Things Curling in the Right Direction – Getting the Scoop in the World of Hairdressing

It’s long overdue and as an industry professional myself I can say I’m delighted to see that cutting and styling Afro and/or Caribbean hair has been added to the national occupational standards for hairdressing. We’re awaiting it being added to the qualification. Still, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Having worked in the industry for 15 years I’ve been deeply disappointed to regularly witness clients with this hair type be turned away because stylists don’t know how to work with it. Especially since sometimes it was literally a clipper all over cut which they required or a blow-dry. But are we to blame as stylists or the system? Of course, stylists don’t want to be liable for an unhappy client or bad service due to lack of knowledge and more precisely, lack of experience.

It was black-black, so thick it drank two containers of relaxer at the salon, so full it took hours under the hooded dryer, and, when finally released from pink plastic rollers, sprang free and full, flowing down her back like a celebration. Her father called it a crown of glory.

Monica Millner, National Hair Journal

There were times when I wondered if perhaps clients would be happy to come to a stylist of different ethnicity, may they think I don’t know what I’m doing? Of course, there’s the clear advantage that if you’re born with a certain hair type, working with it would naturally come easier to you. Though that’s almost like saying a client with long hair wouldn’t be suited to a stylist with short! Still, I had my doubts, would people trust a white girl with their hair. The general answer is yes, they would, they just want someone who can do their hair well for them.

Rightly or wrongly I built up a small following of Afro and/or Caribbean clients just through a little courage, research and was self-taught through practice. I saw my clients at the salon in the little village where I worked and some who I went to privately. These clients next option was to travel over an hour by train into London to go to a specialist stylist, making having their hair done an incredibly long and expensive process. At the time I went to college I was told that taking this unit, which was then offered as optional, actually wasn’t an option because there was no demand for it in the town where I took my training. Getting the clients through the door would’ve been tricky.

Before you know it instead of being offered free candy in a van you should watch out for ‘need a haircut?’

There are variants of the Afro hair type and to get it right takes time and perseverance. It’s wildly misunderstood by many, but it’s about time more of us in the industry learn the tips and tricks to cultivating beautiful curls, offer relaxing services and learning to sew a damn good weave. As products and services evolve, we’re exposed to modern concepts all the time, whether it be a blessing or a curse, social media is inundated with tips and tricks. The hair extension and wig industry are booming and certainly not looking at going anywhere soon.

Solange sang the words ‘don’t touch my hair’ in her song and was sending a clear message to anyone who still thinks it’s appropriate to grab Afro hair uninvited.


When I was an apprentice, I worked in a luxury hair spa where extensions and hair replacement was a relatively new concept to many people and with clients travelling over from Monaco and the like, the treatments were specialist and big business as we offered services to many multi-national clients. If I had my training time again, I definitely would’ve paid more attention to this side of the industry.

the army is always quick to adapt new innovations

I love reading stories like this one, where people offer practical solutions to problems, as our generation really values convenience it’s inspiring to hear of such forward-thinking individuals. Read about Darren who set up a mobile grooming service bookable via an app in the London area. Maybe the next big thing could be a mobile hair extension and wig-shop-winnebago in Mojacar!

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