Few relationships are as intimate or as important as the ones between us and the people who take care of our fingers, hair and faces. Our beauty professionals take us in at our most vulnerable and tragic. We come to them with busted nails, angry blackheads and overgrown hair that we’ve only been able to style in a top knot for weeks. We let them gaze at us squarely under the bright lights, absorbing all of us, split ends and pores and all, because we believe in their powers to help us reveal our best selves. And so my recent move has gotten me on the search for good and inclusive beauty salons in Charlotte.
If you are anything like me, you have suffered through hair stylists that delude you into thinking you can, say, pull off a cut like Hailey Baldwin when you quite clearly have the hair of Selena Gomez. I have gone to skin therapists who gouged my skin or took a sizable chunk out of my paycheck for seemingly not much more than a moisturizing nap. And oh, the nails. For me, and many of you I am sure, nails are much more than a coat of polish. Nails are a statement, a mood, a vibe, a ritual, a coat of armor that readies our hands and feet to go forth and take on the world.
Finding those professionals who welcome you and help you put your best self forward, those ones we make you walk a little taller and pose a little more fiercely in your photos — that is what we all deserve and too few of us have found. Too many places only cater to people who look a certain way; they don’t consider it essential to train in Black and ethnic hair or skin care, make you feel like you cannot be yourself, or create an environment where you don’t even feel comfortable asking for what you really want. Fortunately, there are also many owners and beauty professionals who have made it their mission to do things differently.
The salons and spas selected here are by no means a comprehensive list of the great beauty offerings in Charlotte. They were intentionally chosen because they are inclusive and work hard to not only deliver high-quality service, but to do so for each and every person who walks through their door. They also have a high standard for cleanliness and are careful to follow all recommended safety protocols, especially now, so you can trust them to put you and your health first always.
To quote Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag, “Hair is everything.” A great haircut can change your whole mood, your month, maybe your whole life. My last hairstylist and I were together through marriages, business ventures, new jobs, moves and even a pandemic. At least three times he had to talk me out of going blonde.
It is a relationship I treasured, not only because he helped me accept my brunette destiny, but because our time together was a reprieve from the world and gave me a boost of confidence to get back out there and grab life by the horns. If you don’t already have a hairstylist that makes you feel that kind of beauty, here are some salons in Charlotte that may hold the answer to your hair prayers.
1635 W. Trade St., Suite 1F
Charlie’s Angels Beauty Bar is a northwest Charlotte gem owned by Charlie and Angel Petty, long-time hair professionals with a commitment to training and promoting local talent. Right alongside the Mosaic Village salon, which specializes in Black and ethnic women’s hair care, is Charlie Petty’s much loved barbershop No Grease.
Charlie’s Angels’ experienced team of woman stylists do everything, whether you want a full glam weave, a protective style, or want to transition to a natural style, they will guide you and do it right. More than hair, this beauty salon is unique in Charlotte, as it offers makeup application, eyelashes and brow shaping so you can walk out ready for any occasion. Come for the great hair, stay for the good vibes.
Midtown, 209 S. Kings Drive; South End, 1422 S. Tryon St.
One of the things I love about Bishops is that whoever you truly are, one of their stylists can make you look great. This is a place to take the whole family — your punk -rock teenage son, sensible mother-in-law, and squirmy toddler will all be able to get a fantastic cut at an affordable price.
No matter your race, ethnicity or aesthetic this minority-owned and proudly women- and LGBTQIA-led salon is ready for you at one of their two Charlotte locations, in Midtown or South End. Bishops offers a range of services as wide as their clientele, including trendy cuts, bold color, fun highlights or balayage, and even a hot towel shave.
1824 Statesville Ave., Suite 108
When I spoke to owner Kenzie Veurink she described her popular salon in Camp North End as a place where “we are all friends and hang out with no judgement.” That sounds like a pretty nice place to get my hair done. The welcoming atmosphere is due in large part to the fact that, according to Veurink, the “stylists are all authentically themselves, it’s okay to be weird.”
A full-service hair salon in Charlotte, eXplicit will help to bring out your authentic beauty as well when you are in their chairs. They do a lot of vivid hair color and fashion-forward cuts, mullets are trending right now, but whatever your hair dreams are, these folks are experts at making them come true.
When it comes to our nails some of us like a simple clean look, some want the hottest trends, while others ascribe to a more-is-more philosophy. Myself, I like to switch it up and need a place that can take me from talons to toned-down.
No matter your nail vibes, we all want to feel well taken care of — like our time and money was well spent. Each of these beauty salons salons offer something a little different in Charlotte but hold their commitment to exceptional service in common.
321 East Blvd., Suite #2
The Good Polish might be doing the coolest nails in Charlotte with it-girl custom designs you would be as likely to spot on the streets of SoHo as on the women coming out of this South End shop. Owner MK says she strives “to give every customer a unique art tailored to their personality type” and to create a positive environment where people can “feel like their best selves at the end of the day.”
