An interesting article posted earlier this week (via Zora & Alice) going into some depth about current Black Salons & their ill feelings regarding the popularity of Dominican Owned Salons. Are Dominican Salons overtaking Black Salons throughout the country?
Armed with a blow dryer and brush, deft wrist action and shrewd promotional tactics, immigrants from the Dominican Republic are snipping away market share from African-American stylists whose mastery of black women’s hair ensured for generations that their customers wouldn’t, or couldn’t, leave them. Promises of seemingly healthier hair, swifter service and far lower prices are wooing away a growing number of black women.
My eyebrows were certainly raised after reading this, and me thinks for good reason. The article doesn’t hinder to natural haired ladies per se, yet my understanding of salon culture was sort of reignited. I have not been to a hair salon in well over a year, yet through experience I understand in fact why this has become such a hot button issue.
I grew up in the salon, my Auntie owned and operated a Hair Salon years ago in New York, and still today is a very talented hair stylist that practices I’d say..traditional methods of coiffing women with textured or relaxed strands. By ‘method’ I’d go ahead and mention the simple wash/condition/roller-set that has long been a traditional routine over the years.
There are benefits to this style, as there are benefits to what’s referenced as the “Dominican Technique.”
I love my Aunt, lawd knows I do! But often times instead of using my limited school Metrocard to finagle my way to her salon fifty minutes away by bus, I’d walk a cool four blocks to yet another newly opened Dominican Salon with weekly hair/blowout specials festooned onto their windows in big.bold.letters. My budget and hair were not speaking in tongues, therefore I listened and paid my way to another flooowy session of ‘watch me twerk.’
Leaving the salon chair (in record time, 2hrs), I felt good, my hair and I would preserve the sexy until another two weeks & another solid paycheck. No one complained. Guilt knows no home in a wallet left well lined w/ $$…
Did I ever question the ‘technique’ used on my hair? Well, yes. The ‘Dominican Technique’ while certainly effective, will cause you to writhe in your chair (if you’re HUMAN!) with slight discomfort due to the intense amount of heat placed directly at the root of your scalp. I’d say this is a fair statement, yah? The best stylist armed with her best & dandy blow dryer, is the one who can get to the kink the best, straighten out said curl and watch the silky flow.
We all had our favorites, at least until the next reputable salon opened two steps yonder thataway with even better pricing. Capitalist society….check!
African-American stylists typically use a curling iron to unfurl the hair, while Dominicans use a two-handed method of unraveling the strands with a round brush, followed by a blow dryer in the other hand to smooth the curl to a straight finish. Dominicans do so by pulling from the hair root, often forcefully. That, along with applying the second round of intense heat, leads to breakage, say black stylists and some customers.
Well, now. Hair breakage? Resulting from ‘intense heat?’ Makes sense. As a natural haired gal, this makes a l’il too much sense. An influx of heat on any head of hair can lead to irrefutable damage, N’est pas? The constant rolling & pulling motion of the brush, with aid from the hotter than hot blow-dryer (that would often exude smoke) could absolutely draw damage.
Common sense, me thinks.
But in the end it was always a matter of choice. A friend who’s currently transitioning from relaxer to natural frequented Dominican Salons and benefited from the ‘method.”
I personally like getting my hair done in under 2 hours.
I remember when I went home with my friend to New Orleans and to Atlanta, I did not like it when I got my hair done with their stylists.Too much chitchat, less time spent on my hair. More hours in the salon. They can’t be mad that the Dominicans came up with a formula that works. That’s all
The ‘formula’ does work. It works because it is affordable and it gives the customer what she wants yet didn’t think was possible. If your touch-up for a relaxer has exceeded it’s limits, and your budget has not yet made room to show some love, this method is best bets all around. In the past, I’d enter into a Dominican salon anticipating the relaxer treatment, only to leave with some curiously straight, silky donned black hair, pep was surely back in my step & it only cost me $25!
But I should digress, because it has been years since I shimmied into a Dominican Salon. By choice.
After going natural, where was the need? That much heat for anyone with natural hair is similar to watching a blaze of glory spark from absolutely nothing. It surprises you, but in the end you know better.
Would you seek out the ‘Dominican Technique’ to quell your natural hair? Why should it be any different for relaxed? Afro textured hair inherently needs something that an excess in heat just can’t deliver. Moisture. Oils.Time.
“Bad Boy” Romeo Crews, a prominent and outspoken black stylist in Atlanta, has no fear of the blowout. “Let me tell you,” he says, “they are helping my business because people are coming to me after the Dominicans make their hair fall out.”
I do not question the ‘technique‘ so much as I worry about the results. While it is a matter of choice as to where and who you lay your bill$ down to coif your bouffant, considering the needs of your hair should always come first, and subsequent provisions later. Black Salons often fail at the attempt to meet in the middle, avoid the ‘chit chat,’ attend to the customer…listen to what they want. Spending upwards of 5- 6 hrs curtailed under someone else’s breath while they roller-set, pin, eat, and wrap your hair…is not fair. It happens.
Though in the end it’s business, yes. But don’t funk with the health of one’s hair for the sake of a $$.