Kenyan Women Share Hair Journeys, Experiences and Tips

As part of our Nywele Festival article series, we spoke to a number of Kenyan ladies of different ages, life stages and careers about their preferred hairstyles, salons, stylists and much more. The ladies we talk to have had interesting journeys discovering what works best for them, forming relationships with their stylists and even learning to manage their own crowns.

Media Personality Della Mbaya: Braids Queen

Fave stylist/salon: Sabina is my protective stylist and she’s excellent. Her Instagram is @namakwa_creativity.

Fave products: Homemade hair oils to lock in moisture.

Home haircare routine: Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Everything else I leave to the professionals! I also use dry shampoo to clean my braids.

Take on different hairstyles: Wigs are easy and versatile. Natural hair is the new wave. I love that we are finally loving ourselves. Let’s leave perms in the past. Locs – love them! I wish I could get them done!

Influencer Juliet (@LilMo_Juliet) Braids are Bae!

Fave stylist/salon: Shilah is my favourite hairstylist. She is super professional, neat and creative. I go to Magic Designers in the CBD.

Fave products: Castor oil, coconut oil &Shea butter.

Home haircare routine: Regular wash, treatment and trim. I go harder, especially after any heat damage.

Take on different hairstyles: Wigs are economical and versatile. Natural hair can also be styled in many ways and is healthier than a perm. Locs are a good longterm look.

Marketing Guru Shitawa: Wigs to the Rescue

Fave stylist/salon: I have three; for my natural look (braids et al), for my short wigs and another for maintaining my wigs – in terms of styling and flat ironing. My favourite hairstylist is Joyce.

Fave products: Auntie Jackie Products, Sheth Natural, Shea Moisture and Shi by Shitawa Shea Butter.

Home haircare routine: Shampoo using Auntie Jackie then rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar, Sheth Natural leave-in and Shea Moisture butter for oiling scalp & hair.

Take on different hairstyles: Wigs must be kept clean and always buy good quality – like Lilly Hairline. It’s amazing seeing so many women especially young ones embracing natural hair. Permed hair can be dangerous. I used to have permed hair back in high school and I wish we had a natural option. Locs might be the easiest hairstyle to keep. I had mine a couple of years and really loved it but needed a change.

Business Owner Moureen of @DollsCloset is “About the Wig Life.”

 

Fave stylist/salon: She’s called carol and she always aims to be better and better by learning new techniques. Been going to her for a whole decade. I go to Strands on Fleek – love the location, the staff are super friendly and very qualified. Service is excellent and the owner is an OG in the hair industry thus very knowledgeable

Fave products: Marini definitely and Shea Moisture.

Take on different hairstyles: I believe everyone has their own preference and our hairs are all different. Personally, I love the protective style of WIGS and not just because I have a business that sells wigs. Wigs really do save my hair and edges. They save me time, I can change my hairstyle whenever I want so I am not limited. Lastly, I don’t need to go to the salon often which means it saves me money.

Photographer Tatiana Karanja @MamaOliveK is Experimenting More.

Fave stylist/salon: Growing up I went to Tairiku. The past year I’ve been seeing Grace from Nywele Nzuri. I have gone from hardly visiting the salon to going monthly. I attribute this to deciding to try new things after my second baby.

Fave products: I don’t do much but I love the Marini detangler because it really removes my knots as well as Olive’s (My daughter)! Home haircare routine: Nope, I barely have time to shower myself let alone do my hair. My hair is last on my list. Though one thing I have to say is, it thrives! Take on different hairstyles: Whatever makes you happy and feel good, go for it!

Photographer and Humanitarian Nadiah, @NadionSafari Finally Figured it Out!

Fave salon/stylist: I am lucky I can do most things at home. I may get a blow-dry at the salon like twice a year! In 2018, I went to Touch of Class at Yaya for a cut and they did a great job. I also go to Ashley’s or Glow Spa.

Fave products: Light Moisturizers. At the moment I am super happy with my Mixed Chicks Curl Sculptor, Cantu Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream and Gliss Kuhr moisturizing spray.

Home haircare routine: A wash every 2-3 days with anti-dandruff shampoo followed by a leave-in conditioner. Towel dry and spritz a lot of leave-in conditioner spray than a curling mousse or cream, especially on the ends. When dry (this takes ages), I add serum or oil to control the frizz. Take on different hairstyles: I wish there was less pressure from society on women to look a certain way to be perceived as beautiful, professional or smart. We should all be able to decide what we feel like wearing without being judged. As long as you feel beautiful in it, that is what matters most.

Content Creator Maureen Bandari Loves an Easy Fix.

Fave salon/stylist: I go to the Beauty Box in Nyali Center and Urbano Lounge in Bamburi. My fave stylist 5 years later is José years. He did my hair on my wedding day. I love celebrity stylist’s Corine’s work too.

