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Jun
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2022
From The Print Last Week

New business | Salsa’s Tingz for Black hair

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Yellow Springs resident and natural hair stylist Kafisalah Salahuddin fills a special niche in the community for African American residents — providing natural hair care services and products through her company, Salsa’s Tingz.

“My business is two different businesses in one; I have my own hair care product and I also do locs under it,” Salahuddin said. “So, the entirety of it is called ‘Salsa’s Tingz’ [named with a Jamaican vibe in mind], but Salsa’s Locs Natural is my product.”

Salahuddin has lived in Yellow Springs for the past six years, coming here from Xenia. She has two children — Paradise, who is 13, and Azhan, who is 7 — who attend Yellow Springs schools.

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“My family moved [to the area] from Cleveland in the early ’80s and we are one of the local Muslim Haitian families in the community,” she said.

Salahuddin works with Black hair in its natural state — meaning, styled without the use of chemicals. Regardless of style preferences, hair plays an important societal role within the social structure of African American culture, especially for Black women, who are often discriminated against for something they have no biological control over — the way their hair grows from their scalps.

Legislation called the CROWN, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March, and is now making its way through the Senate. The bill, intended to dissuade discrimination against race-based hairstyles by protecting the right to wear hair naturally or in styles like locs, braids and twists in workplaces and public schools, has been signed into law in 12 states, and is being considered by 16 other state governments.

Salahuddin’s training involves understanding the growth patterns and diverse textures of African American hair. She trained under stylists from Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.

Natural hair stylist and owner of Salsa’s Tingz Kafisalah Salahuddin is pictured sitting in her beloved vintage 1930s era beauty shop chair. (Photo by Cheryl Durgans)

Salahuddin offers natural hair care services by appointment only, traveling to clients’ homes. She also rents chairs at barbershops and hair salons where she can utilize a notarized document of certification that shows she’s working under the auspices of a licensed cosmetologist for a certain amount of time. According to Salahuddin, although she is not licensed, she can still do hair legally in Ohio because she doesn’t work with chemicals to treat hair.

“From coils, twists, locs, braids, French braids, cornrows, plaits, wigs and weaves — anything that doesn’t deal with chemicals — based on Ohio law,” Salahuddin said.

Salahuddin says she keeps prices affordable, with most services costing between $25 and $100, with the exception of some more expensive braiding techniques and plant-based henna coloring treatments. She provides hair care for children, always offering back-to-school specials to parents. Senior discounts are available on Tuesdays.

“You don’t have to show your Golden Buckeye, either,” Salahuddin said, referencing the discount card offered to Ohio senior citizens. “There’s nothing to prove — if you book it, I am going to take your word for it.”

Salahuddin currently contracts with Syd’s Barber Shop in Xenia, often partnering with stylists there who trim or taper her client’s hair as needed.

Salahuddin’s hydration product, Salsa’s Locs Natural, contains hibiscus and is a spritz or a shea butter that can be used on the body. She said that clients have told her that it helps them with alopecia and eczema. Salahuddin makes her products by hand in small batches with distilled water.

According to Salahuddin, from a very young age, she’s always had an entrepreneurial approach to living. She started braiding hair when she was in junior high school for extra funds.

“At 13 or 14 years old you can’t really find a job,” she said.

Salahuddin is a graduate of Greene County Career Center, where she studied in the legal technology program.

“I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but that’s a lot of school and a lot of time and dedication,” she said.

Instead, she decided to study early childhood education at Central State University, with plans to become a teacher, but her plans were derailed when she got pregnant with her daughter and ultimately decided that education wasn’t something she wanted to pursue after her third year of college.

Salahuddin’s path to natural hair care may be considered unorthodox. Like many people during the COVID pandemic, she was forced to adjust to circumstances beyond her control. A career in hair care appeared somewhere between supply chain issues with another business she runs called Salsa’s Toys, an adult toy company, and the temporary loss of a full-time job.

“[Salsa’s Toys] was always a side gig; I had a job in real estate, and it just got really big — so big that I couldn’t keep up,” she said. “The pandemic hit, and I ordered over 1,000 toys that got stuck in Hawaii somewhere.”

Right before the pandemic, Salahuddin was on a different trajectory, returning to school to train for a career in real estate and was working in property management, but was informed that troubles from a past legal issue would make it more difficult for her to get a license.

Initially she considered styling hair as a way to raise money to pay some legal fees so that she could become a realtor. However, right now she’s enjoying doing hair, and her businesses are taking off in such a way that she’s not had to return to working another job.

“I’m blessed and honored to be in the position that I am in. I have become so passionate about my work,” she said.

Salahuddin added that she has a strong support base here in town, with friends spreading the word about her business.

“[They] tell others, ‘Hey, there’s someone here who can wash and style your hair,” she said. “I see a lot of African Americans in town, and I love that.”

Salahuddin primarily works on African American hair, but also provides services for all ethnic groups. However, she said she recognizes there are some politics in providing locs services in a predominantly white community — especially when many Black people in the community struggle to find a stylist who understands the special features of their hair.

“Even now, there’s Caucasian women that are doing locs, but often I think they are forgetting that everyone doesn’t have the same type of hair,” she said. “Whereas our hair is a little more textured, we might require oils, you might need olive oil where [someone else] needs coconut oil — finding a natural stylist who is in tune with your hair is the hardest thing in the world, but finding a stylist that is willing to learn your hair is amazing.”

Salahuddin has a growing reputation in the natural hair care industry that has taken her to different cities in Ohio and nationally to do hair for a number of different clients, including celebrities. She has also styled hair for music videos, including participating in a video by local rapper Issa Ali as his stylist. She was recently honored with a second-place award in a hair competition in central Illinois.

She said Salza’s Tingz can be contacted through social media.

“I’m on Instagram, Facebook and a site called Booksy,” Salahuddin said.

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