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Master Stylist Diane Bailey Schools Us on Natural Haircare and Styling

April 6, 2022

4 Min read

If you’re someone with coily textured hair, you’ve likely had a negative salon experience at some point in your life. Especially at an establishment that (misleadingly) claims to serve clients with a diverse range of hair textures, yet ends up having stylists who can only work with one kind of curl pattern. Unfortunately, there is still much work to do due to the lack of education in cosmology schools. However, haircare veterans and educators like award-winning master stylist Diane Bailey, recognize that not only is the education within salons lacking, but consumer’s knowledge on how to care for their hair at home is also inadequite. Bailey opened her first salon in 1986 and later lobbied for the natural hair license in New York state in 1993, which was the first of its kind, so you know she’s been down for the cause and is a big promoter of positive change.

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Going natural rises in popularity 

In 2008, many women were big chopping and growing out the relaxers they’d long had since their childhood years, and Bailey herself noticed the shift. However, as this new hair renaissance emerged, so did a lot of confusion for both consumer and stylist. “I saw it in the beginning when it started in 2008,” Bailey shares. “It was overwhelming even for me because the language that was happening on social media is not the language we use in the salon. So, people were having discussions and creating categories around hair that have no application in the salon.”

Nearly 14 years later, it’s safe to say this is still the case. However, that’s where educators come in. For Bailey, hair is about both science and art. “This is a process and journey,” she says passionately. “Some information from social media is going to be right on, but most of it has to be filtered because the advice doesn’t pertain specifically to you and your hair, but someone else’s.” For many people who are just discovering their natural hair texture, finding representation via social media platforms creates a feeling of community and acceptance. However, Bailey stresses that leaning into your unique experience and hair needs is essential. This isn’t just for hair care but also to create space for love and acceptance.

Learning to love your hair

“Of course, you can learn from other people’s experience, but the best way for you to learn is for you to experience it yourself.” Guidance from a trained educator is at the top of Bailey’s list, and lucky for us, even as education in traditional cosmetology schools lag, educators like Bailey go hard for naturals everywhere and create safe spaces in their salons. “For the young women in middle and high school who are already having issues with self-care and self-esteem, I want them to love their hair. I don’t want them to continue to cover it up. It’s like putting a plant in a closet. Can that plant grow in the dark?” 

Well, we all know the answer to that is no. “I just want people to fall in love with their hair and not dread wash day.” Bailey is happy to see that health, wellness, and care are a part of the language surrounding natural hair. She and her business partner, Natasha Gaspard, are creating a space that centers each of those pillars alongside education.

“Most of my education was for stylists,” Bailey shares. “But about five years ago, my partner Natasha and I decided that the community as a whole needed to be educated. The consumer needed to be educated because they were buying products without guidance and then were just sticking them under the sink and weren’t using them. Now, we have a hands-on community class and want to really engage the community in self-care. This is about beauty and wellness at its best when you’re doing it for yourself—when you’re nurturing your hair.”

Educating the community as a whole 

“I want to normalize natural hair, [and] education is key,” she stresses. “The stylist has to be educated. The consumer herself has to be educated. That’s why I’m holding this class.” The class Bailey is introducing is called: Next Level Naturals. A hands-on workshop designed to teach naturals how to care for and wear their natural hair. And in true educator fashion, she uses the analogy of baking a cake to explain why individualized care needs to be at the center of our hair routines. 

“For example, the other day, I wanted to make a cake,” she told me during our phone call. “I went online, and I got a recipe. Then I took that recipe and did everything they told me to do. And what happened to my cake? It didn’t quite come out the way it looked in the video. So the next time I made the cake, I added a little bit more milk—a little bit more cream. I started to make it a little bit more of me. I started to use my sensibilities for what I thought the cake needed. Was it perfect? No. Was it better? Most definitely.”

Hair isn’t quite like cake, but the steps to making your haircare process your own are pretty similar. Don’t you think? Pesonalizing your haircare routine to fit your exact needs and goals will have you well on your way to good hair days only. Get started with your Prose consultation here to discover your custom formula. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bianca Lambert is a freelance journalist. She covers beauty, travel, and culture. Bianca regularly contributes to Byrdie, HuffPost, The Everygirl, and more. 

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