Braided & Laid

8 Black Women Across The Globe Share Their Natural Hair Care Routines

From Dallas to London.

by Blake Newby
Black women around the globe share their natural hair routines.

Black women are the furthest thing from a monolith. However, there’s no denying the paralleled experiences that come with learning, embracing, and experimenting with our hair — no matter where we are in the world. But depending on our coordinates, access to certain products, and the community we have around our texture, the price for maintenance and preferred styling all differ.

Take these eight women around the globe as insight into what it’s like to care for natural hair in different cities. Bustle tapped folks from Dallas to Lagos, Nigeria, Paris, and Mexico City (and more) for their go-to styling methods and to hear what their natural hair communities are like. It’s clear that, regardless of where they’re from, all are bound by the common thread of natural hair and a love for protective styling. Keep reading for their hair care journeys.

Lagos, Nigeria: Chidimma Nwankwo

How would you describe the natural hair community in Nigeria?

It’s evolving daily. When I first lived in Lagos in 2015, it was pretty hard for me to find salons that cared for and treated my natural hair. Every time I would go to a salon, I'd have to bring my own products and walk my stylist through how to detangle my 4C hair. Fast forward to 2023, and stylists and salon owners are better educated and equipped and are using the proper treatments.

When it comes to protective styles like braids, I’d say Nigerian/West African women have always been at the forefront of this because braids and twists have always been a part of our hair culture. We never coined a name for it like “protective styles” because that was really all we knew as kids.

How do you preserve your styles?

My two go-to's are knotless braids and wigs. I maintain my styles by always refreshing my braids, whether that’s washing my edges to avoid product buildup from edge control or simply re-braiding the front of my hair to keep that new hair look. I also sleep with silk pillowcases at night. This saves the day when my bonnet falls off while I am sleeping.

How much is the monthly maintenance of your hair?

I’m in the salon at least twice a month. If I am getting long knotless braids, that’s costing me about ₦35,000 ($50 USD) and that service will include a take-down of the previous style, a wash, and then my braids. After I take my braids out, I’ll go to Hairitage Hub, which is my absolute favorite salon, and get a hair treatment and trim if needed. This costs me ₦25,000 ($30 USD).

In total, that’s $80 a month when I'm wearing braids. During a month when I’m getting a new wig, the cost is usually eight times that. My hair budget varies a lot based on my mood and travel plans.

Is there a specific product you can't live without?

I love Kinky-Curly Knot Today. It's been my go-to styling and detangling product for over a decade now.

New York, New York: Skylar Marshai

How would you describe the natural hair community in New York City?

I'd say it's thriving. There are so many bloggers and creators leading the charge in what embracing your natural hair and protective styles can look like. I tend to get a lot of inspo from those individuals, as well as the spaces that they create.

Which particular look would you consider your style of choice?

Right now it's between cornrows and knotless mermaid braids. For a while cornrows were my go-to because of the way my stylist and I could play around with the design and really make each look unique. I also love having dramatic, extra-long cornrows to make it more editorial. However, I recently had knotless mermaid braids for nearly three months and I was in heaven — they last significantly longer than cornrows and I feel like the style choices are endless.

How much is the monthly maintenance of your hair?

I invest quite a bit in my hair, and I also get antsy and tend to want to switch up looks pretty often — so between getting it done and getting it maintained, I'd say $300-500 a month.

Is there any product(s) for your braids that you absolutely swear by?

Easily my Got2Be Glued Hairspray, the Ebin 24-Hour Edge Tamer, and my Vigorol Mousse. They keep my braids looking fresher for longer.

Mexico City, Mexico: Tatiana Pile

How would you describe the natural hair community in Mexico City?

With so many Black women now moving to Mexico City, the community is slowly growing. Admittedly, there are still a few major setbacks, such as limited to no access to hair care products and very few hairstylists to choose from — but, as usual, the Black women are making it work.

A woman named Paige recently created a WhatsApp group called Black Girl Magic in Mexico in order to foster more of a community for the Black women living here. Since its inception, Black women have been able to post requests for products and stylists within the chat. I've been able to share products, exchange styling tips and tricks, and even find friends through this space.

Which particular look would you consider your style of choice?

Before cutting my hair, my go-to style was waist-length knotless braids. I loved the versatility and how creative I could be with the braid colors. I miss having hair long enough for braids, but now my go-to is a TWA [teeny weeny afro]. It's the perfect low-maintenance hairstyle for an avid traveler like myself.

How much is the monthly maintenance of your hair? Do you have a trusted stylist?

I did a big chop right before moving to Mexico City because I wasn't sure if there'd be a bustling natural hair community or not, which ultimately was the best decision for my lifestyle. Luckily, I met a traveling natural hairstylist from London named Tesha (@tressesandtravel) who gave me a haircut and color to hold me over during my time in Mexico.

Outside of that service, my monthly maintenance has been relatively low. I had to stock up on my products before I got here because they don't sell many Black hair care products in Mexico City, so I haven't spent a dime on anything, which has been very lovely. I'm able to do my hair myself and my current style doesn't require many products to maintain the look.

Is there a product(s) that you swear by?

I'm a fan of natural hairstylist Camille (@camillejanaehair), who preaches the gospel of less is more when it comes to hair care products. I really only use about two to three products in my hair outside of my shampoo and conditioner. Although she encourages those with natural hair not to use hair oils, I admittedly still use my Wild Growth Hair Oil — it's nostalgic! I also swear by Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic Curl Stimulator to achieve my most popping curls.

