Trust Issues: Stylist Autonomy pt. 1

It has been said that life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges…until you find the perfect hairdresser.  I think…scratch that.  I KNOW this is true! Though I no longer wear elaborate, laborious hair styles, I still find it pertinent to find a hair stylist with just the right mix of professionalism, skill, and personality.  My hair has been known to require a little extra something something when trying to curl it after a silk press.  On the contrary, a shampoo and go style is actually not more than that:  shampoo it and go!  I guess that is why I just do that myself, and I opt to go to a salon for haircuts and lavish styling.

So what was with the lengthy, debatable topic of this blog?  Well, just this morning, I received an email from the PBA, Professional Beauty Association.  This organization keeps stylists aware of any legislature that may be detrimental to them.  Currently, most states require at least 1500 hours of training, a written exam, and a practical exam in order  to be granted a cosmetology license.  Also, with consumer health in mind, most states also require licensed cosmetologists to take several hours of continuing education in the area of sanitation prior to license renewal.  But across the country, legislation has been proposed to deregulate this industry.

Deregulation would mean that there would no longer be a governing body to ensure that minimum education requirements are met, no requirement for their to be any education to work as a cosmetology, nail tech, or esthetician.  This would mean that no sanitation practices would be required in salons!  This means that people with absolutely no experience will have the ability to work in any salon he or she wants without any governing body determining qualification for the position.

Whew! now I am finally addressing the title. Unlike other services, contracting someone to beautify your coifs is such a personal experience; the outcome is visible to the world, and depending on the service,can  produce semi-permanent results.   So, with that in mind, would YOU feel comfortable allowing a “stylist” with no credentials doing your hair?  If yes, then what non-negotiable requirements do you set when seeking someone to provide tender loving care to your precious tendrils?

As a professional cosmetologist who has been licensed for 23 years this month, I find it quite offensive, unfair, and down-right wrong!  Even if I was to disregard adverse effects of color and other chemical services gone awry, the threat to public health not being heeded is simply preposterous.  There are so many communicable diseases that could easily be passed from patron to patron through an untrained ‘stylist’.  With no one to require implements be sanitized, blood borne pathogens could run rampant in salons.  Who wants that?  Lets be honest; people who would only get in the field to make the quickest buck possible with no commitment of time in education, would likely take as many short cuts as possible to ensure the bottom line yields optimal profit margins.

So, in summary, states all of the county (click here to find out the most recent legislative news) are proposing to do away with cosmetology licensing.  No training, no regard for public health, and no more distinction between qualified stylists and anyone with a blow dryer and shears.  What other personal services would YOU entrust with your body, your health? Could you, with full confidence, visit a salon and give complete autonomy to the stylist working on your hair, knowing he or she did not have to take one minute of training, and could be oblivious to measures that prevent the spread of communicable diseases and blood borne pathogens?  This is something to really think about.

If you find that your state has (or will) proposed deregulation for cosmetology, I encourage you to communicate with the congressmen representing your area.  Let the states know that you want to feel comfortable about all of your cosmetology services without a threat of catching any of a plethora of diseases; you tell them that your health and safety are more important than saving a few bucks from the budget.

I want to know your thoughts on this very real possibility.  Please comment below and share this blog with all your friends, colleagues, and relatives who have ever (or will ever) gotten any salon services.  Until later, I wish you peace, love, and hair grease!  Well, not really grease, but…it rhymes!

 

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Is Youtube YOUR Stylist?

 

Hi, my name is Mänya , and I am addicted to Youtube.  I willingly admit to it.  No shame either.  I can spend hours watching content on the tube and feel much more entertained than from watch television.  I refuse to say that it is  a mindless activity.  Shucks, I have learned to make a giant size cake that looks like a pb&j sandwich from How To Cake It.  Desi Perkins has taught me how to do a cut crease, and I was able to see the labor and delivery video of Jamie and Nikki and Gabe Babe TV!  Not mindless at all.

This post will be short.  And sweet.  And to the point.  Hopefully.

