I am an African-American, and all through my life, I have worn my natural hair with no need to make use of any form of chemical treatment. From an early age, I could do cornrows or braid for easier management due to tangling, sweat and dust, and due to the fact that my hair is one thick mass, it was no easy job trying to detangle it. Despite that, my mane has always been beautiful black and shiny; the major reason behind avoiding chemical treatment which could lead to its damage. I also avoided heat treatments and could only shampoo and oil it, after which it would be braided back to its usual style.
By age 20, I could no longer braid and do cornrows because I felt I had surpassed that period of life, though I still desired to keep it natural. And that was when I saw it. A hair salon in Philadelphia was advertising its services, which were exclusively related to handling of African-American natural hair. The advertisement appeared on the local daily and carried clear photographs of women whose hair had been made at the salon. It showed a number of hairstyles from ponytail to haircuts among others, giving explicit details of how the hair looked before and after the procedure. I felt that this is what I needed, called the salon and after an assurance that I would receive value for my money, booked an appointment for the following day.
The process took nearly two hours and involved shampooing, moisturizing, drying and styling. For starters, the image I saw staring at me in the mirror did not reflect half of what I expected depending on the assurances I had received before undertaking their services. My hair looked like one big chunk of sisal fiber or steel wire falling from one side of the head; it was greasy and very stiff to the touch. I complained about this and luckily, the proprietor was on duty that day and he handled the situation. I asked for them to undo the styling and let my hair fall down but was advised that doing so could damage my hair due to the fact that the product used had to stay in the hair for at least three days before it could be rinsed off.
After three agonizing days of horrible hair, I went back to get the products washed off my and for it to look at it did earlier but I was in for a more traumatizing experience. At the wash area, 50 percent of my hair fell off and my scalp was covered in rashes and sores. All along I had felt itchy but assumed it to be from the heat caused by the held up hair which I was not accustomed to. Apparently, due to shortage of staff, I had been assigned to an intern who had used a product meant for chemically treated hair on my hair. The product should not be left on natural hair for more than half an hour but it was on my head for almost 72 hours.
This was negligence on their part and they did not measure up their services with the advertised services and this cost me my hair, which has since then been trimmed to nearly quarter of an inch. I spoke to the proprietor who accepted liability and refunded the initial amount paid for the service. It was a great disappointment for me and I sought compensation for negligence and damages suffered in the hands of the hairdresser. After much consultation, we agreed on an out-of-court settlement though I have since shied away from hair salons. I went back to my earlier ways of making my hair from home.