In the last post, I spoke about participating in the Natural Hair & Beauty Expo; general information regarding the event vendors and about the event. Today, I’ll chronicle my personal experiences and thoughts about the road leading up to the event.
As a participant in the hair show, we agreed to have our hair styled by students at the Orlando Beauty Institute. We were informed that the stylists were senior students and had been used in the previous year’s event. Hearing that made me a bit more comfortable with the fact that foreign hands would be handling my hair. I showed up at the school in order to have a ‘consultation’ and to be notified which stylist (we’ll call her Nicole) would being doing my hair. Nicole and I decided that we’d do an updo or frohawk, and made our appointment for 3:15 on Friday.
I arrived and she immediately started my hair by washing and conditioning my hair. We then headed to her chair to get started, and it was pretty much downhill from there! What I learned from my experience, and this may be isolated to this particular beauty school, is that natural hair is not a topic that’s taught to student; I doubt if even the teachers are knowledgeable about healthy hair practices for natural hair. This poor young woman had absolutely no idea how to even handle my hair, let alone produce the style she thought she could on my particular hair type. I can be long winded so I’ll condense my story into a few bullet points:
- I was in the salon for 8 hours having my hair mishandled, yanked and pulled; I watched in horror as I saw my hair falling on the floor. From what I understand, it’s common practice and a general rule to comb the hair from the bottom – up. This is not a rule that was put in to practice by my stylist
- I do not miss the salon environment! I had to listen as the stylist complained about various things from the texture of their clients to personal sexual experiences that should be left out of the professional environment, especially when you have a client in your chair.
- During the time I was in the styling chair, I tried to communicate to with stylist that she was mishandling my hair and gave her tips on how to properly handle my hair, to no avail! She appeared to listen for a brief moment, but became increasingly frustrated with my hair texture and resumed the improper hair practices
- The teachers whose job it was to oversee and guide the students, performed poorly. Each time they walked through to inspect the job that was being done, not one time did any of them steer her in the direction she needed to go in to accomplish the style she intended to.
- Because the stylist had no idea of products that would help her achieve a certain style on my hair type, I ended up with 5 different products that had been added to my hair: detangling spray (which I explained that all she needed to use water to re-wet my hair), lotta body spray, twist and lock gel, mousse, and a few jane carter products as well.
- By hour 6, I had my hair flat twisted upward on each side and perm rods installed through the center of my hair and sat under the dryer. About 15 minutes in, Nicole came to me and mentioned that she spoke with her teacher about the fact that she was unhappy with my hair and received permission to re-style my hair. I flat out told her no! Then, her teacher came and pleaded with me that both the student and I were unhappy with how my hair style turned out and asked if she could re-do my hair, again, I emphatically declined! Fool me once… Finally, the fashion show coordinator came to see what the hoopla was about. He took one look at my hair, then felt it, and made the executive decision to re-do my hair himself! I had to sit while he removed the rods, re-rodded my hair, and set me back under the dryer.
By this time, I was done having my hair done, so I sat under the dryer for 15 minutes and left with the rods in my hair. In case you’re wondering, sleeping with rods is extremely uncomfortable!
The following day was the fashion show! Even with the tumultuous day I’d had the previous day, I was excited! As I arrived, the ladies were practicing and having their make up done and hair touched up. The make up crew did a beautiful job (in a timely fashion, I must say) on all the ladies in the show! After having my face done, I moved into the stylist chair to have my hair styled. He plucked out my coils and lifted the hair for a fuller look; he really put it together nicely after the nightmare the previous day
Overall, I’d say after the fashion show practices, having my hair styled and re-styled, and the final show, overall it was a good experience. Like anything else there were high and low moments. Should I participate next year, I’ll be sure to, like another model did, either have my hair styled by someone I know and trust, or style my own hair! The risk of having a setback is too great to entrust my tresses in the hands of the inexperienced! The most important thing I learned was that when it comes to this head, I’m the expert! Not even a so-called professional can tell me much I don’t already know about it and I’m proud that I don’t have to be a slave to the salon or the activities that take place in some salons! Being natural has definitely afforded me that freedom!