The Break-Up

I think I broke up with my hair stylist. Well, I did in my head, atleast.

To bring you up to speed, I’m “going natural.” I haven’t had a relaxer since December 12, 2009. That’s a mighty long time, and I’m proud of myself sticking for it out. I recently heard growing out relaxers described as the new black. Everybody’s doing it.

Negative. Especially not in my stylist’s salon… Nothing but perms and weaves are done. Our business relationship is similar to a dead-end romantic relationship. You don’t want to believe it’s coming, but you can see it a mile away. There’s nowhere to go, but the other way, to get out. Don’t get me wrong—I love her to death. I’ve tried to hold on to her, getting spiral curls and even twists to get me through, but as I sat in her chair last week, I knew I wouldn’t be back for a long time.

Why, you ask? Because she doesn’t know how to style “virgin” hair. How dreadful. Maybe she just doesn’t want to. When I made the decision to transition, we talked about my options and the fact that she’d no longer be my stylist after a while. The conversation was refreshing. Thankfully, she’s not the type to be offended if a client goes elsewhere for services, but I don’t think she thought I’d go this long. My visits have dwindled from every other week to once or twice a month, if that.

My hair grows like weeds, so after two months, it was a beast. Instead of random “beauty shop” conversation, I listened to her talk about how long it was going to take to spiral, how she doesn’t have the patience to deal with it and how I’m going through a phase. I didn’t pay for that; I paid for styling services. End of story.

Take away the customer service component (which is stellar usually), and my main gripe is stylists’ limited skill sets. Why don’t they know how to handle transitioning or natural hair? Why do I have to go to an older stylist or one who “specializes” in children’s hair? I don’t think natural hair should be a specialty. It should be a requirement because we don’t come out of the womb with relaxed hair. Yes, natural hair is fragile and needs special care, but so does  relaxed hair. So why aren’t both taught in cosmetology school?

According to the State of Tennessee Board of Cosmetology, a cosmetologist, which requires 1,500 hours, and a natural hairstylist, which requires only 300 hours, are two separate classifications. Moreover, I think that proves the takeover of relaxed hair. Yes, I understand that some women’s hair requires so much to maintain, perhaps, a perms is “needed.” Even better, I understand that the unbe”weave”able world of weaves and perms is where the money is, but are we so far gone that  some “stylists” don’t even know what hair without a perm feels like?

Unfortunately, there’s an ignorance about our hair in the African -American community. I’m way far from who the natural community call “hair nazis,”  I don’t want to rock ‘fros and twists or emulate Angela Davis or Jill Scott. I’ll most likely continue to wear it flat ironed because that’s what works for me. I don’t know if I’ve had any self-discoveries that many women talk about, but I have gotten a glimpse of the lack of education about what grows out of our very heads.

Maybe I’m selfish in feeling like my stylist should be able to do all things cosmetology. I doubt that natural hairstyling was even apart of the curriculum when she took state board exams. Even so, I think a stylist should be trained to work with all types of hair. I pray styling options are added to state boards nationally because contrary to popular belief, everyone does not have a relaxer.

I’m not venting because I think natural hair is the only way to go. No elitism here. There are days when I want to run to the chair and feel that cold Mizani cream on my scalp, and who knows–I might do just that.  My biggest concern is the miseducation about hair–period. For far too long, we’ve been sitting in the chair or even standing behind it without knowing what’s really going on. Our only mission is to make it pretty.

Aside from my rant, the obvious solution to my problem is simply to find another stylist. Already taken care of, whether she knows it or not. In addition, I know how to do my own hair, and did so weekly for years. Luckily, I inherited those skills from my granny, who was a cosmetologist for 40 years. When I don’t feel like dealing with it, which is often, I pay someone else to do it. Complaints and jokes about what I do with my hair isn’t apart of the agreement.

It’s been great, but I’ve got to say goodbye now.

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14 thoughts on “The Break-Up

  1. I haven’t been to a stylist (cept for a trim) since the inauguration in 2009. I got weave then.

    I’ve noticed since I’ve been natural that people only want to straighten or weave my hair up. I’m not sure why caring for our hair the way it grows out of our folicles isn’t taught in school. It makes no sense what so ever!