For entertainment purposes, I watch Youtubers blow dry their hair and flat iron it.  I have watched women of color bleach their own hair and make suggestions on how I can do it, too.  I have even pulled out a bag of popcorn to watch popular (and might I add successful) You tubers give themselves haircuts.  After having worked on perfecting the craft of cosmetology for over 20 years, I think it is fun (and sometimes funny) to watch amateurs tell the world how to do this and that with their hair.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some AMAZING professional hair stylists with videos on YouTube.  I have mad love for so many of my fellow stylists.  I have actually learned some things from many of them on the tube.  But they are not the people I referred to in my previous paragraph.  In fact, many of the professional stylists have way less subscribers than the beauty influencers I was talking about.  I think this is insane.  But then again, I do get it.  Most real hair stylists are showing techniques from a stylist’s vantage point.  They are not actually doing their own hair.  They are performing services on clients or models.  This makes a difference because it is a completely different talent and skill set to do one’s own hair as opposed to doing someone else’s.

But with all that said, I still would not allow a person who generally has experience only with doing her one head of hair.  What I have found to be an advantage of being a hair stylist is that I have had the pleasure of being exposed to thousands of heads of hair over the course of my career.  This allows me to make statements about hair that are not merely based on what I learned from just one hair type and texture.  Nevertheless, thousands of women take DIY hair advice from beauty influencers all the time.  It has gotten so popular that some people question hair stylists in salons and would rather believe in the advice their favorite influencer has shared.

Personally, I have never had the desire to fix a leaky faucet or do a maintenance check on my home’s AC unit or even change my own oil in my car.  I love the feeling of someone who knows what they are doing  to provide those services.  Much in the same vane, I enjoy trips to the nail salon, esthetician, and even to a hair stylist (though that comes few and far in between).  When I have to resort to cutting my own hair, I tell myself that I have a fool for a client!  I just cannot fathom why anyone would purposely WANT to do their haircuts and hair color themselves-AND listen to the advice of someone about as qualified to give hair styling advice as an meerkat at the zoo.  No shad, just palm trees here!

In closing, I want to clarify that I am not at all knocking the hustle of the You tubers. Not at all!  I am, however, questioning the consumers of the hair videos-mainly the haircuts and chemical services videos.  Even as a professional hair stylist, I require a release form for all new color clients.  With over 23 years of experience in this industry, I still take classes to help me get even better at what I do.  So, trusting your crown and glory to a less than qualified person is really playing Russian roulette with your coif.  Enjoy the videos for fun and entertainment purposes, and then seek a professional hair stylist for the cutting and the coloring.  Oh, and be sure to be on the look out for my upcoming hair styling series on You tube-premiering late spring, 2018.

I would love to read  your comments about this topic.  Please feel free to leave tasteful responses.  I will gladly interact with you!  Until later, I wish you love, peace, and hair grease!

 

 

 

 

(deferred) Dreams

If you have ever analyzed the poem Dreams by Langston Hughes, you may have pondered about all the hopes and dreams you had for yourself as a child.  If you have not had the pleasure of reading this poetry masterpiece, PLEASE click on the link to read it!  Now that we have that all taken care of, let’s talk dreams.

Though I have definitely had my share of aspirations for my life (as a child), most of them were related to writing or to the beauty industry-all of them in a creative capacity.  As a very young child, I thought I could be the next Nadia Comăneci, the very first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympic Games.  Several sprained ankles and a growth spurt later, it became obvious to me that I indeed would not be a top gymnast, or even a gymnast at all.  So naturally my next aspiration was to become an actress.  Of course!  So, being the supportive mom that she was at the time, I was immediately enrolled in not one but two drama classes.  I stuck with it for several years.  Then there were another few growth spurts.  As a child actress, I was too tall to play children’s roles, and too young to play adult roles.  So as I transitioned out of that dream, I smoothly transitioned into writing.  I wrote my first play when I was in the fifth grade.  Cool, right?  I realized that I had a natural talent for writing. And I realized that most actors are short. AND I was tall.

