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A few weeks ago a woman in Georgia with natural hair visited Lucy’s Dominican Hair Salon in Marietta for a blowout. She was initially satisfied with the sleek straight style, until three days later when she tried washing her hair at home and noticed it wouldn't curl. She called the salon complaining and was informed that a chemical relaxer was most likely added to the shampoo without her knowledge.

The salon has since denied the woman’s accusation, claiming that relaxers go against their policy. But regardless of whether or not they actually did this, salons sneaking relaxers in shampoos or conditioners isn’t exactly unheard of. If you do a quick google search you’ll find tons of forums with women complaining about this exact same thing, with quite a number of them coming from women who've visited Dominican salons. 

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"Putting relaxer on a client’s hair without their consent goes against all salons policies but some stylists still do it because it makes their job easier," says Dominican stylist Ana Baez. "They are able to straighten their client’s hair faster, leaving more time for them to move on to their next client.”

“This is something I used to see a lot more in the '90s and early '00s when pin-straight hair was more in style, but it definitely still happens now," Ines Del Prado, a Dominican stylist who has been working in NYC for close to 26 years, adds. 

But just because you have naturally curly hair doesn’t mean you need to forego the Dominican salon all together. There are ways to get a sleek blowout without having to stress over whether or not someone is sneaking relaxer on your hair. Below, Baez and Del Prado share their best tips for preventing this from happening to you. 

1. Bring your own products. "The best advice I can give is to bring your own products,” says Baez. “It’s less likely they’ll put relaxer on a client who brings their own products." She also mentions that finding products that work best for your hair type will make it easier for the stylist to manage your hair. Look for products that leave your hair deeply moisturized and easier to detangle.

2. Speak up. “Tell them, ‘I would prefer if you don’t mix my products with any other products in the salon. I’ve used other formulas and this is what works for me,'" Del Prado says. Right there you’re making it very clear that you’re not okay with them putting anything else on your hair.

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3. Continue to speak up after the wash. “Most stylists that do this sort of thing will try to sneak the relaxer in conditioner. But I’ve also seen it where they’ll sneak some of the Brazilian keratin straightening treatment in a leave-in before styling,” Baez says. In other words, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is your hair, and you deserve to know what products your stylist is using on it. 

4. Talk about your hair goals. “Years ago clients weren’t as concerned about losing their natural curl pattern as they are now. They also weren’t as aware and cautious when it comes to harsh chemicals,” says Del Prado. “You’re seeing more and more women embracing their natural curls these days and only occasionally getting professional blowouts. It’s important to let the stylist know that you love, embrace, and usually wear your natural curls.”

5. Do wash and sets. “Another important thing to keep in mind is heat damage,” says Del Prado. “It might not happen the first time, but a few Dominican blowouts are enough to loosen your curls and damage your hair, making it look like it was chemically straightened." If you're going to go to the Dominican salon often, Del Prado recommends getting roller sets instead, because they require less direct heat styling.