Pulled out from the archives....an interview with Luisa Perez of Luisa's Hair Salon in Silver Spring, MD back in 2014
Have you noticed most of the negative feedback from women who have gone to Dominican hair salons have no idea what they're talking about or flat out just going to the wrong salons? Most of these negative comments seem to come from “newbies” who have only recently stepped foot in Dominican hair salons which makes me wonder ‘where the heck are they going’!? I sat down and had a very long talk with Mrs. Luisa Perez , the very first Dominican salon owner in the state of Maryland to address these comments and learn a little more about her and hair salons.Luisa is pretty much a household name if you’ve been frequenting Dominican salons for any good amount of time in the DMV. Her staple shop on Bonifant St. is still the “go to” spot if you’re close to Silver Spring. I sat down with Lusia to get her take on negativity surrounding Dominican hair salons.
Negativity Surrounding Dominican Salons
Jennifer: Luisa, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I certainly have – the recent surge of negativity when it comes to Dominican styling. There are comments ranging from heat damage, and thinning to burning scalps and the overall lack of professionalism. How do you, an original Dominican stylist respond to these comments?
Luisa: Well, I actually share the same concern. I’ve noticed a lot of Dominican salons opening up, and they’re doing well [have a lot of clients], but they have no experience. These salons get saturated with people and the problem comes when they’re asked to go beyond basic wash & sets or blowouts. People start asking for color, perms, chemicals and cuts and they don’t have an idea of what they’re doing but they do it anyway - that’s where we get the bad rep. I know everybody has good intentions; they want to make money and put the word out that we Dominicans do the best hair, but not every Dominican is certified, prepared or trained to do hair. I think consumers need to look out for these things.
Jennifer: What about the women who aren’t getting specialized services like a color or perm? Some of the negative comments are from women who only had a Dominican blowout. Can every Dominican do a wash, set and blowout?
Luisa: Jennifer, you already know from your background, that every Dominican can do a wash and set. We grew up in the backyard doing each other’s hair. It’s a must in the Dominican Republic if you’re a girl to know how to do a wash and set, manicure and pedicure. But not everybody can work a blower which is where the damage can come from. Another thing to keep in mind though is that not everyone is a good candidate to get their hair blown out with the round brush. If you have healthy hair, a Dominican blowout can give incredible shine and bounce to the hair. However, you have other women with not-so-healthy hair (over processed with relaxer, flat-iron or color) that you cannot apply the same amount of force or heat to with the round brush and blower; and not every Dominican is trained properly to deal with those cases.
Another thing I want to point out is that, it’s not always the fault of the Dominican salon. Sometimes, the thinning is hereditary or the damage may come from a problem with the scalp – it can be a list of things. A well trained Dominican stylist will be able to pinpoint exactly what the issue is and let their client know. I have clients that come to me with thinning hair or shedding and I analyze the scalp and hair and fix that issue first – then they can do as many blowouts as they want.
Jennifer: So what would you say to the woman who wants to try a Dominican salon for the first time, or try them again after a bad experience but has reservations?
Luisa: With the wave of new Dominican hair salons and the lack of proper hair care I’ve noticed that my clients have had to defend me. I had a client tell her friend about me and her friend said “oh, I don’t know, she’s Dominican and I heard….” My client had to say “no, you haven’t experienced a real Dominican salon; you need to go to Luisa’s”. I would say check around and have a consultation first. If they can’t speak enough English to tell you what you need then you need to run out of there because you need to be able to communicate with the person giving you a service. A lot of salons have good stylists with many years of experience who are shy when it comes to speaking English, but there should always be a person there who can translate for them. It all comes down to the consumer doing their homework. Check for cleanliness, customer service, and always be up-front about what you want and what you’re looking for with your hair. You have to be in control of your hair. Dominicans are still the best for hair care for all types of hair, but you have to do your part too.
Jennifer: How often can someone safely get a Dominican blowout?
Luisa: Every week. Once you get a good conditioner (a good moisturizing conditioner) and sit under a dryer for at least 10 minutes, when you get a blowout you active your natural oils. It’s not good to get it blown out all the way straight, but a little heat to the root will activate the natural oils in your hair. There’s no replacement for natural oils. If you put oil on your hair, it’ll be greasy, but the natural oils polish your hair beautifully and once a week is good.
Jennifer: I get my hair blown out every 7 days and if I’m in Santo Domingo, every 4-5 days, but what about natural women? Can going to a Dominican hair salon loosen the natural curl pattern if you go too frequently?
Luisa: No. A Dominican blowout can straighten natural hair and prevent the frizz that normally happens when natural hair is straightened, but it will never take away the curl. If women are noticing less curl, then they need to watch out for what the salon is putting in their hair. There are a lot of tricks out there.