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Relating ‘to her Human Side’: a Grounded Theory analysis of cosmetologists’ and aestheticians’ relationships with clients in Black American beauty salons to inform sexual health interventions


Due to the elevated incidence of HIV among Black American women, effective sexual health interventions are needed. To explore beauty salons as settings for such interventions, we examined Black American women stylists' experiences discussing sex-related topics with Black American women clients. Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology guided data collection and analysis. Individual intensive interviews were conducted in 2019 with 16 Black women cosmetologists and/or aestheticians who served Black women in Southern California. Analyses generated grounded theory which we refer to as Relating 'to her Human Side': Black American cosmetologist-client relationship building model. The model highlights the importance of three sets of practices: 1) playing different roles to appeal to clients' varying wants and needs, 2) creating a comfortable atmosphere, and 3) establishing a judgement-free zone. Stylists put clients at ease and consequently, clients shared stories regarding sex and relationships freely. Stylists' actions built trusting relationships with clients, thus crafting beauty salons as atmospheres favourable for sex-related conversations and potential sexual health interventions.

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