Haya, this week we are trying to learn a few things. Today the lesson can be basic, intermediate or complex depending on where you lie on the spectrum. Wherever you are, tafadhali usife moyo. All things are possible.
Also, fair warning: my camera is FAAAAARRRR from nice. The photos (even after convincing a professional photographer to try and make them useable) are lacking in more ways than one. I had an option: sip water, teremsha the kiwaru of these (I really want to say horrible) bad photos and still do the post before imepitwa na wakati OR skip the post and sip juice by the beach as I deleted the photos and prayed for a DSLR and a tripod to fall into my lap. Clearly, I went with the first option; mainly because sina pesa ya kupanda SGR saa hii.
Anyway, shall we jump in?
This hairstyle goes by different names: goddess braids, Ghanaian conrows or feed-in conrows. Here in Kenya, we know them as ‘line za kuongeza.’ I’m sure most of us have tried them out at one time. When they’re done well, they look good. They can be professional or casual, depending on how you style the loose end of the braids. I think that they have also evolved over the years. They started out chunky, went small-medium sized and recently, the trend has been to have like two or four lines on your head. The one thing that annoys me about this latest trend is the fact that the hairdressers tend to conrow your hair underneath and then sew the braid on top. So it ends up looking like the braid is sitting on your head instead of one with your hair. I don’t believe that there are enough facepalms for that. I hope I’m not being mean, but I believe that kind of sewing should only be for people with short hair that can’t hack a conrow. Ama?
So, I haven’t had much time to take care of Bella (that’s my hair’s name 😀 ). She and I needed time apart so we could appreciate each other more after the reunion. I also have commitment issues. ;-D . I plan to plait for weeks then when I finally do, two days later, I’m missing my curls. So I decided, why not do a low-maintenance DIY hairstyle for like two weeks? I wanted few but moderately chunky conrows that were not sewed in but actually braided – I ended up with seven. So in the spirit of sharing the not-so-perfect results that I had mentioned here I decided to share my experience.
I bought the braids in a random supermarket near where I live at 70 bob a pack. I took four packs of short Abuja to be safe but ended up using two only. You can find the braids at a cheaper price on Dubois road. They should be like 5 to 10 bob cheaper. I opted for 2/30 which is a number I have never used before but I thought that it was closest to my hair color and would work better.
Step 1: I had already done most of it before.
I washed my hair a day or two before and sealed the moisture with my concoction of oils, which I will share soon. So I detangled and divided my hair into the seven sections as shown below.
People always ask, “Wewe hukataje line?” Now, the response might not be satisfactory because the truth is that you just feel it. I usually part my hair with my fingers first since I can feel how I would want the line to curve. Then I follow it up with a comb just to ensure that the line is probably as straight as it could be. I admit that it’s not a foolproof plan. Lakini I can’t see the back of my head so I guess I have to settle for that.
Step 2: I prepared the braid.
First I took the braid out of the pack, applied shea butter on my hands and ran through the length of the braid to tame the fly-aways. Yaani, you know the way synthetic hair like Abuja is hard to handle and easy to waste? To reduce that, you apply a bit of oil so it can sleek down and not ‘shikana’ when you are getting the separate pieces. I really hope that makes sense.
I then separated the braid into varying thickness. I got thinner sections to start off the conrow. I opted to do this because I did not want the front parts of my conrows to look like a huge bump. I wanted the thickness along the line to be natural so I gradually increased the thickness of the braid section I parted for each conrow. The thickness really depends on how chunky you want your lines to be. The thicker the braid sections, the chunkier the line will be. Again, I really hope that makes sense.
Step 3: Braiding
How does one explain a conrow honestly? I tried to shoot a mini-clip but from the photos we have here, I think it would have been disaster upon disaster to include the video. Hehehe.
Okay. Let me try. So I took one of the sections I had parted in the beginning and parted the front into three sections then plaited as I added a piece of hair from the back. You know the way you do a matuta? Like that, only flat. I did this for the front section to start of the plaiting process so that I could protect my edges. These conrows (I really just want to say ‘lines’ like a normal Kenyan) are notorious for ‘kukata nywele’ along the edges and I tried to avoid that.
After about one or two centimeters of plaiting my hair, I started feeding in the braid, starting with the smaller sections and working my way up to the bigger sections slowly. To feed in the braid, the trick is to hold the middle part so that the braid is in two equal halves. For me, I found that holding the braid with my dominant (right) hand made it easier for me. Place the middle part of that braid under the middle section of your hair. (Remember when we started we had to divide our hair into three sections.) Grip one half of the braid with the middle section and the other half with one of the outer sections; either right or left. Continue plaiting the same way you would a conrow. At intervals, keep feeding in the braids until you are about three-quarters along the conrow. At this point, the conrow should be as thick as you want it to be so you can stop adding the braid. Keep plaiting all the way to the end and make a small knot at the end of your braid so it does not unravel. You basically do this for each conrow until you are done.
These were the preliminary results.
If you look at some of my conrows, I plaited my hair a long way. This was because I wanted to crotchet some braids so I could have side bangs. Some of us are loyal members of ‘team forehead.’ If we did not have this improvisation our hugs would be deadly. I’d probably poke your face with my forehead going in for a hug. Hehehe. This also helped to clean up the ones that look a bit crooked at the front.
So after finishing the seven conrows and crotcheting the front, these were the results.
I did not want my conrows to be too thick or chunky. The downside to this is that the back third of my head left spaces where you could see my scalp. A trick I picked up from seeing my hairdresser (back in the day) work is that if your lines are too spaced out, you can use knitting thread and a huge needle to ‘scooch’ them together. The idea is to pass the thread twice or thrice, horizontally under the braid and fasten it at the ends. You can make it however tight you want. Personally, I did mine loosely because I don’t like to feel excessive tugging on my scalp. Plus, I will only have them in for two weeks so it’s really inconsequential.
Finally, you know the way professional chefs insist on presentation? After they have finished cooking they’ll grate some carrots, drizzle some sauce or include some roughly chopped dhania? What they call garnishing? I did the equivalent of that on my hair with some mushaino (those tu-things you see shining on my head) just so the style didn’t look bland. 😀
It was my first time trying this and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do. Plus, it took less than two hours which was honestly a blessing!!!!! Hopefully I’ll try it out again soon and get a video ‘with manners’ to upload. Ama I just start a YouTube channel?
Kwa hayo machache, subscribe to the email alerts for new posts. Here’s to hoping that you learnt something. I shall hopefully see you next week for more hair chronicles!