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TRESemmé Hair Bias Report

As part of TRESemmé mission to create a more inclusive industry and to uplift Black women in haircare – whether they are sitting in the styling chair or standing behind it – we wanted to better understand the specific challenges Black women face in the salon and the current industry gaps that exist. We conducted two national surveys in October 2020 to learn more about these biases. (The survey polled 1,000 Black women and 500 professional hair stylists in the U.S.)

Our goal was to take a deeper look at the hair styling needs, haircare expectations, and salon experiences of Black women with textured, coiled, and/or kinky hair. We also wanted to understand the experiences, perceptions, and opinions of professional hair stylists related to caring for Black women’s hair.

The answers were revealing. They showed us that there is not only a training gap among stylists working with types of hair common among Black women, but also a comfort gap for Black customers seeking quality haircare.

 

The Training Gap

 

The major barrier we uncovered was in training and educating hair stylists to work with all hair types. Few cosmetology schools offer training in textured hair, and state licensing authorities rarely require it. No surprise, then, that 65% of stylists surveyed said that they wish they had more training when it comes to styling and caring for textured, coiled, and/or kinky hair types. For white stylists, that percentage jumps to 70%, while for Black stylists it’s 45%.

In fact, the lack of training with these hair textures may also translate to higher costs for Black women seeking haircare services – impacting their time and their wallets. Of the stylists surveyed, 61% said they feel it is fair to charge extra to style textured, coily, and/or kinky hair. (This figure includes 63% of white stylists, and 46% of Black stylists.)

 

The Comfort Gap

 

The lack of training also influences how Black women experience salon haircare. An overwhelming majority of Black women (86%) responded that they had challenges finding consistent, quality haircare at salons. Experiences ranged from difficulty finding a stylist who can care for their type or texture of hair, to facing bias and discrimination in the salon chair.

Black women reported that once they found a caring and qualified stylist, they tend to be very loyal and only use that stylist. Nearly half of all respondents (47%) said they only use a single stylist, foregoing a hair appointment if that stylist is not available.

While there are many reasons for this, one of them is related to discrimination faced while in the salon chair. Of the experiences reported, one in five respondents (19%) reported that a stylist used the term “nappy” to describe their hair, a term some found hurtful and offensive. However, only half (51%) of Black women surveyed said that they feel comfortable speaking up to register a complaint or share their feelings about a bad hair experience.

 

The Way Forward

 

Most stylists that we surveyed said that the best way to advance their career is through education. Among other findings, 75% of stylists reported wishing they had more training in how to style textured, coily, and/or kinky hair, specifically training on kinky hair (44% of stylists) and coiled hair (41% of stylists). Overall, the majority (85%) of survey respondents believe that hair salons should do a better job serving Black clients.

Education and training to achieve career growth is not cheap, though. Two-thirds of stylists we surveyed reported spending $5,000 or more on education, training, or getting a license – and without these expenditures, advancing in the industry is extremely challenging.

The Hair Bias Report makes it clear that there’s a pressing need for stylists to improve care for textured, coily, and/or kinky hair, as this training is rarely if ever required in schools or by state licensing authorities. It also shows that stylists deeply value education and that with better training they could begin to address many of the issues highlighted in the report.

At TRESemmé, we are committed to helping make that happen. As we passionately believe every woman, no matter her hair type, deserves to receive quality haircare at every appointment.

 

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