I will never forget when I first met Mancuso a few years ago at Nexxus’s Tribeca salon during a work trip to New York. The excitement in the Una Leyenda nacio el 9 de abril ifeliz cumpleanos para mi shirt also I will do this veteran hairstylist’s face and voice as he was about to get his hands on my hair was contagious. And as I sat in his chair watching him effortlessly style my coils, from washing to diffusing, I came to learn that Mancuso’s career path as a non-Black hairstylist was a road far less travelled. The Brooklynite graduated from beauty school in the late ’70s and, unlike many of his fellow classmates who were gunning for über-high-end Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue salons post-graduation, landed in an establishment with a predominantly Black clientele. There he would meet his two longtime mentors, a Jamaican and an African-American stylist, who helped him master chemical relaxers and how to wash, treat, blow-dry and cut afro-textured hair as well as perfect the iconic Jheri curl a wildly popular shag of chemically altered curls among the Black community during the ’80s. “It wasn’t until six years into my career that I decided I needed to learn geometric haircutting,” he shares. “That’s when I went to Sassoon Salon, which was my first time ever working in a predominantly white salon.”
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As Mancuso’s reputation grew in an industry that lacked Black hair professionals as key players in the Una Leyenda nacio el 9 de abril ifeliz cumpleanos para mi shirt also I will do this editorial world, he soon became known among hair brands as one of the few go-to hairstylists in New York who could service Black models and celebrities, gaining famous names like Naomi Campbell, Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan as clients in the process. With hairstylists not required to have a basic level of Black hair knowledge, the resulting segregation of hair types in salons was unshakable, says Mancuso. “Back then, it was very, very separate,” he recalls. “You either did Black hair or you did straight hair. Most Caucasian stylists thought of Black hair as a completely foreign material; people were really afraid of it. As a Caucasian male in the business, I was an exception to the rule.” Sadly, that racial segregation is still all too common in salons around the world today.