A lot of people might think that all hair can be treated the same, but they’d be wrong. When it comes to women of color and non-WOC clients, your first mistake as a hairstylist would be assuming that you can treat their hair the same way. Just like everything else, there’s a science when it comes to doing hair for women of color and they’re going to expect you to know it. After all, you are the expert. Whether you are a person of color yourself or not, you still might handle your hair differently, but there are a few rules the women of color community can agree on. Want a clue? We’ll give you more than that. Here are six holy grail tips every hairstylist needs to know for their women of color clients.
If you’ve never done what they’re asking for, tell them
There’s nothing worse than coming out of a hair appointment with your hair ruined. Of course, most clients can deal with a little human error. Maybe their trim was a little too short, but just a little. There’s a chance that their highlights might not be the exact tone they were looking for. This, they can deal with, but often times, clients will come to you with a request for a service you’ve never done before. While you could lose that client for that service, it’s better than ruining their hair, losing that client forever, and gaining a bad review. Some hairstylists will agree to perm bleached hair or bleach permed hair after never performing it before and the wrong method with this mix of strong chemicals can cause your clients to lose hair and that’s too much human error for them.
Encourage them to get a trim regularly
Women of color with natural hairstyles tend to deal with shrinkage. While their hair appears to be infinitely longer when wet or extended, once it begins to dry, it shrinks to a shorter length. Because of this, a lot of WOC are apprehensive about getting their hair trimmed. They might make regular visits for a wash-n-go, but encourage them to get a trim. While they might not be aware, just give them all of your knowledge about how trimming their dead ends can actually help their hair grow.
Think twice before detangling their hair while dry
If there’s one thing a woman of color might lose her mind over, it’s if you try to detangle her hair while dry – especially if she’s natural. Detangling WOC hair while dry is almost as if you’re asking for her to experience breakage and that’s a hard no. Not only does dry detangling promote breakage, but it hurts. Whatever tool you’re using can easily snag on any kinks in the hair and cause tension. Let’s just say, think twice before you use a brush or comb to detangle dry hair.
Mind their edges
If you really don’t want to get in bad with your WOC clients, mind their edges. While this might not be an issue for your non-WOC, edges are a big concern for women of color. Essentially, all women of color want their edges to survive and thrive, but friction and tension from particular hairstyles can cause them to thin out. Pulling too tightly when pulling the hair back or while doing protective styles can cause breakage and your clients definitely won’t want that.
Conditioner > Shampoo
When doing hair for women of color, you’ll instantly realize that many of them prioritize conditioner over shampoo, however, shampoo is still important. One major gripe for women of color is not wanting to have dry hair and a lot of products are great at stripping hair of moisture, shampoo in particular. While your WOC clients will still care about not drying out their hair with shampoo, they’re more worried about how you’re going to add the moisture back in with conditioner.
All WOC Hair Wasn’t Created Equal
While we’re sure you know this, it never hurts to stress it. The differences between WOC and non-WOC clients is pretty obvious, but even so, you still need to be aware of the differences between WOC hair. 4A textures can’t always be treated the same as 4C hair and vice versa so you need to be sure to handle them as such.
It seems like a lot to remember, right? Probably not! And even so, you’re the professional. While you’ve probably gone through endless lessons getting certified, the learning process is never over. From learning new processes to different styles, being a hairstylist is a developing role and you’ll always be on your toes.