  2. Great article. You’re right, they don’t teach how to style natural hair, girl they barely teach how to style African-American hair. I did a few natural clients and learned from a fellow stylist after seeing a trend toward natural hair. I liked it but definitely had a learning curve. It’s a shame that most stylists don’t learn, because there is money in styling natural hair too.

    • So true. My BFF is a stylist and she remarked how much time and effort it takes to style natural hair. Seemingly, since the trend is moving towards natural hair, they would get additional training on how to care for it. She kinda turned her nose up at it. Apparently, natural hair care isn’t taught in schools. I just think a lot of stylists will lose clientele because they are resistant to learn. In order to stay profitable, you have to move w/ trends. Just as in the computer programming world; programming languages may fade out for newer ones…If a software developer does not learn the new language, their skills will not be as marketable. Same for hair stylists…

  3. This was an excellent read and I believe more people should have conversations on the subject.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences as we have some of the same views and experiences in the world of Natural hair.

    Be blessed!

  4. This is another great one Lisha! I had to leave my previous hair stylist because she didn’t want to cut my hair, let alone trim my ends. She relaxed me too often and my hair started to fall out. She used cheap products so I had to let her go.

  5. Hey Lish, I read this on CurlyNikki and dang near lost my mind. It’s Terysa. I’ve been natural for four years, last relaxer the day after graduation (I was 10 months post relaxer, then I relapsed). Within the last 2-3 months I’ve ran across 5 blogs of people I know…random, but the reason I had to comment is because my sisters story is almost EXACTLY like yours. I hope all is well.

  6. Love this post…now speaking as an unbeweavable sistah lol I wear weave because I hate fooling with my own hair. I have never been a hair person so when it comes down to maintenance and upkeep of my “own” hair I just don’t have the skills and never put forth the effort to learn. After years of going to the salon every 2weeks to get my hair done, sitting there forever, getting relaxers and then two weeks later repeating the same process I decided that weave was my best option. However, last year I was so sick of my own hair AND sick of weave that I contemplated going natural…I talked to a coworker who has gone natural and she loves it but she did give me the pros and cons of wearing your hair natural. Just like you she had a few gripes about the stylists and she also told me that it is not as easy as most people think it is to keep up, because for the most part many people think that natural hair is maintenance free or at least mainly maintenance free. (at least I did) In the end I decided not to go natural.

    And I think that many beauticians, especially Black beauticians start off doing hair at home, or in somebody’s small shop and they cater to what is in demand for them. We all know that for quite some time weaves have been in high demand and we all know that perms are a necessity for many sitahs. So the stylists cater to what puts money in their pockets. But many of them will definitely have to step their game up now because so many women are deciding to let go of the perms and the weaves.

    good luck on the search for a stylist that fits you 🙂

    • There are a ton of rules and “dont’s” for natural hair that I had no idea about. It’s more fragile so it’s deserves a bit more attention, I guess. I just make sure to deep condition and keep it moisturized.

  7. I didn’t know you were natural/transitioning! Kudos to you! I can totally relate to this post. Even though I’m “natural” (meaning relaxer free)I haven’t found my ideal stylist and its been almost 3 years!Either you have to wear “natural styles” (twist outs, braid outs, rods, fros etc) or have a relaxer to get a good one that’s into healthy hair. With the natural hair movement some of us are being ignored. What about the women who don’t like to do their own hair? (ME) Those who just want a good blowout without the long wait times at the Dominican or Ethiopian salons?(ME AGAIN) Why does it cost more if you’re not relaxed? The Domincians are fairly cheap($35/40)for an amazing blow out but the “natural” salons charge $60 and upwards for the same thing and IMO they aren’t as good. Why is that?! My hunt for a great stylist has shown me there’s a segment of the natural hair community that hasnt been tapped into… upcoming stylists should take note. Good post and keep your readers updated with the new stylist!

    • Yes, I’m trying to do this transition thing. I bought some products on a whim last night knowing good and well I don’t feel like doing my hair this weekend. I’m going to try the twist out and see what happens. I refuse to pay over $60 for something I can do myself, even if I am too lazy to do it.

  8. I love this post! Absolutely everything about it. I’ve been natural for 10 years now. I’m grateful that every stylist I’ve been too can take care of and style my nautural hair. If you need referrals let me know.

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