Shop Talk: I Miss Beauty Shops And Black Hair Supply Stores

When I walk into a Black beauty salon or hair store, I feel like I’m home.

Shop Talk is GU’s deeper look at Black beauty. We’ll be interviewing celebs about their experiences with beauty, as well as talking to the people behind the scenes who make these bigger beauty moments happen. We’ll also be using this as an opportunity to discuss larger cultural happenings.

Black beauty salons and hair stores feel like home. When I’m in a shop or store, I know that all is well. I’m comforted by the fact that for the next few moments, I’ll have a brief reprieve from the hustle and bustle of every day life.

As soon as my feet hit the door’s threshold in a salon, I smell the hot curlers. I see women wincing ever-so-slightly while getting their hair cornrowed. It’s an experience that you can’t fully put into words, making it a secret, sacred club for Black women and girls. It’s a lifestyle, baby. When the news broke that non-essential businesses were to be shutdown due to COVID-19 concerns, hair and nail salons were among the first to go, meaning that Black girls would have to find sanctity elsewhere.

We’re having to learn how to do our own hair in unique styles, as we adjust to this new era full of Zoom calls and virtual experiences. Having an understanding of our hair is not new to Black women in the slightest, but I won’t pretend that it’s the same as sitting down and getting your scalp rubbed by a fellow Black woman. Nor is it the same as walking down the cramped aisles of a beauty supply store. There’s a peace that comes from those experiences, and frankly, it’s not one that I’ve fully tapped into at home yet. I’m getting there, but I just miss slinking down into a leather chair, sitting under the dryer for what feels like forever (#ThickHairGang) and sneaking glances of my new look in the mirror.

I don’t have the audacity to be like the people who are protesting for the right to get a haircut. There are much more important causes I can get behind during this time. I believe that outrage stems from entitlement anyways. I’d much rather safely lament the laughs, hot gossip and spritz-filled air of Black beauty salons from the comfort of my own home. Though I know there’s a chance salons and supply shops may not ever be the same post-COVID-19, they will always represent a safe space for me.

Photo credit: Getty Images/Brooklyn White

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