Throughout junior high and high school, I narrowed my career aspiration down to becoming an ad writer.  I was going to major in advertising at the University of Kansas.  After all, I attended a college prep high school, so I was EXPECTED to go to college and get a good job.  While in high school though, I was almost obsessed with my hair!  I made sure that it was done to perfection nearly every day-that was really hard to do with a press and curl in the 80’s.  Knowing that my school discouraged vocations, attending cosmetology school was not an option.  But imagine if I had been allowed to pursue my dream back then.  I could have started my career right out high school.  But I digress.  Anyway, I took every opportunity to curl hair-anybody’s hair.  Fast forward to senior year, my good friend Susan and I had a revelation that it would be a great idea to cut off all our long hair in the back in order to achieve the rat tail style.  What idiots we were!  Okay I will only claim that I was the idiot.  I won’t call Susan an idiot. I will just say that she idiotic tendencies at the time!

At any rate, that was truly the beginning of my love affair with the cosmetology industry.  I attended college, but not my beloved K.U.  The out of state fees proved to be way too much for my minimal scholarship money and financial aid package.  Even with the pressure my family placed on me to become college educated, I managed to drop out of school several times.  Five years after my first college semester, I found myself  graduating from cosmetology school.  Yep.  I did it.  And in another year, I got my cosmetology license.  I did not care about a corporate job, benefits, retirement.  None of it.  All I wanted was to create on my canvas of choice-hair.  I lived, ate (literally), and breathed (also literally) hair.  I forfeited so much in my quest to be successful. Family. Sleep.  Family.  Savings.  Family.  The whole world.  Most regrettably, family.  But that’s a subject for another blog.

My dream for the past 20 plus years has been to be a success in the beauty industry.  I did experience marginal success-especially my first 13 years or so.  I can truly say that those were the happiest years I have ever had.  I always wanted to go to work.  I always wanted to learn more.  I was a perfectionist at my craft, and I valued giving great customer service to my clients.  Being a self-employed stylist definitely had its challenges, and I was up for all of them.  I knew at a young age that my happiness was more important to me than financial gain.  Though I definitely made my share of coins, the business is a fickle one, and depending on the weather, the economy, what events are in town, etc., business could be extremely lucrative or an unforeseen  dry spell could emerge when only your die hard regulars make and keep their appointments.  It took a lot of discipline to manage money in this business, but I just would not have it any other way.  That was until I decided to go ahead and finish my degree.

As the world turned, the economy was starting to flop, and as my daughter grew older, I wanted to provide stability for my family.  Upon the advise of my then best friend as well as a cousin, I went into teaching.  I thought it would be a simple thing that I could jump right back out of once the money at the salon became stable again. And besides, I did love to write.  My degree was in Public Relations, so I went ahead and applied to teach journalism and English.  It was fun, and it really came quite easy to me.  I was good at planning lessons and teaching students the ins and outs of research writing, essays, and even news articles.  I revived a journalism program that was all but dead at the school-first with a student newspaper, and then a year book.

As life would have it, I was running my own salon and teaching simultaneously.  I had the best of both worlds it seemed.  But of course, I wanted more.  I had outgrown my hometown and the torture of staying in that town was more than I was willing to bear.  So I closed my salon and headed for Texas.  Dallas to be exact.  I managed a salon there for awhile and later rekindled my passion from behind the chair again.  Almost immediately I gained a substantial client base.  But again the economic environment began to affect my quality of life as a result of less frequent appointments being made and kept by my clientele.  So I got back into teaching.  Only this time, it seemed to become a life sentence.  The novelty had certainly worn off, but the stability of the income and the time off were perks I could not deny.

Years later, as I go to work, I feel a piece of me die each day.  I would wish this feeling on no one.  In fact, if I had a chance for a do-over, I never would have even finished college.  I never would have taken a teaching job-or any non beauty related job.  My happiness is worth more than a check and some benefits (oh and the teacher healthcare benefits REALLY suck).  With each birthday that passes, I realize that my prime as a hair stylist has now passed.  To keep some semblance of fulfillment, I maintain a small client base and I am in the process of starting a cosmetology education business.  But none of that changes my constant thoughts of “what if” and my reflection on what could have been.  What really should have been.  Looking back on it now, I realize that my problem was not college or teaching or the city I was in.  My problem was a lack of faith.  I was just short of a mustard seed.

My advice to anyone who is currently holding on to dreams and aspirations:  HOLD FAST TO YOUR DREAMS!  Life if too short and too treacherous to spend it doing what is expected of you rather than what your passion is.  Passion does not pay bills.  But coupled with faith in the Lord, your passion can become the best thing to ever happen to you.  Do not give up!

