Making Waves: The Curl Expert

We tracked down Indy’s mane magicians to get insider perspectives on trends, tricks, and tips for every type of hair.
Photography by Jes Nijjer

IF THERE’S one thing Casondra Saxon of Broad Ripple’s Dark Horse Hair Company (6251 Winthrop Ave.) wants you to know about caring for curly hair, it is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. An expert in elevating ringlets and wavy locks, Saxon relishes addressing the nuances from person to person. In her journey to loving her own ringlets, she doubled down on curl classes, gaining expertise in maintaining and uplifting the hair texture. “It wasn’t until I started beauty school that I realized so many people have the same struggles,” Saxon shares. “I come at it from the angle of ‘I’m one of you,’ and that helps me to connect with my clients.”

Saxon emphasizes the importance of learning curl maintenance techniques during your appointments with your stylist. She sees passing along knowledge as crucial to her job. Saxon walks clients through solutions for their personal curl challenges, starting at the shampoo bowl. There, she replicates and explains what the client might try while shampooing in the shower at home. “That’s where the hands-on education starts,” Saxon says.

She emphasizes that the best products for ringleted tresses rely on understanding an individual’s “hair pain points.” The only general rule is that curls tend to need a moisturizing boost. A good leave-in conditioner will squash dryness and can be a tool in the curly-hair arsenal.

Saxon understands that receiving a haircut that caters to one’s curls in the best way is an anomaly for some. A few of Saxon’s new clients mentioned they’ve gone years—if not a lifetime— hopping from salon to salon trying to find someone who “gets” their hair. As she does with product suggestions, Saxon takes an individualized approach to cuts, noting that different lengths work for different textures and hair weights. “I know I’ve done a good thing when I hand them a mirror and a big smile pops up. Time and again I hear, ‘No one has ever done this before.’”

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Monica Sallay is a writer, maker, and daily risk-taker. Previously, she held multiple roles in the fashion industry from web design and editorial work to feature film costume coordination. Today, Monica contributes to Indianapolis Monthly on the subject of fashion, lifestyle, and more. In addition to writing, she has a strong passion for volunteering and making the world a better place by contributing her time and efforts to many nonprofits in the Indianapolis area.