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Fashion & Style

The top 10 salons for curly hair in Toronto

Posted by Staff / August 4, 2014

curly hair salonThe top salons for curly hair in Toronto, much to the chagrin of flatirons everywhere, make a cakewalk out of having curly hair. Having a mane of corkscrews, spirals, kinks or waves isn't an easy hand to be dealt, especially in a culture that still doesn't see natural curls as appealing or desirable. That's why so many people spend most of their lives as natural born curl-killers. Embracing what genetics gave you just gets harder when every haircut has the potential to turn you from Felicity, season 1, to Felicity, season 2.

Fortunately, there's a growing awareness that curly hair needs its own cutting and styling techniques to look its best. And thanks to a great crop (oh yes, I went there) of local salons, finding a reliable, stylish, flattering and easy to maintain curly cut isn't such a daunting proposition.

Here are my picks for the top salons for curly hair in Toronto.

Curl Bar
Not to be confused with the New York blowout bar of the same name, Curlbar is a modest, cheerful downtown east end salon that is becoming a city-wide fave. Curlbar's team of Deva-trained stylists take time to hear their client's needs, and are passionate about teaching clients how to style and care for their curls after their new cut. Though Curlbar is all about natural textures, they also offer aesthetics services, cut straight hair, and do beautiful weave work.
Aphrodite's Hair Sanctuary
This easy-to-miss shop does wonders in a tiny space, turning out luxurious curly manes worthy of the salon's namesake goddess. Aphrodite's focus is teaching women how to embrace the curls they were born with, from Deva dry cuts (owner Nadine Smellie is Deva-certified) and foil-free highlights. They also do right by those of us still addicted to our flatirons, with Brazilian straightening and extremely affordable, effective blowouts that can tame the unruliest of manes.
The Curl Institute
Also known as the Jonathan Torch Curly Hair Institute, this curl-exclusive north-end salon was created by renowned local curl expert Jonathan Torch in 2005. The Curl Institute's experienced stylists specialize in curly cuts including Torch's tunnel cutting technique, meant to encourage length and remove dreaded mushroom-creating bulk without over-thinning hair. Styles are perfected with Torch's own line of products (including his famous Curl Keeper) that expertly define or disguise curls, depending on your mood.
Hair Sprung
This vibrant Junction gem has been taming tresses since 2003. Although they cut every texture of hair, the salon specializes in curls for all genders. Their stylists are friendly, understanding, and work hard to make sure clients leave satisfied with their cut. Hair Sprung works with AG products - an effective alternative to some of the other popular curl systems found in local salons, but not necessarily the right choice for those looking for all-natural, silicone-free solutions.
Prisma Hair Design
Toronto-proper's only Ouidad-certified salon, this small, slick uptown shop cuts all types of hair, but specializes in working with natural curls. The salon uses Ouidad's products and their "carve and slice" technique to highlight and refine curls. Prisma's staff really excels at giving versatile cuts (Ouidad or otherwise) that translate effortlessly from curly to straight, and also know their way around some edgier cuts and interesting colour.

Curl Ambassadors
This Victorian-chic Harbord salon, renowned for their dry-cutting techniques and wide selection of curl-boosting products, is home to a team of Deva-trained stylists who are adept at working with all hair types. First-time customers just looking to have their curls styled to get a feel for the natural look can get a Curly-Doo, a wash and style (and styling lesson) for only $20. To cater to even more GTA curls, the salon opened a larger location near Vaughan Mills Mall in 2010.

CurlyGirls Studio
Salon owner Adina Sherman is the GTA's only dual-certified stylist (she's both Deva and Ouidad trained) and a veteran curl-cutter. Sherman's cozy Thornhill salon gets rave reviews for its highly personalized experience and intensely curl-friendly practices. Sherman offers only foil-free highlights and paraphenylenediamine-free dyes (meant to protect hair from frizz-inducing, curl-frying chemical processes), only dries hair with diffusers and hooded dryers (avoiding potentially damaging conventional, direct heat blowdryers), and offers treatments for transitioning from relaxed to natural hair.

Gossips Hairstylists Inc.
Gossips is another Junction hotspot for natural curls, owned by Deva-certified, experienced curl-handler Mary MacDonald. Macdonald and her small staff take the time to listen to each customer's concerns and wants (no surprise bobs here), and are unphased by the wildest, crunchiest of curls. The salon also specializes in colour and colour correction for curls, leaving customers with healthy, shiny hair in any shade from rich auburn to bright peacock blue.

