This post is part of an ongoing series called Fur We Love, where we focus on women's relationship to their hair and the routines they've built around haircare. We talked to Alexis Kakyire, a Bronx based interdisciplinary artist currently studying at Cooper Union, who explores the history and power of Ghanian symbols to add depth to the histories of hair. We talked to her about traditional African hairstyles, going natural, and hair that gives us nuance.
What are some of your haircare and grooming routines for hair allover?
My hair care routine depends on how much time I have and if I’m feeling brave enough to go on the 4 hour journey to wash my hair. If I have a protective style in I will mostly just oil my scalp. But if my hair is out then I wash it with sulfate free shampoo and condition it about once every two weeks. If it’s looking dry, distraught, and lack luster by wash day I’ll probably use a deep conditioning treatment or let the conditioner sit in my hair with a shower cap over night. Then I’ll usually use the L.O.C method to moisturize and seal my hair.
What hairstyles make you feel the most confident?
Any hairstyle that’s cute makes me feel confident—I like to change my hair as often as possible.
What's one haircare trick that always works for you?
This isn’t a trick, but if I feel like my hair ever looks a mess I just try and do my baby hairs extra good that day.
How has your relationship to your hair changed over time?
My relationship to my hair has become a lot deeper. I, like a lot of young black girls, grew up getting perms / relaxers. I thought that my hair was only good if it was not only straight, but long. But after going natural (when I stoped using chemicals such as relaxers to straighten my hair) it made me see myself in a new light. I had to cut off all my hair and start over. During that time I had to learn a lot about how to care for my hair and how to embrace my hair texture as well. There was a lot of unlearning and acceptance.
What's one hair or grooming style you had to try but are happy to have left behind?
Relaxers. Point blank period “just for me” has no place in my home anymore.
Do you have a hair icon / someone in your life you look to for inspiration?
I’m really interested in traditional and tribal African hairstyles. These can from all over the continent but specifically Ghana, because that’s where I’m from. Threading, braiding and other protective styles that don’t only serve as a fashion statement but wearable sculpture, as well as means of communication, is really beautiful and important for me.
What do you love the most about your hair?
What I love the most about my hair is that she’s giving us nuance constantly! My hair can literally do anything be anything and take any form—it’s honestly amazing and it makes me feel powerful.