Healthy, happy hair: Local salons’ impact on curly hair


Collegian | Trin Bonner

Alexander Wilson, Staff Reporter

Beauty can change the way someone views themself and the world. Three salons in Northern Colorado have made it their mission to create beauty and instill love within the Black community.

Citrus Salon, owned and run by Angela McKee, focuses on the healing of hair. 


“Being able to hear the things people are going through and giving them the hair they feel comfortable in allows them to be happier,” McKee said. “I want them to feel beautiful.”

Maria Yusuf, owner and operator of Maria’s Braiding, has a similar goal to McKee.

“The smiles I put on people’s faces, … it’s my reward,” Yusuf said. “Braiding your hair changes you, and it brings out something you want to see.” 

“I had two daughters when I came to school at CSU, and they had ethnic hair. I helped them braid their hair. I had questions about how to braid hair, and I thought it was a service I could provide.” -Maria Yusuf, owner of Maria’s Braiding

It is a common theme for Black salons in the area to bring the Black community together through hair.

It’s the entire reason James Holland and his business, XAAK’S Barbershop, moved to Loveland, Colorado, from Houston.

The reason why I wanted to turn it into a barbershop is because I went to (Colorado State University) back in the day, and I transferred (to CSU) in spring of ‘97,” Holland said. “There is no barbershop here that knew how to cut black hair. I left the Fort Collins area in 2009, came back October of 2022, and apparently, that box still hasn’t been checked. There was still a need for someone that knew how to do Black hair, at least in the way that most of us like our hair to be done.”

Yusuf, another former CSU student, also began her salon out of a need.

“I had two daughters when I came to school at CSU, and they had ethnic hair,” Yusuf said. “I helped them braid their hair. I had questions about how to braid hair, and I thought it was a service I could provide.”


Many Black-owned salons not only focus on the Black community but also the healing of many people of color.

“I have a lot of adopted kids because I’m adopted,” McKee said. “I love to help adopted kids with their parents and allowing them to see someone who has developed a great life. About 80% of my clientele are people who have thick or curly hair.”

This seems to be a trend for salons specializing in curly hair in the area, as they are aware of the possibility of being turned down for their race. McKee said she experienced a lot of jealousy in other salons and was told multiple times that she could only do curly hair.

“This business makes me feel at home with people of color,” Yusuf said. “I can answer their questions without judgment. We have a very large Hispanic population. There’s always a question of white people asking if they can braid their hair. It’s a question of color and race and not knowing of the culture. I like to help people of all races.”

It’s been an ongoing controversy of whether or not braiding is cultural appropriation and where to draw the line. However, McKee has some insight into this critical issue.

“As far as cultural appropriation, I am torn about it,” McKee said. “I think it depends on the intention of the person. If you have curly hair and are swimming or something that is easier for your lifestyle, I think I can understand that. However, when you’re trying to be something you’re not, it’s on the line.”

McKee said it’s unfair that white people wear styles without consequence that Black people have worn for centuries, especially considering those styles have gotten Black people judged and legally persecuted.

“I think it’s important for all cultures to understand the history and understand the culture and importance,” McKee said. “I think we need to listen to each other and listen to the why and listen to the story. I don’t think everything is just one way or another way. I think most things in life are gray. I think if most people understand each other, we are able to raise the vibration of love.”

In these three salons, love is the foundation.

“I want people to grow into their best selves,” McKee said.

Reach Alexander Wilson at or on Twitter @alexgrey0604.