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Photography Wendy Sama

3 easy lockdown hairstyles from afro hair guru Charlotte Mensah


TextFelicia Pennant

Try a fluffy afro pony, a crown braid, and a classic afro just like the award-winning hairstylist would do it

“Your hair is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself. It’s an awesome time to be taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually,” says Charlotte Mensah, a natural hair expert, entrepreneur, and the first black female hairdresser to be inducted into British Hairdressing Awards hall of fame.

So, you’re following Kemi Akinbola’s advice and you’re using this lockdown to let your hair out and leave it free. You’ve washed it, deep conditioned it, moisturised it, maybe even done a little twist-out. Now what? “I’m growing my hair out at the moment so it’s in braids,” shares the multi-award winner and Hair Lounge salon owner. “Once a week, I apply two or three drops of Manketti Oil (her own creation) to my hair, making sure I distribute it evenly throughout the mid lengths and ends. I wrap it in a silk scarf to sleep and by the time I wake up, my hair feels incredible: soft, smooth, and nourished.” 

So far, so standard when it comes to caring for afro and curly hair but there are some additions that Mensah recommends at this time to add even more moisture, besides incorporating her tested-and-perfected Manketti hair range: shampoo, conditioner, oil, and finishing mist. “Mix raw shea butter with olive into a rich butter to moisturise dry hair. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water, your favourite conditioner and an essential oil to create a light moisturising mask.” Thinking about decorating your hair? “Try braiding strips of colourful African or floral prints and add them to your braids. You can also use old necklaces as hair bands, wrap colourful thread around your braids, or even pin earrings to your hair with Kirby grips.”

Next up for the lauded hairstylist, who counts Erykah Badu and Janelle Monáe among her clients, is her first book Good Hair, out later this year, which pulls together the British-Ghanian’s years of experience to guide those with afro and curly textured hair to optimum hair health, “It will help you to identify and celebrate the texture you were born with (wavy, curl, kinky, or tightly coiled), and is packed with photos, products, tools, recipes and tips keep your hair strong, and manage stress effectively. There’s a lot of knowledge about how to run a successful business too.”

In the meantime, the closest you’re going to get to the Charlotte Mensah hair experience with everything going on is by trying out the three styles she outlines below. Especially if you don’t want to plait your revitalised hair into braids yet. Just wash and get going.

A FLUFFY AFRO PONY

Works well on mid-long length hair and can be done in less 10 minutes. You’ll need a brush, kirby grips, hair mist, and covered elastic bands. It’ll last two-four days.

First wash and dry your hair, then apply Manketti Oil cream or butter. Use a paddle brush or bristle brush to smooth the surface of the hair, pull it into a tidy ponytail at the base of your neck and secure it loosely with a covered hair tie and a Kirby grip. Use an afro comb to gently comb out the hair into a huge fluffy afro puff. Finally, use finishing mist to tame any flyaways and add natural shine.

A CROWN BRAID

All hair lengths (and textures) can try this one and it takes five minutes to do. Have a brush, tail comb, hair mist and covered elastic bands to hand. It’ll last three-four days.

Part your hair in the centre and, taking a one inch strand from the right side, create a classic braid and secure it with a covered elastic band. Do the same thing on the left side, then pull the two braids behind your head, criss cross them over, and pin the braids into place, one underneath the other. 

A CLASSIC AFRO

Perfect for all hair lengths, it takes 15 mins to do, and lasts a week.

Get a brush, afro comb, Manketti Oil, hair mist and leave-in conditioner before you start. Wash, condition and detangle your hair, starting from the roots to the ends. Then part the hair into four sections and moisture each section with two drops of Manketti Oil and lock in moisture by putting each section into a two strand twist. Leave your hair to air dry, then undo the twist, and use an afro comb, placed at the base of the hair, to gently lift hair for more volume. Finally, spray your hair with finishing mist for a high gloss shine.

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