The truth about texture over the past couple of decades is that the professional beauty industry has not put enough of a spotlight on the needs of curly clients, and as a result they turned too often to consumer brands and non-professional advice. The problem persists—but is improving—as salon brands and educators have focused attention and innovation on the category. Still, there is opportunity to attract more curly clients to the salon.
Michelle Breyer, co-founder and leader of NaturallyCurly.com—a community for curly consumers—says her company’s annual Texture Trends research shows that nearly one in four women with naturally textured hair doesn’t go to a salon to have their hair done, with almost a third (31%) of women with textured hair visiting a salon at least once every few months vs. 44% of women with naturally or chemically straight/relaxed hair.
“The tighter the texture, the less likely she is to go to a salon more than once or twice a year,” Breyer says. “When asked why they stopped going to a salon, many cite the fact that many stylists don’t know how to work with their natural texture. Often, stylists were taught how to do relaxers and blowouts, but not how to work with curls and coils.”
Fortunately, the situation is at a turning point, with more salon training programs and schools covering texture more thoroughly, more brands offering texture-specifi c products and more curly clients feeling their needs are being recognized and met.
“The professional still needs to catch up to the consumer, but I think we’re finally at a point where we are,” says Shari Harbinger, co-founder of DevaCurl Academy. “Many have felt that smoothing is the only option to look pretty and that’s what the media has messaged all these years, but the conversation is shifting, growing and getting louder. I still sense some frustration out there, but less than there was and there are definitely more opportunities to explore natural expression.”
To keep this momentum going, Harbinger says that the most important thing is for stylists to understand who their clients are, what their hair goals are, and what they’ve been through that may have caused them to lose trust in professional stylists. The three frustrations textured clients most often list:
To avoid these texture faux pas, education is vital. Stylists need to understand the varied conversations, stories, trials and tribulations of the curly clients sitting in their chairs. Harbinger says that it is this understanding that will set stylists on the path to texture expertise. From there, developing product knowledge and distinguishing how different products behave in the hair is a good starting point.
Even more important is hands-on learning with mannequin heads or live models. Discussions and collaborations with like-minded stylists prepare professionals to have positive consultations with a naturally textured clients that seek them out for expertise.
“At this point in time, with where the industry is, stylists who do not understand natural texture are doing themselves a disservice,” Harbinger says. “We have to be as adept in texture as we are in every other aspect of our craft.”
Explore the range of texture education offered by DevaCurl at devacurl.com/professionals.