Dallas, Texas: Kyra Henry

How would you describe the natural hair community in Dallas?

I would say the natural hair community in Texas is very prevalent. I think this partly has to do with the humid and constantly changing weather, but I love to see it.

How long does a wash day take for you?

Wash day for me typically takes about two hours with my pre-washing routine, the actual washing routine, and then styling it afterwards.

How often do you trim your hair? Do you do it or get it done professionally?

I typically get my hair trimmed every time that I get it done, which is about once every five months. Before moving to Texas, I trimmed my own hair and did it once every three months.

Is there a particular product(s) that you swear by?

I have a few: the As I Am Cowash, the Renpure Coconut Cream Nourishing Conditioner, and the Mielle Organics Pomegranate and Honey Curl Defining Mousse.

London, England: Samira Amalia

How would you describe the natural hair community in London?

There was one Black salon in the town I lived in that opened when I was about 13 and it was called Afro Impressions. I really didn't understand the importance of community in beauty until this spot opened. Before this, my mum would take me out of town to an African hair braider who would beat the tender out of my head.

The community was small, it was safe, and there weren't that many of us — it was family. Shoutout to the founder Sophia who actually wrote a book called Curly Kyla for young girls to feel empowered and beautiful in their natural hair.

Which particular look would you consider your style of choice?

Definitely box braids, and goddess box braids when I have the patience to sit for a couple of days. They're easy to maintain and look great for months. The style I'm wearing now is faux goddess locs and they look great after a bit of wear — I'm in my boho era.

How much is the monthly maintenance of your hair?

I get my hair done every two to three months when I'm in braids and it costs around $500. Maintenance is mousse and oiling my scalp, so I do next to nothing after I pay to get it done.

When my hair is out, I'm still in a period of trial and error but I did find this fantastic hair dryer (RevAir — thank you TikTok!) that makes blowing out my hair so easy.

How important is having a trusted/consistent stylist to you?

So important — my hair is a lot, so I need to go back to stylists that already know what they're working with. I'm also sitting for a long time, so it has to be someone I'm comfortable with. If my girls aren't available I hit up the group chats for recommendations.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Deja Kelly

How would you describe the natural hair community in college sports?

The natural hair community in college sports is huge. Since we are constantly sweating, we need styles that we are able to wear on a day-to-day basis. Oftentimes, braids, ponytails, and buns are our go-to’s to make sure that we aren’t burning our hair with heat products. College athletes are constantly on the road traveling for about 25 to 30 games a season, and protective styles allow you to focus on the task at hand rather than deciding what hairstyle you have to do before a game.

Which particular look is your style of choice?

I can always count on my slicked-back bun or ponytail to get the job done. It shows all of my features while keeping everything in place during my games.

How do you prioritize the maintenance of your hair despite having to be so physically active?

Since hydration is key, I live for a good hair mask. On my off days, I make sure that I properly condition my hair, oil my scalp to prevent dry scalp, and sit for about an hour in a hair mask. This ensures that my hair stays healthy regardless of the sweating and consistent hair washing.

Is there any product(s) for your curls that you absolutely swear by?

I swear by Curlsmith. I just recently had a haircut to remove all of my split ends, and ever since I began using this brand, my hair has been the healthiest it's been in a while.

Bermuda: Leah Mills

How would you describe the natural hair community in Bermuda?

Summertime in Bermuda is when most of us will wear protective styles, whether that’s braids or just a basic updo to get the hair off of our faces because it’s so hot here.

How long does a wash day take for you?

A wash day for me takes about four to five hours depending on the style of wash and go.

How often do you trim your hair? Do you do it or get it done professionally?

I get my hair trimmed professionally more often in the winter months than in the summer. This is because I'd get it pressed out, which requires a clean cut. During the summer, I wear it curly so I do curly cuts like the wolf cut on myself with shears.

Was creating your own hair care brand a means to fill a gap you saw in Bermuda's hair culture?

Definitely. I felt my hair wasn't reaching its full potential with the products I was using and really needed to get to the root of the problem. I ended up creating products in my kitchen as a result, and it’s now a brand that’s sold island-wide.

Paris, France: Fatou N’diaye

How would you describe the natural hair community in Paris?

There was a time in France when it was very difficult to find the right products for our hair and to find hair salons that knew how to take care of it. We've been taught to hate our hair through history, the media, and the lack of diversity and inclusion. But in recent years, thanks to the internet, creators of hair products, influencers, and hairdressers trained in Afro hair, Black French women have learned to take care of their hair and celebrate its beauty.

Where do you find inspiration for your next style?

My hairstyle inspirations often come from my mother's photo albums. I reproduce the hairstyles that she, her sisters, and her mother wore in Nigeria. I'm also lucky to have a Malian dad, and Malian hairstyles in West Africa are known to be beautiful. I find that the ancestral African hairstyles were magnificent.

How much is the monthly maintenance of your hair in Paris? Do you have a trusted stylist?

I go once a month to my hairdresser Gilles Boldron and his eponymous hair salon. It costs me 100 euros. Otherwise, in terms of hair product expenses, it costs me 60 euros every two months.

Is there a product(s) that you swear by?

My favorite product is Les Secrets de Loly Moisturizing Smoothie Vanilla Ylang Hair Milk.