Dear Curly Clients,
I come to you as a seasoned curly hair specialist. I was working on curly hair when no one would dream of leaving the salon with anything but straight hair. Even then I tried to convince some, “what if I just cut it so that maybe on your day off you can wear your hair curly without it being a complete christmas tree?” Some took me up on the offer and others assured me that they would never wear their hair curly.
Fast forward to today and many of you want so badly to understand and embrace your curly hair. Many reasons brought you here--you don’t care anymore what others say about your 3d hair experience, you have accepted these unique experiences as your own and now you are ready to actually OWN them instead of your hair owning you as it has these many years. Hemmed in by the societal norms used to inform us of best living practices, completely ignorant to the fact that they spoke only for themselves and that themselves was not everyone. The beauty industry was built and in the 80’s and 90’s came into a multi million, then billion dollar industry based on what? Straight, silky, pantene pro-v hair.
Paul Mitchel, Vidal Sassoon...they didn’t really care about racism or equity when they wrote their cutting and care curriculums for budding hairstylists. They were inspired by the technicalities of their craft and what they could do for the people who sat in their chairs plus the current aesthetic of the day and wet cutting is perfect and precise in the process and takes silky hair textures down a notch to a more two-dimensional shape that is more easily translated for the purpose of a universal cutting technique. It’s why stylists have asked curly haired clients to come in with their hair already straightened before cutting. Nevermind the incredibly inconsistent results for anyone who had a differently shaped head than the model or mannequin or the fact that these techniques could not account for the hair living in the three dimensional, it was a process that worked most of the time for the majority of clients who THEY served in Europe.
Of course, this lack of awareness and perspective is exactly what we are battling across the globe and blindspots are surfacing in every industry. Many are asking themselves, “How can we make the world a more equitable and inclusive place?” and then introducing their newfound insight into antiquated systems in desperate need of perspective.
Now, let us return to the present day situation with a huge movement to wear hair in its natural texture and not enough professional support to go around and what is going around is still rather inconsistent and sweet baby Jesus does it seem expensive compared to their previous salon bill. Then, there is a clear industry angle of catching the wave and capitalizing on your ignorance and lack of professional guidance. It is so awful and I am so sorry you have been being taken advantage of and continue to struggle with sourcing help.
It isn’t anyone’s fault today we are where we are, but it is our job as an industry to be able to do the hair as it grows out of the scalp. It’s literally what we are licensed to do. But here is the thing, we are also known for being a people pleasing, bleeding hearts industry whose only purpose is to serve our community and make them feel pretty. We didn’t set the pantene pro-v standard, we were just trained to take you on whatever journey necessary to get you there. Relaxers, keratin straighteners, flat irons, extensions, whatever it took to get you there is where the industry was focused on developing science and methods. And why? Because that is what you asked for, regardless of the why. Only now that so many people are asking for curly hair services has there ever truly been a massive in salon demand for help in this area and not surprisingly, the industry didn’t see this coming and was not prepared to handle the surge of demand.
But you must understand what you are asking of us professionals. The process of getting and keeping hair straight is dehydration: Fill the hair with silicones, fats and other hydrophobic properties to reject water and maintain two dimensional styles vs. The process for best curls is hydration: Fill the hair with water, aloe and flaxseed and other hydrophilic properties that can invite and maintain high water content in a three dimensional style. You see the problem, don’t you? Opposites.
Sure, we professionals learned this stuff in beauty school, but it wasn’t relevant so most of us didn’t log it. And now there is a huge need for education on three dimensional cutting methods, ingredient properties, product application, refresh techniques, daily hair expectations, and best care practices that only those stylists who have dared to risk disappointing their clients in order to try and figure it out on their own may have stumbled onto. And now there’s this method and that and these products and those ones and we also have to compete with information overload from Youtubers and social media influencers. How do we even begin to discover and normalize best practices?
My cryptic industry answer is with science and math (don’t shoot me, it’s true). Cutting three dimensional hair is all about geometry and the rest is all about the science of the hair and it’s interaction with ingredient properties. This is a very hard pill for most hairstylists to swallow since they promised us there would be no math...hairstylists aren’t known for being into numbers or the why, but I tell you there is no other way without understanding the ‘why’ if hairstylists are to rise to the occasion of being hairstylists for all.
Systemic change is hard and generational and this is no exception. Just like organic food, how at first it was hard to find and expensive in the cities and suburbs, now it’s everywhere at much more affordable prices. The demand will normalize the industry eventually and since the methods are math and science no single brand need own the information. This is truly work for analytical hairstylists and that gets to be ok if that doesn’t vibe with all the artists in the industry, it gets to be a choice. I also understand a hairstylists resistance to saying they don’t know how to work with textured hair...in today’s world it sounds kinda racist. So we are just in a weird space right now as we all figure it out together and all I ask of everyone is patience. I swear as an industry we are working on this gap in our portfolios.
From me to you, I can promise you that Left Coast Salon is committed to moving the needle of progress and I am setting up my business to scale larger so that I may have a space to train all those who value inclusion and equity in salon environments. I just can’t not. I thought a nice easy slip into retirement of sorts might be in my future, but when this movement happened I found my calling and I shall not ignore it. As was said in The Alchemist, ““You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.” and also, “Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked.
"Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.”
Helping people discover and love their authentic selves is my passion and because of this movement my passion and mastery of a skill set have finally merged and for me it is absolutely thrilling. So you see, I must persist on this journey with you wherever it leads and I know that I am not alone.
This is a call for patience and kindness as we mold and develop this new practice into the beauty industry, no need to be upset that there is a problem to fix. Rather, be elated that we see the problem and are working on the fix as fast as we can. We are still the same people pleasing, bleeding hearts industry you have come to know and value, we just need some time to work on ourselves right now. I know I do not speak on behalf of all stylists and I am clearly on the west coast, but even white people have always had curly hair too, so this is really an everyone issue…
We are working very hard to deliver the mastery and confidence you want in a professional and soon access to a well rounded professional will no longer feel so hopeless, exclusive and inconsistent. Oh, what a day that will be! But until then, please be kind to us as we make ourselves vulnerable to the process of learning something very new with your best interests at heart.