Black women have a deep connection to their hair.

Regardless of the style, a Black woman’s hair is an essential component to showcasing her true personality. For that reason, the beauty salon has become a safe haven and self-care ritual, allowing Black women to entrust one of their most valuable features to another.

In the beginning, people exclusively went to hairstylists that they knew or close family and friends recommended. Now, with the rise of social media, people are entrusting their hair to new, unknown hairstylists in their area. Although most people read reviews and look at the stylists work, there are still some situations that cannot be predicted.

Many women have been sharing their hair horror stories on social media. From extreme lateness to insane rules, three Black women share their hair horror stories, revealing the struggle of finding quality haircare.

Tommesha Halt

21NINETY: Can you tell 21Ninety readers about hair horror story?

TOMMESHA HALT: My hair horror story began the summer before eighth grade. I begged my mom to let me get my first sew in, [and] reluctantly, she agreed, [warning] me that it may hurt a little bit at first. At the time, “protective nets” were suggested to keep my hair safe. I received a beehive braid down for my base, a protective net sewn on top, and finally the hair sewn on. After three layers of tugging, I had a terrible headache. However, I figured that must be the pain. This headache lasted for weeks. My mom encouraged me to take it out if it hurt too bad, but I refused. [I was] eager to wear it as long as possible and [refused] to admit she was right.

Once, it was time to take it down my mom thought [there] was gel in my hair, but after I explained the stylist didn’t use gel, she moved my hair. I winced, and we discovered it was blood and that my scalp had split. I never received stitches because so much time had passed and doctors were not quite sure what to do. The spot healed on its own, but it took years for me to stop feeling pain in the area.

21N: Do you think that your hair has bounced back after that experience?

TH: After that experience, there was a moment when my hair would not grow. About 12 years later, I still have a bald spot in the middle of head from the scar. Small pieces of hair grew back around it, but other than that it never recovered in that area.

21N: Has this experience left long lasting effects on the way that you pick your hair stylists?  

TH: That experience definitely affected who I let do my hair. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I let anyone besides my mom or older sister touch my hair. I can probably count on one hand the amount of people I’ve let do my hair besides them.

Outside of that, I always check reviews on Styleseat to see if the stylist has any complaints [and] lean towards the ones described as gentle. I stick to who I know for the most part because the uncertainty of a new stylist still makes me a little nervous.

21N: What are some of your biggest red flags for hair stylists?

TH: I personally feel like stylist who doesn’t listen to a clients’ pain is a big red flag for me. If I hear a “girl I barely touched you” or “it does not hurt,” [then] I immediately am on eggshells. It’s important for a stylist to trust the client knows what feels painful to them.

Kenyatta Victoria

21NINETY: Can you tell your hair horror story?

KENYATTA VICTORIA: I’ve always had pretty thick type-four hair, but it was never an issue with stylists until my sophomore year [in college]. My undergraduate years [happened during] the rise of Instagram hairstylists, and this was my first time booking someone through the platform for faux locs.

When I got to my appointment, she charged me $20 for being 11 minutes late. Once I sat down in the chair, she immediately started commenting on how thick my hair was. She even gave me a comb to detangle myself, which felt very unsettling. Detangling didn’t help because she said my scalp was “too greased.” I needed to return the next week. After I left, I noticed she posted my hair on Instagram, informing her followers they would be charged extra if their hair was thick. I never experienced that before and didn’t know how to process the treatment.

When I returned to her the next week, the appointment started out fine, but I soon felt her unravel the first loc. [She] stated my hair was too thick and she couldn’t complete the hairstyle. We ended up doing a crotchet loc style. Though it was cute, I constantly thought about how difficult the process was because my hair was thicker. 

21N: Has this experience left long lasting effects on the way that you pick your hair stylists?

KV: I definitely think I have an added anxiety when I book new stylists online. I always get nervous because I’m not sure what the outcome will be. I’m extremely picky about who touches my hair, so when I book now, I always make sure they specialize in natural hair. I try to stick with the stylists who know my hair. 

21N: What are some of your biggest red flags for hair stylists?

KV: Thick hair fees are my biggest red flag with stylists because they automatically make me anxious about the appointment.

Zaria Johnson

hair horror stories

21NINETY: Can you tell 21Ninety readers your hair horror story?

ZARIA JOHNSON: I was getting my hair done for my college graduation party in 2021 and around this time everyone was getting the Dess Dior braids. I was so excited and not nervous at all because I had been to this braider before. With that being said, I eagerly washed and blow dried my hair and went to my appointment in Harlem. As I was on the way to the appointment, I texted my braider to let her know I was on the way but I got no response, which should’ve been my red flag.

She ended up not responding for two hours, as I sat there and waited. When my braider finally texted me back, all she said was “My phone was dead, otw” not even a sorry. She finally shows up and walks straight to her station, [without a] “hello.” I follow behind [her] and sit in the chair. [I] tell her that I understood things happened, but I think it’d be nice to have some money off my appointment.

With a nasty attitude, she tells me she’s “human” her phone was dead and she’ll take off $10. I pushed for $20 and she told me that it wasn’t an option and she would just cancel. As much as I wanted to go off, I didn’t because I needed my hair done. I accepted the $10 and let her do her job.

Her attitude was still there throughout the whole service. When it was done, two parts were crooked. When I took my braids out, I had a small to medium sized bald spot at the back of my head. Needless to say, I didn’t give her a tip and blocked the girl on Instagram. 

21N: Has this experience left long lasting effects on the way that you pick your hair stylists?

ZJ: Absolutely! I haven’t been back to an Instagram braider since and if I need my hair braided I go to the African aunties who are professional and reliable. My best friend has also been a savior in doing my hair. I haven’t worried about the anxieties that come with booking with a stylist in quite some time. 

21N: What are some of your biggest red flags for hair stylists?

ZJ: As a New Yorker, my biggest red flag is if they’re on the Raw Reviews page. I completely understand if things happen as stylist; however, the repeat offenders are the ones to watch out for. Another red flag is how they respond if you have questions or if you reach out. If I can sense an attitude or someone being short for no reason, it’s a sign to look for someone else. 

This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.