Black Women Are Fed Up With Instagram Hairstylists


The early days of the Instagram hairstylist (2018 to 2021) were, by all accounts, great for both stylists and clients. Stylists with talent and a genuine love for their craft had a new means of turning their passion into a livelihood. Clients also benefitted: You could view a stylist’s work on their profile, then pop over to their DMs to book an appointment for braids, wigs, sew-ins, or a wash and blowout. Back then, there was an ease to it: There weren’t as many Instagram stylists to choose from, the policies were minimal, and the prices were cheaper than traditional salons. (Charles and St. Cyr both charged $150 for medium-size box braids in 2020. Back then, neither stylist was licensed, but both got their license within two years of starting their business and have raised prices to reflect the additional training.)

The stylists and clients interviewed for this story believe that as more people saw how easy it was to monetize hairstyling skills online, the pool of Instagram hairstylists became polluted with stylists who seemed to put more emphasis on their social media presence than on building a client-focused business. However, there are those like Charles and St. Cyr, who strike a good balance and have a loyal clientele that can attest to their professionalism and craft.

“Ultimately, we as hairstylists want the client to be happy,” says Michaella Blissett Williams, a hairstylist and the owner of [Salon] 718 in Brooklyn who has been doing hair for over 30 years. To Blissett Williams, who is what some would call an “old school” hairstylist, customer service is at the heart of hairstyling.

So one has to wonder, if people aren’t happy with these Instagram hairstylists, how are they staying booked? Most likely because they’re the ones advertising their ability to keep up with social media trends. Many independent hairstylists gain a huge social following based on their in-demand ability to create and execute viral hairstyles like boho braids, freestyle cornrows, and traditional sew-ins that look great in clients’ vacation photos.

When she went to that stylist in Jersey City, Georges wanted Fulani flip-over braids. The intricate style features cornrows, box braids, and loose boho curls, so Georges knew she had to find someone who specialized in the look. “I wanted to be trendy with everybody else, so I wanted to make sure whoever I went to could do that in the way that I wanted it to look,” says Georges.

Strict policies and astronomical deposits

Those trendy styles seem to come with a cost, both in higher prices and the mental gymnastics clients often have to do to navigate some of these Instagram stylists’ extensive policies on their booking sites. These rules or warnings will often include statements like, “A nonrefundable deposit is required to book, showing up with hair extensions different than the specified type on the site will result in automatic cancellation, and a fee will be charged for every minute you are late.”

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