In most instances in our lives, we turn to professionals for expert advice and guidance. We value their experience, their skills, their knowledge, their training and at times their passion for their vocation. This applies to doctors, lawyers (if you can trust them), mechanics, bankers (sometimes), cooks, bakers, grocers. BUT, in my humble experience, this does not usually apply to hairdressers. Let me clarify myself, before I am attacked with blow dryers and scissors.
In my country, Zambia, after older women, the most opposition you get about going natural is from hairdressers. I don’t know why this is and where it came from, but I think it partly has to do with the absence of good quality training in this profession. Most salons are owned and staffed by people who learned on the job, have a good business sense or an eye for style, but not necessarily have had training in cosmetology, hair care, hair treatment or hair styling.
However, the main challenge I have with hairdressers is their rigidity. Way back when I was relaxed about ten years ago, I remember going into a salon and asking for a hair style to be done. The girl doing my hair looked at me strangely and said she didn’t know what I was talking about and there was no such hair style. This was back in the 1990s, in the Hair That Talks era (who remembers that Dark & Lovely campaign?). Anyway, after much complaining on her part, she agreed to proceed with my style and later sheepishly admitted it turned out well.
Fast forward to last year and I have trawled YouTube videos, read natural hair books and decided I want to twist my hair. As someone who can barely plait my own vikutis (small braids women and girls plait at night to stretch and protect the hair at night), I knew I needed to go to the salon. The stylist refused to twist it saying it could only be braided as it was too short. Their reasoning was that it would unravel. Now, there are techniques to this that they obviously did not know and so I will not blame them too much for their ignorance.
Another natural haired friend went to a salon to have her hair steamed and she too was refused service. The reason: Natural hair doesn’t need to be treated. For what? The very idea was ridiculous to all the girls who worked their and some of the other customers. My friend left in frustration.
|Wide tooth afro pick/comb|
|Narrow tooth comb|
Whenever I go to the salon, in Zambia, I always comb my own hair. Why? because they insist on using a fine toothed comb (for relaxed hair) to comb my kinky hair. No matter how many times I object or complain, the concept that you are breaking my hair and it needs to be detangled is foreign. Hence, I carry my own wide tooth comb in my bag. I am sure readers from other countries (especially the more developed ones), find this whole idea strange, but this is what I have experienced regularly and I hear the same stories from other women too.
So, what am I trying to share with you here? My point is that with natural hair, you may be your best teacher and your best adviser. Do not rely on professional help or advice from those that should know, but in fact do not. You shouldn’t take my word for it either. What is important is to know what is best for you.
This is why many naturals know and understand their hair much better than when it was relaxed. Having natural hair forces you to get up close and personal with your hair on a one on one basis. More on getting to know your hair in upcoming posts.