STRICTLY ROOTS 154 Bathurst, 416-757-1024, strictlyroots.ca.
The hair trade in general is full of toxic products and practices, but the black hair biz's chemical relaxers and hot combing techniques are especially harmful to heads. Turned off by all those over-processed coifs, Ruth Smith decided to open Strictly Roots, where hair is kept natural by teasing it into twists, braids and locs (aka dreads).
"They should send politicians in here. We can solve all the world's problems," says Smith of the salon's laid-back vibe and forward-thinking clientele. Her holistic business approach extends beyond tending to kinks and curls, and a portion of profits is donated to South African charity NOAH (Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity).
The salon has spawned a growing line of at-home hair products to help clients maintain their look. Shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers are alcohol free, mixing natural shea butter with tea tree, coconut and mango scents.
Strictly Roots picks: Your first locs visit is a full-day affair and will set you back $300; subsequent touch-ups should be done every four to six weeks, $55 to $95; Smith's favourite take-home product is her mango scented shampoo, $20.
Look for: The addition of a leave-in conditioner to the Strictly Roots line officially launching this October.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 8 pm, Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.