Most states require that those who are performing hair services should attend an accredited school for cosmetology for 1500-1800 hours. There are a few states that require natural hair stylists to take 450 hours of education, but finding a school for that is not as easy as it seems. Third, there are a few states that do not require natural hair stylists to have any license at all. This can be good for some reasons and not so good for obvious reasons.
Salon services should include shampoo and conditioning treatments in addition to providing styles, and this may not be the case in braiding salons. There are also a number of other sanitation requirements that may not be met by someone who owns a natural hair salon without any formal training. Likewise, a licensed stylist may meet all the state requirements, but know nothing about caring for, maintaining and styling natural hair. Depending on the location, and the general clientele of local beauty schools, the techniques and terms used to identify natural hair styles, methods, and issues are most likely not taught in school.
Five things, and there are more, that a natural hair stylist won’t learn in cosmetology school are:
1. How to properly shampoo natural hair
While there will be a shampoo bowl and products used to cleanse the scalp and hair, the method in shampooing straightened hair as opposed to natural hair is different. Curly hair is most often, thicker and more dense, and requires smaller sections to be cleaned at a time to ensure the whole head and scalp is clean. You can’t just plop on a dollop of shampoo on an afro then rub it in and rinse.
2. How to detangle natural hair
When hair is straight, it is common for stylists to use a hand held blow dryer with an attachment to blow dry the hair, or hair can be wrapped and set under the dryer before completing a style. There are no methods taught in taking the time to detangle the hair and prep it for styling. Detangling is an important step after shampooing the hair to ensure that knots and kinks aren’t formed in the hair strands and that the hair length and texture are maximized.
3. How to comb and brush natural hair
Straight hair most often, can easily be combed from root to end with few or no snags, but that is not true with natural hair. Natural hair needs to be combed in small to medium sections for styling. And while straight hair can be brushed and smoothed into styles easily and quickly, natural hair needs a styling pomade or gel applied to help in the smoothing process. Brushing completely dry natural hair will most often snag it and cause breakage, unless you are using a soft baby brush to loosen up dirt from the scalp.
4. What tools to use on natural hair
In school we have our basic tools, rat tail combs, nylon and paddle brushes, duck bill clips and heat styling implements. But in the real world of natural hair, you need additional implements (minus the heat stylers) like a wide toothed comb, a soft or boar bristle brush, an Afro pick, a water bottle (with water in it), magnifying glasses to look for an untangle knots, and hair & bobby pins. Not only are there tools that work better for curly hair, there are techniques that make it easier comb through and style the hair as well.
5. The time it takes to complete a natural hair service
If a stylist doesn’t skip certain steps, like detangling or conditioning, a natural hair service for comb coils can take 3-4 hours from start to finish on average. The price should also reflect this as well as the length of time a style will last, like 2 strand twists with no extensions.
When you are choosing a stylist, they may create beautifully intricate styles and still damage your hair in the process. Be sure you check out their work, and have a consultation before you book a service with them.