Having natural hair and finding a stylist in whom you trust can be challenging. During the hot summer months, the option for wearing straight hair can also be a hot mess so there’s really no need to invest a ton of money in getting your hair done. However, I knew that it was time to trim my ends. This blonde is frying the everloving life out of my hair. I can’t wait until it’s all gone. I digress. I have a stylist that I go to pero it was entirely too hot and she doesn’t straighten my hair well enough for me to drive 45 minutes to have an afro again by the time I arrive back home. She DOES cut the hell out of my hair though.
I live very close to one of the Aveda Institutes so I decided to try services. I called this past Saturday morning for an afternoon appointment. They offer 2-tiered services. One from a master student (a student that is almost done with the program) and the other is an institute level student ( this student is half-way finished with the program). I opted for the institute level student with a request for a person that was familiar and knowledgeable with natural, bushy ethnic hair (Type 3b/4a). That was non-negotiable. The woman on the other end confirmed my 2 o’clock appointment time, type of service (shampoo, blowout and cut for $12) and my request for a stylist and I was all set.
The salon/school is beautiful when you first walk in. Aveda products line the walls along with pictures of various models. I checked in with reception and waited to be called. They, graciously, offer their clients tea or water. Ten minutes later, I was called by the front end receptionist and greeted by a spunky, friendly chica named Kayla. Now this is where it gets a little “uncomfortable”. Kayla was a white girl. Let that sink in for a minute…
I greeted her with a smile and reiterated my previous request that I made over the phone and I asked her directly had she ever done black, natural hair. She, politely, responded no and returned to the front end to speak with the receptionist. I walked over because I, definitely, didn’t want to come off bitchy but all hair is NOT the same. Nothing personal but having worked in a salon- I need someone who KNOWS my hair. The receptionist found someone who would be able to do my hair but I had to come back at 4:30 pm. I agreed and returned home.
I came back at the appropriate time to receive my shampoo, blowout and cut. All races including a few natural-haired sisters were busily moving about. I didn’t ask but I was curious why I wasn’t put with one of them given my request. I was impressed by the diversity of the student body.Yakira was my selected stylist. She graduates in a little over two weeks. Cera, who happened to be from Michigan also, was the master instructor facilitating Yakira’s work. They were both very friendly. She shaved my sides before she washed my hair which was ok. The wash was a little gentler than to what I am accustomed. I’m used to aggressive massaging of the scalp even when I wash my own hair. I’m also used to a double wash versus a single wash. I asked Yakira about that and she said that she no longer felt product so she didn’t want to dry out my hair with an additional wash. I was ok with that. I was looking for a knowledgeable response and she gave it to me. There are no sit under dryers so deep conditioning with heat wasn’t an option but I have to say that I liked the shampoo and conditioner that she used on my hair.
Yakira was very open to learning. We talked about her experiences and she was eager to become licensed. Now, I am not privy to Aveda Institute’s curriculum but there were some red flags for me. They cut hair wet. All hair. I know natural hair queens clutched their picks in horror. YOU NEVER CUT NATURALLY CURLY HAIR WET. Of course I shared this tidbit with Yakira and I explained why. I, also, gave her tips for working with black, natural hair when detangling. Section in fours, add product, detangle while wet, and twist and pin sections until you are ready to work with that portion of the hair. She was grateful for the extra knowledge. Cera was an awesome facilitator. Her cutting technique tips for my particular haircut were spot on. She, graciously, acknowledged the advice that I gave Yakira and I appreciated that. The end result was bouncy, soft and straight hair that I flat-ironed at home. I did have to add my own shine but for $12 who’s complaining?
My overall visit was pretty good. I was impressed with the level of expertise that the master students had. I would have liked to see master instructors from the diaspora to speak to the specific needs of natural hair. I would, absolutely, recommend the Aveda Institute but I would suggest requesting a stylist who is familiar with your hair type. Aveda Institute locations are scattered throughout the country and they also offer other services.