I thought I’d break this post into three. This stuff is deep ladies, it needs these posts.

Post ONE: My Bad Experience

Post TWO: My Good Experience

Post THREE: Tips to get a basic level of service

One of the things on my to-do list was go to a salon while I was in Zim,you know, check out the hair and beauty scene. I was really looking forward to it, cause I hadn’t been in a salon for a very long time. My personal experience with salons in Zim, and anywhere else really … is that you tell a person exactly how you want them to do your hair, they style it and you’re done.

I’ve been knee deep in hair forums and ladies in the States especially, go on about their stylist (hair dresser) working with them on their hair goal. From giving advice, to recommending products that will work well for your hair type, these stylists are just there for you.

I would love to see Zimbabwean salons adopt this practice. Having an experienced hair professional doing your hair is a wonderful experience and all women who visit a salon and pay for this service, should certainly experience it.

Let’s get into it.

Harare – Salon ONE
Being that I wash my hair weekly, I realized that I needed to make sure that I maintained this while in Zim. So I did an impromptu visit to a random salon in Greendale … I think. Well, it looked really clean and wasn’t busy, so I thought to myself…’let’s do this, cause my scalp ain’t loving me none’ – yes, once you start a regime, your hair loves the benefits and starts demanding that you maintain it.

So I walk in and asked if they wrapped hair (they looked at me like I was speaking gibberish), so I resorted to a wash, dry and flat iron, even though I wasn’t comfortable with this.

I’m going to break down my experience a little bit, cause there’s a lot of words in this post. (I’m sorry)

Aphro: So what type of shampoo do you use?
Stylist: I don’t know the name of it, but it’s herbal.

Stylist proceeded to hold up a lime green thick pasted shampoo goo look alike, and an equally lime green ‘conditioner’.

Aphro: Ok, may you concentrate on my scalp with a soothing massage. My scalp is quite sensitive.
Stylist: Eeeeeeem. Hoooookay! Ah, your hair is too long, I’m not sure I can style it. How does it usually get done?

*worry signs start showing on my face* I can’t hide my feelings; all that I feel is exhibited on my face at ALL times. Mind you she says it AFTER she wets my hair, otherwise I’d have left.

Aphro: Is that right? Well, just wash like you would any other client.

Ok, the wash was done quite well. She massaged my scalp really well and asked if any part was itchy. Funnily, it was … cause the shampoo itself had so many chemicals in it …

sidenote: whatever you put on your scalp, seeps into your skin and gets absorbed into your body. This is why, for example, it’s not recommended that pregnant women relax or dye their hair, cause the chemicals travel through your blood stream. So it’s smart to go as natural as you can.

She put the conditioner in my hair. No lie, as soon as she put it in my hair, she rinsed it out. *le sigh ladies, le sigh*

NOT HAPPY at this stage. But I’m here, suffering for my readers. Lol.

Didn’t like this experience at ALL

Hair is dripping wet, and she starts combing it with a TAIL COMB!!! Shock horror, I quickly stop her and ask her to use a wide toothed comb. She gives me that ‘now you’re all uppity’ look, but complies.

Realising that I was dealing with a novice (who had 3 years experience mind you) I ask her to start combing my hair from the ends and in sections. I then asked her what they usually put in the hair while it was wet – leave in conditioner (herbal of course), setting lotion?

Stylist: Ahhh, well, we have white clients and they usually don’t want anything in their hair. Otherwise we use this (points towards the heaviest petroleum formed wax based THING I’ve ever seen – thicker than Blue Magic).

Mind you, at this stage, because I’ve been asking questions, she’s formed an opinion that I think I have white hair, why else would she reference what the white clients do. Or am I being paranoid? Whatever’s going on here, she’s making me feel uncomfortable. But then I go back to my initial thought … it’s my hair, I know what it needs, and if we do it your way, my hair will suffer.

Phro: Is there anything else that you may use, cause I’d rather not have that on my hair.
Stylist: Kana uchida, tinongoita zvinoda varungu (if you’d like, we can do for you what we do for our white clients.)
Phro: OK

Stylist proceeds to blow dry my hair with NO moisturiser. At this stage I’m petrified. But I’d rather have nothing than a wax that will weigh down my hair.

After the blow drying, my hair is looking so lifeless, dry and just plain nasty. Then stylist has a light bulb moment and shows me amla oil that was in the cabinet, THE WHOLE TIME, never opened. Too little and definitely too late, SHEM.

Phro: Ok, before you put the heat on my hair, please put a little of the amla oil on it.

This isn’t ideal as amla oil will act as a sealer due to how it’s being used. A sealer merely seals in the moisture that should already be in your hair. Because my hair is uber dry, it was just sealing the dryness.

sidenote: If it had been used as a treatment, a cap and heat would have opened up pores and enabled the oil to moisturise my hair shaft and work on my scalp.

Stylist switches on a store bought (not salon quality, in other words) hair iron saying that the plates are ceramic. I only took one look and knew the hot iron wasn’t made out of those highly recommended ceramic plates. She put it on the highest heat … and started from the back and continued to the front. She didn’t know how to do my hair in the front, so I had to take the iron, and style it in front.

Ok, I’m not being totally upfront. After she finished straightening it the first time, I just said … do you mind? I took that hair iron, and did it myself. *takes deep breath*

Mind you, throughout this whole process I was friendly, smiling and being extra funny, so that they wouldn’t be offended and would just think … this young little thing is silly. But really my objective was to leave this salon looking half decent.

I took no photos of this day I can gladly say.

After the salon – My Hair Health Report

My hair didn’t break a lot (aside from it being combed while it was wet….as the stylist didn’t do a good job in detangling it during the conditioning) which is a testament to the regime that I’m currently on.

