Going to the salon to get your hair braided, relaxed, or slicked into a sky-scraping updo is a communal experience for many Black women. It’s a space full of lively, loud storytelling that could produce laughter and tears — ideally both at the same time. As you admire the other hairstyles in the room, you feel connected to the other Black women and girls there with you.
Black hair salons can function as a mini vendor’s market, nail spot, and community center all at once. Naturally, they’ve evolved over the years to cater to specific textures and techniques. You can find salons that specialize in wig installation, extensions, natural hair, and more.
Even as options have increased, there are still Black women who have issues finding a stylist for one reason or another. Sometimes, they’re living in a hair desert, where access to a qualified stylist is limited or nonexistent. And even when there is someone around, you may run into a whole other host of issues. Securing appointments, the rising costs of services, the fees or policies stylists may arbitrarily add on, the long waits — it’s a lot.
In many cases, you can wind up volunteering your entire day when you book an appointment. “If I’m not in New York, I have to get a [hair] appointment, and I’m going to be there all day,” Dana White, founder of Detroit-based salon Paralee Boyd, shares. “And I don’t have time for that.” White’s salon specializes in blowouts for textured hair, promising a far less stressful experience.
Just as mainstream salons like Drybar do, these Black-owned salons offer a single service: a blowout or a silk press. White is sure to emphasize that Paralee Boyd is a silk-press specific institution. “As Black women, we’ve invented a process that’s uniquely for us, but there’s no box for it yet,” White says.
A silk press typically involves using a hot comb or flatiron after blow-drying to “press” textured hair into a silky straight style. A blowout is done with a blow-dryer and round brush. “You can call it a blowout bar if you like, but we are a silk press salon,” Bronx native Ebony Knight, owner of Textured Press shares. “There’s a difference between [the two]. That’s what I want women to understand — it isn’t the same and that’s intentional.”