Silk or Lace Creators: Diana Ford, Hair Loss Stylist

Diana Ford is a hair stylist and wig technician who specializes in customizing hair pieces for women with alopecia. 

In addition to her technical skillset, we asked Diana about her POV on race in regards to wigs and hair pieces, especially in light of BLM. 

Silk or Lace believes that wigs are for EVERYONE, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Diana is a dear friend of ours and we are so excited to be sharing this interview with you!

You can now virtually book Diana's services by mailing in your wig or hair topper for color and cut customization! Email 

hairsolutionsdf@gmail.com for more information and pricing or DM her on Instagram @hair_solutions_diana_ford.

 hair stylist alopecia

------

Tell our audience a little bit about you! 

Hello! My name is Diana Ford and I’ve been in the beauty industry since 2001. I grew up mostly in Southern California, just north of San Diego.

I have a passion for helping people feel better about themselves, and I get to do that with hair. In 2012, I became an alternative hair educator, traveling the world educating stylists and wig technicians.

In July 2019, I opened my salon studio in San Marcos, Ca. It’s a private space where I offer both traditional salon services and hair solutions for those experiencing hair loss. I spend about half of my time customizing wigs and toppers for clients, so that they have a piece they feel their best in.

I offer custom cutting and coloring, as well as curl pattern and texture matching. I love that I can offer these services both in person, via virtual consultations, and via “hair mail”.

 

How did you get started specializing in hair loss solutions?

It definitely wasn’t planned, I can say that.

I was a stylist behind the chair from the age of 19, and did that for about 8 years before changing my career direction. In 2010 I was offered a position at Jon Renau, a leading alternative hair manufacturer here in north county San Diego.

I was given some pretty incredible opportunities there, like visiting factories where hair systems are made, traveling and visiting retailers, and developing and leading the Education division. I traveled both nationally and internationally, educating stylists and salon owners on everything from having a great consultation with a client, to how to sew and alter the size of a wig.

I became really inspired by all of the people I got to meet over the years. These people ranged from hair stylists, wig shop owners, Trichologists, major online retailers ...heck, even Cher’s lead hair stylist!

While their roles were all so different, they all had one thing in common; they were all passionate about helping people with hair loss.

It’s those experiences and people that are my main inspirations for doing what I do. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?

My favorite part of my job is the people.

While I love the creativity and being my own boss, I have to say it's the people. Without sounding super cheesy and cliche, the people I get to meet and help is really the highlight of it all.

I mean, getting feedback like "I love my hair!" is always great to hear. But when someone tells you, "Thank you so much, I feel like ME again!", that gives all the feels.

That's one of the best feelings in the world for me, helping someone feel beautiful and like they are showing up as the best version of themselves.

Hmmm, my least favorite part of my job? The business side of it. Honestly, I loath having to do it. I’m definitely a creative brain and it's the one thing I have to drag myself to do as a business owner.

But I’m also lucky that my fiance is an Accountant and he totally backs me up with this. I guess it’s an even trade for free haircuts forever, right?

 

With the BLM movement, a lot of tensions on race have come into light. As it relates to hair, what do you see as the biggest issues with race and hair? How do you think we can start to overcome them?

Diving right into it: race + hair.

This is a big one for me, as I'm a multi-race woman and working in the hair industry.

I would say that the biggest issue between race and hair for me is the lack of knowledge around hair and it's many different forms. I also feel there’s a huge divide between black and white hair servicing in our industry.

This boils down to the lack of education we get as stylists. In most cases, you can pretty much bet on your cosmetology education being very limited or non-existent on textured hair types.

So unless you grew up in a household and family where you learned about black hair, you most likely don’t have much knowledge on it at all.

Unfortunately this is the truth for many schools, and I personally feel it is fueled by the same things we see in media and society today. For years we have celebrated straight, silky hair textures, and mostly looked down upon anything else this is not.

Textured, kinky, curly hair, mostly gets deemed as “unprofessional” or “boho-messy” or whatever. Today more than ever, we are seeing a bigger shift in marketing and acceptance of textured hair and Black hair styles, but we have a LOT more work to do. 