When I got home though, I doused my hair with coconut oil and S-Curl No Drip and wrapped it up to try and force moisture in my tresses. My hair didn’t like me very much. The hair salon visit that was supposed to give me a salon quality finish, had me reworking my hair cause it was a mere shadow of itself. Suffice it to say, I made no plans that night.

Salon visits are critical, which is why we need to have stylists that know how to do hair, period. Coupled with being savvy on the latest trends, our stylists need to understand the basics of caring for their clients hair. This is a serious profession that is highly regarded internationally and very personal for a client. A stylist should understand the art of using the right shampoo, how to detangle with minimum breakage, what product works best for African hair and, how to style it. Saying things like  ‘your hair is too long, how do you style it? doesn’t instill confidence that this lady knows ANYTHING about hair, yet I’m paying for a service where her mandate is to work on my hair. *side eye*

What did this experience teach me? Because there are stylists out there who don’t know a lot about hair, the responsibility lies with us to learn about our own hair and its needs so that we can guide them on how to take care of our hair. Zimbabwean stylists are used to being told how we want a certain style, let’s start telling them about how to maintain the health of our hair.

Know your hair …

WANTED: Professional Hair Stylists, apply within!
Posted by:Aphro

I'm a hair consultant and blogger ... I exist to give my beautiful sisters strategies on attaining and maintaining the health of their hair.

18 replies on “The Harare Salon Experience (1/3)

  1. I was cringing for you reading some of these things. Now imagine a natural haired girl’s experience at a Zim salon. The number of times I heard the words, “mufushwa” “hard mashona type” …*side eye* all I have to say is, i’d rather do my own hair because at this point I know my hair more than they do. too many general hair care things that they do not know or do not do, then look at you like you are crazy or too demanding for requesting them. Generally they have a very long way to go, so I’ll keep my money.

  2. I feel you on the whole “your hair is too long” thing, experienced when I went over last Christmas. Surely a professional would know how to deal with all types of hair. I’m now the DIY kid, I enjoy doing my hair actually. The next time I call upon a pro hair stylist will be when I’m getting married lol. Even then ndichaita serious background check. 😉

  3. I loved this article! It really took me back! I could relate to everything. I’ve found that in Zim you get better service if you go to a salon where ‘coloured’ girls go. They generally have longer hair and the stylists are used to seeing hair that is longer than shoulder length. They also know about wrapping and blow outs etc.

    Im really looking forward to the next two articles in the series. Really loved this one.

  4. Eish,that was some experience.I think ti’s safe to say DIY is best.Ever since I stopped going to the salon my hair has improved and alot of the shampoos,moisturisers,relaxers are compromised because most of these rent-a-chair hairdressers are after money and not haircare.I’m in Botswana and they char hair here.Losts of people have long hair but the quality is low.Hairdressers need to get back to basics!It’s about the health of our hair!

  5. i have to say u are so brave to even experiment with your and let alone stay in the saloon and let someone so inexperienced mess about with ur hair hats off to u girl…very informative and it makes us aware that we have to know our hair and what it like coz the next person wont even have a clue on how to please ur hair. DIY is the best solution and i have since taken to that. i see my stylist for relaxer and everything else i do at home. weaned myself off weaves and my hair is loving being free and thats thanx to u Phro..thank you for the risk u too for us and hope ur hair is not suffering now….

  6. So do you remember the name of this salon, I want to send my mum. Her hairdressers @ Sam Levy’s must have changed products on her.

    Thank you though for the insight.

    1. Hey love,

      I wouldn’t suggest your mom go to the Greendale salon I was talking about in this post. I have a second post –> https://phrophro.com/2011/09/24/take-two/ which talks about the good experience I had at Sam Levys. That place is called Goddess. She needs to ask for a lady called Gloria. That post has the contact information. Your mom will need to be proactive though about asking for products, otherwise they may revert back to the wax as is noted in my post. Let me know how you go.

  7. Wow, thank you very much for this post. I think I last went to a salon when I was 5 or something to get braids. I am natural and have not used any heat on my hair (including blow drying) since 2009. I plan on going to Zim sometime this year/early next year and was looking forward to a Salon visit. After reading your post lol, I am a little short of petrified. I think it would be a better idea to take own products and combs and tell them step by step how I want it done.

  8. I understand the pain you went through. When I was in Zim in October, I was hoping for a salon experience where i can communicate exactly what I wanted without any language barriers (I live in Tanzania, where they do NOT speak English). I had an almost nightmare experience as well, since my hair was natural, and shoulder length, and I have the “hard mashona type” hair. I will just have to wait until I am in Tanzania, where they can do long hair, or have my mum do my hair at home

  9. You say salon visits are critical..why? If I relax my own hair,I know how to wrap it myself and even moisturize it myself..what am I going to the hair dresser for??

    1. Hi Constance,

      The reason a lot of my clients are doing their own hair is because they don’t necessarily have faith in the knowledge of our supposed trained stylists. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to go to a professional for my hair care needs and then equip myself with in-between salon care. Same applies for doing nails … i’m sure we can all do them, but it feels all the more better when a professional can pamper you …

      I also wouldn’t want to get rid of a budding industry … the key thing is to equip these hair dressers with the right equipment and training for them to become responsible hair care providers … and experts in their own right

  10. oh my goodness!! These experiences are so common down here in South Africa too 😦
    I haven’t visited a hair salon in three years because of this. So called hair stylists are just women who have no other skill besides plaiting hair and putting weaves in. They care nothing about the health of our hair and will put a weave in for you despite the fact that you have 10 strands of hair on your head. I’ve even started looking after my mom’s hair because her hair is in suuuch a state because of local salons. Mzansi(South African) hair stylists need some SERIOUS training.

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