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Blacks & Minority Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany: An American Expat’s Perspective

Blacks & minorities have to overcome hairstyle hurdles in Germany, mainly finding a competent professional who knows their hair.

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

My hair requires delicate care. This starts from the front hairline up to the top of my crown and down the nape of my neck.

My 4C coily hair is soft, moisturized, and full of lustre, when treated properly. When it’s not, my hair can become very brittle or dry, leading to excessive tangling, breakage and ultimately, severe damage.

Frequent trips to the salon are not only necessary, they’re also a joyful part of my hair upkeep & hair health.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

But I live in Germany, a country where Black hair salons are hard to find. Especially a good, clean service orientated one.

There are on call at-home Black hair care services available, which include visiting the home of a Black hairstylist for services.

Or you can call a on-call glam agency that will send a licensed professional stylist to the comfort of your home.

Black Community Hairstyle Heaven

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

As I reflect back on my youth and reminisce about my time growing up in 1980’s Brooklyn, New York, I notice current hurdles I never had to leap before now. Although Brooklyn was never an all Black community I never felt like the minority.

In the U.S. I never had to research Black hair salons or read endless comments & reviews online to access certain skill levels.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Nor have I ever had to ask fifty different people where I could find a particular hair product because the Black or African products and services were easily accessible to me.

Throughout most of the U.S. there are countless Black hair salons as well as specialty salons for natural hair, weaves & locs.

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

A few European countries like the UK, do have a small community of salons, hairstylists and hair products tailored to Black customers and customers of Color.

However, the list of European countries offering hair services and hair products for Black people is a short one.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

This could be read as a mere omission, but to me, it’s an insidious example of the lack of inclusion of Black women in beauty schools and the hair industry in Europe as a whole.

It also shows a complete disregard for the Black women, like me, who live in Europe.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

After moving from the U.S. to Germany, it’s been made painfully clear that not only am I a foreigner but that I’m a Black foreigner who’s not the target customer market.

I’m not even a consideration in many cases. The lack of hair services and hair products offered in Germany constantly reminded me that I was Black and not a European. I was constantly aware of this – I was hyperaware!

Devaluing of Black Women

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Which speaks to a larger issue: the long-standing devaluing of Black women and their hair.

From the commercial push of chemical hair relaxers to convince Black women with kinky hair textures that the only way their hair is beautiful is when it’s straight, to Hollywood actresses such as Taraji P. Henson suffering excessive hair damage caused by hairstylists inexperienced with Black hair on Hollywood sets & shoots.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Black women and their hair have always been, at worst, something to fix or change, or at best, an afterthought. We are left on the sidelines and not at all included in society’s definition of beauty.

Eurocentric Beauty Standard

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

I know this from experience. When I visit the websites, instagrams, or storefronts of salons in Germany, the photos they use to advertise their services are of white women with hair textures nowhere close to mine.

How can I walk into these salons and feel comfortable and confident enough to get my hair done? How can I know that my hair is going to turn out great when these salons are sending a clear message that they follow a Eurocentric standard of beauty?

Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany
© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

I don’t think they would know what to do with my hair if I requested a simple Black hairstyle like box braids or crochet hair.

Based on what hair services they offer and how they advertise them, I don’t feel welcome. There have been many times when I took the chance – but the hairstyle I wanted just did not turn out right.

The frustration that arises in these situations is devastating because as a Black woman, my hair is not just hair. It represents a large part of who I am.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Ever since I was young, getting my hair done has always been this grand experience where I come out feeling more beautiful than I did before.

This feeling of exclusion leaves most people with two options: going to someone’s house with the hair already washed and prepped to be styled (which by the way, is a whole task in and of itself), or do it yourself with the help of YouTube.

Agency to Overcome Hairstyle Hurdles in Germany

Thankfully the tide is changing. Freelance glam agencies like Prestige Artists Agency were born out of sheer necessity to fill this void.

While Prestige Artists Agency provides glam teams for everybody, it’s a safe space most importantly for Black women & Black men, a place where they can feel seen and valued as a customer.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Prestige Artists Agency is  challenging the norm as it pertains to how and where beauty services can be offered – regardless of hair texture or curl pattern.

This is important especially in countries like Germany that continues to be complicit in perpetuating Eurocentric beauty standards when we all know that there is not only one definition of beauty.

© Phil Halfmann | all rights reserved

Prestige Artists’ team of global Black hairstylist shouldn’t be a rare sight in Germany or Europe. We need to enter a new era where Black hair gets its much-needed recognition.

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Written by Sophia Lenore

Hair & Makeup: Sophia Lenore

Photographer: Phil Halfmann

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