The top 10 salons for curly hair in Toronto
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.