I think the best way to make change is through us as consumers. Our power is flexing with our money.

It feels like we were just spoon-fed whatever brands wanted us to see. Now we are seeing the negative effects this can have and we can push for change. We can connect and give feedback to companies easier than before.

It starts and ends with the consumer. Don’t feel like you are represented by a company? Tell them. Give your money to companies who are actively changing and evolving. No more, “We are marketing to THIS kind of customer”, or “We can’t even compete with the ethnic hair market” excuses.

Now more than ever companies need to see that the line in the sand is being erased, and while they can’t make products for EVERY single person, they can broaden and start to better include an audience who has rarely been represented in beauty, ever.  

 

As a mixed person, what is your personal relationship with your hair? How have others seen your hair (you can interpret this as you like!)?

Ahhh, the struggle was REAL!

When you’re younger, looking different wasn’t always a good thing. I grew up amongst mostly white and Hispanic kids, with a white, mother and a black father, so I never really felt like I “looked” like anyone.

It was tough because that’s all you want as a kid: to fit in, to look like everyone else, right?

I was always reassured that, “women pay so much money to have perms to look just like you!” But when you’re a kid, that doesn’t matter. When every model and celebrity you see doesn't have hair like you, you have a hard time believing you have this rad, “unicorn hair”.

I was pretty confident as a kid, but the nicknames like “Chia Pet” were still pretty hurtful, (although I laugh at that one these days!). I knew my hair was different than what most people were used to seeing, especially growing up where I did, but the uninvited hands in your hair at say, a grocery store, or random comments were never cool.

While most people are admiring your hair, they are typically also trying to figure out what you are “mixed with”, based on your hair. Now when I wear long, dark, straight wigs, people automatically assume I’m of Middle Eastern descent. But when it’s curly and natural, I will almost always get questions about my ethnicity. 

I spent the better half of my teenage years and early twenties flat ironing the holy hell out of my hair to make it straight. It wasn’t until I was about 22 that I started wearing my natural curls again.

As I got older, my hair became a huge part of my identity. Friends would say they could always find my fro in a crowd. People would describe me as “Diana, the girl with big curly hair”.

I even shaved my head and did a fundraiser I called “Grow My Fro”. It’s taken years to fully embrace and celebrate my natural hair. While I love and appreciate my hair now more than ever, I’m still learning more about it all the time. 

 

In your opinion, what are some respectful ways/language others can use to start conversations about race with Black and/or mixed people?

This is a tough one for me, as I feel that education and conversations about any sensitive subject is key to building understanding and tolerance. I truly believe that things we do not know about and understand, we tend to naturally fear.

We have to ask questions in order to learn, right? However, I also know that these conversations and the seeking of education directly from Black and/or mixed-race people, can be traumatic and painful for the informer.

It's like asking a Holocaust survivor to recount their history in order for you to learn more about it. In this day and age, we have most of that information at our fingertips. We  simply cannot think that what we learned in school is enough to fully understand race and Black America. There’s much deeper, uglier truths of our past, and it's painful to recount. 

When bringing up these subjects to a Black or mixed-race person, make sure that you have their permission to talk about it first.

This isn’t just some random conversation about the weather or sports. This is a heavy topic that is painful and triggering for many, so do so with respect and a full understanding of what you are asking that person to do.

As far as actual “language”, there are terms that have a certain level of appropriateness that seem to change over time. In regards to hair, it is common to hear someone using the word “nappy” to describe kinky textured hair.

However, this word seems to carry a negative connotation. Even my dad (who is Black) would use the word nappy and it always bothered me. It never meant anything good about your hair.

There are words that society and mainstream media have made “normal” to use, and without knowing their history and meaning, we can unintentionally cause harm by using them.

Basically, do your research, ask permission, and be ready to get schooled on some things you may not have realized you’ve done/said/thought over the years. If you aren’t ready to question these things within yourself, you’re not ready to receive the answers.


