For those of you that do not know, a week ago I was blessed with the opportunity to go see my idol in concert, Mama Badu. I can't fully describe what an amazing, ethereal experience it was, but just know it was too good.
Prior to the concert, I got my hair braided in Harlem, because why not? I literally could not leave my house without hearing "Hair braiding, miss?" So I gave in.
I made an appointment with Fatima on 123rd St. and that was the day I said goodbye to any and all pain receptors in my head.
If you, like me, have never gone to an African hair salon to have your hair braided you might not know what to expect. I am here to provide you with those expectations.
1 - Bring your own comb. It's just a health precaution and you'll simply feel better about it.
2 - Stand your ground. They might try to tell you your hair is the color 1, instead of 1B because that's what they have more of. If you don't know your hair color, figure it out before you go.
3 - Voice your pain! Say, "No, this is too tight" or "No, I'd like them a little thicker". You are the one living with these braids for the next couple of weeks, you're also paying for it.
4 - Be sure to tip if they do a good job. This is how people are making their living, and chances are if you're doing it in Harlem, they've given you a really good price - especially if you didn't have to buy the hair yourself.
Here are some aftercare tips:
1 - If your hair is tight afterwards, do not compromise your hair health for beauty. My braids were so tight I couldn't even sleep which lead me to the shower at 3 a.m. where I ran hot water on my scalp which helped SO much. You can also wet a washcloth with warm water and rest it on your head. The heat helps loosen the braid and it won't feel as tight.
2 - Moisturize! Do not forget about your hair once it's in a protective style. The condition of your scalp is what helps to promote hair growth. Don't forget about it. I rub Jamaican Black Castor Oil on my edges and run Coconut Oil throughout my scalp. It helps if you put the oil in a a container with a pointed nozzle.
3 - Don't manipulate your hair too soon. Yes, buns and ponytails are cute and fun but don't rush into it. Allow your hair to dangle for a few days before doing all of your cool styles. Your hair needs time to grow out a little and the braid should loosen up first. Again, not having edges would suck. We don't need that kind of negativity in our lives.
4 - Remember, this is just temporary. We tend to get caught up in the simplicity of protective styling, but let it go girl. I tend to miss my hair after awhile, so I usually take the braids out after a month. Feel it out. If you start looking a hot mess due to new growth, fuzzy braids and fly aways - let it go.
I hope this helped! Fatima did a really great job on my braids, so if any of you want to take a trip to Harlem, let me know and I'll give you her number.
producer / writer / artist