By Alvine Kapitako
WINDHOEK – The hair industry in Namibia is one of the fastest growing sectors, as more and more women realise that although hair does not make a woman, good hair definitely opens doors.
The past years have seen an increase in hair salons and an increase in the cost of hair, as more women wear weaves and, of late, many black women prefer to have hair extensions.
This is all because women want to look good and leave a first and lasting impression with their hair.
But, why is it so important for a woman’s hair to look good? New Era this week spoke to women from various backgrounds on why their hair should always look good and why the local hair industry is booming.
“A woman’s outward adornment reflects on how she feels about herself,” says a hairstylist at Simana Naturals Emporium, who prefers anonymity. Simana Naturals Emporium caters mainly for black women, who have embraced their natural hair.
“We want to look good and maintain our own self worth,” says Joy Pillay, a hairstylist at Sandra’s hair studio in Pionierspark. The hair industry is growing rapidly, notes Pillay.
“Before women never worried about themselves and how their hair or nails looked. But, now they want to keep up with the times because when they see their friends looking good and they also go to the same stylist to look good. Women are (now) aware they have to look good,” she says.
According to Pillay, the number of times a woman would visit the salon depends on the type of hairdo that she wants. Some women visit the salon once a week and others once a month. For example, a woman who wants to trim the edges of her hair can visit the salon once a month and will pay up to N$250, depending on whether she blow dries the hair, explains Pillay. She adds that if a woman just wants to colour her hair, she visits the salon once a month and for that she pays N$520, in addition to blow dry.
But, Pillay feels strongly that when it comes to women’s hair looking good there should not be a price tag or monetary value attached to that. This, she adds, is because it is important for a woman’s hair to look good at all times. Pillay also adds that young single women always want their hair to look good because they want to impress and attract the opposite sex while married women will go out of their way to look good in order to impress their husbands.
Her advice to women is that they should always look good for themselves and not to impress others. “When a woman’s hair looks good, she also feels good,” says Pillay.
A 29-year-old personal assistant, Fiola Cloete, says she always loves to look good, especially her hair. “A woman’s hair should always look good because that’s what brings out her true beauty. They say that a woman’s hair is her glory. If everything else is in place, like the make-up and clothes but the hair is a mess then it does not bring out the full beauty,”Cloete says.
Cloete, who is a Brazilian hair fanatic, says she does not keep a hairstyle for a long time because she styles her own hair. “In a month, I can change my hairstyle four times and if it’s less then it’s three times,” she says. She spends about N$500 on her hair in a month, excluding the Brazilian weave, which costs at least N$1 500.
“My favourite hairstyle is weave, preferably Brazilian because it is easy to manage. I know we should appreciate our own hair but with Brazilian it’s easier to manage and it’s nice if you style it stays in style, especially when you style the original ones, it stays in style,” adds Cloete.
She says, she can use the Brazilian weave for up to a year if it is well cared for. “It’s costly but in the end, it benefits you. Instead of buying 100 percent natural hair or synthetic hair every month so that (Brazilian) actually saves you money,” says Cloete.
She says women should look good all the time in order to be taken seriously.
“…Not that you are trying to please anybody but people always say that the first impression counts, so what you look like counts. If you are sloppy and your hair is a mess and things are not in place and you tell people that you are an accountant they will not take you seriously,” Cloete says.
She stresses that if women love themselves they always look good and that it does not take much of their time to look good.
“It’s just spending even 30 minutes of the day in the morning on yourself,” Cloete maintains.
A 7de Laan informal settlement resident in Otjomuise, Penehafo Nandjungu agrees that the hair industry has grown over the years.
“The industry is expanding because hair is important for women. A woman’s head is her glory and she should always look good,” says Nandjungu. She says she spends at least N$300 a month to maintain a neat hairdo.
“Before a man approaches a woman, he first checks on the head. So, it’s very important for a woman’s hair to look good,” Nandjungu says.
“It’s becoming very expensive to maintain a woman’s hair,” Nandjungu adds.
She attributes this to the fact more women and salons in general are importing Brazilians and other weaves from other countries.
“Brazilians are very much expensive,” says Nandjungu.
She says she does not really love Brazilians, as long as her hair is tidy she does not have to invest in Brazilian hair. “My favourite hairstyle is Rasta (singles with braids) because it is very easy to maintain. I don’t like this combing,” she remarks.
Salon owner at 7de Laan, Paulina Nandjungu concurs that the hair industry is booming because hair products are expensive and many women are buying fake hair, which costs up to a few thousands of Namibian dollars.
“Hair is very expensive, the products that we use are also very expensive,” said one woman at a salon near Ellerines in Windhoek’s Central Business District. The woman, who preferred anonymity, says she does not like to use “plastic hair” on her head and so she opts for Brazilian hair, which costs her N$1 800.
In addition, 36-year-old Tukutha Iyambo, a salon owner in 7de Laan informal settlement in Otjomuise said she prefers to put on weaves, particularly Brazilian hair because “it is more like natural hair. We black women naturally have short hair and we sometimes yearn for longer hair, so Brazilian hair becomes the option. We add hair extensions in order for us look better.”
Iyambo changes her weaves once a month.
She too has noted that the hair industry is growing because hair products have become expensive.
“A woman’s hair is her glory even if she looks good and her hair does not look as good she will not really look good,” Iyambo remarks.
According to the stylist at Simana Naturals Emporium, more black women have embraced their natural hair because they realised the damage chemicals such as hair relaxers are doing to their hair.
According to the stylist, it is much cheaper to maintain black natural hair and in a month a woman who has embraced her own natural hair can spend about N$400 and her hair would look good and healthy.
Market research by Euromonitor International recently revealed that last year, women in Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon alone spent a whopping US$1.1 billion on their hair. This includes purchases of shampoos, relaxers and hair lotions.
Meanwhile, a young man, Shoshil Chome Theophelos, says that women do not need hair extensions to look beautiful.
According to him, “they don’t need to wear Brazilian hair and put on hair extensions”.
Theophelos says in extreme cases women who are “obsessed” with looking good can cause problems in their families and relationships.
“This can sometimes contribute to men not to spend their money well. They can give more money for the woman to buy Brazilian hair while household needs are not taken care of,” he says, explaining the weaves would make the woman look so beautiful and in the end attract more men.
“If the woman is not strong at heart, she can go after other men and this would infuriate the one who buys her Brazilians and he would end up killing her,” Theophelos explains.