Rural Tyrone may not be the first place you would associate with afro hairstyles - but one Strabane hairdresser is hoping to change that.
The Hair Therapy & Heavenly Beauty salon has made it through to the semi-finals of a top hairdressing competition and will compete against London's leading hair and beauty establishments in the 'Afro Look' category.
The salon, based near Strabane and run by Maria Patton (30), is the only establishment in Ireland, north or south, to reach the finals in the L'Oreal Colour Trophy Afro Look Award 2018.
She beat off serious competition in the opening photographic round and will now be one of only 15 finalists to compete at the semi-finals next Monday, March 26.
Here Maria will need to present a creation which showcases her salon's interpretation of a well-executed, inspirational, modern colour with a beautiful editorially-inspired style and finish on a female model of African/Caribbean descent.
The judging panel consists of some of the industry's elite judges and the overall winner will scoop a prize which includes a three-day European trip to shoot the winning look and bespoke educational support from one of the highly skilled L'Oreal Professional technicians.
Maria said it was a tough category to get through to and that as a rural Co Tyrone hairdresser with little access to afro-style hair, she saw it as a challenge that needed to be overcome.
"Not a lot of salons offer treatment for afro-style hair," she said. "Some hairdressers find it too challenging. To get the hair poker straight, if the client wants it that way, is extremely hard.
"Most people, if they want their afro hair done, have to go to Belfast or Donegal.
"I want to bring it to Strabane, I want people to have it on their doorstep. For the first round of the competition I brought my model friend Connie Chadwick over from London and we gave her afro hair a total transformation, leaving her hair smooth and sleek."
Maria says she wants to attract customers from across the UK and Ireland to her salon.
"I already have clients coming to me from Liverpool, Belfast and all over," she added.
"I want to give this a shot, it could lead anywhere. I am very passionate when it comes to my work. I love to challenge myself.
"We are just a small salon on the outskirts of Strabane and to get through to this stage is absolutely amazing.
"I'm hoping that by doing this and getting this far it will show other small salons that they can do big things also.
"It has always been my dream to go to the L'Oreal headquarters. Even if I don't win, that is unreal. I can't wait."