I generally change my hair every few months and these days that almost always involves some form of hair extension.
I’ve had my hair braided on and off since I was about 14 years of age and every few years, usually when I’m low on funds, I wish that I knew how to braid my own hair. I have never felt this more than I have over the last few months.
We’re currently living through a global epidemic, and during the full lockdown there were zero opportunities for me to toddle off to a salon to get my hair done. (That also included sitting in somebody else’s front room, where lots of my previous hair sessions have taken place) The whole of the United Kingdom was on lockdown, so the only people I was allowed within two metres of were those that live in my house.
I rarely redo my hair as promptly as I should. If a stylist says that I need to come back in six weeks, I automatically translate that into three months and strut my way out of the salon with full Beyonce style swagger. At the start of lockdown all those weeks ago I had a weave which was probably due for removal a couple of weeks into the Covid-19 crisis. So rather than risk leaving it in for the duration, with no idea how long that was going to be, I took it out.
My relationship with my hair is now at a stage where I’m happy to hang out with my afro for a while, but taking my extensions out with no idea when I’d be able to have them put back in was a pretty bold move. This year alone I’ve had pink braids, blue braids, a red weave and regular brief visits from the fro. Some natural hair advocates would have you believe that I’m not me if I have hair extensions or any form of chemical treatment. I actually believe that I’m not me without them. I’m finally at a stage where I’m happy to say good bye to the relaxers and curly perms, but I have no intention of ever giving up my hair extensions. Not because I hate my natural hair or because I’m desperately trying to convince the world that waist length blue hair is part of my genetic make up. Hair extensions make my life easier. There are lots of steps to looking after my hair properly, hair extensions allow me to shortcut a few of these most days. I get up in the morning and my main hair styling decision is as follows: Shall I put a bobble in or not?
The convenience of having my hair in extensions cannot be expressed strongly enough. I once spent 18 hours having my hair braided but over the time that I kept them in that would still have saved me a considerable amount of styling time. There is one overriding factor in the “grown from my scalp versus bought from the shop” debate, which is is that I personally believe that I look better with them in. Discussion closed.
So now that I’ve set the scene for how much I love my hair extensions and positioned it against a backdrop of having no hope of getting them redone, it’s time to move onto how I resolved my problem. The short version is a trip to Superdrug for afro appropriate shampoo, conditioner and hair treatments, a lot of YouTube, a bit of online shopping and me finally managing to plait my own hair. [Insert video of cheering crowds]
My new skills don’t mean that I’ll be abandoning the salons indefinitely, but they do give me options. I live in a village with at at least 9 salons and none of them specialise in afro hair, so sorting out the fro is always an event. If you’ve ever found yourself making a desperate Facebook post asking for recommendations because your stylist is unavailable and having to sift out the one genuine suggestion from the “just get the clippers out” joke responses, you’ll appreciate just how much my basic plaiting skills are going to change my life.
I’ve wanted to be able to plait my own hair since I was in my late teens and as I hurtle ever closer to my half century, thanks to the pandemic, I’ve finally learnt how. Yay me! I’m not the only one that has suddenly found herself in a position where they’ve had to make the jump from understanding the theory to actually developing hands on skills. One of my friends now has a full Facebook timeline of hairdos she’s done for herself and her family.
Quality wise there is absolutely no competition between me and any of the people I have ever paid to braid my hair but I’m proud of myself none the less. Last night for the third time since the global crisis started, I braided my own hair. Now that I’ve mastered that, I think it might be time to turn my attention to improving my DIY skills, because that kitchen isn’t going to tile itself!