Where state cosmetology boards typically exist to ensure consumer safety and regulate the practice of cosmetology-related professions, Neill notes they “can also have a role in preventing discriminatory treatment of people.”

Calls to rid the hair salon space of those discriminatory practices have also led to changes in hairdressing regulations in the UK. Cutting and styling all hair types – including textured hair – will now be standard for stylists, thanks to a June 2021 change in the National Occupational Standards (NOS) For Hairdressing guidelines.

“The addition of wavy, curly, and coily hair into the NOS means that, in time, every hairdresser/stylist will be able to offer a full range of services for all hair types, enabling them to meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community,” explains Helena Grzesk, Manchester-based chief operating officer of the British Beauty Council, in an email.

Back to School

Having been embedded in the Black natural hair movement since the 1990s, New York City-based hairstylist and educator Diane Da Costa has had a decades-long, front-row seat to more people embracing texture. Her celebrity clients, like Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill, were texture icons during a time when straight hair was seen as the default. She says the 2000s and 2010s brought a larger culture shift where more women who’d been chemically straightening their hair began moving away from relaxers and wearing their natural texture instead.

Da Costa, who also toured the country in the late aughts and early 2010s for hair-care brands to educate stylists on textured hair, recalls a resistance among stylists to adapt to the change in the beginning. “Everyone was scared of natural hair,” she says. “‘Oh, it’s too much work,’ ‘Oh, our clients aren’t going to do that,'” she remembers their hesitancy, even though hair relaxer sales declined 26 percent from 2008 to 2013. “But the movement demanded it.”

Now, a lot of stylists are behind the curve, says Shorter, and are catering to textured hair in an attempt to keep clients, gain new clients and stay in business, which is why this type of education is more important than ever. “More and more people are just wanting to wear their hair in its natural state, whether they’re Black, white, Hispanic, whatever,” she says. “And if all you [as a stylist] have ever known how to do is blow out hair and cut straight hair, you’re really at a loss.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed more hairstylists to take advantage of virtual class options, such as the ones offered by Mizani’s Texpert Academy. Since the brand first rolled out its online options, 300 people have signed up for classes, which range from “Texture 411: Fundamentals” to “Silk Press Mastery,” according to Abby Gajewski, assistant manager of education for Mizani. These courses are relatively affordable and can be completed in a few hours. For those wanting more extensive instruction, the Mizani Aircut certification class is conducted in person and carries a $950 price tag for two days of intensive training. Almost 300 licensed stylists have become certified, says Gajewski. In most cases, salons across the country elect to host the certification class.

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