Similar to fashion, hair is one of the most important forms of self-expression. People wear their hair in many different ways, from short and kinky to long and straightened. Individuals may dye their hair, wear wigs, or place bows, combs, or other objects atop their heads. The breadth of hairstyles is reflective of the diversity of the human race.
Thankfully, the CROWN Act recently passed the House of Representatives and will soon be reviewed in the Senate. For those unfamiliar, the CROWN Act, short for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, was first introduced in 2019. This congressional bill seeks to ban workplace-related prejudice and discrimination regarding race-based hairstyles, such as protective locs and braids. Hair discrimination is real and disproportionately affects Black individuals; indeed, according to the 2019 Dove Crown Research Study, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair. The CROWN Act is an important step in allowing everybody, especially Black women, to feel welcome and safe regardless of the hairstyle they don.
While significant progress has been made at the legislative level to combat hair discrimination and help make the US a more welcoming place for all hairstyles, there are several steps businesses, particularly salons, can take to better cultivate an atmosphere of inclusion. The following informal guide outlines a few of the ways salons may work toward inclusivity in their business practices.
Hire stylists who have experience with Black hair.
Walk into your neighborhood Great Clips or Supercuts, and you’re unlikely to find somebody who can style Black hair—at least not well. This isn’t so much a problem with individual businesses as it is with the cosmetology industry in America, as many beauty school students never gain experience styling Black hair. This trend effectively enables white-staffed salons to deny service to Black customers due to their hair being “too difficult to style.” Many Black women have, unfortunately, been refused service at high-end salons because of their natural hair.
The easiest way for a business to address this racist trend? Hire stylists who can work with Black hair! The burden shouldn’t be on the customer to search out who can style Black hair and who can’t. Ideally, Black customers should be able to visit any salon without doubts or fear that their hair won’t be taken seriously. Not only would Black individuals feel safer and more welcome at a greater number of salon spaces; these businesses would also be able to reach an important demographic and increase their profits.
Offer products for all hair types.
If many salons cannot or refuse to service Black customers, it comes as no surprise that these same businesses often don’t sell products that work with natural hair. Stylists generally have useful advice to impart regarding which hair products to use and which to avoid, so it’s common to leave a salon visit with a bag full of products to take care of your new do. However, salons may not sell products that are appropriate for certain textures, especially Black hair. When stores like Target and Walmart already carry limited options—and sometimes none at all—for Black customers, it’s doubly frustrating to not be able to find appropriate hair products at the local salon.
In addition to hiring stylists trained to work with Black hair, salons should carry products for all hair textures. Again, the burden shouldn’t be on Black customers to figure out where they can purchase items that fit their hair texture; an inclusive salon welcomes all hair types and treats them with dignity. In 2022, it shouldn’t require detective work to be able to find the right shampoo and conditioner, right?
Support LGBTQ+ customers and their hairstyles.
While we’ve focused on Black hair for the majority of this post, as Black individuals experience the highest rates of discrimination for their natural and protective hairstyles, we also want to highlight the queer community. Like the kaleidoscope of LGBTQ+ identities, queer people don a multitude of hairstyles, at times flouting gender norms. Some lesbians, for example, prefer to wear their hair short, while some gay men sport longer hairstyles. These are only two, very limited examples, but the point is that queer individuals may have hair that contradicts societal expectations. As such, a salon should support queer people however they want to style their hair. Are you a woman who wants a buzz cut? Great. Are you a man who wants an ombré? Fantastic. Are you a non-binary individual who wants an asymmetrical cut with highlights? Phenomenal.
Inclusivity at salons may range from offering a wider variety of hair products to hiring staff members trained in styling Black hair. The recommendations we’ve included in this informal guide won’t necessarily happen overnight, but we hope they help salons—and other businesses that work with hair in some way—consider how to make their practices more inclusive. Every type of hair is beautiful and should be celebrated. It’s a shame that only in 2022 are we in the process of passing a bill to ban race-based hair discrimination, but it’s an important start. Salons can build off the momentum of legislation like the CROWN Act by taking concrete steps, as outlined above, to celebrate individuals regardless of their hair texture or style.
Know of a salon doing great work related to inclusivity? Leave them a review on the Inclusive Guide at inclusiveguide.com.