Fave products: I loved Black silk, especially their moisture treatments. Unfortunately, I guess they have been off the market as we speak on a global level, when it comes to relaxers, I love Affirm. My hair always looks bouncy after.

Home haircare routine: I do not have one at the moment. I’m not too crazy about home maintenance so I rarely do anything at home except for oiling the hair.

Take on different hairstyles: Wigs are a lifesaver. You can move from drab to fab in seconds. Natural hair looks so good but harder to manage. Permed hair is honestly easier to maintain in my opinion. As long as you treat it regularly and take good care of it. As for locs, I have a love-hate relationship, unfortunately, depending on their size. When they are tiny and just starting out I find them weird and the hair looks unkempt but as they grow they end up looking nicer.

Nelly @Geekonfashion Has Her Hair Routine Figured Out!

Fave stylist: I have someone who’s done my Texlax for years. He has changed salons and I always follow him. I am my own hairstylist though. (Lol)

Fave products: Faatii beauty, I love the shampoo and hair mask. Aunty Jackie’s leave in and curling cream and Parachute coconut oil.

Home haircare routine: I moisturize and seal every night before bed, wear a satin scarf or sleep in a satin pillow and only comb hair with a wide-tooth comb.

Take on different hairstyles: I own a virgin hair wig business and love “swinging” as a protective style. As for permed hair, to each their own. Personally I couldn’t do a good job as a naturalista, it’s time-consuming hence why I am texlax (which is basically under processed relaxer/ perm )  however, I love how women rock their natural mane so beautifully. I had faux Locks last year and I really enjoyed them. Hair is truly an expression of oneself and everyone should be encouraged to be themselves.

Bonita, @BonitaonSafari Found Locs and Never Looked Back!

Fave salon/stylist: I used to go to the same guy as my mum but because I travel a lot and he works on appointments only, I couldn’t keep up. So now, I have a few other options that fit my schedule. For styling ideas, I go to Pinterest, pick a style and show the stylist. Currently go to Forever 18, located at Kenya Cinema and Beachbay Dreads in Langata.

Fave products: Back then when I had natural free hair I could list more than 5 brands, but currently I just have a home-made spritz, black Jamaica castor oil when my scalp is so dry, and coconut oil for every other day use.

Home haircare routine: My regimen is quite simple. Weekly wash, every other day oiling and air drying.

Take on different hairstyles: I have had manageable natural hair since I was a kid. A simple wash and blow-dry could last up to two weeks. I know very little about wigs and permed hair. However, I feel like whatever hairstyle a lady decides to wear, if it makes her happy then that’s it! Currently, locs is my medicine. Maybe in future, I could be more experimental.

Brenda Kwamboka, @JustKaninte is a Baldie and Loves IT!

Fave salon/stylist: I get my hair cut done by Cornelius of Leo Salon. He is a guru and understands how I like my hair cut, the wash afterwards and head massage. There are many benefits to being bald. I usually spend around 500 Ksh.

Fave products: I am obsessed with the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Shampoo, Mango flavor esp. It smells delicious. I also love Mielle Mint Almond Oil.

Home haircare routine: Yes I have a pretty simple one. I washing my scalp using Dark and Lovely Shampoo every morning and evening then moisturize with Mielle Mint Almond oil. Sometimes I bully my people into giving me a head massage.

Take on different hairstyles: I love women and I love all types of hair on them. The secret is owning the looks and just rocking whatever style confidently.

Beauty Youtuber Nyoero Can Do it All by Herself!

Fave salon/stylist: I do my own hair most of the times. I only go to the salon to get Fulani Braids or neat cornrows. I am my favourite hairstylist. My favourite salon is Magic Designers Kenya.

Fave products: I love Cantu Products they’re just amazing.

Home haircare routine: I keep it simple using a good shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in treatment then apply coconut oil or shea butter to moisturize.

Take on other hairstyles: My take on wigs is they are lifesavers on bad hair days. Especially when you don’t have the time to prep, a wig will do. I love fro or curly wigs. I love love natural hair. Natural hair is beautiful and many of my hairstyles revolve mostly around natural hair. Permed hair is nice but it has a lot of limitations as per my opinion. Hair gets weak and one can’t change hairstyles frequently.

Winnie, Glow with Asande Loves to Switch it Up!

Fave salon/stylist: My stylist Jane who does some beautiful cornrows and Johnny the hair designer for the Selina show. He is goooood, especially with 4C hair and extensions.

Fave products: Cantu products and coconut oil work wonders.

Home haircare routine: Wash and go and treatment.

Take on other hairstyles: Wigs are lifesavers. Natural hair if it’s manageable and full. Permed hair is cute but breakage and split ends (urgh). Locs need patience that I lack as I love exploring with my hair.

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LL is a writer based in Nairobi who previously loved attending and writing about the pop culture scene, Nairobae events, and cool Kenyans doing cool things. Especially Kenyan women. Currently, she's relearning and exploring beauty and fashion stories in the country.