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From The Wall Street Journal

Armed with a blow dryer and brush, deft wrist action and shrewd promotional tactics, immigrants from the Dominican Republic are snipping away market share from African-American stylists whose mastery of black women’s hair ensured for generations that their customers wouldn’t, or couldn’t, leave them. Promises of seemingly healthier hair, swifter service and far lower prices are wooing away a growing number of black women.

Ms. Rollins and most other African-American women require a chemical “relaxer” to straighten their hair and get touch-up treatments every six weeks or so. She and many other customers say another benefit of the Dominican technique is that it extends the life of straightening chemicals, thus reducing the frequency of application and potentially harmful effects.

The defections have infuriated African-American stylists who insist that their methods are safe and that they are more highly trained than the Dominicans are. “It’s hard enough in these times, but they are undercutting our prices, even passing out fliers to our own clients,” complains Atlanta hairdresser Jannifer Jackson, whose cancellations and no-shows began piling up once a Dominican salon opened about a mile away last summer.

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