Authentic hair and beauty in Tanzania and Nigeria
The African continent is home to a multitude of ethnicities, cultures and beauty standards. In many of the hottest parts of Africa, women have traditionally kept their hair short, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. In ancient Egypt, hair removal was part of the beauty routine for men and women alike and many wore wigs instead of their natural hair.
For the Maasai, who live in the Serengeti desert, short hair is a typically female style. While male warriors wear plaits denoting their status, women sport buzzcuts, offset by colourful beaded headdresses and jewellery. The fierce look recently received a contemporary update thanks to box office smash Black Panther, which saw bareheaded female warriors from the fictional kingdom of Wakanda save the day, looking not entirely unlike Maasai women.
In other cultures, braiding, knotting and twisting techniques have gone from traditional to modern and have been exported all over the world. In Nigeria, braiders are particularly inventive, creative and influenced by styles from different tribes and ethnicities, like the shell-adorned braids of the Yoruba, the fanned hair combs of the Igbo and the tall Akaba style which became popular in the 1960s. One advantage of braided styles is that, despite the effort involved in first creating them, once a look is done, it lasts a long time, requiring minimum styling, but maximum care.
Whether her hair is high-maintenance or fuss free, whether she wears it in a traditional style or has an edgy modern look, what makes a woman beautiful is feeling comfortable in her own skin, with a style she loves. Being authentic is beautiful – all over the world!