The Down Sides To Coming Washed And Blow-Dried To A Hair Appointment


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We can all agree that the best part of getting your hair done is the ecstasy-inducing scalp scrub, a strand resurrecting deep conditioning treatment, topped off with an ax to straggly split ends. But, some believe– in large part thanks to the rise of Instagram-procured hairstylists– the days when you were well within your wits to expect a full-service experience from a hair appointment will soon be behind us.

In fact, it has almost become the norm amongst “new-age stylists” to require you to come not only washed, but blow-dried to your appointments, lest you risk them canceling your appointment altogether. There are many collective qualms with this, of course, from some saying this cheapens the value of a hair appointment, to others arguing that this goes against the self-care ethos of the hair grooming industry. 

But of particular concern, to clients and stylists alike, is the compromising position requiring clients to come washed and blow-dried puts the health of the hair in. No matter your hair goals as it relates to styling, length retention, or otherwise, a clean and healthy scalp is paramount in the success of any hair-related objectives. And, as many stylists have co-signed online, this should begin before your head hits the shampoo bowl, professional or otherwise.

“Before you even wash the hair, you’re supposed to assess the scalp, make sure your client doesn’t have lice, they’re not bleeding and don’t have any scabs in their hair,” Taylour Gonzales, a licensed hairstylist of nearly a decade tells ESSENCE. These aforementioned “health reasons,” adds Gonzales, are one of the biggest reasons why she prioritizes washing her client’s hair herself.

Another, admittedly humbling, reason why getting a professional wash is so important is because the average person is just not that good at cleaning their own hair. This is through no real fault of our own, though, says Gonzales. It’s anatomy! “It is a little harder to wash your own hair. As a stylist, I can see the back of your head, so I can see what’s going on,” says Gonzales. She explains that this results in a more thorough cleanse conducive to a presentable finished product.

Beyond the health ramifications, styling hair that you didn’t wash can also be a recipe for aesthetic disaster. As Gonzales points out, the hair may be “greasy” due to excess residue, improper cleaning, and lack of control regarding what base products clients are using.

“I trust the products that I use in my salon. So I know that they’re going to work for my clients,” says Gonzales. And preventing a lackluster final result is in the best interest of everyone involved, adds licensed hair stylist Tatiyana Eril, who says that “as a professional, it’s just a smarter decision, before you touch anyone’s hair, to make sure that it’s clean.”

Now, there are many reasons why stylists may choose to require clients to come washed and blow-dried, and it’s worth noting that this practice is more common amongst braiders and other protective styling specialists. This is understandable to many clients as these styles can take hours to complete, in which case it may behoove both parties to get straight to the braiding once you arrive. Additionally, Cosmetology and licensing policies can also dissuade some stylists from offering washing services, as some states require a license to wash hair but not to braid. But outside of that, many say these requirements are just not adding up.

“If you are a licensed cosmetologist not offering shampoos, I don’t really get it,” says Gonzales, who adds that it was such a core part of her cosmetology curriculum that she doesn’t understand how it’s now being skipped en masse. “We had to take a shampoo class before we could even get on the floor and take clients. If you didn’t pass the shampoo class, you couldn’t take clients,” says Gonzales.

Beyond clients missing out on the full potential of their style and jeopardizing sanitization standards for all parties, both Gonzales and Eril say a wash is instrumental to the overall vibe of the appointment, offering the stylist an opportunity to set the tone and connect with clients.

“You have that opportunity to relax your client, kind of get them to unwind a little bit, and it’s like a form of bonding in a sense,” says Eril, who finds that many new-age stylists don’t seem to prioritize fostering said connections with their clients.

“That’s where the shift is coming in. Because these hair stylists, yes, they have the skill but they don’t really have the passion,” says Eril. “It’s just like, ‘OK, I’m just here to get my money. And that’s it.” And now, clients and fellow hairstylists are left to pick up the pieces. But, as Gonzales says, there are still some stylists dedicated to making the experience as indulgent as possible for their clients. “Getting your hair done is a luxury. So why are we cheating people out of that full luxury experience?”


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