The Black Woman Travel Dilemma
Where do I get my hair done?? Or Where can I buy hair products for my Afro Hair??
For many expats living overseas, this is the Black Expat Dilemma.
As women, we have a deep connection to our hair. As Black women, our relationship with our hair can be a bit complicated. It’s so complicated that we pay and wear other people’s hair and don´t even question it. Don´t get me wrong, weaves and wigs look amazing but we still haven’t really asked why we do this.
It’s definitely a love-hate relationship.
Especially if you are a black woman who is natural. Gurrrll the struggle is real. While I took the easier route of locking my hair while I was on my natural hair journey. I am not the girl who says, “I love doing different things with my hair.” Nope, that is not me!
Now you add moving to another country where you don’t speak the language very well and need to get hair products and get your hair done. Queue the stress of trying to find someone who will do a good job caring for your luxurious curly, textured hair!
Well, I am here to help and give you some options in Panama City, Panama regarding who and where to go.
In most of these places, I will mention I know at least 1 person who has had a positive experience. I will mention others that no one has but want to highlight because they do afro-textured hair and want to show love to not as popular hairdressers that expats may not be as aware of in Panama City, Panama.
As of right now all of my suggestions are for people located in the city. However, I hope to update it and add hair stylists from Boquete, Coronado, Bocas, or any other surrounding areas in Panama.
The Black Hair Experience Problem in Panama City, Panama
Even though Panama City is super diverse. Finding people who know how to do black and natural hair is a struggle. While I do believe that most expats are located in very blanco-latino areas. Because we can afford to live in these areas. However, we are faced with the inconvenience of most of the locals in the areas we live not knowing how to do black hair.
Yes, even if they are black.
Their main focus has been on straight or curly textures, or they are only used to perming and straightening it. That is all. Sometimes even those aren’t enough because of this Panama humidity.
I’ve heard some barbers refuse to cut or shape women’s hair, but I’m not sure why.
I´ve heard many expats being disappointed in getting their hair done and paying these people money for a terrible hair experience.
So now we are left with the question, What to do with our hair in a country whose knowledge of their own hair is poor?
Well, let´s start supporting the people who are a part of the solution. Another way is for future expats with hair experience to train Afro-Panamanians in Afro-textured hair.
Black Hair Stores
The first is called Pretty Image. She has 3 locations around the city and also has the option of delivery within the city. The owners are Afro-Panamanians that have lived between New York and Panama. So they have a lot of products from the states.
The second one is Boneca, Boneca. Another Afro-Pananamaian owner. This store offers delivery within Panama city limits.
There are plenty of hair stores or hair salons that sell hair products around Panama. They may not have what you are searching for. If you are searching for more generic hair supplies, explore the areas you have decided to make your new home. You may also want to check out Pretty Image and Boneca. Boneca if you’re looking for specific items.
Dreadlocs or Locs or Rasta
My Journey to find someone that I like to do my hair was short-lived. I asked my Panamanian Airbnb host for suggestions of people who do locs. It wasn´t the simplest task for her, but she gave me two names.
I ended up going to dreadlockspanama which at first I was like their prices are way too high. Am I really going to spend almost $200 on my hair for a retwist?!
Ha! Honestly, I did and love it. I felt these ladies loved my hair.
They used a technique that is familiar to Caribbean people, but in the US this is not used much. They use a technique called crochet locking which is one interloc loop and the rest of your roots are threaded into the rest of the loc.
This process takes time!
Before I went to them I hadn’t sat in a chair for 8 hours in a long time!
However, I was in love with the results of my roots being locked. My lovely gorgeous African roots never likes to lock. Might be my hair or my laziness in training my roots. Either way, after they washed my hair with love and spent the rest of the hours drying and crocheting each locking together my hair was gorgeous and ready to enter 2022.
However, I only suggest them for crochet locking.
For my hair and this Panama heat and humidity, crochet was a better option for me. However, If you like the traditional retwist option.
I suggest Johnsansalon she does various hairstyles and has perfected her craft in different braiding styles, she colors hair and does locs. Her prices are reasonable and about the same as you would pay for these services in the US pre-pandemic.
The plus side for her and the downside for customers is she be busy! So if you want an appointment with her you will need to book an appointment early. Also the plus side to Johnsansalon she speaks English and Spanish. She might be one of the few people I suggest that speaks both English and Spanish fluently. However, If you can try to speak Spanish she appreciates it.
