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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
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.

Discussion

23 Comments

Remiss / August 4, 2014 at 12:35 am
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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What are the best salons for people who are bald, blogTO?
pearlD. / August 4, 2014 at 08:34 pm
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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
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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
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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
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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.

http://www.ellenoire.com/scripts/salon.asp
C / August 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm
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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
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Curl Ambassadors is my favourite curly hair salon. Best haircuts I've ever received.
Sandra / August 5, 2014 at 08:48 pm
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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
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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
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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
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If you live closer to Hamilton than Toronto, Ellënoire in Dundas is your ideal destination.
Septembre / August 8, 2014 at 12:46 am
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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
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www.dianagaweda.com is the best hands down
MariaMach / August 8, 2014 at 09:45 pm
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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
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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
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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. www.bornwithit.ca
Michelle / October 17, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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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.

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