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The Dartmouth
March 4, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Trims and Braids and Dyes, Oh My!

When Hanover’s hair care options are lacking, students take matters into their own hands.

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Students sport all sorts of hairstyles — for some, a creative hairstyle can be an opportunity for self-expression. For others, regular trips to the salon or barber are just another task on a long to-do list. Whatever the case may be, the hair care needs of Dartmouth students are as diverse as our styles. 

In the small town of Hanover, there are not many options for affordable barbers and stylists — and even fewer for students with curly or coily hair textures. To meet this rising need for hassle-free hair care, some students have chosen to take things into their own hands — and clippers. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown her freshmen fall, Rosanna Jennings ’24 said she started helping out friends who struggled to book hair appointments during the pandemic. 

“Some of my friends would complain about not being able to get their hair cut anywhere, so I started cutting hair in the tents outside once we were able to gather in small groups,” Jennings said. 

One of her friends posted the setup on their Instagram story, and it went “Dartmouth viral” from there — Jennings said that “lots of people started texting me about it, and one of my friends helped me set up appointments.” 

Now, Jennings works in dorms and common rooms, depending on where and when the client can meet. As far as what hair types she works with, Rosanna said that “most of my customers are men and will probably have shorter hair, so mostly, [I’ll do] trims and shaves.” 

However, Jennings said that she is comfortable working with all hair types and lengths and has even helped to dye hair — she encouraged interested students to reach out to her via Instagram.

Cuts and dyes aren’t the only hair care needs of Dartmouth students, though. For Black students, finding professionals who are experienced with styles such as locs, twists and braids can be difficult, which has inspired some students to create braiding businesses of their own. 

Hosaena Tilahun ’25 started working with TnH Hair, an informal business started by her friend Tia Walker ’25, during her freshman year. 

Like Jennings, Tilahun and Walker’s hair care operation started as something casual between friends. As the business got more customers, though, they began to take it more seriously. 

“We decided to factor in how much time it took to braid hair,” Tilahun explained. “So retwisting would be $30 to $40, whereas braiding with extensions would range from $80 to $150 depending on the size of the braids and the time commitment.” 

She also noted that there are many talented yet unrecognized students on campus who can provide these services. She said Black students have found ways to connect over platforms such as GroupMe and Instagram, and there are also resources available on OPAL’s website for Black students in need of on-campus braiders. 

“Because we have this shared understanding that Black hair care is hard to find, or at least quality care is, we exchange our skills and our knowledge,” Tilahun said. “Many Black students are sharing skills, many Black students have their friends or partners braid and learn how to access services while here [at Dartmouth].” 

Although TnH Hair is currently inactive while Walker studies at Spelman College this winter, the business will start accepting clients again in the spring, Tilahun said. 

While Jennings, Tilahun and Walker have scaled up their services to serve the wider campus community, some students interested in hair care have kept their activities more casual. 

For Lily Pogue ’25, cutting hair is a way to connect with friends. 

“Rather than doing the routine haircut appointment, it’s a fun way to hang out,” she said. “I never actually learned [to cut hair] — I just tried it on one of my friends who was willing to let me.” 

Similarly, Surina Prabhu ’24 first started cutting her friends’ hair last winter. 

“One of my friends was like ‘I need a hair trim, but I don’t want to pay for it,’” she recounted. “I’m not an expert by any means [but] I love working with hair. I’ve done so since sixth grade, so I was like, ‘oh, cut your hair? Why not?”  

Not only was the informal trim more affordable, but it also saved her friends the time of setting up an appointment in Hanover or waiting until they traveled back home over break, Prabhu said. Since then, Prabhu has continued providing trims as a fun favor. 

Whether you need a quick line up or a new set of braids, there are a number of Dartmouth students — and student businesses — to keep in mind before booking your next salon appointment.