Are Traditional Perm and Set Salons Feeling The Pinch Due To The Natural Hair Movement?

Are stylists feeling the pinch

It’s sad whenever I see any black woman in business fail or start to wane because sometimes it is through no fault of her own. It happens daily, I’m sure all around the world or just in this country but it stings. I want us all to succeed whether you are at the top of a corporate Fortune 500 company, a small business owner or a stay-at-home mom with a side hustle. Whatever you are doing to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head is honorable and needs to be supported.

One foundation that has been around and is a symbolic presence within the black community would have to be the black hair salon. It’s been a gateway to entrepreneurship for thousands if not millions of women whether they are renting a chair or own the shop. Similarly it’s also been a haven for the black woman to transform into her beautiful self with a wash and style, a touch-up or a special occasion hair do. The salon is never boring and always full of laughter and even some pain as we connect with each other. The black hair salon has surely marked itself in our hair history.

Despite the richness of it’s legacy, the popularity of the traditional black hair salon is on the decline. It’s dying, or at least what it meant or started out to be is all but non existent. Just a few days ago at an event I was listening to the tear-filled cries of a salon owner who was in desperate need of reviving her once thriving business.

You see, she was the traditional salon, the one where you could get a perm, a touch-up, a roller set or a banging style. The major ingredient that held the salon together was Lye. Of course not all women who go to black hair salons were getting their hair relaxed but a big portion were and then there was the usage of the hot comb, curling irons and dryers.

The allure of the shop was the fact that you came out looking and feeling like a beauty queen and if you had the right stylist you knew before hand just what to expect. These trained professionals were making money while adding to their community through jobs and money going back into the community.

It was a good thing! A solid fixture that has grown bigger and better throughout the years but probably for the first time we notice a dying industry and it all has to do with the natural hair movement.

Oh, I’m not claiming the natural hair movement is bad, killing the black community or is the devil. I’m merely stating the obvious, more black women are moving away from the creamy crack and traditional salons. Relaxers have always had the possibility of doing harm to our tresses, they can be bad for our hair, our skin and our bodies but we have resigned ourselves to believing that they were a necessary evil to tame our tresses.

It was taught to us at a young age to get our tresses relaxed but as a wave of information, admiration and understanding came about, the desire to relax was, well ‘relaxed’, no pun intended.

The teary-eyed salon owner I mentioned above was at her wits end. She wanted to win back her business, her thriving business that was once flourishing but as the love for bone-straight tresses began to decline, so did the need to patronize her shop. I don’t know if she saw the writing on wall early on but ignored it or saw natural hair as a trend or fad that was bound to be short-lived.

One would expect that among the regular reasons for business decline or recessions would be bad business practices or even bad customer service, and these might be easy fixes, but this time round things are different. So it perfectly fair that the warnings may have been overlooked, ignored or even laughed at by many salon owners.

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About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at

About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at


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Kimberly Dixon

The natural hair movement should put these beauty supply stores out of business! They treat us like crap but they need our money!

VJ RLester

Yes it has. My business has suffered tremendously and I am changing career. I have applied for nursing school at the university.

Drina No'MoreLyes Phillip

Nursing school is a wonderful idea good luck to you but you can also open a naturalist salon or have a naturalist section. You don’t have to give up if that’s what you really wanna do.

Rhonda Knight
Rhonda Knight

You are absolutely right. Incorporate natural hair styling in your business.

Ms Marcy
Ms Marcy

I agree with the need for more Natural hair salons. I would LOVE to get someone to do my hair once a month, or so. I don’t want to cut/trim my own hair. So, re-market yourself. Naturals would like to get pampered too.


What about changing the product and not abandoning the business? It is a good business, just the products have changed.


This happened, (in many ways) to IBM. They did not see the “Apple” on the wall, people with small personal computers. This over 50 year old company nearly went under financially! Business must be able to see years and sometimes even decades in the future or they will be as extinct as the dinosaur. Just saying.

Precious Jenkins

Stylists need to continue their education in order to cater to the needs of naturals. If I knew someone could take care of my locs as well as or better than I do, do you think I would spend the tiresome hours I do in my head? Or stress over the fact that I have no time in my work week to maintain my hair? I would let my stylist wash and set my hair every other week if her rod set curled my locs better than my own. But hers didnt. So I stay home. And do my own hair.

Rad Dot

I wish that I can get someone to twist my hair, I’ve called all over Chicago but only some barber shops do twists for men and I don’t want to go to a barber shop. I even called braid shops and they won’t do my twists unless there adding hair to the twists, I just want to use my own hair.