So we all know the black women’s vacation style are braids.
Braids are the easiest style to just be able to enjoy your vacation right!
Can we say Yes for convenience!
As an American-born, I live for ease and convenience and 2 of these stylists travel to your home or vacation residence within city limits. So make sure you tip these Afro-Panamanian ladies for the convenience of not even having to leave the comfort of your home or temporary vacation home.
I am going to mention Johnsansalon again. Like I said before she has perfected her craft of being a black hairstylist. She even is mentoring other women on how to braid. Which I think is wonderful. While Johnson is not going to come to your home to do your hair. You will leave her shop loving the quality of your hairstyle.
Next is Aisha Afro Trenzas Studio. A few people in the black expat community have gotten their hair done by her and have enjoyed their experience. She supplies the hair for you and isn’t a tight braider. So you can keep your edges and baby hairs.
Finally is Ashley Ashh Braids Style Panama. Many people enjoyed their experience with her as well. I had a friend who came to visit me and Ashley did her hair and her mom’s hair as well. The only feedback I´ve gotten back from Ashley is that she can be a little heavy-handed. So if you are super tender, she may not be the best choice for you, but for normal, tender-headed people, I believe you will be okay.
Relaxers, Keratin Treatments, and Blowouts.
For sistas that need a relaxer, need a keratin treatment, blowout, or have lushes curls this next list of people is for you.
During the hair journey for one of my expat friends, it was difficult to find someone to give her a relaxer for her afro-textured hair that would set it instead of flat-ironing it. It wasn´t until the community of YBEP was created that one of the Panamanian girls was able to recommend Otimaxisalon.
While I´ll admit their IG doesn´t showcase the good work they do with a relaxer. However, my friend is very satisfied with them. She has tried quite a few places in the last 3 years of living in Panama.
I know many places around the city that provide keratin treatments. However, sometimes that hold and other times not so much.
However, Infinity Salon was recommended for its organic hair products that will leave your hair looking beautiful and restored. While on their IG you won´t see many people of the color displayed. Their products and services are recommended by a group member of YBEP. She has enjoyed her experience with them.
Another place if your hair just needs some TLC is Rizospro. She is studying the art of hair and different hair textures. She has various treatments for natural afro-textured hair.
Here are a few extras that no one has been to yet, but are in the Afro-Panamanian local areas or contribute to the Afro-styles that I want to highlight.
Afro-Love Panama– store in Colon
Sayihairstyle– salon in Colon
Karina Manriquez– Colon
The cost of many of these services can depend on what you are deciding to get done. So, essentially the cost can range from $60-$200 for a retwist, braids, and relaxers.
While I know I´m missing categories of the black hair experience such as barbers, weaves, wigs, sew-ins, and sisterlocks. These types of hair services are a little harder to find and need to be a part of the YBEP community or other black expat communities in Panama to ask someone while you are here.
So on your next trip to Panama City try one of these recommended places by me and other people I know. If you are planning to live here, well here is a great start on finding people to take care of your beautiful hair that was given to you.
Living abroad is difficult enough, getting your hair done shouldn´t be!
Comment below on places you start enjoying your black hair experience at.
As Always Thank You for Reading My World, My Vision, My Adventure!
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2 responses to “A Guide to Black Hair in Panama City, Panama ”
I love your columns! I have enough problems getting my hair taken care of–gray hair that’s gotten really curly/frizzy now that it’s grayer/whiter and then throw in all the humidity of far northern Florida (which still isn’t as humid as South FL and Panama City)–and I’ve got white people hair. I figured that, with the diverse population of Panama, you’d have an easy time finding Black woman hair care. Sounds like a real challenge. For some of us who aren’t too swift, can you define some of the hair terms you used in your latest post? I was totally fascinated, and I applaud your stick-to-it-ive-ness for hunting down and finding the best hair care. Hair IS something we’ve got a very intimate relationship with, and when we don’t like how it looks, boy, does that ever affect us! I’ve spent eight hours in a chair getting my hair permed (when it was browner/redder and less curly), so I feel your pain. Thanks for your newsiness, as always. And how’s teaching going?
Hazel, I definitely agree that hair plays a role in our self-esteem. What terms do you need explained? How teaching is hard but it is going. I don´t know if teaching children is for me necessarily. However, I am learning a lot. Which is what matters In the end.
Thanks for reading my blog and enjoying them.