She has a diverse group of loyal clients and a vision that her salon is “a place they will feel good about themselves and know their service provider cares about them.”
With a background in clinical science, MK considers nail health as an important part of your overall health and looks for the healthiest way to do everything, which is why she only offers non-toxic gels and Apres gel extensions. Currently a one-woman show, MK plans to expand soon and continue “building a community of women who support each other.” For now, following her on Instagram is the best way to snag a coveted appointment.
14815 Ballantyne Village Way, Suite 240, Loft 10
Scrolling through the Digits & Spikes Instagram, full of quirky and neatly executed nail designs, you quickly realize the amazing team here can do anything. This Ballantyne Village salon is free of harmful chemicals and prides itself on creating a fun, warm environment where you can relax and have a good time. Ease into self-care by choosing from one of their manicure and pedicure services, which include gel, regular polish, or specialty techniques like chrome and holographic finishes.
532 W. 10th St.
Detroit native and proud Charlotte resident TayLala is having a lot of fun at her all-service nail salon in the Fourth Ward, and wants to make sure you are too. Her team can meet any of your nail needs, but is especially amazing at creating playful, chic and trendy nail art. These minimal or maximal custom designs can work with your natural nails or provide nail enhancements, with a full set with gel polish starting at a very reasonable $45. No matter what route you go, Artisan is always going to put you and the health of your nails first.
1111 Central Ave.
If eco-friendly is at the top of your list and you crave a simple, well-done manicure, then La Pure Nail Boutique could be the place for you. Non-toxic polishes and practices are not only beneficial for patrons and our environment, but crucially protect employees from inhaling chemicals day-in-day-out that may damage their own health.
This Plaza-Midwood nail salon has an inviting and soothing energy that will make you feel pampered and well taken care of. Enjoy their regular or gel polishes, dip powder extensions, or try one of their special packages for a real spa moment.
The best thing I have ever done for my skin came about a couple of years ago when I began to get regular facials. It is truly the investment that no amount spent at Sephora can compete with. Sure, I still get breakouts like everyone does, the difference being my skin bounces back much more quickly and I know how to handle it.
That’s because aestheticians who are good at what they do will help you get that glowing skin we all desire and will also educate you on how to maintain it. Spas are an important part of any guide to beauty salons, so try out one of these Charlotte spots and see for yourself what an expert can really do to make you natural beauty shine.
5126 Park Road, Suite 2C
One of the things that gives a facial spa away is the products they sell. For Simply Skin, it’s the lineup of products, including one of my personal favorite skincare brands Emminence Organics, that tell you they are not simply selling you fancy, overpriced nonsense. Owner and skin therapist Rita Meeks says, “The fact that we are celebrating our 17th year in the business of providing these results to our clients is proof of our effectiveness.”
Simply Skin offers custom facials along with a range of other services, like peels and treatments, injections for anti-aging, and massages — exactly the kind of heavy-duty services you need trusted professionals for. This comes down to Meeks’ philosophy that you “need to be skilled in a variety of different treatments that can offer their clients continuous results,” and emphasize that “skin care is not a one size fits all.” Simply Skin stands apart from other spas because of their focus on results that last and that are designed to make a difference over time.
900 Metropolitan Ave., Suite 113
Piel Body Spa owner Kina Henderson has a focus on inclusivity that comes through in everything she does. She works with people of all ages, skin types, and skin-care concerns to provide tailored services just for you. Her facials use vegan and natural ingredients that are capable of delivering real results without compromising your health.
Piel Body Spa does facials, massages, brows, and hair removal for men and women of all ages. For teens or anyone stressed by breakouts, Piel offers a special facial to focus on deep pore cleansing, and for men you can receive a custom service to take care of the sensitive skin often irritated by shaving.
9605 N. Tryon St., Suite L
This holistic spa prides itself on specialized treatment and skin-care education, so every person who walks through their door feels welcome and walks out feeling empowered. Owner and experienced medical and skin professional Tamara, a Black woman herself, has taken special care to develop a practice that is attentive to the demands of all skin tones.
What many spas overlook in their training and technique is that hyperpigmentation, acne, scarring, and aging are all impacted by your ethnicity and skin color. You will never have to worry about that at Soul Beautiful Spa, where knowledge and skincare education are paired with a celebration of diversity. In terms of treatments Soul Beautiful Skin has you covered from forehead to toes with facials, waxes, body treatments, and even body contouring.
I hope you find some new Charlotte beauty destinations that will take care of your body and soul. Self care isn’t something any of us can do alone and it isn’t just about pampering ourselves (although you deserve it!). In the end, taking care of ourselves is about feeling like our best so we can show up for the people who matter to us and bring positivity to our community. Let’s be grateful for those beauty professionals who give us that gift, and let us never forget to tip them well, too.
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This work by Queen City Nerve is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.