As Black women, we are always taught that our hair is our crown and glory, and we should always take care of it. However, when we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and uprising race war, emotional and mental trauma begin to sink in for Black women as we stress over financial stability, taking care of our loved ones and keeping our health and strength intact all at once. Thankfully, twin sisters and owners of Atlanta’s own Transformations Beauty Studio (TBS), Derricka and Erricka Traylor have turned their personal experiences in mental health into a transformational beauty studio dedicated to the uplifting and health of black women.
We spoke with one-half of the owners of Transformations Beauty Studio and master cosmetologist Derricka Traylor about the relationship between hair loss and trauma, the importance of a stylist expressing empathy to a client and how she and her twin sister work towards giving their clients the best emotional and physical experience possible when it comes to hair treatment.
Behind the inspiration of Transformations Beauty Studios:
“Our inspiration developed from a traumatic time in our lives where we had to lean on each other for support. My husband and I experienced a home invasion that led to us losing everything. My husband almost lost his life and the weight of providing for the family was put on me. During this time, my sister and mom were my backbone. My sister was there for me every step of the way. Even though she had her own trauma at the time, she still was there for me and I’m forever grateful. We had each other’s back and developed a sisterly bond like no other. This transformational experience was what we need to get through it all. During that transition, we discovered the idea of providing that same feeling of transformation to women thorough hair and beauty services. Our transformation felt like therapy. We transformed our hair and the way we felt.”
Her hair and her confidence:
“When you look good, you feel good. The best feeling is when I take down my sew-in or extensions and see my natural hair and its growth. Even when I wear my hair in protective styles such as frontals or lace closures, I still feel great! The best thing about hair is that you can wear it to match your energy and how you feel that day. It can be as simple as a change of style, length or color. No matter what, there is a style for everyone.”
Her personal journey through self-love and loving her natural hair:
“I absolutely love my hair. I have 4c hair. It’s very thick, long, and has tight kinky curls. I have always been comfortable with my hair which helps me to influence others to love and take care of their hair as well. I decided to go natural, in other words relaxer free when I learned about the chemical process of a relaxer while in hair school.”
To stay comfortable with your natural hair and have it looking it best you should do the following:
- Deep-condition your hair because providing moisture to your hair can be your hair best friend.
- Always massage your scalp while shampooing your hair. This helps with blood flow to your help and can promote hair growth .
- Reduce the amount of heat that you use on your hair to keep from damaging your hair. Try protective styles such as braids , a wig or a twist out!
Black women’s hair throughout the pandemic:
“With the pandemic, I believe some women experienced a love-hate relationship with their hair, due to some not being able to get services and not knowing how to get the salon finished look at home. The love for hair during this time commonly came from ladies being able to wear their hair in its natural state and had the time to learn how to take care of it. A lot of stylists such as myself provided at-home DIY videos for their clients and were able to capitalize off of it by either charging for virtual classes or selling the products that are needed to achieve those trending looks . It was also the perfect time to take their time to actually try new products and learn the benefits of them.”
Hair loss, stress and racial trauma:
“Stress is the number one cause of hair loss. Mental health plays a big part in keeping your hair and body healthy. Severe emotional trauma, also known as telogen effluvium, can trigger hormonal changes which can also lead to hair loss. It’s important to take care of yourself. What you put in your body comes out in your hair, nails and skin . Racial trauma is also another form of [stress that causes] hair loss. Many African-American women who work in the corporate world have to wear their hair in heat-treated styles to be able to work in that environment. Too much straightening of the hair can cause damage and hair loss.”
Black women and carrying the weight of the world through their hair:
“Yes, I believe that hair is our crown and glory. As mentioned before, our hair can be a deciding factor on our energy or how we feel. People wear their hair all lengths for different reasons. Women who choose to cut their hair for liberation are open to change. They say, “a woman who is changing her hair is changing her life,” and that can be true. It can be a sign of freedom, release, or progression. They may feel lighter mentally [by] cutting off extra baggage or their past. Some women who have had some kind of trauma and have shoulder-length hair may not be able to let go of their past trauma; their long hair can represent that. These women may not be ready to release that point in their lives. I am no psychologist but by just talking with clients in my chair, you can hear the pain and worry that transition will change everything about them.”
Place of fear versus place of empowerment:
“When my clients sit in my chair, I get to know them and we build a relationship. Just like back in the day, the salon was a place full of girlfriends. I become a listening ear to them in what we call “hair therapy.” Just by listening to my clients in that short period of time, I learn so much about them and what works for their lifestyle. I, then, decide on what I think would help my client achieve their look and making sure that they are also happy at the same time by explaining the process of what I am doing and why and how to maintain it.”
“Clients want to be understood. They want to be heard and acknowledged. It’s a proven fact that if you look good, you feel good. Our job as hairstylists is to make our clients feel and look their best. Styling my clients hair creates a bond between me and my clients.”