Not so long ago, we had a not-so-rare 4-day weekend in Nigeria, thanks to the Eid celebrations. I definitely made the most of my break, and one of the things I achieved was prepping my hair for the best blowout ever!
“African Threading” as it is called on the interwebs- Isi Owu in Igbo, and Irun Kiko in Yoruba- is a fantastic way to stretch our natural hair, and I dare say it is the best. I have tried threading several times, the first time in 2014 HERE and before this, the last time was a year ago HERE, but my challenge with threading is, my hair takes ages to dry. So if I’m going to lock in my freshly moisturised hair AFTER a wash? That’s a 3-day exercise. If you stress yourself to thread, and your hair isn’t fully dry when you take it down, you will not get the benefits of the stretch. So. Except I’m threading my hair on Friday night, it just doesn’t work for me- but I think this has changed.
Why Did I Thread My Hair?
The plan was to rock a fluffy, voluminous twist-out to Naturals in the City, and y’all know I like to style on dry hair. This was why I asked my mom to thread my hair because I knew I’d have a dry, full stretch by Tuesday night last last, which I could put in twists that I’d wear Wednesday to Friday, and have my fabulous twist out on Saturday.
When I asked her to thread for me, I didn’t actually think I, as in, me myself- would wear the thread out in public. I have been a long-time admirer of kiko styles on others and shared on the blog (like this Fela-inspired photoshoot HERE and of Chimamanda bae HERE) but I didn’t have the full liver to say “yo, this is my style for next week!” I’d joke about it, but never follow through.
Well, that night, my mom took the threading very personal. She had done it for me like twice before, but this time, she took her time with the parts and threaded closely with fewer gaps. She wanted me to see the full length of my hair.
Like joke like joke, by the time she was done, she was marveling at her handwork and in between laughing and calling me Pafinga, she was like oh, this is professional work! You have to wear this hair!
I’m not going to lie, halfway through the “ponytail”, I went to my room to see that a turban style could be attempted to cover the thread if need be, and being satisfied that it would, we continued.
This look is pretty much a threaded ponytail. She gathered all the individual strands together, and threaded them from the base, down. Then, she bent it over and used thread to hold it down, so it wouldn’t just stick out like that. Looked like I had a handle on my head, haha but I liked it.
I wore it to church on Sunday morning, and to the Island in the afternoon, to promote Naturals in the City. Monday, I wore it to run errands. Tuesday was a busy day, and I was super tired at the end of it. Tired, like passed out at 9pm in my day clothes tired. I woke up at midnight, and I thought, nah mehn. I can’t kill myself. This hair is going to have to go to work tomorrow. Shey we have already come this far. It helped that my parents whom I don’t always agree with on what’s appropriate for work (clothes/ hair) co-signed like yes, sure, why not?
Reactions to African Threading at Work
So, on Tuesday, I dug out my most professional looking blouse and made sure to put on makeup. I admit I was on the defensive; I braced myself for a few negative comments at work, but to my pleasant surprise, none came.
Instead, I got:
“What are you up to again?” *said with an amused face*
“This is EPIC!”
“Your hair is so nice, who made it for you?”
And the random, “You plaited your hair? I thought you permed it/ you used to perm it” O_o
That was it, really. I got fewer reactions to my kiko than I have received to a twist-out. Even as I was out and about, I didn’t notice any weird stares. I think that kind of shows the spread/ wide acceptance of Natural hair and natural hairstyles in Lagos these days. Yay for that!
Now, where was I? I threaded this hair for a reason!
When I got home on Wednesday night, I loosened the thread. My mom felt it was good for another 2 weeks (which was kind of true), but, I had the plan to stick to, and- I didn’t notice initially that my hair was pulled tight in three sections. By Wednesday, those areas were sore, and they absolutely had to go. Yes, even though African Threading is great and protective and I highly recommend it, it can also cause pain and hair loss if it’s tighter than it should be!
Results of African Threading: my Fluffy Heatless Blowout!
I threaded after my Washday, so the threading provided my hair with a great opportunity to absorb all the moisture, taking its sweet time. I did not use a lot of leave-in conditioner (so it would dry faster), but the little that I used went a long way. Hair could never have been that moisturised if I had left it to dry in twists. No way.
Here’s how my hair looked immediately after taking off the thread:
And then, I combed it out with a wide tooth comb.
My hair was soft, and when I mean soft- I mean, soft, light, easy to comb through. No games. Run ya fingers through kind of soft. Very romantic!
I begged my Uncle to help me with the photos (thanks Coco!) and after our mini shoot, as much as I wished I could wear my hair big and fluffy forever, I had to calm down, part my hair and put it in 20 chunky twists, which I pinned down with bobby pins. This is the end of my story for today!
In a nutshell, African Threading is bae. Hair is made of protein, and heat depletes protein. Blow drying your hair often can take its toll. Where you can, plan ahead, and work towards a heatless stretch with threading. Yes, it takes me 3 days but I think it’s worth it. The next time you straighten your hair, thread it first. By the time you get to the salon, all you’ll need is maybe one short blast of the blow dryer on medium heat, and then flat-iron straight. Think about it!
Threading = super soft, well moisturised, and SMOOTH hair. Stretching with twists & braids cannot give you this smoothness, beloved. It just can’t. The next time I thread my hair I should wear it for at least a week. Of course, I’ll keep you posted when that happens! 🙂
So. How have you been wearing your hair lately? Are you a fan of threading? Share your reasons with me in the comments!