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.
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.)
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 …