Before a Black woman would even consider a move across town, let alone across country, or especially across the world, one question would be paramount: where will I get my hair done?

While some people think an international move would raise other concerns—language, culture, food, friends and relationships—not so if you are a Black woman. Hair issues reign supreme. If you are reading this and thinking, “Huh? I don’t get it,” then I’m sorry, but I’m just going to have to say it. It’s a Black thing. Really…

So, if you are a Black female considering a move to Shanghai go ahead and do it! Your hair issues will be non-existent or minor at best if you follow my advice.

  1. Bring all of your hair products with you. If you won’t return home for 3 months, bring 3 months of products – and I mean everything, including hair colour if you usually colour your hair yourself.
  2. Go to Guangdong Lu in the People’s Square area for all hair equipment: steam caps, flat irons, hooded hair dryers, plastic capes, gloves, the works! The beauty of Guangdong Lu is that you will find one beauty supply shop after another after another. How convenient is that? An extra bonus is you will also find nail care products in the same area.
  3. Hair colour—unless you have experience doing it on your own successfully—I would leave to the experts. You can opt for a local Chinese or international hair salon. Expats have opinions about both. Some swear local Chinese hairdressers are great and some steer clear. Some say international hair stylists are outrageously expensive while others say they are well worth the money. In Shanghai, I split the difference and when I coloured my hair I went to a local hair salon with a Chinese stylist who had experience with Black hair.
  4. While the above tips are great, my number one piece of advice is this: If you see a Black woman on the metro, on the street, or at an event, ask where she gets her hair done. As you know, Black women have no shame in speaking to strangers, especially Black female strangers with great hair. I have been known to cross a Shanghai street against the traffic and chase down a Black woman with great hair. My reward? The name of her hairdresser!

Hairdressers in Shanghai who specialise in Black hair, come in two flavours, like everywhere in the world—those who do hair on the side in their apartments (usually specialising in weaves, braids or relaxers) or those who work in hair salons. The quality of the hairdresser cannot be judged by location, since Black women the world over know their best hair stylist could be found in a basement, bathroom or a professional 5-star salon. However, the one thing that always remains the same is the time your hair takes—forever! Therefore, going to your hairdresser is always an opportunity for gossip to be exchanged and friendship and camaraderie developed between your hair stylist and other customers. When living in Shanghai, information gleaned when getting your hair done is invaluable. Great restaurants, the name and location of stores that sell clothing to fit women of colour, shoe stores with real sizes, recommended hair products to purchase on your next visit home, along with a myriad of other information and advice to make your stay in Shanghai enjoyable.

Hair care. It is indeed a Black thing. However, don’t let your hair prevent you from experiencing a fabulous life in Shanghai. The waiting is over, it’s time to exhale and enjoy the sensations of Shanghai—with a beautiful head of hair.

Once your hair is taken care of your extraordinary life living and working in Shanghai will be sensational!

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