What are some things you've learned as it pertains to the beauty industry and race (optional)?

I’ve definitely learned over the years that there is a disconnect between brands and the way multiple cultures and ethnicities are marketed to.

Specifically with mainstream beauty brands, we would mainly see white, thin, straight-haired models featured, while randomly sprinkling in some Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell along the way.

It seems like only now brands are really having a go at changing things up, and again, I feel like this is all led by the consumer. If companies are going to survive, they have to make changes and evolve.

They have to listen to their customers. It’s the customer’s voice that really matters, and the customer needs to be louder now more than ever.

 

What are some things you wished you knew earlier about taking care of wigs and hair pieces?

Education about your hair investment is KEY! There’s a lot of info out there, but learning about what to do and not do with your hair properly, can make or break your whole hair-wearing experience.

While I haven’t had personal experience with hair loss, the care of alternative hair was always our main focus of education at Jon Renau. A few things I feel are super important to know about:

1. Make sure you are using the recommended care products. It always feels like the brand just wants more money by selling you shampoo too, right? But it's important since alternative hair is processed differently than the hair growing naturally from a head
Salon hair products are not always ideal for alternative hair. Alternative hair is no longer attached to a blood source and doesn’t get the same oils and pH balancing from the scalp any more. Instead, it’s been processed and attached to a base material and then sits in a box until it gets to you.
2. Wash it! Seriously, one of the biggest misunderstandings about alternative hair is ”if you wash it too much, it’s going to break down”. Yes, too much washing can be too much. Especially with the wrong products.
But about every 7 wears is when we should wash our wig or topper.
I’ve seen some clients go over a month of wearing without washing, and I’m telling you, this is not hygienic.
Plus, all that oil, sweat, makeup, sunblock, etc. we love to slather on every day builds up inside the cap, causing the materials and elastic to break down faster. Plus also, just ew ...wash it.
3. It’s going to take some time and practice. Just like most things we try doing for the first time, we may struggle and get pretty frustrated in the beginning. Learning to style hair is no different.
Don’t be ashamed if you aren’t yet sculpting the perfect bob like Vidal Sassoon. Even stylists will tell you it took many hours (and muscle building!) to really perfect this skill.
Give yourself time and be patient while you learn this. Watch videos, ask experts, and definitely learn from other experienced hair wearers. Our hair community is so supportive! Basically, take your time, ask for help, and practice. 
And if all else fails, call your stylist!

Are there any key differences on how to wear hair pieces with different hair textures? What do you advise?

Yes, I would definitely say that blending is one of the key differences.

This is most important with hair toppers, since you are typically blending a little bit of the front hairline (when present) with the topper hair.

If the texture of the natural hair and the topper hair are extremely different, you will tend to notice this most, even over color variance. They will each reflect light a little differently, so the closer you can get these to match, the more natural look you will see.

Many people with hair loss already have fine, thin hair, so when they receive a topper or wig with thick, dense hair, it feels totally different to what they are used to seeing and feeling. It’s tough, especially when shopping online, as we can’t always try before we buy.

I suggest asking different brands, researching different hair types, and finding out what will match you the best.

Curl pattern is also a huge factor. About fifty percent of my service requests are for perms because it is so hard to find the right match.

Also keep in mind that the “denier”, or the thickness of each hair strand is also important to try to match. Don’t be afraid to find someone who can educate you on what’s the best fit for you.

Investing in hair can be a big step, and it’s most important that you look and feel like YOU.

------

Want to chat more with Diana?

Email hairsolutionsdf@gmail.com for more information or DM her on Instagram @hair_solutions_diana_ford.

If you would like to write or be featured for our blog, email us contact@silkorlace.com!

2 comments

Thank you so much for featuring a woman of color! As a bi-racial woman, I applaud Silk or Lace’s dedication to educating people and offering wigs that all women can wear!

Heather Jackson October 17, 2020

This was exceptional. Thank you Silk or Lace and Diana for this thoughtful piece

Laura October 13, 2020

Leave a comment