One of my twitter followers, who just so happened to be a hair stylists, shares her story of how hard she had it when she tried to implement the healthy hair practices that she learned on LHCF , hair blogs, and other hair boards. Here Alecia’s story:
“Before I was a hair stylist I was a DIY kitchen chemist just like many of the women who subscribe to the various online hair forums and blogs. I lived for mixing and trying new formulas and posting pictures to my Fotki account to chart my growth. My passion for researching, executing, and achieving amazing results quickly evolved from a hobby to a career. Once licensed it was off to the salon I went. I was looking to marry my years of hair forum mixology and kitchen styling with the professional beauty industry. I quickly found out that in SOME salons this combination would’t mix.
My first real job was as a shampoo and blow dry assistant at a well-known type of hair salon that caters to African American women. Of course I tried to care for the clients as if they were my own. I talked to the ladies as I shampooed them about their scalp health, styling options, and what kind of pillowcases they slept on. Because of the factory style set up of this shop, these ladies were “everybody’s client” so I didn’t feel as if I was stepping on anyone’s toes. Unfortunately I was wrong.
The manager pulled me to the side and let me know I was not allowed to fraternize with the clients and to stop using all the “good conditioner” on them. He offered me a watery alternative and said that even with a deep conditioner only use the “good conditioner” on the people he instructs me to. That was not the last encounter I had with this particular manager. I was rudely reprimanded for using a heat protectant on the clients prior to blowdrying.
Another occasion I got the relaxer brush snatched out of my hand while trying to apply the chemical to the new growth only and was shown to part, slap, and pull. Gently detangling coily, curly natural hair was also frowned upon. And it hurt my feelings to watch improperly detangled natural hair end up on the floor and wrapped around brushes. The “retraining” I received was horrendous and went against everything I stood for with regard to hair care.
Even after I made the transition over to full time stylist I was watched like a hawk and was laughed at as I used pre shampoo conditioning treatments, deep conditioned EVERY client I serviced, opted for the steamer over the dryer, religiously based my relaxed clients and made sure to reconstruct their hair after chemical services. All of which I attribute to my time spent on forums and YouTube. Not even my cosmetology program went as in-depth as the invaluable information I collected from the online hair communities.
The cold stares and under breath laughs of my co-workers and manager lead to me leaving that salon and travelling to another salon in the same “network”. But the same uncomfortable vibe lingered. I did self-examination thinking it might have been just me. However I realized over time and after moving from place to place that the knowledge we acquire from online interaction about the care of African American hair is knowledge not shared by many. The reactions I got were out of ignorance. And many people are not only ignorant but unwilling to learn.
This explains the lack of trust many of us have for stylists. It seems like many salons are unwilling to embrace the practices we do in the privacy of our own homes. My question is, why? And I know I can’t be the only one fusing these two worlds together so who else is with me?
I am currently at an African American owned salon here in Chicago. I am an independent contractor at a salon that gives stylists complete and total control over the services they provide.So I am now able to do my own thing comfortably. A far cry from the experiences I had at other salons as a Black Hair Media and Long Hair Care Forum trained hair stylist!”
If you live in the Chicago Area, Alecia Tucker can be found out:
***** Update *******
Alecia Tucker can now be contacted via her Style Seat Page
9222 1/2 S Stony Island Ave
Chicago, IL, 60617
Her Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/ibabyhair
If you stop by or send her a message, let her know Strawberricurls sent you!!