Totti Ray

naturalists would be happy to visit a salon that could cater to their hair needs, so salons shouldn’t be experiencing loss of custom just a change in hair needs

CassKhameleon Freeman

Its jus going to become an extension of their craft n being open to alternate styles n processes will benefit the salon in the long run

Merri Beth Rich

I would love to go to a salon that would help me with my natural hair.. It is just as much work to keep it healthy and tangle free.. Salons should update and change with the times .. There is a market out there

Yolanda Austin

The salons are charging to much to style natural hair

Drina No'MoreLyes Phillip

Ours only charge 35 for a wash & style…. They have their own products and everyone have a set price but can move from beginner to expert pricing.

Maybell Lena Killion

Wow, where are you because I pay $80 every two weeks. It’s really crazy!

Yolanda Austin

I know I went one time it was 45 and that was half off

Maybell Lena Killion

Price gouging! I’m going to go to class for myself!

Racheal Bradley

If I could find a salon that really understood how to care for natural hair, I’d be there. My last salon experience ended with me getting another BC. They need to update their skills.

Drina No'MoreLyes Phillip

We have a natural salon here that I usually go to

Kim Harris

Why they can’t learn to do natural hair? It’s hair too just a different texture.

Drina No'MoreLyes Phillip

Right @ Kim. Ppl should have learned all of that in school

Maybell Lena Killion

And if you do add it to your craft, please try not to price gouge and really know what you’re doing. Pulling peoples hard to grow hair out is not the way to go!

Amber Nicole

I think they just need to get wuth the times and do more natural styles. I tried a hair salon recently and she pressured me to straighten my hair and discouraged my natural ways. I never visited her again.

VJ RLester

Most all stylists are versatile in the services they perform. We knew how to style natural hair before relaxers and etc. You have to be in the business to realize that not that many clients come in for natural hair services. The money has always been in the chemical side of the business. Natural sistahs either style and care for their own hair without the help of a stylist. Also it depends on what city and state you live in and the income level of the clients. Most natural clients do no want to spend the amount of money that is required to take care of their hair. Natural hair is harder to care for than chemically treated hair and therefore cost more. A number of natural hair clients just walk out of the salon when we quote them the price.

Janeen McClure

Very well said!


Natural hair is not expensive to take care of…The boom of new products and what not has made it seem that way.


And it’s also not hard to take care of..stylist just aren’t willing to learn…anything’s hard when you’re just starting off

Lisa Taylor
Lisa Taylor

Most stylist have experience on how to flat iron natrual hair but are not educated on how to do other styles on curly/kinky hair.

Ronada Jenkins

Salons charge too much nowadays anyway, most want 45-50$ for wash, blowdry and curl regardless if you are natural or not. Lot of times its not worth it because they half do your hair and it doesn’t stay, most claim they are about healthy hair but are they really?

Annette Trimble

I’d like to do hair but black hair are there schools that teach that, I know hair is hair but I had my hair done at a hair school an they only worked with black hair if it was permed

Terry Matthews

@Amber Nicole my stylist of 10 years tried to convince me to go back to perms and I almost did but my inner self told me to get out of the chair and continue my natural journey alone. We need salons who specializes in natural hair. They would make a lot of money because most naturals I know would love for someone else to deal with the madness!!!!


@Terry – that is why I really like my stylist. She is relaxed and so am I. She also cares for natural hair, encourages each to care for their own hair at home. When I visit her, she asks what I am doing to my own hair. When I let her know she either gives me a little more information on what I’m doing; if she is not familiar with something she makes note of it and researches it for herself. One time she did not remember what I said and sent me a text asking about the product. I read this morning that she may be moving to another state and now I am a little upset. It’s hard finding a stylist who really cares about their client.

Erica Holloway MrsNewsome

Just so you know, the majority of what a stylist learns is not in school. So learning “all that in school” is not possible. It’s through trial and error, just like any professional job, with continuing education as reinforcement. It’s easier said than done to change the way you work.

Ms. Rosie

A lot of these salons were focused on fryin’, dyin’ and layin’ it to the side instead of healthy hair retention. It’s all about constant education to survive in that market. Especially since hair trends (though natural isn’t one) are always changing.

Showeshi Strickland-Boston

I have no informed response to provide, as it would only be my opinion regarding a need for one to always be up on their skills. My friends salon is doing beautifully because she works with natural hair, perms, karatin, weaves, cuts, etc. So I will say this, please stop calling it a movement. That suggests a trend. This is not a trend for many, including myself, but a way of life.

Pamela Smith

I don’t understand this. Why didn’t they learn this at school? Were they all taught just to handle relaxed or permed hair as well as caucasian hair? This is a failure from the top of the beauty schools all the way to the bottom. If you go to the barber shop, they surely know how to cut all types of hair. Something is definitely wrong here and the beauty salons will be the ones to suffer.

