When I went home for Christmas, one of the main things at the top of my agenda was to get my hair braided. The one thing I miss so much about being in Zimbabwe is how easily and affordably one can access hair care services. I never could have dreamed I would be charged upwards of $90 each time I tried to do literally anything with my hair in Canada. Absurd!
So I made plans to get my hair done the day before my return flight, and it was music to my ears to hear that it would only cost USD$8 for the style I wanted. The hairdresser would be coming to do my hair in the comfort of my home as well, which was a plus. I downloaded pictures from Pinterest and showed them to the stylist, who copied this style below:
This braiding style is referred to as “Fulani braids”, and comes from the Fulani people in the Sahel and in Western Africa. Their women typically decorate their hair with coins, shells, and beads which can each symbolise various things such as their marital status, religion, social status, and wealth. The style is typified by a long braid extending down the centre of the head, and two braids on the side of the head which go from back to front. I’d experimented with one or the other but never both the central and side braids, so I was keen to try something new this time!
The hairstylist did a great job overall and I was impressed with her feed-in cornrow game. However, in retrospect, I’ve decided I will not be getting Fulani braids again despite how beautiful and symbolic they are! Firstly, I realised afterwards that the cornrows were done too tight. I’m usually really specific with stylists about not using too tight of a grip and also asking them to spare my edges – but I took for granted the fact that she had been referred to me by my sister who also has natural hair, and figured she would already know those facts. It was only a few days later when some pimples started forming around my hairline that I acknowledged that the braids were too tight and it wasn’t just the usual sleepless night or two following a new hairdo.
Secondly, my head has been itching incessantly. This is despite the fact that I washed it 4 days before getting it done, and it’s definitely unusual of my scalp to itch like this when it is clean. To minimise the itching, I’ve been spritzing water mixed with peppermint essential oil onto my cornrows everyday, and I’ve also been applying hair food onto my scalp every night before bed. I don’t usually use hair food because I prefer for my pores to be able to breathe, but this time I felt it was necessary to combat any dandruff forming because of the potential of dry scalp.
It turns out that the Fulani braid style causes a lot of tension on the middle part of your scalp (which is where 95% of my itching has been); which makes sense because your hair is being pulled at, both in the centre and on the sides. Yikes. While the itching has eased up a little from the spritz, the overall tension on my scalp isn’t something I had thought about before getting the style and I’m feeling quite discouraged about getting this braid pattern again. The only plus side is that I’ve been forced to keep my hair moisturised religiously haha, because it’s sometimes super easy to forget to do that once you have a protective style in.
So if you’re considering getting this hairstyle in the future, these are some of the things you might want to think about! As for me, I care about the health of my hair and scalp and will be avoiding this and any other tension-causing hairstyles that may compromise that. I am also yet to figure out how to stop my natural hair from sticking out of the cornrow braids after only a few days of wear :(. If you have any suggestions for this, please do share them in the comments as I’m sure so many people struggle with this!
As always, thanks for reading loves; any comments and feedback are always welcome! Don’t forget to follow my IG (@african_sunflower) and catch up with my latest post here.