 

You Can’t Go Back ‘Home’

I was born and raised in K.C. ( I can hear the D.J. Quick sample playing in my head-but replacing the Compton of course).  I grew up on barbecue, art, and beautiful Christmas lights.  I had the opportunity to visit recently and it was definitely an experience.  I was there for only a few days, but that was all it took for me to realize you can’t go back home.

Ask me what the best barbecue restaurant is, and I will quickly tell you Gates!  Though my brother prefers L.C.’s, I guess Gates just had a special place in my heart and in my taste buds since that was where I grew up eating the smokey goodness that is Kansas City barbecue.  I can hear them now, “Hi, may I help you?”  just as my toenail hit the front door.  Every time.  Every time!  I would yell my order, “Combo and a half, hold the ham for turkey, no sauce”.  The out of town visitor behind me would look so scared when she called out to him or her, “Hi, may I help you?”.  It takes a certain lingo to place your order at Gates, you see.  Beef on bun on bread.  BB.  Long end.  Short end.  Combo.  Fried hard.  Etc.  And yes!  If you called your order out to the cashier who yelled hello to you at the door, it would be ready for you when you got to the register…but this is my memory.

The reality hit when I visited over the Christmas holiday. I have a few places I just have to go whenever I am in Kansas City (which is rare nowadays).  I gotta get my Topsy’s popcorn, I pick up some Russell Stover’s Pecan Rolls, and most definitely have to get some barbecue.  So of course I made it my business to stop there on the very first day of my trip.  First of all, it has been so long since my last visit that I was unsure about whether this street goes all the way out, should I turn there or go straight, which way turn.  I felt like a total tourist! Regardless of all that, I made it my business to stop by Gates on day one of my visit.  After several wrong turns, I made it to my beloved Gates.

The anticipation was overwhelming.  Driving into the parking lot was exhilarating.  As I was walking in the door, I just could hardly wait for the cashier to yell, “Hi, may I help you?” to me.  Crickets.  No one asked me for my order at the door.  It wasn’t until I was at the cash register that my order was taken.  But I did not let that interrupt my wonderful experience of being at my favorite barbecue restaurant of all time!  I proceeded to order my usual combo and a half-hold the ham for turkey, no sauce and some onion rings.  When my order was finally bagged, I wanted to skip and turn cartwheels.  I could hardly wait to get back to my hotel room…had to turn on my Google Maps so I wouldn’t waste time with wrong turns!

Then I bit into my sandwich.  Maybe I had hyped it up too much in my mind, but it was not that same BBQ that I had bragged endlessly about since I moved to Texas over a decade ago.  I felt like a dog with its tail between its legs.  What happened?  Where was that signature smokey flavor that DEFINED Kansas City for me?  I wanted to click my heels three times, but I did not have on my ruby slippers.  Bummer. And I was not in Kansas either (I am from the Missouri side-there’s a difference!).

Though I am merely talking about my  Gates experience, it really is symbolic of my whole trip.  Nothing looked familiar.  I definitely felt like a guest at my family’s home.  I have long since lost my ability to function in sub-freezing temperatures.  I started thinking to my self, “Am I REALLY even from here?  I am really even ‘home’?”  That is when I came to the realization that I can never really go back “home”.  I have made Texas my home, and I know so much more about Houston and Dallas than I do about the city I was born and raised in.  I guess all those years of talking bad about my hometown culminated with Kansas City disowning me!  Oh well, it’s just another reality of adulting and embracing the place where I currently lay my hat.

 

Transition to natural WITHOUT a big chop

When transitioning to natural hair or stretching the time between relaxer applications, there are several important essentials to consider. I’m sure that there are many, many things I could share, but here are seven that should really help you on your journey.

​1.  Assess.  Take really good inventory of the state and texture of your hair.  Determine whether your hair is dry, porous, or breaking.  When assessing your hair’s texture, it is not necessary to assign yourself a letter/number from the curly hair types chart.  Merely assess just how different your unmanipulated natural hair texture is from your relaxed hair.  This will determine how susceptible your hair may be to breakage at the line of demarcation.

