Women make a bold statement with kinky hair

In the early 90s, hairstyles could indicate a person's family background.

In the early 90s, hairstyles could indicate a person's family background, whether she was rich or poor. PHOTO | COURTESY 

BY DAISY OKOTI

IN SUMMARY

  • Nowadays, you would not tell who is who from just looking at a hair-do.
  • More Kenyan women are moving away from permed hair, and others are going bold, colouring the kinky or curly hair in red, blonde or white.
  • The colouring is not a sign of being insecure with their looks, women say, they want to express themselves through their hair.

Advertisement

In the early 90s, hairstyles could indicate a person's family background, whether she was rich or poor. Most people from well-off backgrounds had permed hair. The rest had natural kinky, bushy hair or plaited in cornrows.

Nowadays, you would not tell who is who from just looking at a hair-do. More Kenyan women are moving away from permed hair, and others are going bold, colouring the kinky or curly hair in red, blonde or white.

The colouring is not a sign of being insecure with their looks, women say, they want to express themselves through their hair.

Suzanne Wachu, a designer who is in her 30s, describes herself as a natural hair enthusiast. The co-founder of Kurlly Diaries Natural Hair, an online platform, is currently wearing her hair in a bold copper colour.

“I have been like this for six years now. But when it comes to my hair, I am quite the chameleon, I can wear up to two different hairstyles in a day,” she says. She loves to experiment with new hairstyles, wears wigs in all shapes, curls, lengths, colours and also avant-garde African styles.

“Everything about my hair is exciting, I don't have bad hair days. When all fails, I throw on a fancy turban. I also create looks inspired by celebrity stylists like Felicia Leatherwood and Vernon Francois, Lupita Nyong’o’s stylist,” she says.

Suzanne has worn her hair natural all her life except for a two-year period when she started working and thought relaxed hair looks more “work worthy.”

She rarely visits the salon and only goes when it needs a bit of straightening.

As more women go natural to reflect black history, this has opened business opportunities for makers and sellers of products for kinky hair.

“Hair products are my guilty pleasure, the way most people obsess over bags, shoes or cars. I love international brands; Obia Naturals, Design Essentials and Oyin Handmade. Locally, I’m a big fan of BU.ke, Harvest of Sunshine, Mazuri Organics and Sheth Naturals,” she says.

Paul Moherai, a colour and hair cut specialist, based in Mombasa attributes the new trend to the fact that many women have seen their hair get damaged by harsh chemicals, heat or too much braiding.

He makes colour choices for his clients after analysing their hair type, then he picks one that compliments their skin tones.

“I also have a colour chat for clients who insist on making their own choices,” he says, adding that he mostly uses Saru Organics, Marini Naturals and Creme of Nature products which cost between Sh3,500 to Sh7,500.

Emma Ngutu, a marketing professional wears her hair short and has dyed it red.

“I had long, permed hair before. But having the same look felt monotonous and going to a salon every other time was too much work for me. Then I discovered Facebook groups where people shared various hair products and regimens and how live-ins, oils and water could be mixed to soften hair. I chopped off my hair and I have been adventurous with it since, it is fun exploring different colours,” she says.

But despite the bold looks seen in most cities, there are a few people who are still conservative.

Kesh Nthamba, 24, a photographer and a public health specialist, says that she cannot stand salons. She only permed her hair in high school out of necessity.

“I describe my current hairstyle as naturally curly, a fade style. It's black in colour now but it was white two years. I intend to maintain black until I get a job. Sometimes coloured hair is perceived negatively and I do not want such stereotypes to reduce my chances of getting a job,” she says.

But a simple hair look is not necessarily cheap. Kesh pays Sh1,000 for a simple plain hair cut and if she styles it, it will cost Sh2,000. She gets the haircuts once in three months. The natural hair products are also expensive.

“I use Tresemme shampoo which costs between Sh1,000 and Sh2,000; and Cactu oil which costs between Sh900 and Sh1,500. I wash my hair weekly and style it daily,” she says.

dokoti@ke.nationmedia.com

More From Business Daily
This page might use cookies if your analytics vendor requires them. Accept