At a Santo Domingo Hair Salon, Rethinking an Ideal Look


In this article, published on 30 December 2015 in The New York Times “Personal Journeys” section, Ivet González writes about a return to “natural hair” in the Dominican Republic, namely, at Miss Rizos Salon. Here are excerpts:

On my first trip back to the Dominican Republic in 10 years, as I wandered down the streets of La Zona Colonial, I noticed how their names were weighted with history. [. . .] Before I knew it, I was standing in front of the Miss Rizos Salon on Calle Isabel La Católica. This was a departure from that reverence.

Long hair that hangs down your back has so long been the prevalent beauty ideal in the Dominican Republic that many residents who mastered hair-straightening on the island emigrated to the United States and opened successful salons throughout the country.

The phrase “Dominican salon” is now synonymous with immaculately straightened hair, but Miss Rizos is expanding that definition by catering to a clientele that until fairly recently did not exist: Dominican women, many of them expatriates returning home for a visit, who want to retain their hair’s natural texture. For some Dominican women it has become as much a ritual as habichuelas con dulce on Holy Week or Johnny Ventura records on Christmas.

[. . .] The salon is an outgrowth of a blog that Ms. [Carolina] Contreras started after deciding to cut her chemically straightened hair. She sported a close crop and began to experiment with natural recipes to keep her hair moisturized.

“I would walk down the street and women would stop me and ask me how I got my hair like that,” said Ms. Contreras as she closed her salon on a Friday. She decided to start a blog in Spanish for the Dominican women who wanted to go natural but did not know how to do their natural hair. “There were many blogs in English but not many in Spanish,” she said. The blog gained traction and popularity, and she decided to open a salon for the women who had nowhere to go if they wanted to style their natural hair professionally in the Dominican Republic. After raising $10,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, receiving donations from friends and using a majority of her savings, she opened the doors to Miss Rizos Salon.

[. . .] “We have been programmed to not embrace our very obvious African heritage, and I wanted to break that vicious cycle,” Ms. Fuentes said. “We are black, our hair is kinky, and we are very proud of it.”

[Many thanks to Junot Díaz for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see

One thought on “At a Santo Domingo Hair Salon, Rethinking an Ideal Look

  1. Isn’t it a pity that natural hair is seen as ‘trendy’ right now… when it was always there? Now you have women who do not know how to take care of their natural mane… it is just amazing. I salute the work of Ms. Fuentes, and to all the sisters out there finally embracing and giving love to their hair, thereby loving selves!

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