Beauty parlours with street cred

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Copy of NS DREADS 2 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS James Gwala puts the finishing touches to Nathi Mbejes dreadlocks at the bus terminal across the street from The Workshop. Picture: Jacques Naude

Pavement beauty parlours are becoming big business in Durban but it’s not only these salons that are making money. Unscrupulous robbers are casting covetous eyes on the lanky dreadlocks of local fashionable lads and lasses – dreads are expensive accessories to buy and maintain.

Gugu Mathenjwa of Durban said it’s safer to style dreadlocks and plait them flat on your head instead of leaving them hanging. The longer your dreadlocks, the less safe you are from robbers.

Dreadlocks are re-usable and can be plaited on to someone else’s hair, much like extensions and weaves.

“I heard someone say that I could possibly get robbed because my dreadlocks could now be worth more than R800 because they are long and thick,” said Mathenjwa.

“Even at the salon they advised me to style my dreadlocks. I also try not to walk around in dangerous places where I could be an easy target,” said Mathenjwa.

Shaun Mfene, a consultant trainer at Jabu Stone Natural Hair head office, said that their salons buy dreadlocks from people in order to use them as extensions on their clients who don’t have the patience to wait for their own natural dreadlocks to grow.

Copy of NS STREET BEAUTY 5 A beauty salon outside the Workshop. Picture: Jacques Naude INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Mfene said that the salon pays R500 for dreadlocks but they cut the dreadlocks off the seller themselves.

“We don’t just buy dreadlocks not knowing where they come from. If people come to us wanting to cut their dreadlocks for any reason we cut them off ourselves,” he said.

Mfene said that he had heard about the dreadlock robbers but had not seen it for himself. “We don’t encourage that kind of behaviour. that’s why we cut the dreadlocks off ourselves,”said Mfene.

Meanwhile, i hairstylists and beauticians are popping up seemingly on every corner, especially in the area surrounding The Workshop in the Durban CBD.

The bus terminals across the road from the Workshop in Monty Naicker (Pine) Street and Commercial Road are a common spot for men and women who are getting dreadlocks styled, while behind the Workshop, near the Virgin Active gym, beauty tents where nails and eyelashes are done have recently mushroomed.

Dreadlocks are created by twisting the owner’s natural hair using gel wax and a comb. They are better than the coarse Afro which is difficult to comb, more natural than the process of relaxing which involves burning chemicals, and less expensive than extensions and weaves.

Nozipho Shange, who was getting her hair done, said that converting her Afro into dreadlocks would make life much easier. “My hair falls out when I comb it, so dreadlocks are better,” she said.

Dreadlock hairstylist Mlondi Sithole said that although dreadlocks were cheaper than extensions to have done, they required regular touch-ups.

“It costs about R190 to do them the first time and R130 to renew them every two weeks,” he said.

Getting dreadlocks done on the streets is more economical as the average cost of doing dreadlocks at a hair salon is R300 for first timers and R180 for subsequent touch-ups.

Sithole said dreadlocks take about two to three months to “lock” and after that process had taken place, the hair could not be converted back to its original state.

“Once they are locked then you have no choice but to keep them or cut them off,” said Sithole.

The area behind the Workshop has become a beauty industry hub, as there are numerous tents offering manicures, pedicures and artificial eyelashes from R50.

It is cheaper to get nails done at these tents than salons which charge from R120 for eyelashes, R80 for French manicures and R120 for nails with colour.

No prior appointment needs to be made and the manicure takes about 20-25 minutes to do, while eyelashes take about 10-15 minutes.

There are more than 15 beauty tents to choose from. They look similar, as the size and colour of the tents are the same and the banners with the prices are also the same but they can be distinguished by their names such as Aimee’s Touch, Generations Beauty Salon, Betty’s Professional and many others. The quality of the service provided also differs from tent to tent.

Buyi Buthelezi, who is the owner of Generations Beauty Salon, said that there was a lot of competition, but the demand was also high.

Customers said that the best way to judge the quality of the service at a particular beauty tent was to come early and watch while someone gets their nails or eyelashes done and if you don’t like what you see, you can always move on to the next tent. - Independent on Saturday

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