Many of you may remember my partner in crime Lo! And those that may not know her by name may remember seeing her thick, black, curly mane on my blog! After almost two years of not pressing her hair, Lo decided to pay a trip to a stylist to get her hair done a few weeks ago to change up her mojo!
Almost two years ago, she big chopped and rocked a tiny TWA under wigs until she started wearing her hair in twist-outs as pictured above.
A few weeks ago, she decided to go straight for the winter!
Over dinner, we discussed how difficult it is finding a stylist that not only caters to natural hair, but also specializes in healthy hair care. Many stylists are thoroughly trained on how to properly execute a style to satisfy their patrons, but often techniques like blow-drying, pressing, and the use of styling aids are done without the health of your hair in mind. - It is for this reason that it is important to not only monitor the habits of your stylist, but talk to them about your goals, expectations, and hair regimen before going through with the service.
Here are some important things to look out for and discuss when choosing a stylist:
Does your stylist "scratch" or "massage" your scalp when shampooing: Scratching the hair can weaken the bond between the hair and follicle which could later lead to hair loss. Massaging or rubbing the scalp is a healthier, more effective alternative.
Bring your own products: If you notice your hair is drier than usual, or your scalp is dry and flaky after a service, it could be from your stylists shampoo or conditioner; opt instead to bring your own.
Pack your own microfiber towel: Cotton terry towels can wreak havoc on all hair types and textures, so it is important to use a microfiber towel when towel drying your hair. Microfiber towels absorb more moisture and also help cut down on frizz, eliminate split ends and damaged follicles [from towel drying]. If your salon doesn't carry microfiber towels, bring one with you!
Towel dry thoroughly: Towel drying thoroughly means less time spent blow-drying. Less time blow drying means less heat which equals happy hair. Make sure your stylist gently squeezes your hair with a towel versus rubbing hair; as rubbing can cause split ends, breakage and follicular damage.
Avoid mechanical damage: You can avoid split ends, single strand knots, breakage, and eliminate fly-aways by speaking to your stylist about the manner in which they detangle your hair. Don't be afraid to speak up, it's your hair, and you are paying for the service. Be leery of a stylist that isn't attentive to your needs. Remember to express the following to your stylist:
- Hair should be detangled in small sections using a wide tooth, seamless comb [bring your own if you have to]
- Hair should never be detangled while it is soaking wet, as that is when your hair is in it's most fragile state. Instead make sure hair is towel dried thoroughly.
- Stylist should lubricate hair with either a light leave-in or serum to help the comb better glide through the hair.
- Stylist should hold the hair closest to the roots whilst detangling to help reduce the amount of tension placed on the follicles.
Proper blow drying techniques: Highly textured, kinky hair should never be blow-dried on high heat. However many stylist may choose to do so to get the hair as straight as possible prior to pressing. While it may make the hair easier to manipulate when pressing, it can dry the hair out, and make the hair overly porous. Overly porous hair will have a hard time retaining moisture, and breakage/split ends can occur. - Also keep an eye out for how close the blow-dryer is to your scalp/hair; a healthy distance is between 6-8 inches. If you notice your scalp is tight, flaky and dry after blow-drying, the stylist either had the blow dryer too close, too hot, or a combination of both.
- Hair should always be detangled from the bottom up.
Go easy on the spritz's and serums: Yes hair spray may help keep every hair in place, but they can also be very drying on the hair due to the alcohol content. Spraying each section of hair before pressing or curling it with hair spray that contains alcohol can be a recipe for disaster [breakage, split ends]. Excessive use of serums can also shorten the time span of your hairstyle. Hair that is weighed down with serums gets stiffer and dirtier quicker than hair with minimal product. - If you want to minimize the amount of time you see a stylist monthly, make sure to talk to them about going easy on the styling aids.
Heat control: This is a biggie. How much heat is your stylist using? Unfortunately it is impossible to know how hot the pressing comb is before the stylist presses your hair. You can however take note of these signs that may indicate the incorrect temperature:
- You start to notice areas of hair that don't revert, or the ends of your hair may appear straight when your hair is wet.
- You start to notice thinning, usually it appears first around the area that frames your face [bangs, and sides of your hair]
- Hair may also be dry and brittle to the touch [keep in mind that brittle hair can also be a result of improper blow drying techniques, and the excessive use of styling aids containing alcohol.
Make sure the pressing combs are cleaned regularly: Pressing combs that are cleaned thoroughly give you a straighter, sleeker press, and are actually less damaging than combs that are loaded with buildup. If you notice your hair has a weird smell after a service, chances are the combs were not cleaned prior to using them [I typically clean my combs after each use, which completely eliminates that "pressed hair smell"].
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