I hated making my hair when I was much younger. I hated having to place my head on the thighs of hair braiders. The experience was both suffocating and uncomfortable. Then there was the issue of the pain from the braids and the combs tugging, pulling and pushing through my 4 C natural hair. My mum used to console me by saying I would enjoy my hair when I started perming it as an adult. And in truth, it got a little better with her efforts to ease the pain.But as much as she tried, I still hated the stress. I begged to have my hair cut but my people would have none of it. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I took a pair of scissors and cut the hair myself. Thankfully, my mother survived the shock enough to give me a proper haircut. I wore my hair low till I finished secondary school. Then the time to enjoy my perming finally arrived. But nobody told me that finding a good salon to perm the hair was going to be another kind of stress.
That’s right. Even though salons with their constant background chatter and gist sessions from attendants can be interesting, it is not so easy to find one that suits your taste and budget. In today’s post, I share some of my experiences as well as frustrations in trying to find a good hair salon.
Let me start with the luxurious hair salons. A typical luxury salon will have stylists who understand the job. Their customer service is usually on point. They use terms like install weave, and theyrelax only your undergrowth. As we say in Naija speak: Dem sabi the work. When the hair specialist washes your hair, you lose track of time. And then, when it’s time to pay you start to hear the zeros. They even have POS machines so they can collect your money with ease.
Then there are the pretentious salons. These kinds of salons mimic the luxurious ones but thankfully, offer lower price rates. Usually, the locations look decent enough. The attendants try to smile and be polite. The owner or manager is often dictatorial to the staff and occasionally would speak with an untraceable accent and bad grammar. But these are things you can easily ignore until it is time to wash your hair. Between the smelly armpits, painful scalp scratching, and the too hot/cold/little water, you will suddenly discover their pretentiousness and wish you had gone to the luxury salon instead.
Here, everything is okay-ish. Pricing is average, service is average – good some days, touch-and-go the rest of the time. If you tip your favourite stylist well, she will be teachable and will generally follow your instructions. You make it your regular salon until further notice. No one will cut your hair while taking out your braids or weave (unless you’re unfortunate and get ‘the apprentice’). You might have to remind them loudly and repeatedly that previously relaxed hair cannot be due. Also, they stress and charge you a little extra if you have natural hair. But eh, you can’t have it all.
Usually, this is the type you just stumble into when you need to braid your hair into one of those local cornrow styles. You look at the dingy space and expect nothing. Then, to your surprise, the stylist handles your hair with so much care and expertise that you wish you had the funds to set her up in a better place. You pay N 500 for everything and regret the time you spent N 2, 500 for rubbish didi plaiting at the bad grammar, fake accent pretentious salon.
You look at the dingy space and expect nothing. Then, to your surprise, the stylist handles your hair with so much care and expertise that you wish you had the funds to set her up in a better place.
In this case, the stylist is learning – quite literally too – on your head. This one almost always happens at your regular salon. The salon owner/head stylist/regular stylist swears by the new girl. She tells you, Ah. She can do it. Don’t worry, then proceeds to explain what you want done to the girl – in a language you may or may not understand. You need all the luck you can get. And if the experience goes well, you’ll leave with hair intact, and your clothes not too soaked from an impromptu shower in the guise of hair washing.
Do you have any interesting salon experiences? We love to hear them.