As a black woman who grew up in Atlanta, the flashiest city in the world, I’ve always been conditioned to believe my hair should be ‘done.’ Whether it is a natural style, box braids, or a sew-in, one never took their current style down without having the next one lined up. However, the process to actually ‘get your hair done’ has changed significantly. It used to be that you could call and schedule an appointment, or drive directly to a salon and tell them what service you’re interested in. In 2021, receiving a black hair service is an extreme sport. Not only are clients tasked with scrolling through thousands of Instagram posts to find a stylist, but we’re also expected to send a nonrefundable deposit, read the stylists’ bible of rules, and pray they have an opening for the time period we’re interested in. This process can be extremely overwhelming, leaving many black queens without an appointment. Below, I’ve provided a step-by-step manual to securing that hair appointment.
- Don’t make your hair your source of validation.
In today’s climate, beauty and fashion trends within the black community can be polarizing. As someone who often indulges in social media, it can be easy to get caught up in keeping the fullest lash extensions, the flattest frontal, and the cutest Pretty Little Thing outfit. Not only is this lifestyle extremely expensive, but it can also convince consumers that they are inadequate without these things. Don’t become that person. Practice self-love in your most natural state – hair tangled, three lashes hanging on, and no filter. Loving yourself unconditionally is the first step in taking the pressure off of this process.
- Think about your next style before you take out the current one.
Towards the end and beginning of the month, those braids may start getting a little too frizzy for mousse to handle. The lace starts to lift to no end. Even our leave-out begins to lose its shine. Though we all know there’s still a window of finesse, this is a great time to begin thinking about what style you want next. Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of inspiration. The time of the month is also important as stylists usually open their bookings for the following month towards the end of the previous one.
- Who’s going to do it?
So you’ve decided on a style. Now’s the time to pick your stylist. Head back to Instagram and scroll through the hashtags of your city with the word ‘hair’ added on. For example, if I were looking for someone located in Atlanta, I would search #atlhair. Though you may come across people who aren’t located in your city, you’ll find many who are. Be thinking about what qualities you’re looking for in a stylist:
Do you mind going to a home-based stylist? What does this person specialize in? Are you sure you’d like to get a sew-in from someone who specializes in faux locs? How much is this person’s deposit? Is hair included? What dates and times are you available?
In this step, I would also recommend reaching out to friends or family who often get their hair done. Sometimes they will be able to point you in the right direction. Also, don’t shy away from salon Instagrams. There are plenty of salons that host multiple stylists and post all of their work on one page. In my experience, I’ve found that these stylists are cheaper, more professional, and less awkward.
As college-aged women, don’t be afraid to reach out to braiders and stylists on campus either. Not only will you save yourself transportation costs, but these styles may be significantly cheaper in total.
- You’ve sent your deposit. Now what?
For starters, make sure your hair is ready for the stylist on the day of your appointment. If you have any questions, I recommend reaching out 3-7 days ahead of your appointment. This accounts for a delayed response from the stylist and provides enough time to cancel the appointment if necessary. In this stage of the process, you may begin to get those new hairstyle jitters. You start wondering if the stylist will follow through. Will your hair be as cute as you pictured it to be? Will you get that ‘Hey Boo’ text on the way to your appointment? What time should you leave to get there on time? But, before you get too caught up in this appointment, think about a plan B. What if you really aren’t able to receive the service? Are you okay with rocking your natural hair? Is there a style you can DIY? Though you want to hope for the best, be prepared for anything.
- Love yourself – no matter what your hair looks like.
I know I said this already, but this step is much more important than all of the ones above. Make sure you’re getting your hair done for the right reasons. Remember, your hair shouldn’t determine the way you feel about yourself! Learn to love yourself with and without those ankle-length knotless braids or that extremely melted frontal.
After following this step-by-step guide (and maybe saying a prayer), your hair will be laid and you’ll be ready to conquer the world.