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Institutional Changes Slowly Arriving in Textured Hair Care

A Black woma in all black prepares to work on another Black woman's hair stylized into an Afro, textured hair care
Renee Gadar with Aveda Institute works on a model’s hair. (Photo courtesy of Aveda Institute)

In March, Queen City Nerve wrote about a call from local hair stylists and their customers for more education on textured hair care. Since the publication of the article, new programming has been announced by top schools and leaders in the beauty industry to lobby for more state-mandated education on textured-hair care across the country.

Charlotte stylist Hannah Morris told Queen City Nerve in March about how her class pressured Aveda Institute to acquire more textured hair mannequins for them to practice on in 2020, and according to Aveda reps, leadership at the school has worked since then to expand efforts around textured hair care nationally. 

One of the biggest complaints of stylists we spoke to in North Carolina was a lack of testing on textured hair — defined as kinky, coiled, curly or wavy hair — in the state board exam, which schools base their curriculum on preparing for. 

Learn more: Stylists Tie Lack of Knowledge on Textured Hair to Education Shortfalls

Aware of the atmosphere of apathy around textured hair that permeated so many cosmetology schools around the county, Edwin Neill, CEO of Neill Corp, which owns Aveda Arts & Science Institutes, and a member of the Louisiana cosmetology state board, has been working to fix that on a state-by-state basis. Neill campaigned to mandate textured-hair education in cosmetology schools in that state in 2021, and after seeing success there has since been working to get the same done in Virginia. Now he’s expanding the efforts to nationwide. 

Neill’s Professional Beauty Association (PBA), which he co-founded with partners DevaCurl, L’Oreal Professional, and Aveda, which is separate from Aveda Institute, on May 8 announced the launch of the Textured Education Collective, described as an alliance of professional hair industry leaders with a shared goal of encouraging cosmetology state board licensing requirements and curriculums nationwide to be inclusive of all hair types and textures.

“The goal is to empower cosmetologists and stylists with the confidence to consult and work with clients who have textured hair, while maintaining the styling performance, health, and safety standards they learn in their cosmetology programs,” read a release from the PBA announcing the launch

The Textured Education Collective was formed with two goals in mind, according to the release: to ensure all hairstylists are equipped with the education, skills, and tools to be able to service all clients and all hair types and textures; and to pave the way for all consumers to feel welcomed, valued, understood, and seen when getting serviced by hairstylists while upholding the highest standards in health and safety. 

“I mean it’s hair. If you’re being a cosmetologist, hair stylist, shouldn’t you be trained in all hair?” Aveda spokesperson Samantha Gonda told Queen City Nerve. “Unfortunately that’s not the case.”

Gonda insisted that every Aveda Institute across the country, regardless of state mandates, currently includes a section on textured-hair education in every unit, which was not the case when Morris attended the school in 2020. 

Aveda has since launched the Jump Start program, a two-week long course designed to fill in the gaps for stylists that trained in the pandemic and missed out on having live models. Students will refine their cutting, coloring and styling skills on all hair textures, said Gonda.

Gonda told Queen City Nerve that Aveda is working on hosting a panel discussion in New York City this summer titled Desegregate the Salon (working title), with a focus on inclusive hair-care and education. 

Changes at Paul Mitchell The School

Sarah Havas, owner of Head Space Studio in the Echo Hills neighborhood of southeast Charlotte, learned cosmetology at Paul Mitchell The School (PMTS) in 2011. Havas told Queen City Nerve in March that she never saw a single practice mannequin with textured hair during her time there.

“The only training was to make curly hair straight,” Havas recalled. “Never what do you do with curly hair? How do you diffuse it? What if someone loves their curly hair? It was like, ‘No, just straighten it out.’” 

According to reps at Paul Mitchell, changes have been implemented to the curriculum at the company’s schools in the years since. Since 2020, every PMTS location is required to have a texture specialist who is encouraged to tweak the curriculum to make it as inclusive as possible. Texture is ingrained in every single section of the program.

“We service a lot of natural hair clients on our clinic floor,” said PMTS education leader Ti’Rena Riley. “We do two strand twists, braids, they’re being taught sew-in techniques as well.”

Along with diverse clientele, and now curly hair mannequins in every cosmetology kit, Paul Mitchell brings in a different guest artist every Tuesday that teaches the students things that otherwise might not be in the curriculum, Riley said. 

“The companies like ourselves at Paul Mitchell have really adapted and grown to where you’re not just segregating salons based on race,” added PMTS director Jody Baucom. 

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