2.  Pamper.  Your hair is the weakest at the line of demarcation.  This is the place along your hair shaft where the natural hair ends and the relaxed hair begins.  The greater the difference between the two textures, the greater the potential for breakage at or near the line of demarcation.  For this reason, it is very important to be very gentle with your hair-especially at the line.  Try not to tug or yank when detangling, and whenever possible, select low manipulation styles that allow the hair shaft some consistency in texture.  If you are stretching the time between relaxer retouches, it is imperative that there is not overlapping of relaxer on previously relaxed hair.  It is a great idea to apply a moisturizing conditioner to the hair as a leave-in before your appointment (be sure hair is DRY before relaxer service).

3.  Choose complementary styling options.  Whether you are stretching the time between relaxers or transitioning from relaxed to natural, choosing styles that do not require a lot of manipulation are key.  Additionally, styles that stretch the natural hair to loosen the curl pattern (ex. roller sets or blow dried styles with adequate tension) help to lower the stress your hair would otherwise experience at that line of demarcation.

4.  Be consistent.  Of course I recommend finding an adept professional hair stylist to help you on your healthy hair journey, it is still important to have a consistent regimen that you use at home.  Unfortunately, with natural hair, products are never one size fits all.  What may work well for me may not work at all for you.  But it is vital that you find a clarifying shampoo, moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a protein conditioner that yields pleasant results on your hair.  Your stylist should be able to offer you viable suggestions.  Set a regular schedule dedicating time to taking care of your tresses.  Don’t forget that every 4-8 weeks, a protein treatment will help your hair to thrive.  Just be sure that it is followed immediately with  conditioner that adds moisture back into your hair.

5.  YES, you need to trim your ends!  There have been way too many non-licensed people on various social media outlets who suggest that ends trimming is not essential, or that once a year is sufficient.  That is tomfoolery for sure.  Your professional stylist can assess your ends to determine the necessary frequency of ends trims you need.  Remember that the more regular you are with trimming, the less that will need to be trimmed when you go.  The less frequently you trim, the less likely you are to see your actual rate of hair growth because as your tresses grow from the root, the split strands are breaking off at the ends.  Unattended split ends just keep splitting up the hair shaft until they are cut off. Although there are conditioners and treatments that can temporarily soften the frizziness of split ends, there is NO product that can actually mend them.

6.  Be realistic.  Take some time to set realistic hair goals for yourself.  Ask yourself why you even chose to go natural or why you are stretching the time between relaxer  retouches.  It is never a good idea to covet the hair of others.  Rather it is much more productive and realistic to strive for having the best hair YOU can have.  Be mindful that various textures of hair are more conducive to certain styles.  Tighter curl patterns tend to produce beautiful twist outs,  while hair with looser curl patterns is easier manipulated for roller sets.  Of course all textures can do both, but I just wanted to provide an example.

Remember that your texture is what it is, and choosing to go natural means that you are okay with that.  It is (to me) a waste of time trying to find products to “make your hair curly”.  Either it is or it isn’t.  And that’s okay!  Finally, remember that the tighter the curl, the more the shrinkage.  Try not to get too carried away with hair length.  If you take care of your hair consistently, the length will come.  There are a plethora of great style options that will allow you to show off your length when the time comes.

​7.  Be patient.  Going natural is a long process-especially when you decide NOT to opt for the “Big Chop”.  They say Rome was not built in a day (and it wasn’t!), so you have to prepare yourself mentally for the time it will take to start seeing your coif how you imagined it could be when you decided to go natural.

Remember that your diet DOES play a big role in the health of your hair.  It gets its nourishment from your blood, so the better your eating habits, the better your hair journey will be (natural or not).  Do not forget that the very best way to keep your hair from being dry is to DRINK WATER.  Most people who drink at least 50 ounces of water daily do not experience dry hair nearly as much as those who do not regularly drink water.  Also, oil is NOT hydration.  Only water hydrates!  There are no grow long hair miracle oils, conditioners,  or foods, but there are supplements that can aid in helping you see consistent growth (Click here for the one I recommend).

Those are just a few tips I have for you.  If you have specific questions, feel free to post them below.  I will try to answer as many as I can.

