For women of color, getting our hair done at the salon is a gamble. Many upscale salons and spas often aren’t equipped to handle our unique hair needs — tangling, shrinkage, et al. Even those who claim to know black hair might not have the right arsenal of products, or might overlook the potential long-term damage of repeated chemical processing or exposure to extreme temperatures.
Among the vast crop of awesome Philly salons are some that specialize in natural hair. We pored through reviews and websites, chatted with owners and painstakingly whittled down our list to six of Philly’s top-rated hair salons for natural and textured hair, from the Dominican blowout queens to the highly skilled Caribbean braiding parlors. Treat yourself!
Admirations Hair It Iz & Spa, Rittenhouse
With over 25 years of cosmetology experience behind her belt, Deborah Herder has assembled an expert team that is trained to properly care for multi-textured hair without relying on harsh chemicals. This winter, go there for the moisturizing Caramel hair conditioning treatment (starting at $25), which contains real bananas and organic honey. It’ll keep natural hair healthy and soft throughout the colder months. 2033 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse, 215-564-2929.
James Brown Hair, Washington Square West
When it comes to caring for natural hair textures, James Brown has been declared the “hair wizard” by satisfied customers lauding his talents on Yelp. His bright and intimate shop has a stellar online appointment booking system, which means two things: no wait time and no overbooking. Ladies with multi-textured hair ranging from 3a curls to 4c kinks will be happy to know that James gives an amazing Round Brush Blowout ($80), paying close attention to the scalp and edges and protecting hair from heat using natural products like Moroccan oil. Schedule your first appointment here. 1114 Pine Street, Washington Square West, 215-238-1121.
Lisflor’s Dominican Salon, Poplar
Dominican hair salons have an almost cult-like following for their ability to practically reverse the damage done by chemical processes and hot irons. What’s their secret? Centuries of mastering hair care techniques and natural products that resist humidity and prevent split ends. Lisflor’s most popular service is the classic Wash and Set ($30) (lavado y secado) — a deep-conditioning followed by a round brush blow-out or roller set. Finishing touches may include a light shine serum like Silicon Mix Brillo. You’ll be in and out in under two hours with a head full of bouncy, high-gloss tresses that puts the divas of the ’70s to shame. Oh, and first time visitors get a free deep conditioning. 510 West Girard Avenue, Poplar, 215-426-7527.
La Pearl Beauty Emporium, Powelton Village
Pearl Bailey-Anderson first started offering hair services in her home 30 years ago. From there, she’s won a host of awards for hair-braiding and weaving. Now, her full-service hair care center specializes in hair and scalp health (think: treatments like Low Level Laser Therapy for hair loss). Be sure to make an appointment with Sheena for sew-ins or Nikki for natural styles. Hair and scalp consultation and full treatment, $175. Ask about student prices. 3857 Lancaster Ave, Powelton Village, 215-387-8232.
Jus Roz Multicultural Hair Salon, University City
This warm and inviting unisex spa and salon offers something that far and few salons do: privacy. For Muslim women who choose to cover up, this is vital to enjoying a luxury spa or hair service without having to worry about their faith being compromised. (The spa offers private areas for services.) In addition, Roz does some spectacular Multi-tonal Color, which can be tricky to accomplish on natural hair textures. Walk-ins welcome, call for pricing. 130 South 45th Street, University City, 215-796-4143.