I’ve been getting my hair braided for as long as I can remember; sitting in a chair for hours on end engulfed by strands of fibre, slightly shifting my lower body when my bottom begins to feel numb, trying to pass time by getting lost in my thoughts with the occasional hair tug to bring me back to my reality, stealing a moment to feel how much of my own hair was left exposed which allowed me to measure how many more braids still needed to be put in. I was never correct in my assessment.
It’s a lengthy, aching and tedious process with a shiny reward at the end- a hairdo that requires little maintenance and one that gives me a temporary break from my multiple step hair regimen, minus the first few nights that make it almost impossible to sleep (tip: Wet your hands with lukewarm water and run your fingers in-between your braids, it will soothe your scalp)
Before moving to South Korea in 2016, my initial web searches, among other things, were salons I could get my hair braided at and if any even existed, followed by a deep dive down the rabbit hole of salon yelp reviews. Upon my arrival, I soon found out that there was a whole street packed with African hair salons just 40 minutes from where I lived. The cost was more expensive than I was used to but to me, back then, it was a small price to pay.
Fast forward to 2018 and finding myself in New York, I decided to get my hair braided about 3 months after my arrival. Although I was pretty pleased with the results, the price was not to my liking. I couldn’t help but open my currency app and convert every single dollar amount I was met with to rands. The disparity between the two figures constantly had me deliberating over whether the asking price was worth it or not. So I decided, amid all the high-priced things (Everything in New York is expensive tbh), both necessary and unnecessary, I would be spending my hard earned dollar notes on, getting my hair braided was not going to be one of them. After just a couple of youtube tutorials later, I did my first box braids on my own coils and have since never looked back. It’s quite unfortunate that it took disapproving of the cost of hair braiding in NYC to force me to learn how to braid my own hair. The process is laborious and both my arms and hands hate me for it but comparable to the price it costs to get my hair done by a professional versus doing it on my own, it always seems worth it.