Hairdressers to learn how to cut and style Afro and textured hair as standard

Hairdressers in the UK will be required to learn how to work with all hair types, after a recent review of the sector’s occupational standards.

Currently, many qualifications do not require students and apprentices to be trained in cutting and styling Afro and textured hair.

This means some demographics have to seek specialist salons and stylists for a simple hair cut.

Meleika Lawrence owns a hair salon in Manchester where she specialises in Afro hair, but she trains her staff to work with all hair types.

She told Sky News: “We’ve had people come in saying they’ve been turned away from a salon and that stylists were intimidated by their hair texture.”

Clients come from as far away as Leeds and Wales to have hair done by Ms Lawrence and her staff.

But, while that may be good for business, she is looking forward to seeing the diversity of the country reflected in its salons.

“Manchester is such a diverse city, as is the UK, so it’s fantastic that people are not going to be segregated or turned away from an establishment simply because of their hair type.”

The standards are not only for hairdressing, but also beauty therapy, wellbeing and holistic therapies. All of these services will have to take an inclusive approach with clients on matters of race and gender, and physical and mental health.

The National Occupational Standards (NOS) published in June now “meet the needs of the UK’s diverse community in one standard”.

The standards help awarding organisations set qualifications criteria, and are used by businesses to create job descriptions.

Celebrity stylist Dionne Smith is part of a programme conducting masterclasses to get hairdressers up to speed.

“We’re targeting people that have never dealt with textured hair, touched it, felt it. People are scared of it.”

“What we’re offering is the fundamentals, like what is natural hair? What are the different types? Textured hair comes in so many different types and curl patterns so how do you understand what type of hair you’re dealing with?

“So we cover what the best products are for different hair types, and detangling – which is like the Bible for us: we can’t do anything without first detangling it,” she told Sky News.

Dawn is a regular client at Meleika’s salon, but she grew up largely relying on family members to do her hair.

“When I was young, our parents used to teach us how to do hair. We used to just plait dolls hair.

“But when you want to keep up with the fashion, that’s when you have to find somebody who can do the styles that you want,” she said.

In 2019 the British Beauty Council and the Hair And Beauty Industry Authority (Habia) set up a taskforce to support a revised NOS.

It came after a 2017 study by Habia found that, out of 35,704 beauty salons in the UK, only 302 were Afro-Caribbean.

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