The last time I had my hair braided was when I was about 7 or 8. My mom had me get it done before I went to summer camp since I’d be swimming and sweating all day long. I cried through the entire thing – the stylist braided my hair so tight that once I was done my scalp was red and my eyebrows were permanently raised. That night, after seeing how much pain I was going through my mom bit the bullet and undid all of my braids, LOL.
Since then though I absolutely love the way braids and twists look on others, I never tried it myself. I was scarred, to say the least. This summer, however, I decided it was time to woman up and go for it once again. I went back and forth between braids and Senegalese Twists– in the end I decided to ease myself into the new look and got the twists. I also decided that if I was going to get twists, they would be a dramatic–booty sweeping length.
I visited a few African braiding shops in Harlem to compare pricing before I made my decision and eventually settled on the African Hair Braiding Salon on W. 123rd and Frederick Douglass Blvd. It helped that the woman I spoke to in the salon was also named Aisha – spelt, Aicha, so that won me over. I showed her a number of inspiration pictures and we set up a time for me to come back. Initially, she told me to use “kinky” style hair that is generally for Marley Twists, but because I have a relaxer and wanted mine to be super long, I told her the straight synthetic hair would blend better. I’m kicking myself because I forgot to take a photo of the package the hair came in for reference, but I’m pretty sure it was X-Pression– I’ll update with the name the next time I go back. The entire process took about 5.5 hours, which didn’t feel as long because I was so excited–and it was well worth the wait! (Shout out to my guest photographer and bestie CJ Trahan II for the fab photos)
My twists give me a whole new Boho-chic look for the summer, I’m obsessed. However, the big issue I ran into was the itching. It wasn’t a problem on day one or two, but by day three and four I was going crazy. I oiled my scalp tirelessly but nothing helped. I also purchased Africa’s Best Originals Itch Relief Cornrow & Braid Scalp Remedy ($7.99), which helped briefly but not nearly as much as I needed it to. I Googled like a mad woman to see if I was the only person who had this problem, I also noticed that other parts of my body, like the sides of my face and arms were itching as well. On the morning of day four I popped a Claritin and the itching stopped immediately, so I knew something was wrong. While doing a search, a few websites noted that sometimes the products that coat the synthetic hair can cause irritation or produce an allergic reaction. Though it was super early and I didn’t want to ruin the hair, I had to wash. So I got a spray bottle and did a water / shampoo mix which I sprayed directly onto my scalp and gently massaged on. I felt instant relief. I also sprayed some directly onto the twists and then gently rinsed out. To limit the amount of frizz in the hair, I then “dipped” it afterwards, which basically means dipping my synthetic hair into boiling hot water a few times and then squeezed it dry with a towel. Afterwards, I sprayed a leave-in conditioner directly onto my roots and scalp to maintain moisture. I finished it off by then adding in more of Africa’s Best Originals Itch Relief. Let me tell you, this made a HUGE difference.
I’ve been LOVING my twists – it’s amazing to just get up and go in the morning. What I also like about this is that I’m sure this is the most I’ve been moisturizing my scalp consistently in a while — and the longest I’ve gone without using any heat in my hair. It’s really a vacation for my mane. I might have them re-done before my trip to Jamaica at the end of July 🙂