When most clients sit down in a stylist’s chair, there’s a little nervousness. But when a curly-haired woman sits down in that same chair, she’s lugging a U-Haul of emotional baggage with her—call it “curly-hair PTSD” if you will. Anthony Cole, Sebastian Professional Lead International Stylist, hadn’t thought too deeply about curly-haired clients and their emotional needs until he adopted a daughter.
Spiral curls enhanced with Sebastian Professional Twisted Curl Lifter Foam
“Years ago, I didn't have a clue about curly-haired women and their emotional journeys,” says Cole. “But now I have a little girl. She’s 11, African-American and has super coily, almost Z-pattern hair. When I first adopted her, I didn’t know what to do with her hair. I was blow-drying and straightening it, just fighting the texture,” says Cole. “Then when she was four, I saw her put a shirt on her head and swing it around like it was hair. It broke my heart. I thought, She’s too young to already have issues like this. I had to learn more about curls and help women like my little girl.”
Cole attacked his lack of curl knowledge with gusto, immersing himself in curly hair education. He fully understood the meaning behind “curly hair PTSD” when he was on a panel with Nioxin Top Artist Diane Stevens and other celebrity hairstylists and dermatologists. “They blew my mind with the history and beauty of curly hair,” says Cole. “The audience was packed with over 700 women with curly hair. I talked to them for hours, just listening to their experiences.” Cole heard stories about women losing their hair from extensions used to hide their natural texture. He heard countless stories where stylists tried to convince them to straighten their hair, damaged their curls or cut their curls incorrectly. And, to Cole’s surprise, many women explained that their partners would tell them that only straight hair was sexy.
Loose waves boosted with Sebastian Professional Twisted Curl Magnifier
“I went on that panel for my daughter, but I gained so much more,” says Cole. As it turns out, understanding the needs—both physical and emotional—of curly-haired women is great for business. “Curly-haired women might be the most apprehensive clients, but believe me, they are loyal, loyal, loyal,” Cole exclaims. “If I leave for Europe, they don’t let anyone touch their hair but me or my partner.”
The secret to Cole’s curly hair success: heartfelt consultations. “Every curly girl—I don’t care if she’s African-American, Jewish, Hispanic or white—has had an emotional hair journey. Let her tell you it,” says Cole. “My straight hair consultations normally take 15 to 20 minutes. My curly hair consultations can take up to 45 minutes. You’ve got to listen very closely, ask a lot of questions about her journey and teach her how to embrace her natural texture.”
Hydrated Z-pattern curls thanks to Sebastian Professional Twisted Elastic Treatment
When it comes to curls, Cole believes that the tide is turning and education is helping conquer the negativity many curly-haired women once faced. “Now, when I teach classes, the first question I get is, ‘Does that product work on curly hair?’ I didn't get that before,” says Cole. As for his daughter, he’s mastered her texture. “Her hair is soft, hydrated, bouncy and beautiful,” says Cole. Spoken like a proud papa.
Photography: Courtesy of Sebastian Professional