Hot Topic: How Important is the Race of Your Hairstylist?

Part 1 in a 4-part series on the future of hairstyling.

Studio 86 Salon in Toronto wants to know: how important is the race of your hairstylist?

 BlogTO’s recent list of the best hair salons in Toronto brought an interesting topic to light. Several commenters on the article noted that all of the salons listed catered to predominantly straight hair. Whether or not that’s actually true is another story, but it does raise a few questions about the world of hairstyling in general.

Your hair texture has a lot to do with genetics, and particularly, your ethnic background, and the world of hairstyling has largely become segregated in that regard. For example, people of European descent often have hair texture that’s on the smoother side, and people of African descent tend to have coily or kinky hair texture (of course, there are exceptions).

North American society has conditioned us to believe that straight hair is good hair, which no doubt brings a whole other host of connotations based on racist notions of the past (and less blatantly continuing in the present – see Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair).

So does this mean hairstyling is an issue of race? 

Studio 86 caters to all ethnicities and hair textures–straight, wavy, curly, coily and kinky. Owner and head stylist, Kahlae Clifford, is a white woman who went to hair school, then continued her education after she was done by learning how to style hair textures that were not a big part of her curriculum, specifically, highly textured hair. The fact that all hair textures were not covered perhaps sheds even more light on the continuing segregation in the hair world.

But can this segregation change, and should it?

Will we see a change in hair textures as our races continue to mix more and more?

Should hairstyling become less about race (whether obviously so or not), and more about learning how to work with different hair textures?

A question for you… 

Do you feel comfortable going to a hair stylist that doesn’t share your race or hair texture? Or is the decision more subliminal?

Perhaps we feel most comfortable going to a stylist that truly understands how our hair type behaves because their hair is similar and they’ve chosen to specialize in cutting and styling their hair type. But does that mean someone with straight hair can’t learn how to style kinky hair, and do it well?

We want to hear your comments!

Head over to the Studio 86 Facebook Page or comment below and let us know what you think!

Now 10 years into her career, Kahlae has had some interesting experiences as someone who can work with all hair textures. We’ll chat more with her about those experiences on our blog next week, so stay tuned!


4 Responses to “Hot Topic: How Important is the Race of Your Hairstylist?”


  1. The Progressive Hairstylist: Interview with Yorkville Hair Salon Owner Kahlae Clifford | Studio 86 Salon - July 16, 2014

    […] week, we talked about racism in hairstyling, and whether or not the focus should shift from hairstyling for different races to hairstyling for […]

  2. How I Found My Toronto Hair Salon | Studio 86 Salon - July 30, 2014

    […] tips to a deeper discussion about the future of hairstyling. We’ve been asking our readers how they feel about racial segregation in salons and whether or not people consider race as a factor when selecting a […]

  3. Hot Topic Wrap Up: The Studio 96 Philosophy | Studio 86 Salon - August 6, 2014

    […] also asked you for your opinion on whether or not you would allow someone of a different race to style your hair. Would a black woman feel comfortable with a white stylist? What about the other way around? Of […]

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