As an African American woman, I was worried about what to do with my hair while abroad in London. Before I left, I decided to get knotless braids in my hair. I could keep the braids in my hair for three months at most. But, my study abroad experience was about four months long. Therefore, I didn’t have a concrete plan for what to do with my hair after the braids. I could have done my hair naturally, but I had heat damage, which means some of my hair would not curl when wet. So, my hair didn’t look right when done at home. This problem had to get fixed professionally.
A person’s hair is a part of their identity. As a child, I did not like my naturally curly hair. It made me feel out of place, especially around my white friends. It wasn’t until recently that I became comfortable with my natural hair. I could tell how it boosted my confidence. I felt more like my authentic self.
It can be a struggle for African Americans to do their hair while traveling. Our hair requires a lot of products and space to work. In addition, the process can be rather messy. This would be especially troubling for me because, in my apartment, I share my room with one roommate and a bathroom with three people. Luckily, my friend studied abroad in London the semester before me, and she found a place that did natural hair. She said they did great. So I decided to give it a try.
For approximately three months of my abroad experience, I wore my braids. The day before my appointment, I took them out myself. About 300 braids later, I finished. It took me all day. The next day I went to Curl Talk in Brick Lane. The minute I walked into the shop, I knew I made the right choice. They started my hair right on time. First, my stylist did a short consultation. Then she washed and conditioned my hair. While washing my hair, she told me what products she was using. She also said she would show me all the products she used in my hair after the appointment. Then, she gave me a hydration mist treatment which took about 10 minutes. Afterward, the stylist rinsed and further conditioned my hair. Then she styled my hair. For this part of the process, she reclined the seat I was sitting in and did my hair while I was horizontal. This part of the process took approximately an hour. But it was amazing. She gave me a mirror to watch the process and explained what she was doing. I felt like I was in a hair training session. At the end of the session, she even allowed me to add a trim to my appointment. Once I paid, I was shown all the products used in my hair and was allowed to take pictures. She even took pictures of my hair with the ring light. Overall my hair looked great, and the experience was more than satisfactory. I booked another appointment for my last week here.
Before coming to London, I didn’t know of a shop like Curl Talk in my area back home. Therefore, I was not sure how hard it would be to find one in London. “A study by Habia revealed that there are over 35,000 beauty salons in the UK, but somehow only 302 are Afro-Caribbean hair specialist registered salons,” (Mamona, 2021). I am thankful I found this salon in London to do my hair. They were even able to help me find a similar salon near my hometown.