Kenya: ‘Sisterlocks’ the new hairstyle craze embraced by Kenyan women

Nairobi — “If I had known how convenient ‘Sisterlocks’ are, I would have installed them a long time ago.” Miss Jackie Gathoni confesses.

Dr. JoAnne Cornwell of San Diego created “sisterlocks, a tiny, uniform technique of natural hairstyling in 1993. Sisterlocks has certified associates in over 30 states.

Introduced locally less than a decade ago, Kenyan women have not been left behind with the “Sisterlocks” craze.

However, very few people could then afford the cost of installing the tiny locks, with only a handful of hairdressers knowledgeable about this technique cashing in.

Miss Gathoni has been wearing this protective hairstyle for five years now. She tells me that when she first installed them she paid 60,000ksh.

“That amount seems heavy, but when you consider the amount of work it takes to perfect the art, it’s worth every penny.” She admits.

Caren Sisterlocks is a salon located in the central business district of Nairobi. Caren, the owner, takes pride in providing quality services to her clients. She has worked in the installation field for four years. Not revealing what her charges are, Miss Caren says the price per head depends on hair texture, length and volume.

I find Miss Lillian at the salon where she came for a consultation which they say is key before fitting new Sisterlocks. Deciding to lock your hair is a huge decision, not to mention the permanent decision. Here she is told about her hair type, length, fillers and benefits of having “Sisterlocks”.

The ‘Sisterlocks’ community around the world has a slogan “Trust the process”. In my research, I realized that it is because the hair goes from the babylocks phase to the teenage phase and finally completely locked. Miss Edith Muli confesses that she used to have fine, textured hair, but looking at her hair a year after making the bold move, she’s amazed at how big it has become.

“Sisterlocks is the way to go. It does not involve chemicals that damage and weaken the hair and once it is installed it is a low maintenance hairstyle since all you do is spray your scalp with rose water or just plain water shake and off you go not like manipulation The setup cost has come down tremendously With 15,000 to 20,000 ksh you can find a good locksmith, said Miss Muli.

The installation of Sisterlocks can take between a day or two depending on the volume of the hair. Hair can take between 2 weeks and up to a year for your Sisterlocks to settle.

Sisterlocks will increase in thickness after a few washes by approximately 100%. The ends will always remain a bit thicker than the root, which signifies the beginning of the locking process.

Caren prefers to do a new installation by herself despite well-trained assistants. It allows them to tighten up. Tightening is a maintenance done after 4-6 weeks to keep the hair strands looking fresh and neat.

Lucy Akoth says her boss trained her with models for months before allowing her to take on a client for a tightening. She has nothing but praise for Caren. It is obvious that their working relations other than commercial are also cordial.

Unlike a fresh install of ‘Sisterlocks’, a retie will take 2-3 hours. A follow-up schedule is important for your locks to thrive. Miss Gathoni revealed that after spending ksh60,000 on her hair, which she calls an investment, she went a step further to ensure the utmost care for her locks. This fully locked sister, as she refers to herself, says that for healthy “Sisterlocks” she takes collagen which nourishes her hair, skin and nails. She also drinks plenty of water and exercises, which she says has made her “Sisterlocks” the center of attraction wherever she goes.

Nairobi ladies have embraced this hairstyle and many say it is the best decision ever. When professionally installed, they look amazing.

Most women are moving from chemical hair and traditional locs to “Sisterlocks”. Traditional highlights are most often created by rolling (or braiding) medium to large amounts of hair, using a balm or wax. Sisterlocks are installed using a special tool and much smaller portions of your hair.