Charlotte Mensah, founder of Notting Hill salon Hair Lounge and creator of the Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Haircare Collection, has the inside scoop on managing every kind of textured hair.
With the mixed-race population recognised as the fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the UK*, understanding the unique characteristics of different hair textures has become really important for stylists. Having the knowledge and skills to cater for this growing market will not only make you feel more confident, but will also help you seize the opportunity to expand your client base and grow your business!
There are five basic hair textures
3) Loose Curly
4) Very Curly
5) Tightly Coiled
While Asian and Caucasian hair tends to be naturally straight, mixed-race hair can vary enormously, while natural Afro hair varies from being very curly to tightly coiled hair which curls tight to the scalp.
What you need to know…
There are unique characteristics you need to be aware of, too. Mixed-race or very curly hair tends to get frizzy in humid conditions. Natural Afro tightly coiled hair is often dry and breaks off easily, therefore needs proper care and regular conditioning. As a result, clients with curly textures typically spend up to eight times more on hair services, treatments and products than clients with European hair** as it needs more TLC.
When caring for textured hair types, advise clients to wash hair weekly with a good moisturising shampoo that contains extra emollients, then follow with a rinse out conditioner. Regular hot oil treatments which seal in moisture, rehydrate and strengthen are recommended at least every two weeks or once a month at a minimum. Treatments work best when heat is applied under a special steamer, as this helps to open the cuticle, enabling the nutrients to penetrate and nourish deeply within.
One of the key challenges with textured hair is keeping it protected and hydrated as it soaks up moisture like a sponge! Home care in between salon visits is vital, so it’s a great opportunity to up your retail game. Advise clients to moisturise hair daily with a light cream or oil and to take five minutes before bedtime to pamper hair and cover with a silk scarf at night – it keeps all that moisture in, where it’s needed. Clients wearing braids or cornrows should apply a light oil to their scalp once or twice a week.
Comb with care
There’s also a special way to handle natural hair during the combing out process. Whether clients’ hair is wet or dry, first work in moisturising cream or oil to soften it, then using a wide tooth comb, detangle the hair from the ends going towards the roots.
Be discreet with heat
With textured hair, avoid applying extreme heat as it will diminish the hair’s elasticity, causing breakage. Try air drying, hood drying or dry with a diffuser. If the client really wants straighter hair, blow dry in sections with a paddle brush.
In the cut
Regular trims every 4-6 weeks to maintain their style and keep ends healthy are also recommended – you can stretch this to every 6-8 weeks if clients are transitioning (growing out their relaxer to embrace their natural texture).
*Source: 2011 census **Source: Salon Strategies