Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hair Braiding

One of the best ways for a person to express themselves through their hairstyle is by adopting a traditional, natural African braiding style. Traditional African hair braiding has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Along with the passing of this tradition come new and exciting styles, patterns, and designs that can stand for a number of different things in a man or woman's life.

The timeless art of African hair braiding doesn't just cover basic braids. Cornrows, braids, plaits, twists, parts, patters, and length are words that can describe different aspects of the art of African hair braiding.

Why is this such a special tradition? In the African culture, one's hairstyle is a great way of expressing oneself. For example, the Karamo women of Nigeria would stop caring for their hair during times of mourning, in order to be less attractive to male courters.
Braided HairAncient African hair braiding is not only seen as a means of expressing oneself; it can also be a great way for people to bond and form new friendships. Some braided hairstyles can take hours or even days to complete. This means that the stylist and the client spend most of their time together, sometimes resulting in life-long friendships. Because the modern woman can have a hectic life, the beauty salon is often a place of tranquility and peace.

Natural braids consist of two or more braids on a person's head. They can either be close to the scalp (like cornrows), or free-flowing (like micro braids). Braids can be twisted and manipulated by changing the length or thickness or the arrangement of parts. Braids and cornrows can also be adorned with shells and beads.
Braided HairThe country plait is one of the most common types of traditional African braids and consists of dividing the hair into several sections. Then, each one of these sections is braided individually, forming a plait. Similar to this style is the cornrow, which is a type of braid that lays flat on the scalp. Then, there are micro braids. Micro braids are braids that hang down from the scalp and flow freely, just like natural hair. No matter what type of African braid you choose, you can always modify the length and thickness of the braids.

Unlike other hairstyles such as bonded weaves and extensions, the art of natural African hair braiding normally doesn't use any harsh glues or chemicals. Other styles use heat and/or glue throughout the entire application, which can cause damage to your hair. If used at all, traditional African braids may use a heat source to secure the ends of a plait, braid, or cornrow.
Braided HairConsult with your stylist before choosing a traditional African braiding style. Make sure the style you choose has a maintenance regime that will work for you; don't just choose a style without knowing how to care for it. You may also want to think about your daily activities, work environment, and hobbies. For example, some work environments have banned cornrow designs completely. If one of your hobbies includes cross-country running, you may want to think twice about getting a longer style because of the added weight.

With so many styles to choose from, it's no wonder that so many people choose a traditional natural African braided hairstyle to express their personality!