The Trip to the Hair Dressers: A True Horror Story

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It was a cold and dreary Sunday morning....

My hair was coated up with 5 days worth of product and I was a day overdue my routine deep conditioning session. Now, normally, I would go through the motions of cowashing/cleansing and  deep conditioning my hair myself as I have done for over a year... But this Sunday was different. I was lazy as hell.

Suddenly, it dawned on me, why not visit any random hair salon nearby to have it done for me! Huzzah! I be genius. I decided to cleanse and detangle my hair at home and simply go to the salon for my steamer deep condition and blow out! (I figured I would get some mini twists or cornrows done while I'm at it... kill a whole bunch of birds with one stone, right?).

So there I was cruising the block for any Ma' & Pa' type hair salon, I found one not 5 minutes away from my apartment. Upon my discovery, a deep feeling of dread began to set in... Before I go on to describe the events that took place, let me reiterate that I hardly ever allow strangers to touch my hair - paid or otherwise - I have one braider who has gained my trust 10 years down the line, and one other hairdresser who is yet to earn his stripes.. I digress, the hair salon had your typical Nairobi estate hair dresser feel to it, quaint and cosy. I walked in with my natural hair equivalent of a Batman utility belt, ready to do this.

I was greeted by a lovely young lady who was setting up shop. I quickly asked her if there was anyone who could deep condition and blow out and twist, I also added that my hair was natural. She assured me that she was more than capable and ushered me to the nearest station.

Part I: Not-So-Deep Conditioning
Heart rate - 60 bpm

As the young lady (let's call her Sarah), began applying my deep conditioner (I carried my own of course), I noticed she was focusing on my roots and not the tips of my hair. I then asked her to spread the conditioner evenly from root to tip, and in fact, add a little more on my ends... We smiled and she complied. 

After Sarah was done applying the Deep Conditioner, she began to scrub my scalp. By scrub I mean shampoo scrubbing my scalp! Heart rate - 70-80 bpm. I reprimanded her and got her to seal me up and get me under the steamer.

Before I settled under the steamer, I asked her for some sort of shower cap, to which she answered, they had none. Heart rate 85 bpm. I reached for my utility bag and grabbed one. 

15 min later, part one of my ordeal was over.

Part II: Get.. that.. Blow Dryer... AWAY FROM ME!
Hear rate - 80 bpm ... and rising

I need a moment to compose myself. This was a traumatizing moment that will be forever etched in my mind. 
So there I was, back at the hair station, ready for my blow out. Based on what just happened with the DC session, my guard was way up. I handed her not one, but TWO different heat protectant serums (paranoid much?). I slowly and deliberately explained how to apply each product and sat back waiting for the foreseeable horror show, which did not fail me.

Sarah started by separating my hair and proceeded to place the first serum ON MY SCALP. Heart rate - 94 bpm. That did it. I grabbed the product and proceeded to spread it myself in disbelief. After taking another 5 minutes to explain why the serums were meant for my strands, Sarah once again assured me that from here on, I would be well taken care of. 

On went the blow dryer; heat setting cool (as instructed). Heart rate - 90 bpm.

Now I've got to give credit where credit is due, with a bit of supervision, for a moment, Sarah worked the blow dryer like a pro. She started by carefully parting my hair into sections and went on to tackle each section carefully and gently (based on my screams and demands). By this time, there was a small crowd of patrons and stylists gathering around my station for the free show.

Things quickly took a turn for the worst when Sarah decided to turn up the heat and grab a narrow toothed comb and attack those "pesky curled roots and ends". Heart rate - 102 bpm. I damn nearly tackled poor sweet Sarah and told her she had done all that she could do for me and that I would take if from there. Looking like a mad woman, I went on to finalize my blow out.

Part III: The End.
Hear rate - 75 bpm.

That was more than I could take for one day. I decided against putting both of us through this ordeal any further. As soon as I was done, I packed up my products and tools and went on to pay. 

Total bill: Kshs. 350 for the CD and blow out combined. A whole Kshs. 550 less than my normal guy at Leos Hair Salon, but not worth it at all.

Lesson Learnt

Ladies, if you aren't used to doing your own hair, or if you decide you want to "treat" yourself to having someone do it for you, here's my two cents:
  1. Carry EVERYTHING you would normally use if you were to do it yourself, (save your own machinery). I go as far as carrying my own combs, but that's only because I have serious problems.
  2. What you would generally need is: your own deep conditioner (it's way cheaper than using the in house products), your own moisturizer, (chances are they won't know the difference between that and normal grease), your own sealant, (if need be, say you are getting your corn rows or natural twists done). Again, Kenyan hairdressers tend to reach for the grease. Your own disposable shower caps, and, if you're like me, your own combs.
  3. BE STRAIGHT UP DEMANDING: look, I'm generally a nice person, (try to be) but if I'm paying for a service, I want it done to my specifications and requirements. Lots of people are afraid to voice out their displeasure, this is madness. Be respectful, but remember, it's your body and your money at the end of the day. Get what you came for.
  4. If you can do it yourself, just do it yourself. We are big DIY-ers, we encourage you to join us.