Crystal Mari Gaines

I agree with Precious. Having done social media at a nationally sponsored Beauty show, one of the things that working in a pavilion that exhibited many kinds of hair care products and techniques that cater to the highly textured and multi-textured among us was that all of them encouraged hair stylists to learn the RIGHT way to care for the special needs of naturally curly hair. There is even a way to cut it, so that we don’t come out looking horrific. There is information out there, but because natural hair has been so “dogged out” as unmanageable, many stylists tend to shy away from taking on the challenge. Which is a shame, because honestly, it’s not as hard as it seems to care for natural hair. Other races do it, (not EVERYONE has straight hair and not EVERYONE who has curly, coily or kinky hair is Black) so if they can service their own, why can’t (or more like why won’t) we? Those who choose to hold on the antiquated mindset of the 50’s – 70’s regarding our hair care needs and choices, do so at their own financial detriment and quite frankly, I don’t feel sorry for them one bit. #freeyourmind

Linda Burnett

I just want to say if I could find a hair salon where I live that specializes in natural hair I would support it 100%. Sometimes I like doing my hair and most times I don’t. When I tried to patronize a local salon I was laughed at….”Girl you don’t need to be walking around with that nappy hair” “Why you walking around here looking like a slave” It was humiliating and I continue to do my own hair. Until the mentality change I won’t go back.

Tosha Alston-Barnett

Sound like they need to learn how to do real hair and not just slap on relaxer and sew in weave.

Andrea MoonPearl Banks

Hair salons cost too damn much. Both natural and traditional. I can get my hair cut by a barber for $15. Same cut at the salon, $40. Then it’s almost an all day experience. Bye!

Nefray Demetrius

If they want to stay in business, they’re gonna have to adapt.


It’s not ‘rocket science.’ All the salons have to do is incorporate stylists for natural hair. They can still keep doing relaxers, perms, etc., but they need to dedicate just as much (if not even more) space and time to naturals. And most importantly, Don’t Charge So Much!! Their businesses would be booming in no time. I would definitely support them and get others to do the same. Changing careers is ignorant. Instead of being greedy, act needy. Do your job well and you’ll get the patrons. For sure!!!

Shawanda Burks

The prices some salons charge to do natural hair is ridiculous! First of all, you are not putting in any harsh chemicals so why is the cost so much? It seems like it’s more money to be natural. For instance,a teacher will forever be a student because they have to stay current with changes that may happen in the education field. If you do hair I think you should stay current and learn to adapt.

Tiff Wilson

Nope…. we don’t do as many relaxers like we do natural hair.

Chantel Monique

Which is why I don’t go to Salons!! They take one look at my fro and don’t know what to do! YouTube tutorials are waaaaaay more helpful then them women

Tavia Manassa

It’s not just the rise of natural hair that are contributing to a loss of business for these salons. So many black women are turning to sew in extensions and wigs which last for months when cared for properly. They don’t need touch ups for several months therefor they don’t need to make regular visits to a stylist.


There is a Salon in Aurora CO that specializes in natural hair. Business is booming for them. They can do the other stuff like relaxers, but they pride themselves on natural hair and natural products. I think if more salons shifted or added natural services then they won’t feel the pinch. My hairstylist is a skinny tattooed white guy. Lol, he has pretty much looked at every natural site that he could to make sure that he can do my hair. Lol So He’ll have my business for a while.


It’s really a no-brainer. Cater to Naturals while catering to other hair types. Most importantly, don’t charge so much! You should do quite well if not better than before. Sure you would be charging less, but you’d have much more clientele due to the prices! Think!

Christina Newsome

Not only are they hurting but chinese hair stores are too


This adaptability is why I love my hairstylist. She can do anything from relaxers, weaves, sets, flat iron, pressing, braids/cornrows (which I have), anything. I go monthly to get my natural protective style done. She is from Liberia and does African and Caucasian hair. Love her! You must be competitive and adaptable with the changing times.

Breyon Moore

I didn’t think most shops were hurting because they made most of their money doing weaves and braids.

Porter Novelli

Some of the natural salons cost too much. There’s no need to charge $65 to wash and put my hair on perm rods. I’ll do it myself.


The truth of the matter is, we need our own beauty schools that specialize in caring and styling natural hair. And definitely yes, we need more natural hair salons to go along with it. Natural in CA means press and curls, braids, or locs. No baby, that is not what I am talking about when I say “Natural Hair Style”. I had the darnest time trying to explain what I wanted to a stylist who does chemical treatment, until the point where I just said, “forget it”. If you can’t catch the vision I do not want you in my head, let alone pay for questionable services. There are a few sprinkles of persons who do natural hair in CA, but most are in Los Angeles, an hour drive in good traffic; a trip that I am willing to make every now and again for good services.

