This is Texak Talk, a weekly column that takes a deep dive into the dynamic world of curly hair. This week, beauty director Natasha Bruno highlighted the lack of trained salon professionals to work with textured hair and her hope that change is coming.
I can remember the terrible – and illuminating – experience so vividly. I was in my teens living in my hometown in central Alberta, and my mom booked me into a local hair salon for a trim. Next, I was addicted to chemical relaxers – I continued to apply my delicate strands religiously until I was in my 20s – as long as I help embrace my natural wire-textured hair – To help make your tight coils more manageable for me to style. Weekly poker-straightouts were my thing for years.
Growing up in a mostly white community, I was accustomed to not having a black hair salon anywhere until we traveled to a big city, and so basically my whole hair To take again (yes, even my dear comforters) in my own hands – cut and cut.
Upon entering the salon, I was greeted by a hairstylist who looked downright overwhelmed and as if she had absolutely no idea what to do or where to start. (It had been a minute since my last relaxer application so I got quite a new boost.) Her first strategy: coming off hard to thin the scissors to remove my natural volume. I have since blocked the “after” image, but I sit in my chair feeling uneasy in my own skin and wondering why it was so hard for her – a trained hairdresser – to trim the routine. As something to do. It was not that I was asking for a completely new hairstyle.
This is one of many examples during my hair journey and career in beauty, which made me realize that at a fundamental level there is a dramatic lack of knowledge around curly hair within the industry – an education gap that inconsistently affects black hair Does. And the ones that are worse are the negative consequences that ensured: textured hair customers have to deal with the hassle of a bruised cut or being completely dismissed from many salons due to insufficient training; The stereotype that black hair is intolerable; And, perhaps worst of all, the notion that even natural black hair is not part of real beauty.
My most recent memorable child encounters were earlier this year. Covering backstage beauty during the New York Fashion Week Fall 2020 pre-epidemic, I decided to go to a swatchy Soho salon for a cheaty ‘n’ go curly hairstyle that someone put on their radar. One thing I always have to ask when trying a new location is if they have a hairstylist on deck who is equipped to work with aero-textured hair. I was assured of a “yes” at the time of booking, but during a one-on-one consultation with his designated stylist, I immediately came to the realization that he had not really been exposed to the hair too much. Being my only opportunity with that appointment during the trip for a true NYC salon experience, I decided to bite my lip and move on.
I sat down at the sink, and soon two sets of hands were working on my mane; I realized that my stylist was being helped by one of her female colleagues – a black hairstylist. Step-by-step, she followed him through the curly-hair basics: washing, conditioning, detangling, and later finger-coaling for adequate definition. The whole scenario confirms another realization I’ve long held: the salon industry mostly sees hair color hairstylists serving serviced hair-clients and they often get twice the time to correct all types of hair One has to work hard. Not all professional hairdressers have the same level of expectation. I know that my experiences are not uncommon, and, to be honest, to this day I always wonder when I meet a non-black hairstylist who is completely knowledgeable about hair – like Kevin Mankso , Global creative director for Nexus.
I’ll never forget, when I first met Mancuso a few years ago during a New York work trip at Nexxus’s Tribeca Salon. The excitement in the face and voice of the experienced hairstylist as he was contagious to get his hands on my hair. And as I sit in his chair watching him effortlessly, in a style ranging from wash to stretch, I found that Manchu’s career was a path as a non-black hairstylist, much less traveled.
Brooklinite graduated from beauty school in the late ’70s and, unlike many of her classmates, who were gunning for the über-high-end Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue salons post-graduation, a predominantly black client Landed in the establishment. There he will meet two of his longtime gurus, a Jamaican and an African-American stylist, who master him with chemical chemical relaxers and how to wash, treat, blow-dry and chopped arrow-textured hair, as well as the iconic jheriel – perfect Helped in the wildly popular shag of chemically altered curls among the black community during the 80s. “It wasn’t until six years into my career that I decided that I needed to learn geometric haircuts,” he shares. “When I went to Sassoon Salon, which was my first time working in a predominantly white salon.”
As Mancasu’s reputation grew in an industry lacking black hair professionals as key players in the editorial world, he soon became known as one of the hair brands that some well-known hairstylists in New York Were those who could serve Black models and celebrities while receiving well-known models. In this process customers like Naomi Campbell, Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan.
Mancuso states that hairstylists do not require a basic level of knowledge of dark hair, as a result of which the separation of hair types in the salon was irreversible. “Back then, it was very different,” he recalls. “You either did black hair or you did straight hair. Most Caucasian stylists thought of black hair as a completely foreign material; People were really afraid of it. As a Caucasian man in business, I was an exception to the rule. “Sadly, racial segregation is still very common in salons around the world today.
Textured-hair expert and celebrity stylist Stacey Ceasran is fond of addressing the hair-trained hair stylists’ trappidation – one of the biggest driving forces behind mainstream black hair. “There’s a lot of stigma around working with very textured hair,” she says. “Stylists are afraid that they may not get the result they are looking for. They are afraid that it may take too long. They are afraid that they might disappoint customers. “
It is these issues that led Cicerone to create a unique position in the hair industry by developing online and in-your-textured hair courses for hairstylists – an initiative that has earned the New York-based specialist the title of brand ambassador and trainer For big-name hair-care brands like Oribe.
Ciceron’s courses focus on building a strong basic level foundation for working with curly hair: getting to know different types of hair, stripping, wet styling, cutting. “My biggest goal is to do whatever it takes to build the confidence of stylists so they can start taking clients with highly textured hair,” she says. And in the midst of recent racial unrest, there has been a surge in demand for her online classes among non-black hairstylists. “That’s enough,” Cesaran says. “The Black Lives Matter movement has opened a lot of eyes.”
Montreal-based stylist and salon owner Nancy Fallice says it’s best: “Ignorance is racism.” The Canadian supporter has also taken up the matter of deep-rooted black hair and textured hair in beauty education: she offers workshops for hairdressers out of her apological salon, which specializes in curls Huh.
Through her local workshops and internationally teaching, Falaise is on a mission to challenge and fix the uncontrolled issue of ill-trained hairdressers – so much so that she petitioned to mandate curly hair education in Quebec beauty schools Still working. “I saw that there was a woman in Toronto who started a petition, and I was like, ‘This is a sign that I have to do the same thing for Quebec,” she says.
Industry experts have worked hard to push the hairstyle industry forward, while demanding a complete overhaul at the school level, realizing that the trickle effect is slowly but surely taking shape. Case in point: The Vancouver-based beauty school Blanche Macdonald Center recently expanded its hair curriculum by introducing a texture-hair module. “It’s mandatory,” says Crystal Morgan, a textured-hair and extension and wig instructor at school. “We go really deep: the proper ways to cut, the right products to advise customers, natural hairstyling. We also joined Dreadlock.”
Oh how I look forward to the day when I can stop asking the salon if they are skilled at managing my hair texture. Here’s hoping that day arrives soon.