Black hair salons offer a unique consumer experience.

hair salon

Diclaimer: There are some great black salons. In London – Hype Coiffure, Adornment365 etc. This is for humour…

It’s Thursday. You look at your perm and realise that alongside the 8 inches or so of straight, jet black hair, there’s also a couple of inches of curly wurly. Or you’re natural and decided that you want a temporary straight look for a change. No problemo – you pick up the phone to get your local hairdresser to sort it out.

*brrrriiinnggg brriiinng*

“Hello…Beyonce’s, how can I help?”

“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment with Natalie for a relaxer touch up?”

“Hold on..”

*In the background*

“Is Natalie still doing Fridays?….Yeh….yeh..”

“Can you tomorrow at 10?”

“Yeh, that’s fine.”

“Ok then, see you tomorrow at 10!”


“No problem, see you tomorrow”.

You put down the phone, excited about your 10 o’clock appointment. That’s because what you don’t know, is that you actually made an appointment for 11:30.

You get to the salon at 10:05, a bit flustered, apologetically late. You rush over to the receptionist’s desk..”I have an appointment at 10:00??…Sorry,I’m a little late!”.

“That’s alright darling..” she says, smiling at you. “just a second..”, she whispers, nodding in your direction. You then notice the bluetooth headset. “Ok darling, ok, ok, byyyee!”. She swivels her chair round and smiles at you again.

“What time was your appointment?”.

“10 o’clock with Natalie”.

“No problem. Have a seat over there, someone will be with you shortly.”.

You sit down in the comfy sofas, next to a stack of Essence magazines. The smell of shampoo and fresh perm wafts up your nose in a chemical cocktail that makes you feel relaxed. You pick up a magazine and flip through. One of Will Smith’s kids is having an existential crisis so Jada is on the front cover. There’s an article on 10 reasons why black women love Scandal. You skip over it to the hair section. You spot a hairstyle you might like. Time passes. It’s 10:30.

A lady with a Halle Berry cut strolls over to you.”You’re waiting for Natalie, right?”.

“Yes!” you exclaim, ready to get up. “Ok darling, she won’t be long, she’s just popped out to get something to eat”. You settle back down into the sofa and pick up the latest edition of Black Hair.

3 magazines and 1 hour later, a lady walks over to you with a big smile on her face. “Hiii! I’m Natalie. You’re my 10 o’clock right?!”. You smile tersely. You can smell the Caribbean takeaway creeping out from the plastic bag in her hand (who by the way, also offer a unique consumer experience). Not wanting to be burnt with a hot comb, you smile again, less tersely this time.

You make your way over to the sink. Natalie scrubs your hair. At no point during the scrubbing is anything mentioned about the hour and a half hiatus between arrival and said scrub. Not wanting to be burnt with a hot comb, you remain smiley.

You move over to another to the hair dryer helmet thingy. Time for Natalie’s patty break.

You emerge from the helmet, hair smelling freshly of Mizani shampoo, to the chair where Natalie styles your hair. You point to the hairstyle in the magazine that you wanted. Natalie assesses it and nods her head sagely. It’s doable. “I don’t want too much cut off though!”. You say. You make various finger gestures that are meant to symbolise an inch, half an inch, thereabouts.

Natalie gets to work. Half way through, she receives a phone call. She answers, and holds the phone between her ear and her shoulder artfully, whilst curling your hair.

“Hello? Oh my days. I was gonna call you about last night you know!….Is it?….Is it?…That’s so rude….He’s so disrespectful”. You sit there and silently murmur something about irony. Natalie doesn’t hear you and carries on gossiping. She smiles at you in the mirror. You smile back. Still too scared of that hot comb.

She whips off your gown with a flourish and holds the mirror up at you. You smile.

She’s completely ignored your half inch finger gestures, but you must admit, it does look good. “Thanks!” you exclaim.

“That’s alright darling. Your hair is past shoulder length, but I won’t charge you extra this time!”

You pay at the desk, with no mention of a discount for your one and a half hour interval, and skip off into the fumes of London. You’ve spent 2 hours longer than you planned, but you look like a model on the cover of Essence mag. That’s all that matters.

Can anyone else relate? Men, are the barbers similar?

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