I never know what to do with my hair all puffed up...

Enjoy your day!

Bee said...

hahahahaah Sounds very familiar! Not too long ago, I could hardly do anything for my hair- I had everything done at the salon. I decided I needed to be more gentle on my hair and learn it. now my hair thanks me for it. until I have to have cornrows and the hair dresser insists on blowdrying - I hate it even though I generously apply the heat protectant serum:(

NubianEmpress said...

hahaha the horror! I had a similar experience after deciding to "treat" myself to what I thought would be a relaxing DC and blow out. Glad to hear Sarah was somewhat understanding. My "stylist" complained the whole way through (so much for customer service)about the texture and "hardness" of my mane (According to her the heat protectant I brought along was the reason my hair would'nt co- operate). She began blowing out from the TIP down to the root, (ugh the memory) and attempted to use a rat tail comb to slick down my "difficult" edges in a way that one would use a round brush .
This all happened despite my pleas and moans and what I thought were careful and polite instructions. I tried to go in a second time (the laziness prevailed) a roller set by another stylist, but they REFUSED to handle my hair as long as it was in "that state". It was suggested I blow it out first before using rollers!
I'm glad that they rejected :( my hair because I got myself some rollers and do my roller set at home, on my own to my hearts content, sans the bad attitude and high blood pressure! lol
Either invest in a good natural hair stylist of do your own do ladies, because I would wish this type of experience on nobody's locks!

- Shaz

Filomena Mairosse said...

Eish! At least she complied in doing things the way you asked but going to the salon is still not worth the scares! DIY all the way! Btw I seriously love your blog girls! It's not common to c an African Natural Hair Blog (specially not one I like this much). We needed that. Thank you! Much love your way! Mena (reppin Mozambique!).

wambizy said...

WOI! i feel u! I even gave up on going to the salon...been doing my hair for over a year now. Now am a pro at protective styling : mini twists currently on week 3. Hella fuzzy but thats cool coz they look like locks :) lol

Wangari said...

Thank you for this piece very amusing and informative ! I have been allowing so many people to tamper with my hair and my eyebrows , both of which were trembling as i read your piece. My hair found her voice last month whispering at first and then screaming into my ears, no more , please no more! So i cut off the heat damaged part', vowed to stay away from braids and weaves and heat for a healthy while and have since been doing my own hair at home. Don't get me wrong, braids are from heaven but i have really abused them, i used to take out my braids, wash my hair and pop more braids in all in the same day!!! Like any new relationship my hair and i are still getting to know each other, she tells me what she can do and what she can't do and i listen. Thanks to blogs like this our relationship is getting stronger. i quench her thirst and twist, comb and brush her tenderly. I can't imagine anyone else touching her! So we feel this piece. we really do, my hair and I!!!

Naii said...





Honey said...

Reading this post, my heart ached and I was stressed out. It felt like my hair was the one going through this. I went through similar mishap with a hair braider. For some reason they always think that a rat tail comb can go through my hair. Even when my hair was relaxed that was not possible. The trip ended up with both the hair braider and I being upset. When she tried to comb my hair with the rat tail comb, before I could even protest the comb broke and she was just pissed off. Half way doing my hair she said that my hair is too coarse that her fingers hurt.Can you imagine that. I never went back there again and it has been two years since I have been to a hair salon or had anyone do my hair.I DIY and it has been working for me so far. Someone mistook me for a hair stylist today at the salon supply store where I went looking for hair cutting scissors, I guess my skills have improved.

alexia said...

Hey lovely lady;-) woi pole about your experience. Ever since I learned about your blog I have been siting . It feels super great. Intact am even headed to dc with avocado and honey. Thanks so much for the blog.

alexia said...

Hey lovely lady ;-) am sorry to hear about your salon experience. I must say I haven't come across anyone who knows how to do my hair to my specifications. Diy is the best thing ever. Thanks for the highly entertaining and informative blog.

Suzanne said...

Oh the horror!....but it sounds waay to familiar, especially the part where you end up putting product on your hair and finishing off the blow-out for yourself.....DIY all the way!

kinky_lockz said...

Pole sana dear. Those are TRUE life events I can attest to. My first experience in a salon in almost five years...3 of which I've been natural and I was left with split ends galore. my first mistake was thinking the stylist had natural was a weave. My second mistake was allowing them to undo my braids...them because 4 different ladies decided to assist and maybe only one was actually detangling (removing matted shed hair) as she removed the extensions, mistake three was getting ripped off that I have to pay for a deep condition/er (which they never applied full head) or they would style from cleansing state, fourth mistake...wrong combs, high heat, rough detangling/pulling, no moisturizer just grease......literally I could go on.