Natural Hair is about Loving Yourself to the core, better health, and confidence; I don’t think this can be a fad. It would be great if someone started a business traveling around to salons or cities offering Natural Hair Schools or conferences the way they do for Sisterlocks. Here is free business consulting; somebody better jump on it.


What about the impact of using flat iron. I have started relaxing my hair every six month. In between I flat iron once or twice a month.
My hair is longer and thicker so I am happy. I got this idea from some Youttube bloggers. Quite a few seems to be stretching their relaxers for longer and longer periods. After all if they want their hair really straight, they can always flat iron.
Also a lot of naturals, when they get bored can flat iron their hair and leave it for a couple weeks or so. Thereby haveing the best of both worlds.


I haven’t been in a salon in almost a year and a half and before that it had been about 14 months.

If salons feel the pinch and may have to close, I wish they would instead re-imagine themselves into beauty supply stores. I’m always on the lookout to find black-owned beauty supply stores and would prefer to patronize them.

Nakia Covert

The cost are to high and they don’t have many low cost services for natural hair maintenance.


Honestly, I feel as if black salons were never flourishing to begin with as sad as it sounds. Compared to Dominican salons who can do a wash and set for 10-20$ black salons tend to charge soooo much more. I would love to be an “all black” supporter but when other races are doing it so much cheaper and just as good, on a broke college student’s budget, the decision is an easy one. We have to find a way to do it ourselves, for ourselves. (FUBU had the right idea)

Prisca Sienkiewicz

natural or not ..with the crisis people spend less for services …they buy less too and try to do more themselves at home …not only for hair but also beauty (skincare) ..i also work in beauty .i went natural but i go to my loctitian every 6 weeks /8 weeks max .. i wasn’t even going that often when i my hair was permed ..:) yes they have to offer more services and cater for natural hair that’s it !!

Dee Sam

In my opinion yes. However in my opinion, the couple times i went to a salon catering for naturals, my bill was more than when i was relaxed. All i did was wash, deep conditioned and got my hair in twists. My hair is super thick and takes a while to dry. Now don’t get me wrong, not knocking any one who wants to go at a natural salon but there is not for me. I spend way too much money there. I am taking care of my hair myself and my sisters can give me excellent hair comb.

Devera Smith Robinson

I doubt it. Women will forever get relaxers and/or weaves. I take care of my hair myself so there’s no need for salons for me.

Angela Williams

Let’s get real here…when Black women first started going Natural, early on a lot of traditional black hair salons dug in their heels & didn’t want to provide natural hair care services. Stylists put all their eggs in one basket relying on the “weave” money to sustain them until the natural hair “trend” was over and their clients returned to them to get their hair relaxed again; unfortunately, for them that never happened. When you’re running a business & you see that the landscape of your business is changing, you have to be able to adapt & change with it…if not, your business is going to suffer. I’m not calling Natural hair a trend, because it’s “NOT”, but to give an example: Stylists/beauticians don’t have a problem adapting to other hair trends like when feathered “pixie” cut was popular they all learned how to do the pixie cut, then when the “weave” craze came on the scene all of them learned how to do weaves; whatever hair trend is popular at the moment stylists have no problem learning, so, why the resistance to learning to do natural hair?…and then have the nerve to complain when their business starts dropping off!!

Joycelyn Cannon

That’s sad because your typical black salon doesn’t know how to care for black hair in its natural state. The big money makers are relaxer and extension services. Why arent black stylist continuing their education by taking classes? Its a great way to keep and gain new clients 🙂

Tarin Cee

Cost too much, im a stay at home mom and in ny, dominicans do u hair wash and set $20, they use natural stuff loved it!!! but husband in the army and there aint no little spots here where i can get my hair done for $20, i cant afford to spend hundreds on my hair, so i buy my natural products and do it myself!! Besides that i hate having to explain to some stylist why she cant put grease in my hair and dont cut my ends, they get mad at me lol

Wendy Jean-Louis

Nope not from what I have seen. Where I live at least I see clients with perm, natural hair, coming for weave, braids, or custom wigs

Mrs. Adams
Mrs. Adams

If salon’s would just add natural hair care to their services offered, business would be booming. Washington, DC and they are beating us over the head with prices out here for natural hair…BUT WE’RE PAYING!! Right now, if I go anywhere at all, it’s to the Dominicans. Just like I preferred to go to the salon when I was on that creamy crack, I would prefer to go to a salon that can take care of my natural hair. With all the trial and error money most of us spend on products, could be going to a salon who already knows what my hair needs. We have opened up a WHOLE new market for black salon’s to be successful. We’re just waiting on the salons to catch up! Don’t be afraid or discouraged. We miss the salons just like you miss us! 🙂

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