The struggle of getting your hair done while black is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. You spend hours going through the stress of taking out your pick and drop braids, waking up at 6am to go to a part of the city you don’t live in, only to be met by what I would call the ‘African Hairdressers’ experience.
I don’t want you to go through that, so here’s eight things you should know/consider before getting your hair done at an African hairdressers.
‘African hairdressers’ and ‘on time’ are four words you will never hear together in a sentence. Unless the words ‘not’ or ‘never’ are involved. Let’s look at these three scenarios:
1. You want to start your hair at 9am? Tell the hairdresser 8.15am, she’ll still get there late, but at least it’s too early for any hot guys to see you standing around waiting with your ‘I-just-took-out-my-hair’ hat on.
2. You have an appointment? Really? Well, so do six other people, all at the same time as you. So if you’ve got plans that day, you better cancel them.
3. It’s 2.30pm. You’re still waiting for her to start your hair at what was supposed to be your 1pm appointment. You give her that look that says: “Aunty please!” to which she replies: “I’m nearly done, give me five minutes”. And deep down in your heart you know that’s a lie, but you really need some positive news right now, so you’ll take that fake five minutes.
Because you can’t really avoid the waiting time issue, it would do you good to bring some entertainment along. Your phone, (don’t forget your charger) a book, your laptop, sister, anything that will make the waiting more bearable. Of course, if you don’t bring anything with you, you could always stare at the hairstyle posters for two hours, or flick through a 1999 issue of Black Beauty Magazine.
Divide and conquer
If you’re getting braids done, you need to know how to part the hair into the right amount of thickness. It’s hard, and you will fail about 11 times before you get it right. On the 12th and 13th time however, you will succeed and your confidence will grow, only for the hairdresser to hand you half of the divided hair back on your 14th try. And don’t make them wait. You better have those pieces of hair ready for them as soon as their hands leave your head, otherwise the clicking will begin.
A thread, needle and a knot
Shaky hands, hair in your eyes and neck pain should not stop you from being able to thread a needle and tie a knot. If you know you’re installing a weave, prepare in advance. Go back in time and sign up to the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Join the Brownies. Just don’t turn up without knowing how to carry out that simple task.
It’s all in your head
You don’t know real pain until you’ve had an African hairdresser cornrow your hair. You can tilt your head to the side all you like, she’ll only force it back to the position she wants it to be in. And don’t even think about moving you hand to your head to press down on that tight spot.
Prepare to be told, not asked, to do some miscellaneous chores. Chores like helping the hairdresser open up her shop, helping her close her shop, selling food to customers, sweeping, picking up their child from school and popping to the corner shop to top up their electricity.
Which church do you go to?
You don’t have a church? Make one up my friend because if you don’t, you will be invited to her five-hour Sunday service in Purfleet, and she’ll even make you stay behind to tidy up the chairs.
African hairdressers are very good at telling you what you want. You can show them dozens of pictures, explain the style multiple times, but they will still end up doing as they please. And do not, I repeat do not let them put any oil sheen in your weave. You will look like shit.
Let me know all about your experiences at African hairdressers in the comment box below, and if you’ve just done your hair and it looks like a pile of crap, send me some pictures so I can laugh.
Follow me @blablabelle. My hair is cute.