‘100% Not Okay’: Debate Ensues After Aveda Salon Charges Black Woman a ‘Texture Tax’ Over Her Naturally Curly Hair

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An incident of blatant hair discrimination has set social media abuzz.

Educator Khalisa Rae Thompson took to social media after her visit to an Aveda salon in Raleigh, North Carolina, earlier this month left her totally unsettled. Thompson says she was charged extra for her naturally “textured” hair, a fee the salon claims was the result of the extra products needed to shampoo and style her tresses.

When she confronted the salon clerk over the issue, Thompson said the worker insisted the fee wasn’t meant to be discriminatory. However, it didn’t feel that way and she knew better.

“How does one know that they are a ‘textured’ style or not?” she tweeted, noting that she was never informed of the fee ahead of  her service. “And what qualifies as ‘more’ product?”

Thompson, a loyal Aveda customer for more than 15 years, says she’s never never been slapped with the aptly-dubbed “texture tax” in all her years of frequenting the business, where her hair is typically done by Black stylists. It was her first time at the Raleigh location, and the experience has sparked plenty of strong reactions online.

“I’ve had my hair done at an Aveda salon and never got that up charge. No. This is not okay,” one woman wrote.

“White girl here with so much hair they always have to use extra product,” another chimed in. :Can’t ever remember being charged for it. That’s 100% not okay.”

One user offered a different take on the matter, but agreed the fee was discriminatory in nature.

“I think this is similar to Black hair salons charging those of us with coarser, kinkier hair more money because our hair ‘takes more work,'” they wrote. “It’s definitely texture discrimination.”

Another commenter argued that “shampoo is for the scalp and everyone has generally the same surface area. Your texture doe not impact that so, I’m gonna go with racism.”

Responding to the backlash, Aveda wrote that it was “concerned to hear” of Thompson’s experience and promised to take steps to “ensure this matter is shared with the appropriate teams.” The cosmetics line would later offer her complimentary services at an Aveda salon in her city, where the staff is more diverse, according to ESSENCE. However, Thompson said she’s not sure if she’ll return.

“Aveda and other salons need to be held accountable,” she told the outlet in a recent interview. “I think we need to put more pressure on those corporations to put their money where their mouth is and to show us by having the utmost excellent, fair practices that are inclusive, that are anti-racist, and that are anti-discriminatory, especially if you’re saying you cater to people who [have] natural [hair].”

Aveda addressed the controversy in a statement to Atlanta Black Star.

At Aveda, we are committed to delivering the very best in service, embracing all hair types. We in no way condone or tolerate discriminatory behavior. Aveda has been in touch with the customer to express our sincere apologies and the salon she visited has refunded her service. We value consumer feedback and will be working with our network of independently owned salons to offer education and resources to prevent this from happening again.