Dominican hair salons are a staple in urban communities. Family-owned Dominican salons are in most ethnic neighborhoods, and the styles the salons create are everywhere from street culture to runways.
But are Dominican hair salons good for Black people? After all, you’ve likely heard about these salons on TikTok or from your friends. Don’t worry — we’ll answer this question and explain all you need to know below.
What Are Dominican Hair Salons?
Don’t overthink this one — Dominican hair salons are salons run by people of Dominican descent. These salons are well-known places to get your natural hair blow-dried and straightened.
Dominican salon owners typically hail from the Dominican Republic. They have African influences from the slave trade and Spanish influences from colonizers. In fact, many Dominican-Americans consider themselves to be mixed race.
Long, straight hair is seen as especially beautiful in the Dominican Republic, though many citizens have naturally kinky, curly, ethnic hair. Because of this beauty standard, many Dominican women begin straightening their hair regularly in childhood.
Over the last century, Dominican women perfected these straightening methods. The result is an easily-identifiable, silky, smooth hairstyle that is hard to recreate at home.
The Dominican hair-straightening technique involves:
- Intensely shampooing the hair
- Deep conditioning the hair to make hair strands more malleable
- Adding oil to the scalp
- Drying the hair with tension or sitting under a dryer for long periods
- Using a flat iron on the hair after it is dried
Dominican salon straightening creates a long, smooth hairstyle that will last until your next wash.
Are Dominican Hair Salons Good for Black Hair?
While you’ll often get straight hair, Dominican hair salons can be especially harmful to black hair long-term because of the chemicals and heat used.
Because of the kinks and curls in African-American hair, the quickest way to get natural hair straight is to add chemicals or high heat. Unfortunately, this is also the easiest way to damage the hair shaft.
Listed below are the most significant attributes of the straightening method used by Dominican salons and their effect on black hair. If you are considering visiting a Dominican salon in your neighborhood, read on to see if this method of straightening makes sense for you.
Extended Heat and Breakage
Adding high heat to hair is one of the most common ways to damage the hair shaft. Adding high heat to black hair is particularly damaging. All hair and skin contain keratin, a protein that coats the hair shaft and protects it from the elements.
Black or African-American hair contains less keratin at its ends than at its root. Because of a lack of keratin, black hair is susceptible to more dryness and brittleness than most other hair types. When stylists apply excessive heat to the hair, the keratin proteins break down.
As the hair loses keratin, the hair strands become damaged and break. Adding more and more heat without this protective layer of keratin will eventually change your hair at a molecular level. This damage is often irreversible.
Black people looking to straighten their hair but not damage it in the process can benefit from added keratin treatments before they add high heat. These treatments protect afro hair from the high heat that Dominican straightening requires.
Too much heat can also contribute to the loss of your curl pattern definitely. If you want to keep your curls, avoid this type of technique. Even going to a Dominican hair salon once can be enough to loose your curls.
Chemicals and Their Ingredients
Adding unnatural chemicals to hair is another common way people unintentionally damage their hair. Many people believe they are adding oils and nutrients to saturate dry hair, but these products are often misleading.
To account for the added heat and to get black hair to straighten to Dominican salon standards, many Dominican-American hairstylists add chemicals to black hair before straightening. Chemicals in shampoos, conditioners, and scalp oils often contain dangerous ingredients.
Before your stylist adds chemicals to your hair, inspect the ingredients. Look out for any sulfates, parabens, or dyes. Healthy ingredient lists include fewer chemicals and more natural ingredients such as:
- Coconut, grapeseed, castor, or olive oil
- Shea butter
- Aloe vera
- Antimicrobial essential oils
Since black hair requires more moisture and nutrients to stay healthy, the chemicals put into black hair must be made well. People with afro hair have to be overly vigilant to protect their tresses.
Tension and Hair Loss
Though many people go to Dominican salons to straighten their hair and add length, one side effect of the Dominican salon method is hair loss. This happens when you pull coarse, thick hair too tightly or repeatedly brush it roughly.
Straightening hair requires that stylists detangle it thoroughly. After the stylist detangles the hair, Dominican salons use rollers or roller brushes to stretch the hair from the scalp.
Stretching the hair tightly leads to hair loss from the root and thinned hair edges around the forehead or nape. Black hair is often naturally thick and coarse.
Signs that your hair is thinning include:
- Shorter, thinner ponytails
- Receding hairlines
- Bald spots
The tension method of pulling the hair before straightening it is painful. Depending on your age and the extent of your hair loss, it may also be irreversible.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve gathered below some frequently asked questions to help you better understand Dominican salons.
Do Dominican salons damage your hair?
Dominican Salons damage black hair by repeatedly adding extended, high heat to the hair shaft. Extended high heat breaks natural hair proteins down and causes irreversible damage.
How do Dominican salons get black hair so straight?
Dominican hair salons get black hair straight by first shampooing and deep conditioning the hair. Then, hairstylists use a tension method to dry the hair while pulling it. This lengthens the hair strands and results in a very straight, thin hairstyle.
What is the difference between a silk press and a blowout?
The Dominican blowout is an old technique that originated in the Dominican Republic. Rollers are used under a full-head dryer to slowly dry the hair. A silk press is a newer method that uses a dryer directly on wet hair before using a flat iron to finish the look.
How much do Dominican blowouts cost?
Dominican blowouts at the salon cost between $30 and $50. This includes washing, deep conditioning, and styling. The final cost depends on your location.
How long does a blowout last on African-American hair?
Dominican blowouts last only until your next hair wash. For African-American hair, a blowout will last one to three weeks.
So, Are Dominican Salons Good for Black People?
The Dominican-Americans who run the shops are hard-working, talented hairstylists. Unfortunately, using Dominican methods on black hair for long periods is extremely damaging.
Black hair is at its best with low heat, no harsh chemicals, and little tension. Dominican salons often use a combination of all three.
Like most things in life, balance is key. Dominican salons are okay to frequent sparsely. For a more permanent option for hair styling, finding a natural afro stylist that uses less heat is ideal. Happy styling!