London, I have finally found the salon I will be going to when I need to plait my hair! I loved it!
I needed my hair blow dried and cornrowed in a simple fashion. I drove to Lewisham (my nearest metropolitan with black hair salons) and I was walking down Lee High Road in Lewisham when a lady who was weaving someone's hair knocked on the window to attract my attention. "Come do your hair!" essentially.
Now, i get annoyed when someone asks me this when they see my hair is natural just because it's natural but on this ocassion my head was covered and I was looking for a salon so I happily walked in.
This is why I liked the place:
1. The stylist didn't make me feel awkward at all. Every request I made was met with humour. When I pulled out my products she laughed and said, "I know you people with natural hair always have lots of products".
2. The stylist has done natural hair before so she expected me to have lots of requests and my own products.
In fact, I quickly discovered that she has a customer who strictly uses no heat like I used to so she was prepared not to use heat AND to comb minimally. I allow a light blow dry now because I realise it helps remove tangles and makes the plaiting job easier and once every two months (my current rate of blow drying) is not excessive. I think even twice a month would be okay.
I asked for the heat setting to be lowered and she did that with no qualms. She used my own comb
3. The ambience was very light-hearted. For instance, the blow dryer attachment that was near the stylist had broken teeth and I asked, "Are you going to use this?". She just laughed and said we have another one. I said, "Good, then I don't have to go home to fetch my own." And we both laughed at that.
4. She didn't pull too tightly in general and the couple of times it felt tight I said so without feeling guilty. So she eased up. I have a very sensitive scalp so I need very gentle hands; she has that.
Where is this place? 35 Lee High Road, Lewisham (map below).
Need to check if Carolyn is available? Call for her on: 07949 258 198 or 07508 307 215. If her sister answers she'll pass you through. Say I referred you! If you do go, please tell me how it goes!
My tips: wash and deep condition before you go. You hair will stay wet if you pop a shower cap and hat on.
I just wanted simple lines going to the back but I an 100% sure she could have done anything I asked. I'll be rocking a wig so I didn't want anything fancy. I will re-review when I get an updo from her.
This is a common problem!
You want or need to get your hair done and you just don't think a salon that deals with relaxed hair can do good by your hair.
Natural hair has different needs and most natural girls take a special interest in how their hair is handled: if you're a no heat girl or a wide-tooth comb only girl, the stylist has to respect that!
Firstly, try to get a recommendation from a trusted friend or friends. Even then, read reviews of that salon to see what experience others have had. Reviews are so insightful!
To help you find a natural hair salon, click one of the below:
Neno Natural Rating: 3/10 if I am being generous.
Alarm bells should have been going off when I walked into Tia's Natural Hair Salon and realised that all the pictures on the wall were of people with locs and of the 6 or so stylists: 4 had locs, 1 had poorly maintained relaxed hair and the one doing my hair had relaxed hair that was under a scarf. She later revealed it was damaged. This should have been an indicator that knowledge on dealing with freely floating natural hair may be low low low.
I will rate by category as follows:
3. Knowledge of natural hair: 1/10
Above and beyond knowing that natural hair is unrelaxed hair I didn't feel my stylist knew anything about the science of black hair. Natural or not. Some of the silly things she said included:
4. Product ingredients knowledge: inconclusive
I didn't test her specifically but many things in the salon had petrolatum, maybe locs are better with petrolatum, I don't know. She recommended QP Elasta Conditioner which has petrolatum but I'm still going to try it because AfricanExport gave it a positive review.
When I pulled up the video of AfricanExport reviewing the product I asked if she knew her and she said no, "I don't watch any of 'dem' American people they have nothing to tell me," at that point I felt like walking out because I love Americans.
So, I asked which British naturals she knows and she didn't know any. Fair enough. I won't mark her down for that.
5. On combing cautiously and sparingly: 2/10
She combed FAR too liberally. She just kept ripping her comb through my hair without a care. I asked her to use my specially-designed-to-be-gentle wide tooth comb and she did, but said she preferred hers because it combed the hair more finely. THAT'S THE REASON I WANTED HER TO USE MINE.
6. On pulling: 5/10
She pulled the edges too tightly but she spared the hairline upfront that's why this is a 5 rather than a 3.
I asked her to pull more gently when she started at the back. She did but not before retorting, "Every time I touch your hair you have something to say." For any Americans reading this, don't be shocked customer service in the UK is (on average) not what it is in the US!
My whole head hurts right now confirming that she pulled too tight.
5. On using heat with caution: 3/10
She was going to start blow drying without asking me! If there is one thing every seasoned natural knows it's that many naturals can be 'funny' about using heat and you should ask before using it. I am one such natural
I had conditioned myself to accept a blow dry, because the last time I had cornrows the tangles caused a real headache.
I asked her to put the heat on medium so she did.
She insisted I need to blow dry my hair regularly because my hair is too course and will tangle much less. This is something I might try because my hair does tangle A LOT and I saw today that it wasn't breaking from the blow dry.
That my hair survived is testament to a very good deep condition the night before!
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward