Do You Offer Services for Natural Hair? Here’s What You Need to Know
The natural hair movement has come a long way in encouraging women to accept (and love) their curly, kinky natural hair that comes with it.
But there’s still a major barrier: a lot of salons don’t know how to offer services or have any hair ideas for natural hair.
Keep reading to find hair care and hair ideas for natural hair.
What is Natural Hair?
First, it helps to understand what natural hair is.
Natural hair refers to hair that hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers.
A relaxer is a type of chemical lotion applied to extremely curly or kinky hair to make it lay straight. These products aren’t as damaging as they used to be, but they are still quite strong.
Basically, a relaxer or similar straightening product works by weakening the hair shaft so that the hair cannot hold its naturally curly or kinky shape.
Hair Ideas For Natural Hair: Know Your Hair Type
Natural hair is categorized into several different hair types:
- 3a hair (well-defined, loopy curls, often seen in white women)
- 3b hair (well-defined curls with less space between each bend and curve)
- 3c hair (defined corkscrew pattern, tighter than 3s but looser than 4a)
- 4a hair (defined curl pattern, like an “s” shape)
- 4b hair (more of a “z” texture, with a more cottony or fluffy appearance)
- 4c hair (much like 4b hair, but without a naturally-defined curl pattern)
Each hair type requires its own regimen of care and different products in order to retain moisture and keep hair healthy. Many women will have hair that’s a mix of a few close hair types.
Either way, women with natural hair cannot use the same hair products as other women, so you’ll have to stock (and use) the right products in your salon.
Hair Ideas For Natural Hair: The Big Chop
For women going from relaxed hair to natural hair, there’s a transition period that often involves The Big Chop.
You see, relaxers and similar conditioning lotions are so strong that they cannot be undone once the treatment has been applied. Any naturally curly hair that has been treated by relaxers is going to stay permanently straight.
However, this doesn’t apply to new growth, which is how you can get women with hair that’s mostly straight but curly where the roots are growing out.
This is why many women, in transitioning to natural hair, use The Big Chop–they chop off most of their hair to avoid a mix of natural roots and straight ends.
However, because women’s hair is so often linked to identity and long hair is intricately associated with performed feminity, the idea of chopping off all their hair is a frightening idea for many women.
If your salon wants to offer services and bring in more hair ideas for women with natural hair, including women transitioning into natural hair, you’ll have to also offer the resources to help in the transitional process. Some women will opt for The Big Chop, while others might use protective hairstyles like full head weaves or box braids to mask growth.
Hair Ideas For Natural Hair: The Golden Rules
Of course, your salon also has to know how to treat natural hair once it’s grown out.
Regardless of their hair texture, women with natural hair tend to have a few common problems:
- Moisture retention
- Hair porosity
- Finding the right products to maintain hair
Here’s how you can help address these issues.
Natural hair, like any form of curly hair, has problems with moisture.
Unlike straight hair, which allows sebum (natural oil produced by your scalp) to travel down the hair shaft fairly easily, curls and kinks in natural hair prevent oil from traveling down the hair shaft, which means that the hair can dry out quite easily.
However, women with natural hair may not wash their hair every day. In fact, thick, coarse hair or hair with tight curls shouldn’t be washed more than once a week. This keeps your hair from drying out so quickly, but it also means your hair isn’t getting conditioner as often as it should.
To remedy this, women with natural hair should find a good moisturizer and a good sealant. There are plenty of products out there, but they can often find what they need in the grocery store–oils like coconut oil, olive oil, or shea butter often work beautifully for this purpose, and they have far fewer chemicals.
Another common problem with natural hair is hair shrinkage.
All curly hair has a shrinkage problem since the curls prevent the hair strands from stretching to their full length. Natural hair shrinkage can run anywhere from 50-80%, so women with 10 inches of hair may look like they only have 3 inches.
For hairstylists, this is most important to keep in mind during haircuts, as most stylists will wash hair before they cut it to get rid of any lingering hair product and encourage the hair to fall a certain way.
When curly hair is wet, it will hang longer than it normally would when straight. If a woman comes to you asking for a trim, you don’t want to send her home to find that her hair dries far shorter than the length she actually wanted.
Hair porosity is also a huge issue with natural hair.
Hair porosity refers to how well your hair absorbs and retains moisture. Most women have medium porosity hair, which means that they don’t have to do much maintenance in order to keep hair properly moisturized.
But, as we’ve said, natural hair is a language all its own.
In fact, you can have different porosity types on the same head of hair due to heat damage, chemical treatments, or too much manipulation, which means that low or medium porosity hair can become highly porous.
How do you know what type of hair you’re dealing with?
Low porosity hair is the type of hair that takes approximately a million years to dry. It’s the kind of hair that you can go to bed in twisters or rollers and wake up the next morning to find that your hair is, magically, still wet. This type of hair needs light, easily absorbed products to prevent a layer of buildup.
By contrast, high porosity hair is ravenous. You can give it a whole handful of conditioner and your hair still chugs all of it and gets bone dry by the evening. This type of hair needs heavy oils and butters to keep moisture levels high and create a protective barrier to keep the hair from drying out.
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