Finding a good hairdresser in a new city is about as easy as finding a faithful boyfriend in Kong at 4am while Rihanna plays in the background. As an African woman, after 25 years of relaxer third degree burns and being told “let me just wash the other client’s hair quickly”, I have finally found the recipe for success.
It will almost never be the salon that serves champagne
Trust me when I say that I also get excited at the idea of a Sandton salon that serves chilled champagne in a perfectly sterile environment while I wait. Surely, this really is what they mean when they say ‘#goals’? The problem with many of these salons is that they focus so much on the experience that they forget that your hair must also look great. How is the actual braid? Is it neat? Does the weave closure make me look like I’m wearing a helmet?
I know, the champagne is crucial, but good relationships need a little more than Moët.
It doesn’t have to be the salon with the plastic basin either
Try as you may to lie to us via Instagram, we have all been to that hair salon where they wash your hair in a plastic basin – boil the water in a kettle and then use whatever is available to pour the water over your head! For some reason (probably because there is no champagne or running water), these salons are undeniably cheaper. Also, they often appear to do better work.
Every time I have ever gone to one of these salons, I can feel my blue tick level rising. The problem is that I have to go there in sweatpants, slippers; magazine in hand and basically a month’s worth of provisions because it takes a while. All bloody day, in fact. You might even have to go back the following day.
Sometimes it is worth it, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that every dingy salon does great hair. That would be the equivalent of assuming that every short, chubby guy is faithful. They aren’t. And when they disappoint you it’s that much worse. Do your research.
Call a friend
One of the best ways to find your perfect match is to ask someone that you know to set you up. It’s not full proof, but you generally save yourself the time and effort of doing the groundwork. If you see a total stranger with a great twist in the bathroom at Tasha’s, just take a deep breath, be awkward and ask her where she had her hair done. I have had people comment on my Instagram posts asking the same question – It’s OK really. It is December, after all, and everyone deserves to be their best self.
It’s about more than the salon
One often hears about a salon with (seemingly) rave reviews but then you leave there looking like the relative from out of town that’s here for the holidays. In every salon there is ‘the hairdresser’, the one who can never take walk-ins and that you have to WhatsApp to secretly arrange to meet at the salon at 7am. She is Yoda. Find her. Personally, I would go as far as looking at people’s heads as they get their hair done to see who is doing the best work. You have to be aggressive these days.
“Botle bo a sebelletsoa” is something that we were told growing up – which basically means that you have to work for beauty. This meant gritting our teeth as the relaxer seared our scalps or putting up with braids so tight that you have to sleep on your stomach. We have outgrown that. If you want your hair only slightly relaxed, or if she is pulling too hard, or (God forbid) if she wants to curl your hair into the flower girl spirals then SPEAK UP. You have to teach HER how to do your hair. That’s the only way to get the hair that you deserve.
There is no ‘one- size- fits- all’
Even once you have found the perfect hairdresser, they are not always good at every single hairstyle. Sometimes you need to have your braids guy, your weave guy, your cornrows guy, and the guy who can do something really quickly when you are running seriously late and have a function that evening.
For you, a thousand times
Good hairdressers are hard to come by. When you find one, hold on for dear life. Firstly, take her number. If she moves salons, then you follow her. It’s not about you; it’s about what her hairstyles can do for you. When you do go to the salon then take her lunch, talk to her about your guy friend, watch those damn Telumundo shows, girlfriend, and I promise you that the champagne won’t even matter (that much).