Nanni's Natural Hair Salon
Nanni's is a holistic-focused natural hair hotspot, one of relatively few local salons that only services natural hair textures and doesn't offer any chemical straightening treatments. Owner Janet Campbell opened Nanni's with the intention of embracing what you have and deconstructing prejudiced beauty myths that devalue natural hair. The spacious, inviting West-end shop does beautiful, endlessly creative braids, twists and locs on men, women and kids and also offers aesthetic and massage services.

Civello's Queen West location is a destination for great curly cuts in the kind of opulent, ultra-cool salon environment most curl-only salons don't have the foot traffic or interior design budget to pull off. Civello's personable, attentive stylists consistently leave curly clients happy with their authentic texture, and deftly do convincing, lasting blow-outs and straightening on every texture, from born-on-the-beach waves to pin-tight corkscrews. Just make sure to tell them you want a stylist comfortable with curls when booking.

An honourable mention goes to Parlour, Grateful Head and Palm Sunday, three additional salons that also offer some serious curly cuts. Did I miss your favourite? Leave your favourite salons for curly or textured hair in the comments.

Sidenote: You'll notice that many of the stylists on our list are "Deva-trained." These stylists have been trained at the Devacurl Academy, a renowned New York hair school specializing in curl styling and the Deva cut - a coveted method of dry-cutting where each curl is cut individually to cut frizz and create shape. For many curly girls, it's one of those life-changing, never-going-back kind of haircuts.

Writing by Ashley Petkovski. Photo via Gossips on Facebook.



Remiss / August 4, 2014 at 12:35 am
You've forgotten the best one of all: "The Curl Up and Dye". They'll have you primpin' and ownin' a big curly 'do.
Ann / August 4, 2014 at 02:05 pm
Sorry but Prisma is HORR-I-BLE!! I hope the others listed above are far better. My stylist is Farrah @ JC Salons...she's brill w my curls!!!
Sheila / August 4, 2014 at 02:53 pm
Shelley at Angel Hair - Bloor and Ossington. Been going to her for years and she's got curly hair nailed.
Heather / August 4, 2014 at 03:43 pm
Ellenoire Salon in Dundas in my opinion is the very best!!! They are Deva-trained stylists and offer the most amazing service!!! The owner Noelle is even in the Curly Girl Handbook by Deva!
Nilou / August 4, 2014 at 06:01 pm
Curlygirls Studio is the best salon for curly hair. I have tried a few from your list. None of them compare to Adina's personal attention to the client's needs. My hair has never been so beautiful and manageable. I get the Ouidad cut which I prefer to the Deva cut. However she specializes in both cuts! I vote her #1 in the city.
Rob Q / August 4, 2014 at 07:41 pm
What are the best salons for people who are bald, blogTO?
pearlD. / August 4, 2014 at 08:34 pm
I love curly hair and I was born with straighter than straight hair, so I RELY on having my hair permed. I have a stylist right now but would love to have a 'fallback' option....anyone know who can do a good perm, not kinky, not fuzzy...but just right....I have gray hair, not blue... tho if I could I probably would..any ideas about salons that would be happy to do natural looking permed hair....
Heather / August 4, 2014 at 09:51 pm
The only person who has ever been able to cut my curls is Sharon McManus at John Steinberg and ASsociates.
laura / August 5, 2014 at 05:56 am
I had my hair done at the curly institute once, I left crying twice. They do no better than you can do for yourself at home. Its a school and most of the people I saw leaving had the triangle hair cut. Nightmare. Although their product are amazing, but just don't go for a hair cut.
Tracy / August 5, 2014 at 09:16 am
You forgot the best salon for curly hair on your top 10 list...Ellënoire Body Bath & Fragrance Boutique - Curly Hair Salon in Dundas. Deva trained and distributor of DevaCurl hair products. Just go.
C / August 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm
If you have curly hair go see Melody at Quinn West. She is an amazing hair goddess who always makes my curly hair look it's best :)
C-wils / August 5, 2014 at 01:35 pm
Curl Ambassadors is my favourite curly hair salon. Best haircuts I've ever received.
Sandra / August 5, 2014 at 08:48 pm
I have to second Laura's comment about the Curly Hair Institute - they have absolutely terrible stylists. The worst hack job I've ever had happened there. Everyone leaves with their hair so soaked in product, they look like greaseballs. (The Curl Keeper product is actually very good - you just shouldn't apply it by the gallon to try to disguise a lousy cut.)

Prisma is mediocre - the cut I had there seemed no better than what I've had at non-curl-focused salons for half the price.

