Natural hair salon with a touch of difference

Smangele Sibisi informs her clients about natural hair. photos/ supplied
Smangele Sibisi informs her clients about natural hair. photos/ supplied

Searing pain. That's what most people associate relaxers with. But pain should be endured if one wants to look pretty, or at least that's what we grew up believing about our black hair.

This is changing; straight hair doesn't directly translate to beautiful anymore as women embrace their natural hair. This new belief has opened the hair industry to entrepreneurs like Smangele Sibisi.

The 28-year-old Kagiso native owns a natural hair salon. Though she's been running Ndalo Nubian Naturals since 2016, she started working on hair full-time immediately after high school. She specialises in dreadlocks and afros.

Her first Ndalo store was in Johannesburg and she has since opened a second store last year in Pretoria.

"With a natural hair salon the atmosphere changes from how you handle people's hair to how you share knowledge with them, to how you advise them," says Sibisi.

She also says most women who come into her salon are in touch with their hair, and hers is a highly personal and very intimate relationship with the clients.

"With natural hair you become in touch with your people and also the space as well; everyone is relaxed, there's no dryer making noise."

Sibisi says lack of knowledge is at the heart of some of the mistakes women make with their hair, ending up damaging it. She notes, for example, that many people don't know that heat damages hair. She adds that not following a hair regime, for example, changing from product to product can also damage the hair further.

A model shows off one of the natural hair styles available at Ndalo Nubian Naturals.
A model shows off one of the natural hair styles available at Ndalo Nubian Naturals.

"You end up being a product junkie and that won't help you in any way."

Women who have decided to go natural are often told by stylists at relaxer salons that they can use natural hair relaxers to soften their hair so it is easily styled.

The promise is always that the hair will return to it's afro state once washed. Sibisi scoffs at these claims.

"In true essence if you're going to put something in your hair that manipulates it to stretch out, chances are it might not go back.

"Once you put in a chemical in your hair it will never go back; you'll have to transition or cut the hair," Sibisi says.

She adds that sometimes stylists are even unable to give you an accurate definition of the texture of your hair, but will be quick to diagnose natural hair relaxers.

"This is wrong. some people end up losing their hair and sometimes a person's health is affected. You'll use the relaxer and find that your scalp is sensitive and get burned."

On the journey to getting to know more about taking care of natural hair, people will encounter issues such as finding out about the type of hair they have.

Sibisi advices that this shouldn't cause any frustration.

"I usually say you have soft, medium or coarse hair. You'll find that an individual can have three types of hair on their head."

She does, however, advise that one should get hair consultation to know exactly what is going on with their hair. This is one of the services she provides for her clients, free of charge.

She says people are aware and more equipped about the natural hair movement now and it's encouraging to see cover models rocking their natural hair. But when she started she had people asking her how she'd keep her business afloat.

"Once you tell the truth, nothing but the truth people get interested. I started sharing stories about natural hair and people saw the truth in that. And from there the business grew."

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