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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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!
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?