For the last several years, I've been getting my cuts at Delineation, which has a couple of Deva-trained stylists (Cathy is my fave). But I keep hearing great things about Curl Ambassadors, so I may try them soon!
lizzy / August 5, 2014 at 10:47 pm
Curl bar is great!
After being to places like Nanni's and leaving un-satisfied - I am very happy to find a place that understands black natural hair.
Kay / August 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm
You guys are bang on with naming Curl Bar first. I visited several weeks ago and can't stop raving about Karlene's awesome work. She didn't force products on me. She was attentive. And they offer fresh fruit, cookies and other refreshments - certainly welcome on a hot day!
Richard Birney-Smith / August 6, 2014 at 08:11 am
If you live closer to Hamilton than Toronto, Ellënoire in Dundas is your ideal destination.
Septembre / August 8, 2014 at 12:46 am
I'm sad to see Curl Ambassadors on this list. Such a horrible salon, especially for people with kinky hair. Rude stylists, ruder owner, staff lacking in knowledge of curly hair and pricey. Curlbar is great though. Had a wonderful experience there. Antithesis to Curl Ambassadors.
lee / August 8, 2014 at 09:08 am
user-pic is the best hands down
MariaMach / August 8, 2014 at 09:45 pm
I love Curlbar!! They are the best curly hair salon in the business! Dixie always hooks me up just the way I need it done. Friendly, patient and extremely knowledge. 10 out of 10. The owner Trudy Mulalu is top notch and is a Deva certified stylist and she makes sure all her stylists are too!
angelwhiteangel08 / August 9, 2014 at 03:24 am
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Ina Kanapina / August 9, 2014 at 08:20 am
You guy totally forgot about The Merchandise Building Salon in downtown (church / dundas) I have very curly hair and have being going there (with Tony hair stylist) for more then 6 years now and at the place I work and every where I go everybody loves my hair!
R.G. / September 19, 2014 at 09:07 pm
Curly girl herself, Kim Gabriel is the best. Been seeing her for 7yrs and up til today. Always getting compliments about my curls and colour. Check her out.
Michelle / October 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Anthony Passero Salon on Cumberland in Yorkville is my go to place. There is a stylist there name Ilona Reece who is phenomenal with knowing how to manage, style and treat me hair. As a bi-racial woman, I've stopped trusting other people with both mine and my 12 year old daughters hair. No other stylist that I've ever met has the knowledge and skill for curly hair than Ilona Reece. By far, one of the top in the curly hair business.
Emily / November 8, 2014 at 07:34 pm
Yes! So glad to see Curl bar on the list. It's the only salon that I'll go to. They're fantastic with all ranges of curls from weak waves to super coily curls.
Tanisha / November 14, 2014 at 09:19 am
If you want a salon that caters to all hair types, and specializes in curly hair, you have to go to Amorphous Hair Salon on 1178 Eglinton Avenue West!

Buster Berkeley is the director and he is absolutely amazing - I cannot say enough good things about this salon. First and foremost, he understands hair inside out. When you first go there he will take time to speak with you and ask questions about your hair, as well as ask if there are any concerns you have with respect to the health of your hair. He will examine your hair and tell you exactly why you have been having issues with your hair, and then implements a way for you to correct the issue to have healthy hair. You cannot find the products used in this salon in your local beauty supply store - they are exclusive products that are used in high end salons. His prices are extremely reasonable, and most of the high end directors/stylists that currently own their own salon, started their career with him.

I went in with hair that was extremely dry and damaged from using incorrect products at home, and not addressing the root of the issue. For the past year my hair was always tangled and shedding and no salon that I went to previously could correct the issue- until Buster. That is how amazing he is and his staff are the perfect compliment to Buster and his salon!
Mia / November 15, 2014 at 11:00 am
If like me you happened upon this page bc you were curious as to what they recommended for Afro kinky hair...please check out Jazma Hair and/or Urban Textures. Both are downtown Toronto and the only two salons I've been to who can deal with natural afro kinky hair. They style it well, but most importantly, treat it properly and aren't damaging or rough. I've been to Amorphous as recommended above and it was a disaster. A larger female stylist didn't know what to do with my hair, even though I had asked before hand her experience with natural hair. She was extremely rough, yanking at my hair. If someone doesn't know the basic rules on how to comb/detangle, run. Will never go again. I find it sad and difficult finding someone who knows how to deal with my hair, and the joke is my hair is soft and very manageable. This list seems to be for white girls with curly hair.
Elle / December 5, 2014 at 11:53 pm
My guess is that Buster Berkeley posted his own comment about Amorphous Hair Salon, because it sounds exactly like the egotistical dribble he'll spew while he butchers your hair. Not only did I have the absolute WORST experience at Amorphous, but a family member subsequently came to a family dinner detailing her horrendous experience and wouldn't you know it, turns out she had gone to Amorphous as well. I guess I should have been more vocal about my experience.

