Famous Dominican women

It’s 7 p.m. on a Thursday evening and the hairstylists at Salon Dominicano are nowhere near being done for the day.

Sobeida Sanchez finishes a relaxer.

A stylist at Salon Dominicano demonstrates the blowout

Mary Martes unveils a client's beautiful waves after a roller set.

The salon's new name and exterior drew a lot more customers.

Mary Gil (with long hair) and Irene Sanchez taking out a client's rollers after time under the dryer.

Some popular Dominican products, including the famous pink cream rinse, Lafier Desrizol Rinse.

Rosa “Sobeida” Sanchez applies a relaxer to one client’s head while women of all shades sit under the four dryers at the back of the salon. Mary Gil blows straight the roots on another client’s hair and Mary Martes unleashes a roller set to reveal the beautiful waves on yet another head.

Stylist Irene Sanchez asks me if I want my hair done right then, after I’ve completed my interview. I decline, but promise I’ll come back very soon. I want to experience for myself what it's like ot get my hair done at a Dominican salon.

Salons operated by immigrants from the Dominican Republic and their descendants have earned a positive reputation among clients for their styling methods and treatment of thick wavy and curly hair - and often for less than typical salon prices.

Fans praise the rich conditioners used in the salons, yummy concoctions that can include carrots, avocados, honey, milk and almonds among the ingredients. Hair straightening methods used in Dominican salons are also considered to be gentler than the typical flat iron method.

Known alternatively as a blow out or blow dry, a stylist usually wraps a client’s wet hair onto extra-large plastic rollers. After finishing the head with about 10 rollers overall, the stylist places a black net over it and places the client under the dryer.

After the hair dries, the stylist removes the rollers and in some cases, takes a hot hand-held dryer and places it close to the roots, making sure they stay straight.

“We do magic with hair, ” said Irene Sanchez, the sister of owner Rosa “Sobeida” Sanchez. “We have all kinds of hair in the Dominican Republic so we know how to do all kinds of hair.”

Irene said the salon focuses on maintaining healthy hair - “We want the clients to come back, ” - so preparation for blow dry, color and chemical services is a must. If a client’s hair is damaged, a stylist won’t provide a color or relaxer service that day, but instead do a series of deep conditioning treatments before having her come back for a chemical treatment, Irene said.

Sobeida Sanchez was born in the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation that shares an island landmass with the country of Haiti. She worked as a stylist in New York, and after moving to the Orlando area 16 years ago, she saved money to start her own salon.

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