Some background info: Dominican Salons are a decent, cheap option if you’re looking to get your hair done. Whether you’re Black, Latina, Bi-Racial, whatever, relaxed or natural, long or short, you can probably get your wig twisted at a Dominican joint.
They employ a method that’s practically the same no matter which one you go to. For example, I go for a basic wash and blowout: Wash & condition, set on large barrel rollers and place you under a dryer. This is one level of straightening your hair. Then you get the hair blown out with a super efficient hand-held blow dryer w/concentrator attachment. The hair is round-brushed to another level of straightness. Finally, the hair is straightened and styled with a flat iron. Voila! Or whatever the Spanish equivalent is of “voila”. In addition to the blowout, they usually do color and relaxers as well as trims and cuts.
Three things to be cautious of: 1). High levels of heat are used. Although they use products that are designed to protect the hair, high heat is not good no matter what. If your hair is natural and you like to wear it curly, please note that you could begin to lose your curl pattern after only a few consecutive straightenings. I suggest opting for the deep conditioning that most salons offer for a small additional fee. 2). Most stylists at the Dominican salons know only two general styles: curly or straight. Know that you may have to restyle when you get home to suit your particular taste. 3). There may only be one or two stylists in the salon who speak English. If this intimidates you, you might feel out of place in the beginning. Hold tight, though, after a while, you get used to it and learn the routine well enough that you’ll be fine.
I’ve visited three salons so far in Philly. See info/reviews after the jump. Check out the comments for other suggestions. Nuevo Estilo – Hunting Park Avenue between 6th & 7th Streets. I went to NE for about 2 years on a friend’s recommendation. I always used the same stylist, Morena, except for the two occasions she was out. You cannot make appointments here. It’s first come, first served. You walk in and write your name down, then take a seat. Depending on how busy it is, you might get called straight back to get washed. I’ve recommended NE to friends and they generally like their hair. For a blowout I would pay $30. I’m pretty sure they charged me an extra $5 because my hair is natural. I brought my girl with a relaxer and her cost was only $25.
I’d caution against going on Fridays and Saturdays, but you should know better than to sit in a salon on those days. Note that on Sunday and Monday, the salon closes at 5pm but every other day of the week, they close at 7pm.
Don’t be alarmed if your stylist takes out a Corona or some food and gets down in between pressing your strands. That’s the way it is sometimes in there. Oh, and you can probably buy anything from socks to bath mats with all of the hustlemen that come through there. LADIES SOCKS!!!
Maria’s #2 Salon – 3808 N Broad Street (about a block up from Erie Ave; (215)-227-4959). I’ve been going to Maria’s pretty regularly now. I started going there because it’s easier to get to by subway. It’s smaller than N.E. and has less stylists, but when I go it’s never crowded so I’m in and out faster. I have hardly ever had to wait very long, even on a Friday. They do just as good a job of straightening my hair. I see other customers looking well-coiffed as well. While I do think that they do up the curls too tightly, (I definitely leave the salon running my fingers through my hair to loosen up the curl and shake it out the way I like it) I generally like my hair when I’m finished. They use different dryers than N.E. and I’m convinced they run on super turbo nuclear technology. HOT!! A plus, Maria’s charges me $5 less than N.E. They also offer a deep condition for $5. I suggest you opt for it. With all of the heat, it certainly can’t hurt. At least no one there drinks on the job and the space is quieter than the perpetual Fiesta down the street!
Ingris Dominican Hair Salon – 1512 Wadsworth Ave. (215) 248-3060. I had my first visit to Ingris’ last week and I’ll be going back. Not only is this salon more convenient for me because of where I live, but I liked the service I received. First off, the salon was big, well-lit and clean. The staff was nice and they all spoke very good English as well as Spanish. I liked how the shampoo girl gave a scalp massage and asked me whether I liked to be washed soft or hard. The salon had business cards and posted prices. Services range from a typical wash and curl to highlights, extensions and pin curls. My style cost $25. I did not get the deep condition on that visit, though. I will point out that one of the stylists did drink a Corona, but she had the decency to put it in a cup and drink it in the back of the salon! Take that N.E.! I’ll be going back. Hours of operation are M-F, 9-7. Sat, 8-7. Sun, 9-4.
There’s another salon on my bus route home that I’m inclined to try, just to have reviewed it. Even if I don’t go, I’ll try to find out some info about it. I also vaguely remember a Dominican salon on Broad Street closer to Girard Avenue. I’ll see what I can dig up on that. I saw something about a place named Jaelinne’s on another blog. I don’t have any first-hand accounts of that place, so you might want to call or drive by there. They’re at 6334 Rising Sun Ave in the Lawncrest section of the City, (215) 725-4185.