A Curly Girl’s Survival Guide to Washington DC

Washington D.C. has a lot to offer women with curly hair. Some salons specialize in curly hair systems, and most salons not only have curly hair experts, they also offer curl-loving products. With fall in full-swing, what better time to put all of these qualities to the test. 

As a new Washingtonian, from Canton, Ohio, I’ve hesitated, as many women with curly hair, to find a salon to call my go-to salon, because of the multitude of salon options here in D.C. So join me, as I go on a curly adventure to find the right salon for my spirals.

My first curly adventure begins at BUBBLES Salon. It seems as though every corner in every D.C. quadrant has a BUBBLES Salon. So I visited the BUBBLES Salon located at 201 Massachussetts Ave NE to get a few tips.

I arrived on a mellow fall Tuesday evening slightly before my appointment, which gave me enough time to walk around the salon and check out the venue. Space-wise the salon had a nice layout. The products were very well organized and the brand names ranged from It’s a 10 to Pureology and Redken.   

While I waited for my appointment, I picked up a brochure and immediately noticed the quote “BUBBLES is a place of transformation”. This phrase encapsulated my experience at BUBBLES because I was about to undergo a transformation. For the purpose of this particular trip, it was a curly to straight hair transformation. 

Curious about the experience, I asked the BUBBLES on Massachusetts Ave. manager, Philip about what I should expect. Philip said that “the BUBBLES experience is giving you more of a “luxury” feeling at a reasonable price. That’s what the experience is, it’s about giving you a full-service salon but giving [it to you at] a price that we can all manage.”

Before my hair transformation began, I talked to my assigned hair stylist, Doug. Doug is a stylist that has been doing hair for 10 years and he’s been in the industry for about 12 years. When asked about his history of dealing with curly hair he said “I’m very familiar with curly hair, but with every client it’s different...I would say that my comfort zone is medium thick to fine curly hair.”

He was also able to offer some advice to help me on my curly adventure. When looking for a stylist, Doug suggested that communication is key. He said that: 

“It’s all based on how well your stylist is going to handle your hair and how comfortable you are talking to the stylist. A lot of clients don’t feel comfortable telling the stylist: I don’t like my hair, is there any way that we can fix it? I think when clients get a little deterred by the stylist and how they’ve done their hair, they automatically want to blow up and go away. Well this is why we’ve studied our craft, we study it to be able to fix [the problem]. [Picking a stylist is] really… based on how much you like the stylist and [if you are] willing to give them a second chance.”

“[You should] ask the right questions: what are you going to do to my hair, how is it going to be handled? [You should] also [give] up the information that will best help the stylist understand your situation: what do you do to your hair at home? You know, that creates a better experience than just sitting down and saying, ‘well he’s the expert he should know.’”

Other tips that Doug offered included:

  • “If we’re going to blow [your hair] out, to me, a good conditioner, a hydrating conditioner, and a leave-in [work] to back it up. The It’s a 10 [product] does pretty much everything, [it] hydrates, it has keratin in it, it’s got heat protectants in it. You pretty much have a lot of stuff that’s going to help your hair out. [But] it depends on the hair texture.”
  • Whether you have curly hair or not, always communicate your hair needs. “Always ask the right questions. Always know what’s going on with your hair, what you don’t like about your hair currently, what you would like to see improve with your hair. It’s just all based on needs, the client’s needs.”
  • When choosing a product choose: “Hydration. Always hydration. Hydration no matter what time of year it is, with curly hair… we always have to constantly work on putting moisture back in your hair, which means layering a leave-in, maybe an oil on top of that, or maybe even using a cream or a wax, very lightly, just to repel some of the humidity…so that it doesn’t revert so quickly…A lot of people don’t like product, but that’s the reason product is there…to… repel a lot of other things that the elements may or may not do to your hair.”
  •        To maintain your new mane: “Doing things at home to maintain your hair is always a step that you have to take … [For instance] take the top portion of your hair, pull it in… a little curl, and then pin it and that creates [and] keeps the volume. It keeps it from being plastered to your head. [But]…beauty is pain…you might have to add a roller to [your hair] to create that lift, that body, in your hair” 

Overall, Doug did a wonderful job. One word to describe his hair styling process would be: intricate. He intricately shampooed and conditioned my hair, told me about the products that he decided to use, and did a fabulous blow out. He also took the time to focus on my curls and most importantly my flyaways.

In the end, I left the salon feeling like my hair had the perfect mix of product and volume.

Elizabeth-Burton Jones is a hill staffer that recently graduated from Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture, and Technology Masters program. She is from Canton, Ohio and she is searching for a hairstylist. Join her in her search for the perfect hairstylist on Instagram @DC_Curls.

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