My experience: I left the salon with hair so soaked in product I couldn't immediately tell there was a problem, only that I didn't like that they'd used so much product in my hair. But after one wash, I saw what my cut looked like without product and YIKES. Not only that, but my hair was completely dried out, I ended up paying for a deep conditioning at another salon within one week of leaving Amorphous.

My cousin's experience was completely different. She did "the big chop" a few years back and has been growing out her beautiful natural curls since then. For a salon that should supposedly be on this list, their stylist (not Buster this time) sure was aggressive about my cousin getting a relaxer to make it "easier to manage". And her hair is not nearly kinky enough to validate that statement. If your way to handle curls is by trying to bully your clients into straightening them, I'm runnning.

J T / February 16, 2015 at 06:06 pm
Unfortunately I had a horrible cut at curlygirls...i was soooooooooo disappointed. I have been trying "curl specialists" and it seems like I just can't win. She swore she didn't touch the length and still, 2 months later, people are still commenting on how short my hair's more uneven than when I went...shapeless and hacked :(
Lana / February 20, 2015 at 07:29 pm
My experience at Amorphous Salon has been totally different from what was mentioned by Elle. I had an amazing haircut at Amorphous Salon. Buster gave me a fantastic curly hair cut, that transitions well from curly to straight. I am really happy with how it turned out and I always get so many compliments! I would definitely recommend Amorphous to others. It’s a great salon for individuals that have natural hair or are looking for an awesome hair cut/style.

Also, I highly doubt Buster has time to post his own comments.
LM / February 25, 2015 at 07:11 pm
I have to agree with the comments, Curly Hair Institute is awful. The haircuts are terrible and you all leave looking the same with tons of product in your hair to compensate for a bad cut.
RR / March 9, 2015 at 01:37 pm
I had a horrible experience at Curl Ambassadors. Came in with a picture of the type of golden sun kissed highlights I wanted and left the salon with orange hair....I came in a couple days later to get it fixed because it was no where near what I had asked for. They are overpriced and unprofessional I would not recommend it to anyone.
kaders009 / May 18, 2015 at 10:03 am
Does anyone know of a salon in Toronto where they really really know how to handle straightening kinky coily African american hair?! I really want to get my hair professionally straighten for my graduation and every time I straighten it, my ends come out frizzy.
luellahamilton / May 28, 2015 at 04:51 am
Thanks for sharing...!!!
samantha / May 30, 2015 at 08:40 pm
Have you checked out studio 86 salon...pretty awesome!
Anon / June 20, 2015 at 07:18 pm
Ya, i went to curlygirls as she looked very legit and left pretty disappointed, she definitely knows what she's doing and is very informed on curly but when it comes to kinker textures ( in my expirence anyways) it just didn't work out. I have a 3C curl pattern and my hair looked like a frizzball

maybe someone will have better luck BUT if you have a looser texture *2a-3b), i definitely recommend to check her out
Ann / June 22, 2015 at 10:57 am
I recommend Movement Studio on Kipling ave, Toronto. Carol is amazing. I have never had a style that I could control till I went there. Reasonably priced as well.
Chloe / July 4, 2015 at 06:58 pm
Yes to Curlbar AND Aphrodite's Sanctuary! I've been to both salons. At Aphrodite's Sanctuary I would highly recommend Anne, and at Curlbar Dixie is great.
Carol Smith / September 3, 2015 at 05:37 am
Thank you for sharing this post.
Nikkali / September 7, 2015 at 09:25 pm
I agree that curl ambassadors was a very disappointing experience--they were hugely unprofessional i felt like they just wanted my money--avoid avoid
Kesha / October 10, 2015 at 10:52 pm
All you disappointed curly girls need to check out Kim has curly hair. Very knowledgeable and myself and and other clients thAt ive seen look happy and hair looking absolutely amazing. Disappointed that she's not on that top 10 list. The amount of bad reviews mentioned for the salons listed. This list needs to be redone.
Keisha P / October 26, 2015 at 08:03 pm
I used this website to guide my research in choosing the right hair salon.

