I am part of the generation that has seen a $25 full-set and $100 box braids jump to upwards of $90 and $250 respectively. I don't believe in haggling with technicians or stylists no matter how outlandish I think their prices. Simply put, I make my choices based on what I can afford and who I want to pay. But, while $200 curly cuts and $700 braids have the community in a tizzy, I'm here to talk about the rhetoric.
Natural hair has gained a lot of popularity and mainstream acceptance since I did my first big chop in college. With that popularity, has come tons of information both professional and anecdotal, and an equal amount of brand marketing directed at wavy, curly, and tightly coiled tresses. It's hard to sift through the overload of information when you simply don't know who to believe. Do you look to the influencer who appears to have similar hair to yours or do you put your trust in the stylist telling you to throw out everything you thought you knew about your hair?
I'm not here to answer that question. To me, hair is personal. It's decided by your genetics, lifestyle, and environment. My concern is the cyber-war between influencers and stylists, and the negative impact it's having on us all. For years we looked to YouTube for hair advice because there was a lack of professional natural haircare information outside of salons, but now more and more stylists are taking to social media to "clap back" often leading to conversations that can be both insightful and off-putting.
It's about choice. When I take to the web looking for tips and inspiration it's with the knowledge that some of the information I'm receiving may not be 100% based on science. I also know that a product, style, or method recommended may not work for me, and my choice to purchase or try them is at no fault of the recommender. Lately, stylists have been bashing influencers for making these recommendations without a formal cosmetological education, and while I understand their frustrations, the aggression is unwarranted and counterproductive.
I've been natural for almost 8 years and it wasn't until recently that I visited a tight-curl specialist for a curly cut, and although my experience was positive it came with a hefty price tag. I can't even imagine 19-year-old me shelling out that kind of money for a wash and cut. By bashing influencer hair practices, stylists are inherently bashing the current practices of potential clients and making helpful information harder to digest. Most people in the pursuit of healthier hair want to learn, not be scolded, and in doing so stylists are alienating a demographic of people who need their advice most.
In any case, I think we should all mind the hair on our heads or that of those sitting in our chairs (stylists) and influencers, let's stop toting anecdotal knowledge as fact without the proper qualifications. For us who are neither stylists nor influencers, let's remember that trained/licensed professionals make their livelihoods on caring for hair aren't gatekeeping secrets, they're trying to earn a living. They paid for the knowledge we seek and giving it all away for free won't pay their bills. They get to decide how much their labor is worth, and we just have to decide whether it's worth it for us.
It's time to put an end to this hair war and get back to loving natural hair regardless of how often it's washed, braided, or pressed.