladies living in other countries. But I agree that there are usually people who specialize, few are good at EVERYTHING.

      Great points!

  • Keoshia

    I have never been a salon girl wether really just had a standing appoinment at any salon, if I went it was on occassion. I didn’t really like the “black” salons because when I asked for a particular style the stylist always did what she wanted to do and I had to wait waaaay to long, and be in there for hours!! As far as the mixed or non-black salons, I like them for a good trim beacuse they never cut more then what I told them too.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Agreed, I hate when I say what I want done and they “suggest” something completely different! UGH!

  • http://www.myhealthyhairdiary.blogspot.com/ Healthy Hair Diary

    I haven’t totally given up on them but the “not so great reputation” is what led me to my last salon. All the “black salons” that I’ve been to in the past were very unprofessional. Honestly, I would just love to find a salon I can trust, don’t matter to me if its black owned or not.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      True, the trust factor is HUGE. I hate feeling like I may be facing the death penalty when I sit in someone’s chair. Its such a relaxing experience when I’m home – I tell them all the time, they just don’t know how great they are. lol

  • Shanna Small

    I don’t care who does it. As long as they know how to take care of curly afro textured hair.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Great point!

  • Makeya

    I Sadly prefer non black salons. The black ones I been to use a lot products with mineral oils and parabens. If I could find one that uses better products I would go. I go to mixed race salons, I been to a “white” salon for a relaxer and a cut and they chopped off about 2inches and over processed my hair. Mixed race has been great. I go for a cut and blow out. I do my own relaxers now. I’m telaxed. I only go to the salon for cuts and trims.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Agreed. It seems a lot of “our” salons only use Black hair products and even our best professional lines still include sub-par ingredients, especially in their moisturizers. But I’m glad to see our items going sulfate-free at the very least!

  • http://www.oneand20.com/ Britt @ One&20

    When I went to the salon, I would prefer white salons for cuts/trims and color. I went to black salons for styling.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Interesting. I’ve never had color, and I’ve had good and bad experiences with trims at both types of salons.

  • Aku

    I always preferred getting my hair done at Dominican salons and hated it at the same time. (One time an Italian lady did my hair, she gave me the best layers!) When I moved to the Midwest, Dominican salons were no where to be found. I couldn’t have been more disappointed. I shied away from black salons, bad memories. But soon I met Kessa. Most of her clients are natural and she runs her salon by herself. It is quiet and clean and she is so sweet. I love going to her but it was pricier than Dominican salons in NY.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      OMG, girl Dominican’s are the oasis in NYC/NJ area but when you move they are a scarcity. I’m glad to see them opening up elsewhere, I found out there’s even a new one in my city – I’m going to be checking it out. Congrats on finding a gem!

  • Robyn

    Living here in Namibia, going to a “white” salon would be hair suicide for me. White stylists and hairdressers here generally have NO idea how to deal with non-white hair, whilst most non-white stylists can work with any kind of textured hair. Up and till recently a white stylist will outright say “We can’t do your hair, we don’t know how.” The best salons in Windhoek employ a couple of stylists to deal with a variety of hair issues – the black stylist usually deals with braiding, weaving, extensions, cornrows, etc. The coloured (please don’t stone me, in my part of the world, Coloured is an race all on its own) stylist deals with colouring, relaxing, perming, cutting, blow outs and special occasion styling, and she can usually work on any texture regardless of race. The salon I personally go to once in a long while is a mixed salon like that. They’re very professional, whilst still having a little of that “beauty shop” gossip culture and flair.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Now you said a word there girl, “our” stylists are more apt to know how to do every type of hair while “they” look at us with fear in their eyes when we step food into their salon. I always love your comments because they give a completely different perspective. Us Americans often think our way is how it is everywhere.

      • Robyn

        That fear in “their” eyes is SO real, lol. I remember when I was in college and still living in res (it’s like a dorm, but with a sorority feel to it) I used to “do” my friends’ hair a lot, and that’s when I used to know not even 10% of what I know now. But I did know how to do a roller set, do a blow out and even give the most straight haired white girl a head full of bouncy spiral curls. I’ve been able to “style” for years. Now I know how to CARE as well. And I think that partly comes from being Coloured and growing up in a “good hair” obsessed society, I’ve always known how to make hair LOOK good. Only the past couple of years have I learned how to have my hair BE HEALTHY. (And there’s my next blog post topic!)

  • http://courtnea2001.blogspot.com/ Courtnea2001

    My stylist is at a JC Penney salon although she is African American. Honestly I love it. I never have to wait hours on end and still get to enjoy interacting with other stylists and customers. While the black salon experience is nice I don’t miss having to spend almost the entire day just for a 2-3 hr service! Either way I only go once a month. I’ve never been an every week salon girl.

    • http://www.longing4length.com/ EbonyCPrincess

      Omgosh, I agree! I like places like JC Penney because they always use the same stuff and you avoid all the “extra”. I’ve personally found though that the stylists at Penney’s usually aren’t as good as elsewhere. I always figured it was because good stylists have such a clientele that why would they be happy accepting only 30-40% of the cost of the service while the store takes the rest.

  • http://hairthereeverywhere.wordpress.com L. Eller

    Depends on what is getting done! I love a white girl and a flat iron! But for most other services, especially chemicals, I have to stick with a black salon! I just feel safer!

    When I head to the east coast, I am going to try a Dominican salon, as we do not have any where I live in the Pac NW. I am excited about that!