If This Happens To You At A Hair Appointment, Run For The Hills

A hair appointment at a new salon or with a new stylist is anxiety-inducing for most, but for people with curls and natural texture, the stakes are even higher. "You have to be careful when you're working with hair this delicate, because it takes a long time to grow out and it can be really frustrating when things go wrong," says Cynthia Alvarez, celebrity hairstylist and Dove Curl Expert. It's crucial to find a professional who regularly works with natural hair and knows the specific cutting and colouring techniques like the back of their hand — and your salon should be able to match you with such a pro. Below, Alvarez shares seven red flags that point to a stylist who should stay far, far away from your curls.
Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.
1. The stylist refers to your hair as "nappy" during the consultation.
We can't believe we have to say this in 2016, but sadly it still happens. And you should be halfway out the door if it does, as their outdated vocab is likely indicative of their technique. "Textured, kinky, curly are the right words," says Alvarez. 2. They recommend a chemical texturiser.
"That's a big red flag, because that means they don't want to embrace your natural curl pattern; they want to make it easier for themselves," says Alvarez. "If they advise you right off the bat to do that, you know they're not really invested in healthy, natural hair care." 3. The assistant breaks out a volumising shampoo and conditioner at the bowl.
"That's a big no-no, since it can be drying and you want something that's really moisturising," says Alvarez. "A co-wash is perfect or, a lot of times, I'll do a deep cleanser and then follow with a co-wash to add moisture back in. But volumising products shouldn't be used on natural hair." 4. You're promised platinum hair.
"If you're going lighter, you have to understand that textured hair is weaker than straighter hair, and you're limited to certain colours," says Alvarez. "White-blond on natural hair is [rare] because it will eventually break a lot of your hair off. A lot of times when natural hair goes too light, it loses a lot of its curl pattern." 5. The scissors come out while your hair is still wet.
"Cutting dry is amazing because you see how your curls fall," says Alvarez. "So you wash, condition, and diffuse, and then, once you see how your hair is falling, you cut your way through it and create a shape. When you're cutting wet, you're cutting blind, so that's a no, unless you've been going to this stylist forever and they really know your hair." 6. The stylist reaches for hairspray.
"Hairspray has a lot of alcohol in it and it's really drying. You don't want that for curls," says Alvarez. "You want creams, butters, oils — things that are really nourishing. Mix a mousse with a cream and run it through damp hair. Once you dry it, you can add a styling cream, leave-in conditioner, or oil to the ends to redefine them." 7. The receptionist books your next cut six to eight weeks out.
"Natural hair doesn't need to come in that often," says Alvarez. She recommends a trim every six months or so.

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