I chose Prisma Hair Design and was incredibly insulted by the service, disappointed in the result of my cut and perm as well as paid triple what I would have paid in other salons.
Keisha P replying to a comment from Keisha P / October 26, 2015 at 08:05 pm
@Prisma Hair Design

I was a first time client and will NEVER return.

This is also the first time I have felt the need to right a negative review online which I believe says something.
MJ / November 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm
Wow... Jazma wasn't mentioned here... Makes me question this list...
Lily / December 9, 2015 at 02:37 pm
Adina at Curly Girls in just North of the city is worth the trip. She takes her time explaining your curl structure, how to manage your curls and what to do once you've stepped out of the salon. I've never been to a stylist, curly or ptherwise who cared so much about their clientele. I recommend her to every girl I meet who is in curly distress!
Tanya / January 11, 2016 at 02:14 pm
Adina, from CurlyGirls Studio in Thornhill was AMAZING! I CANT SAY ENOUGH POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT HER PROFESSIONALISM, SERVICE AND EXPERIENCE. I HAVE A wavy curly hair pattern and she knew exactly how to style and cut my hair so that I can feel confident in my curls again! She took the time to listen and to give all kind of personal advice for my lifestyle and hair type. She was considerate of my schedule and distance from her salon. She welcomed my children at our follow up complimentary appointment and made us feel so welcome. Thank you for an amazing experience!
Catherine / January 23, 2016 at 06:54 pm
Emporia Beauty should be at the top of this list!
If you want guaranteed professional results, it only makes sense to entrust your precious locks to the care of a true professional. Enter Christos Cox of Emporia Beauty. This guy knows what he’s doing! With the same grace, ease and precision with which WNBA/NBA players execute their skills on the court or Hollywood actors perform their Oscar-winning roles, or scientists employ their standardized methodologies for Nobel-prize winning research, so too does Cristos masterfully create works of beauty for all his clients. You have to look carefully to see where his fingers end and the scissors, brush or blow dryer begin. He is happy to explain the rationale for his choices and technique at each stage of the process and if this contradicts your original request, you can be rest assured he has YOUR best interest at heart. He’s confident, but not arrogant, and his warm laid-back personality, simply add to authenticity of the whole experience. This, coupled with fabulous staff who have clearly been trained to prioritize service, mean you are in for a wonderful salon experience! Both my 11 year-old daughter and I left Emporia Beauty thrilled with our hairstyles. What else can I say? Do your hair a favour and give yourself a treat. Visit Emporia Beauty!
Steph / March 20, 2016 at 12:49 am
The owner of Hair Sprung (Alison or Alisha I think?) did my hair once and I will never go back again. She was fairly rude, and not just to me but to her assistant as well - who was very pleasant and competent at her job if you ask me. The cut was fine but the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I would not recommend seeing her if you do go there.
Tracey / March 20, 2016 at 11:54 am
For those west of Toronto, SG Hair Design in Milton are fantastic. Trained DevaCurl stylists/products..prior to them I had the usual incidents of hair care/ cut trauma with stylists that don't know how to deal with curly hair. They are great with all types of curls (nobody's curls are exactly the same!) , check them out 👍🏻
Janice replying to a comment from MJ / March 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm
Jazma is devoted to chemically treating black hair. They did such a horrible job on a friend's hair , it literally fell out. They know nothing of natural styling and their black female stylists wear weaves. That says a lot. Black women, avoid this place at all costs.
Sarah / March 20, 2016 at 04:58 pm
If anyone understands curly hair, it's Paolo at Onare Salon in Mississauga (Hurontario & QEW). Onrare has been voted best salon in Mississauga for many years running. He is incredible. He has curly hair himself and totally understands how the hair works. I have been going to him since the beginning. He is a miracle worker.

Ps. I run a very successful fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog,, with lots of incredible discussion and advice on fashion, skincare, hair, nails etc.
Chris / March 20, 2016 at 07:35 pm
I have been getting my curly hair cut and styled at Qi Salon. They used to be on Yonge St. but now are in the King Edward Hotel. I met Nizzy when she did a "cutathon" for Sick Kids been going to her ever since and have never been disappointed in a haircut for the last decade.
Karyn / April 30, 2016 at 12:37 am
I went to the curl institute about a year ago. The amount of product they put in my hair and gel to make it hold!! Felt like I was wearing a helmet, paid so much for haicut+styling and was so disappointed, washed it off when I got home. What a waste of money and energy. The stylist was nice but had no idea how to deal with kinky biracial hair, I cried my eyeballs out when I left that place.
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