Women will give anything to look good. They do not care how much it costs or how long it takes. Even if takes them close to a minute to make a 180 degrees turn to the left or to the right, a journey their necks would have made in a second were they wearing a simple hairdo, they still would settle for the pain and the discomfort as long as the hairstyle makes them elegant.
For many women, their hair is the single most important asset in their lives. Their hair is their identity, a personal statement they make even when they are mute. Having a bad hair day for women is worse than having a bossy boss who hates your guts.
So many go great lengths to ensure that their hair is in place before they step out.
The intense relationship between a woman’s hair and her self-esteem is something that cannot be denied. This connection is evident throughout history, philosophy and even religion. The hair, for women, symbolizes feminism, identity, freedom and beauty as well as liberation.
It can be a fashion statement, a way of life, or an identity, but whatever it is meant to represent, braiding is an African lifestyle. As far back as 3500 BC the women in Egypt braided their hair. The art, however, developed into complex patterns in West Africa subsequently.
Braids are formed from patterns by interlacing three or more strands of flexible material such as textile yarns, wire, or synthetic hair.
In certain parts of the continent, a braid was a means of communication. At a glance, one individual could distinguish a wealth of information about another, whether they were married, mourning, or of age for courtship.
Braids were a means of social stratification. Certain hairstyles were distinctive to particular tribes or nations. Other styles informed others of an individual’s status in society.
Braiding was also seen then as a social art. As a result of the time it takes to braid hair, people have often taken time to socialize while braiding. In most salons, braiders and customers alike talk and laugh together, watch television or listen to music during the long hours of braiding. For those who don’t understand them, they accuse them of gossiping but no, it’s fun time especially when there is an issue too hot to let go in the community. One could hear the latest information in the community at the braiders joint or salon.
But the African woman has undergone some changes over the years, making the things that used to be normal, a lot more complex.
Modern women want to spend their time, engaging in other more productive activities. She now owns a car, has a well paid job, a house and other properties. She is the boss in her organization or she probably owns the company so her roles have changed drastically.
In the quest to look good and still live up to expectations, she needs to be able to manage her time in such a way that no aspect of her life is left unattended to.
This means that time spent in the salon is reduced. Part of that time will be used in drawing plans for an upcoming project, attending PTA meetings, cooking or attending to a husband or solving a problem at work.
When tired of wearing their own hair, women tend to braid or fix weave-ons. The braids and weave-ons do not only reduce the time spent on caring for the hair, but also protects the hair from bad weather which may cause it to break or weaken.
The average time spent on fixing a weave on is about one and a half or two hours. The braids take about three or four hours to finish, depending on the style. That is a lot of time to spend sitting in a salon to fix one’s hair.
Women don’t want to go through this anymore. But they still want to look good.
Thanks to innovation, however, it is possible to wear a braid cap. Just like a wig, the braid caps are made with elastic hair nets, making it easy to wear at any time. The braids are first plaited and then stitched onto the elastic hair net.
Many women seem to find this method more comfortable and convenient.
Some women who patronize these caps confirmed that not only is the cap useful, they now have more room to do other things.
“I love to braid my hair, but it takes a long time, so now I’ve decided to wear the braid caps instead. I don’t have to sit for long hours anymore,” Ama said in an interview.
“Since I discovered the braid cap, I don’t go to the salon and sit for long hours anymore. Sometimes you can sit for so long your butt begins to hurt,” Mabel said as she giggled.
Naana has stopped fixing even weave on since she discovered braid caps. With a natural kinky hair, she said all she does is wrap her hair in an elastic hair net and “I’m gone. I cannot go and sit in the salon for hours braiding and doing all those things.”
Abigail is a banker. For a work schedule that runs all week and sometimes weekends, she hardly ever gets the time to sit for long hours in a salon.
“So when I put on the cap, I’m gone, I really don’t have time to comb or style my hair. I just have to wrap my hair in an elastic hair net and put on the cap, then I’m gone. It so simple, easy and just time saving,” she said.
The braid caps can be washed and kept for as long as possible and they can be made in different styles and colours and customized to suit the wearer.
The only downside, perhaps, when it comes to caps is that you don’t know when they are going to fall off, and it could be embarrassing if it does in public, but as Adwoa puts it “if they do it well, then you don’t have to worry about it falling off. Braid caps are the new ‘ish’, she added.