Integration or Segregation: A Different Perspective

I know, I know.  segregation is a bad word.  Well, not literally, but the connotation.  So WHY in the world would I even entertain such a thing?  I mean, we are living in a post-racial society  (ALLEGEDLY).  Oh my gosh!  I cannot believe I even typed that! Well, let me explain the several ways my “different” perspective on segregation could get you to thinking just a little bit differently, too.

Last week, a large makeup company, Tarte Cosmetics, came out with a highly anticipated new line of liquid foundation.  It was an extension of their #1 selling Shape Tape concealer (of which I definitely have a bottle).  I don’t get too much into higher end foundations (at least not purchasing them), but because I just live for a good makeup tutorial, I clicked on every video about this new product.  Only one problem:  most of the videos were not actually tutorials, first impressions, or hauls.  They were mostly rants about the color selection (or lack thereof)  that Tarte offered in their new line of foundation.

Tarte offered 12 amazing shades of fair, fair neutral, fair light neutral,  etc.  If your skin is  porcelain to very lightly tanned, they have shade for you!  For the medium, medium dark, and dark range, there were a grand total of three shades for all the black girls and brown girls to use.  You know I said I LOVE a good tutorial video?  Well not more than a couple of months ago, I found myself responding to a video that was about this very subject-only it was another brand that was being roasted.  My sentiments were to stop complaining and begging a brand to make your shade (integration).

The powerful influencers of social media seem to be in agreement that companies should be more inclusive in their shade ranges when it comes to foundations.  Cosmetics lines like Fenty Beauty and Huda Beauty set an inclusive tone of hope for caramel and chocolate ladies with their releases of 40 shades and 30 shades, respectively.  But when companies aren’t inclusive, should we really rant to nearly beg them to do so?  The cosmetic industry is an $8 billion a year industry.  When I hear people plead with companies to include them in the shade range, I just begin to think about the 1950’s and 60’s when there were protests about eating in the back of restaurants.  Then my mind immediately fixates on the legendary Black Wall Street.

Black Wall Street was a great example of segregation that truly worked!  So what does that have to do with makeup?  Well, I just wonder why the social media influencers would rather borderline beg to give money to companies who seem disinterested in meeting their needs?  Why not just show massive support to companies who do support women of color with ample product selection?  Even better, find and support Black owned or curated cosmetics brands with diverse shade range.  I will make it easy for you by linking several (definitely not all-there are a lot!)  Black owned cosmetics companies for you to choose from .  Note:  Most, if not all of them DO NOT exclude the fairer hues.

Fashion Fair

Iman Cosmetics

Black Opal

Glamour RX Cosmetics (One of my favs!)

Shea Moisture  (YES! They have makeup!)

Black Up Cosmetics

Beauty Bakerie

Danessa Myricks Beauty

The wrap up:  I used cosmetics to get my point across today about segregation.  But I could have chosen just about any industry.  Instead of always protesting or ranting about inclusion, history has shown that just starting your own business is a viable option!  Subsequently, there as SOOOOOO many Black entrepreneurs creating opportunities to support them in a plethora of industries.  By supporting businesses that are inclusive, especially Black-owned companies, you would be sending an economic message to those brands that did not value your business to begin with, while helping Black businesses thrive.  Integration or segregation:    my perspective.

 

 

 

 

Sitting and Waiting: The Increase of Patience

A Nikki Giovanni poem resonates in my head as I ponder on the words my pen assembles with every movement of my fingers and wrist.

“Sitting and waiting, waiting and sitting, cause I’m a woman.”

Yes!  From the very mention of the possibility of a hurricane’s approach to my vicinity.  I recall a lot of sitting and waiting.  Sitting through gloomy weather forecasts on every channel; waiting in the line at Kroger after grabbing every kind of junk food-chips, cookies, granola bars, etc, bottled water, cold cuts, bread, etc.  All in anticipation for sitting and waiting.

We were waiting for a possible power outage-you know Houston is famous, or infamous-for these.  We live on a hill , so no way water will even come near our doorstep.  (Can you hear me laugh out loud at the LUDICROUS thought?!?!) So day one comes and goes-oh so cloudy, but no torrential rain.  Shucks, we even made a quick Walmart run!  Yep, this must  just be another over-forecasted weather event.  Dang it!  I cancelled my Saturday salon appointments for this?  MANNNNN!  Continue reading “Sitting and Waiting: The Increase of Patience”