Now I have flat ironed my hair before with great results but this time I was left with bone straight, oily hair and a tender scalp. When my hair began reverting the ends looked like shredded paper in a waste bin. And I blame myself completely for being too meek and not asserting the fact that they were effing up my hair. Funny thing is the shampooist tried to convince me to relax because my hair is thick and would be so long she said. But i really am not in the pursuit of that. I said no thank you ma'am, I liked it natural furthermore my strands are fine but my hair looks wouldn't survive the chemical process. At this point she questioned my ethnicity o_0 as she sported a Wahu-do.. Short, coloured and wavy/kinky. I never thought this would happen in my own country.

Anywho, 4months later finally cut all the damage out. Now no one touches my hair..even my braider is on probation until i can get her to understand i don't do heat or combs anymore :P

Jc said...

lol I am still laughing that you actually had a plastic cap in your bag - well prepared!

I am far too paranoid to have anyone do my hair. The idea of salon conjures up a scene of small toothed combs, overly hot blow dryers, complaints about how tough my hair is when in truth it will break very easily.

thecleanvan said...

LOL! I love your blow by blow account of everything! This did it for me, what.....LOL!

I damn nearly tackled poor sweet Sarah and told her she had done all that she could do for me and that I would take if from there. Looking like a mad woman, I went on to finalize my blow out.

You have made my day!

I carry my own products to the salon, but you are armed to the teeth! Good for you! I knew things would get um....exciting (*chuckle*) when that blow dryer was turned on. I had my hair blow-dryed some time last year in Nairobi--the reason why is another long story. Anyway, the lady listened and was even willing to use the heat protectant. I had already stretched my hair, which is fairly dense. So, all I really needed was a quick once over with the dryer to get it just a little straighter. However, the lady was intent on blowdrying it until it is "FLAT!". Her words not mine. She was also going to follow that up with a flat-iron o_O.

Long story-->short: I said no to the flat-iron but the blow dryer was hella hot! Still have some straight ends I need to get rid of :/. I still go to the salon for twists or cornrows occassionally, I make sure the hair is well-prepped at home. I don't even mind the grease, I figure if it was well moisturised before it should be fine. But I have decided to stay FAR away from heat, unless I can control the situation.

NB: I have sat under a steamer numerous times without a plastic cap and it was fine. However, my regular dryer is not a steamer so I wear a cap under that otherwise everything would be dried to a crisp. So, don't freak out too much if it happens again :)

Finally I have seen salon listings on sites like BGLH, maybe you guys could do something similar for Nairobi? I know many stylists don't know much about working with natural hair, but there are some that are accomodating. You could get recommendations from readers for example. Including service received e.g. wash, DC, cornrows and pricing. It still boggles the mind why some of these services should be so expensive, it's not that hard is it?

thecleanvan said...

Forgot to add this: I know DC's can be time consuming, though I usually sit under the dryer for 15-20 mins max. However, I have found an effective short cut--After cleansing and detangling, I have been slathering on some coconut oil, massaging my scalp and putting the hair in large or medium sized braids. Done. Works well in warm weather.

I keep the braids in for a day or two, when I take it out, hair is stretched, supple and ready to style. Try and see if it works for you.

Bakhita Matrice aka BM said...

What are the odds that just yesterday, I too went through a horrific salon session??? I went in for a blow out just to spice up the ol' hair to try out new styles and boy was I pissed with the resulting drama! The salonist was moving from one customer's head to the next like she was cooking four chapos at a go (at one point she stepped out to "get a better blow drier" only to come back having changed her outfit and proceeded to work on the girl who had come AFTER me!!!)

The worst bit is that she was burning my hair (I can still catch a whiff of singed hair under the coconut oil *sad face*) and despite my winces she kept at it. I got super mad when I was trying to woosa myself into patiently waiting "my turn" when a friend/colleague of the salonist came in and stated how women natural hair "haribus market for women". I was doooone. Paid for my half-done hair (I'm a good girl *sad face*) then went home and stood under the shower to restore balance in the universe once more. I'm nappy and happy now :)

Bee said...

am sad that all this women including myself have gone through this. is there a salon in Nairobi that is open minded about natural hair or knows how to care/deal with it. God knows sometimes we need that "treat" :(

evbu said...

since going natural salons are my biggest fear, so i avoid them, DIY all the way, but i must admit it would be nice to have a treat once in a while.

Unknown said...

Oh the horror... Dont we all know it. I love love your blog, and glad to see thete many kurlies out there. Shocking though how very few salons know how to handle natural hair...whst happened there, that aint right. So ehen i read a reply by a Kurly asking if we could do a 'list'...for those lazy'd be awesome!

Barbara Adell said...

i resorted to dreadlock and I DIY with great outcome, I was once an untrained hairdresser cos of my braiding skills and trust me I don't want to be handled by any hairdresser.

Essie said...

My oh, my! This came close to being my story ... Only that I walked out of the salon because I put themthroughthe Spanis inquisition before letting them touch my hair and I could tell they were clueless in as far as natural hair is concerned and looked at me like I was smoking some chep shit .... Why couldn't I just relax my hair like the rest of the world. Was outta there in a flash and now still DIY'ing. Isn't it a pity how we can't find stylists right here in Africa who are partial to natural hair?

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