Here at Salons Direct, we are fanatical about every kind of hair.  Our latest ‘Spotlight on‘ examines the afro textured hair market.

According to The Huffington Post, “The UK black hair-care industry is worth an est. 88 million pounds; with black women now spending 3x more than white women .”

It is clear that the afro hair market makes for a lucrative industry.

Brought to you in 2 parts, leading stylists muse over the business of catering to the afro hair market, trends within their industry and their very best advice for kickstarting a career working with afro hair.

Harry Casey Hair

Image: Harry Casey Hair

In part one, we talk to Michelle Thompson, Afro Hairdresser Of The Year 2015, Harry Casey from the Jamie Stevens salon and Charlotte Mensah, two-time winner of the prestigious ‘British Afro Hairdresser Of The Year‘ award, salon owner and founder of the ‘Charlotte Mensah Academy‘ which holds workshops to educate young single mothers in Ghana.

Charlotte Mensah Feature

Image: Charlotte Mensah

We asked Charlotte why she specialises in styling afro hair…

“I trained under the tutelage of the ‘Godfather of Afro hairdressing’, the late Winston Issacs.”

“I love working with Afro hair and the different textures it offers as it allows endless styling opportunities. I realised in 1999 that there was a real need for a premium Afro hair salon that not only promoted proper hair care and maintenance but also offered that service from a holistic approach.  We have implemented this approach successfully for the past 18 years.”

What makes afro textured hair so unique?

Michelle Thompson

Curly and Afro hair types are unique because of how you can really work and manipulate the texture. There are different curly hair types that range from 2c to 4a (a tight wave to a tight coil/ kinky texture). I enjoy working with all.”

Michelle Thompson Hair

Image: Michelle Thompson Francesco Group

Charlotte Mensah

“Curly hair is thick and full with lots of body, it has a Definite “S” pattern. Tight curls have a medium amount of curl whereas corkscrew curls can be either kinky or very tightly curled, with lots and lots of strands densely packed together. In the salon we love work with all hair types and textures that allow us to create beautiful looking tresses.”


We ask our experts if it takes a particular skill-set to work with afro textured hair.

Harry Casey Profile Pic

Image: Harry Casey

What advice would you give to anybody wanting to start a hairdressing working with Afro hair?

Harry Casey – Jamie Stevens Hair

“Listen, watch, practice and be patient. There are so many different textures with afro hair and you must learn to work with them all. It takes time and sometimes mistakes but eventually you will understand why you might use different techniques and tools on different clients. It’s not about competing with the person beside you to see who can finish first, it’s about taking time to hone your craft. In the end, the tortoise beats the rabbit.”   

Michelle Thompson

My advice to anyone wanting to start working with Afro hair is education. You have to really understand the different textures and know what products and techniques work best with each different texture. Afro hairdressing isn’t something that can be learned in 2 days… it’s an ongoing process and it takes a good amount of time in order to perfect all aspects of this specialised area.”

Michelle Thompson Hair

Image: Michelle Thompson Francesco Group. 

Trends in afro hair styling..

Our experts discuss how hair trends have evolved over time.

How have styling trends for Afro hair evolved over the past decade? (braids, weave, keratin treatments etc)

Harry Casey – Jamie Stevens Hair

The afro hair business has evolved massively over the last 10 years. The quality of afro hair products has become more advanced and actually delivering on what they say they do, it’s a multi-million-pound business now. There was a huge demand for companies to perform better now for black women to create endless styles with their hair. Gone are the days of blow-drying grease into the hair, now we use nourishing creams and oils to achieve a lightweight, moisturised feeling in the hair. If a woman wants to play with her look, texture or colour, wigs are much more advanced now, some are so good you’d find it difficult to realise it was a wig. As a stylist, I’ve now got so many more options for my clients.”

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Charlotte Mensah

“In the 60s styles were more classic and had a slightly conservative look, while early 70s natural Afro was a big hit, no more straighteners just natural. So many changes have happened over the last few decades, the emphasis is now on natural hair that actually looks natural, i.e great haircuts and effortless styling.”

Michelle Thompson

“The most popular question that clients are asking for now is how to wear their natural curl… whether it be a TWA (teeny weeny Afro), a chunky twist out or a deconstructed textured wave… clients are wanting texture, softness, and movement.”

Henry Casey Hair

Image: Harry Casey Hair

The business of Afro textured hair…

Do you think that the consumer market caters well for Afro hair in 2017?

Charlotte Mensah

The Afro hair care market is lucrative with numerous mainstream and independent brands existing in the marketplace today. However, Afro and Ethnic products are mainly sold through specialised hair and beauty shops and we are yet to have an established presence on the shelves of the mainstream retailers.”

Michelle Thompson

“This is a question that I am asked on a regular basis. We are in 2017 and I don’t see the need for segregation just because of a particular hair texture or type. There are so many races integrating that in the future the amount of mixed hair textures is going to increase so surely having the skill set to work on any hair type or texture is crucial for any business wanting to safeguard there future.”

Do you think more salons could be more open to providing styling services for afro hair or is it better that clients with Afro hair have their own dedicated salons/specialists?

Harry Casey Hair

Image: Harry Casey Hair

“I believe that in 2017 a black woman should at least be able to walk into a high street hair salon and have her hair blowdried and pressed out without having to leave a salon feeling ashamed of her hair because there wasn’t a stylist with the knowledge to look after her.

“Do I believe black woman should have their own dedicated salons that cater just for them? It depends on the woman you’re asking. whether she feels confident to sit down in an afro hair salon or an afro specialist chair is up to her where she puts her trust. But do I believe that a basic afro hair styling unit should be provided within the hairdressing NVQ? Without a doubt! I believe it would empower the younger generation with education on afro hair and if they choose to expand their knowledge on afro hair more then it’s up to the individual.”

Charlotte Mensah

“The Afro and mixed race hair market is growing by learning how to look after different hair types so you will be prepared for the growing demand. Not only will it increase your turnover but it will also increase your skills as a hairdresser.”

Look out for more experts discussing afro hair in part 2 of our spotlight on afro textured hair

Want more expert advice? Discover our FREE e-book filled with tips from leading stylists including Sam McKnight and Darren Ambrose!

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More ask the expert features: Patrick Wilson | Sarah McKenna Vixen and Blush | Sam McKnight