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
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx