Psychology of the curly client: How they see themselves

01/27/2010 1:13:59 PM


Listen to a group of curly girls talk about their hair and you might think you’re in the middle of a support group.

“I requested to have my hair look curly and messy, and instead had my hair chopped to two inches in length,” said one writer on consumer site’s CurlTalk forum.

Another recounts such horrible straightening attempts and breakage that “I didn’t go into a salon again for two years.”

Many women with curly hair have grown up in families where curlphobia is prevalent. Curly or kinky hair in its natural state may be considered “bad hair,” while looser curls or straight hair are praised—a cultural phenomenon that comic Chris Rock addressed in his film, Good Hair.

This curly psychology must be taken into account when working with clients with wavy, curly and kinky hair.

“I tell my stylists that when a woman walks in with a head of curly hair, you have a head of hair with a soul,” says New York City stylist Ouidad.

“One of the most important things to remember when a curly sits in your chair is to treat her with care,” says Michael Crispel, artistic team member for KMS California and owner of Earth, A Salon, in Toronto. “They are the most terrified of any client, but they also would die to find products that work and are the most excited to change.”

The first thing any stylist should do is to reassure their clients about their hair, and help them see its beauty. Often, someone with curly hair doesn’t even know they have a natural curl pattern until the stylist tells her.

One member recalls, “For years, I was asked, ‘Is that a bad perm?’ or told, ‘Sorry, we have to wait for the manager to get back because I don’t know what to do with this,’ and I had to sometimes re-cut my own hair after horrible, non-curl-respecting cuts. At last I found a stylist (on the site) who knows what to do, how to do it and is always willing (and able!) to change if need be. Finally!”

How curly clients see you, how you see yourself
Clients with curly or textured hair have strong opinions about their salon and stylist experiences. They often have a hard time finding a qualified professional who can work with their texture, and crave curl confidence and expertise. If your salon provides it, you’ll have a loyal client who will invest more service time and up to twice as much on hair care products than average consumers. recently surveyed consumer members about stylists’ knowledge in working with curly or textured hair. Then, MODERN SALON asked stylist members of our Salon Proview panel similar questions for comparison. Here’s what “she said” and “you said.”

Consumer: Do you consider your stylist a curl expert? 68% yes
Stylist: Do you consider yourself a curl expert? 60% yes

Consumer: Do you know if your stylist has had special curl training? 58% no
Stylist: Do you have special curl training? 66% no

Consumer: Does your stylist provide training on how to style your hair? 65% yes
Stylist: Do you provide clients advice on how to style their curly hair? 98% yes

Consumer: Do you look to your stylist for product recommendations? 62% yes
Stylist: Do you recommend special products to clients with curly hair? 98% yes

Consumer: The majority (56%) visit the salon every 6-12 weeks
(more frequent than national average).
Stylist: The majority report that between 20% and 50% of their clientele has curly hair (a significant market share).

Expertise and training: Clients with curl prefer stylists with curl expertise, but more than half are unsure if you have it or not. Action! If you are a curl/texture expert, promote it heavily in marketing materials, social media, etc.
But are you really an expert? If you are part of the two-third majority who hasn’t had specialized curl training, you can do more to maximize your potential—skills-wise and financially—by seeking out fresh education and positioning yourself aggressively as a curl specialist.

Styling and products: All stylists say they provide styling tips but only two-thirds of consumers say they get it. Are stylists too subtle? Action! Be bold, make sure your client fully understands the styling tips you are providing. Help them succeed in recreating the look, and you will see them back in your chair early and often.

Products: All stylists say they recommend products, but only two-thirds of clients are taking the advice. Note that this is about the same percentage who think of their stylist as a “curl expert.”

Action! Again, if you are a texture expert, leverage it.Talk about your credentials and training, and why you use the products you do. If clients are aware of your knowledge—and pleased with your services—they are more likely to buy and be satisfied overall. Check out and for help and ideas.

*This article is related to the Texture! Guide. Click here to return to Texture!







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