One thing I took for granted before going to prison was hair care and beauty products. I’ve been living in a world where I can buy any shampoo or conditioner I want. I can also always buy gels, pomades, and hairsprays, as well as any kind of ponytail holder, barrette, or bobby pin.
I don’t hesitate to spend a day at the salon to get a good cut and color from my favorite stylist. I always budget extra cash so I can buy at least one salon product that keeps my hair smelling good.
When I was sentenced to 30 years (two 15-year sentences running concurrently), one of the first things I thought about was how I would be able to take care of my hair and skin while in prison. Can I get a haircut? Will they allow me to dye my hair and hide my gray hair?
It didn’t take long for me to have my answer, because hair and beauty products are a big topic for almost every woman in prison. So, let’s get into today’s post: Is it okay to dye your hair in prison?
In this blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:
- Does the prison have a barber shop or salon?
- What would happen if you dyed your hair?
- Creative Hair and Beauty Treatments in Prison
- Prison Inmate Grooming Rules
Does the prison have a barber shop or salon?
All prisons are different. There are differences between maximum and minimum security facilities, state and federal facilities, and male and female facilities. There is little that can be found in every correctional center. But — in most cases — you’ll find some sort of barber shop or salon in almost every prison in the United States.
Men’s prisons have barbershops where inmates can get their hair cut with electric clippers. It’s never anything fancy, usually just a buzz.
If the prison doesn’t have a room or building designated for a barber shop, they will have barbers who take barbers from unit to unit and get haircuts on specific days of the month. They will also cut prisoners ready to appear in court.
When it comes to women’s prisons, one of the most common career programs offered in correctional settings is grooming. That means prisons will run beauty schools, or “salons,” on campus, where inmates can get appointments.
In the prison where I was held, we had both a barber shop and a beauty school. At a barbershop, you can make an appointment with a licensed stylist. The inmates have been licensed and found a job at the prison barber shop. These services are limited to cut or color.
Because of the limited number of stylists and barber chairs, it often takes two to three months to get to an appointment at a barbershop. However, you will definitely get a pay cut from someone who is skilled and has seniority.
Another option we have is to make an appointment at a beauty school. You can get in faster because there are more students and chairs. However, the downside is that you’re dating someone who is still learning.
Cosmo school services include hair cuts, hair colours, scalp massages, manicures, pedicures, perms and relaxation.
Every prisoner gets a free haircut every six months. However, if you want color services, perms or relaxers, you have to pay. You must also have no violations. Access to salon services is a privilege.
Color services, perms or relaxers are $7.50. However, if you have long hair, you must purchase two tickets totaling $15.00. Manicures, pedicures, and scalp massages are free, but the only way you’ll get them is as a reward for being infraction-free for at least a year.
What would happen if you dyed your hair?
Yes, we can dye our hair in prison, but there are rules. First, the color options are limited. Crazy colors are not allowed. You can choose from basic dark, black, gold or red.
Apparently, if you’re a brunette, you can’t be a blonde, because Prison Universe School is outside of the service. You can go from brunette to redhead. However, if you do substantially change your hair color, you must obtain approval from your caseworker. And, you’ll have to immediately get another photo ID with an updated look.
Creative Hair and Beauty Treatments in Prison
Since the hair and beauty products we are allowed to buy from the commissary are very limited, the ladies are very creative with their hair and beauty treatments. I know a girl who makes hairspray out of jelly mixed with cocoa butter. Another girl uses lotion and coffee grounds as a base.
Prison Inmate Grooming Rules
Believe it or not, there are grooming rules for prison inmates. If you are a member of the general population, you must wear clean clothes (whether prison-issued or something you buy at a commissary), underwear at all times, comb your hair, and keep your hands clean.
We were allowed to wear our hair in ponytails or braids. Some girls make ears of corn because they are so easy to care for. However, no matter how you style your hair, it must be well-groomed.
The rules are very different when you go into the hole. That’s where you get your weekly shower, but hair and color aren’t guaranteed.
Are you surprised you can dye your hair in prison? Let us know in the comments below.