Heart of a Woman

Hair Stylists as Health Messengers

Heart of a woman is the institute’s salon-based health promotion program. Beauty salons make up nearly 20% of the businesses in the Central Brooklyn communities, where the AAIUH started its health promotion efforts. The team at the AAIUH has worked with more than 120 beauty salons since 1996 and has engaged these personal care establishments in its local community health empowerment work.

Hair salons hold special meaning among African-American women. Historically, beauty salons represent one of the few businesses black women in the United States could start and gain economic independence. In many ways, salons are like places of worship in communities; places of refuge and healing. To clients, salons represent a place where women can go to be pampered and cared for consistently. Although the salon setting is important to the delivery of health messages, the relationship between the customer and her stylist is a key factor. The salon stylist has always been considered a confidant. She has traditionally had a personal history of each of her clients, their significant others, including spouses and children. Since stylists generally stand 6-8 inches from a woman's ear, who is better suited to whisper some potentially lifesaving pearls of wisdom? Most black women have a regular source of hair care, but not medical care. In this program, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (AAIUH) has weaved health into the ongoing, traditional work of restoring and taking care of the beauty of the community.

Become a

Heart of a Woman Health Messenger

"To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have and do what you can."  – Arthur Ashe



Hermione Fraser

“It’s a promising experience for my clients, they know what to ask when they go to the doctor...I see what being informed did for me and want to see what it can do for others.”

Elaine Richards

Royal Ambiance




PrEP Awareness Guide

This HIV/AIDS awareness project of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health is a salon and barbershop-based initiative designed to address HIV prevention among individuals of African descent in Brooklyn. This project is specifically designed to train stylists and barbers as health messengers to deliver HIV/AIDS and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) information to their customers, to increase knowledge of HIV/AIDS and different resources that can help.

Made possible by a grant from Gilead

© 2019 by Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health

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