Kwena Baloyi hair photography series titled “Afrikan Krowns”

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Kwena Baloyi . Picture by Trevor Stuurman

For a long time the controversial issue of black women’s hair has been debated on mainstream media. Even though arguments continue as to whether it is correct or not to have relaxed hair and wear weaves and wigs, I am excited to see a shift in the narrative. The internet and social media are at the forefront in driving the story of “my hair, my crown”. I spoke to fashion stylist Kwena Baloyi, whose Instagram photography series of beautiful hairstyles celebrating black hair caught my eye.

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Kween Kwena. Picture by Nonzunzo Gxekwa 

Tell us about yourself? My friends and industry peers fondly call me “Kween Kwena”. I’m a vivacious, high-spirited and fun person (or so I’m told). I’m from Moletjie Ga-Makibelo in Limpopo. I’m a professional, on-demand TV, magazine and personal stylist. I’m also a fashion adventurist, who explores different clothes to come up with unique styles. I consider myself a fashion therapist because I help people find their fashion identity. I’m low-key obsessed with hair too.

Tell us about your interest in hair? Like every young woman I have come a long way with my hair.

Most of us, as black women, have had a contentious relationship with the kink in our coily hair and it’s been influenced by what society tells us is “acceptable”

I’ve been through that phase where my hair needed to be straight because I thought that was “appropriate”. My natural hair was called “untidy” or was not appreciated by those around me, so I thought it would be better to straighten or shave it. The older I got, the more I appreciated what my hair meant to me and what it represented to me as a woman in a society with so many negative connotations about African people’s hair. Now I wear my hair how I like because it’s an extension of who I am. It expresses my personality more than any item of clothing could.

CT TOTT Kwena pic 4Picture by Nonzunzo Gxekwa 

What inspired your social media hair photo series? Being a stylist affords me the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country and to meet many different characters. Each person I have met has always had an interesting aspect of their hair. Some stand out for being unique, while some simply intrigue me because they choose to be “regular” for the sake of fitting in. Experiencing this variety of people sparked the notion of how people relate to their “crown” – which is what your hair is essentially. You can choose to have it bold and in your face, or like other hairstyles considered “generic” or “normal”.

 

I’ve also been attracted to how different tribes around the continent wear their hair – particularly in West Africa.

There is a lot of documentation by history scholars and international artists about black people and their hair. The natives of Ugogo, whose hair traditions are exceptional, are one of a few. There are also the Fante women of Elmina (Edina) in Ghana, who had beautiful thick hair and their hairstyles were always so intricate and crafted to perfection. In fact, my current coiffure hairstyle is inspired by women in West Africa. The hairstyle was later made popular by our beloved mama Miriam Makeba. South Africa also has threading and plaiting techniques that are unique and allow us to express our personalities.

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Who is responsible for creating the beautiful hairstyles? My go-to stylist is Ncumisa “Mimi” Duma. She’s a talented hair magician and understands the importance of treating natural hair with care. Can you believe my hair has not seen a hair dryer or endured any artificial heat since I started growing it? It’s the healthiest my natural hair has been in ages!

Does your series have a title? Yes. It’s called “Afrikan Krowns”. We are each Afrikan and each have a Krown. Your Krown is an extension of who you are and an expression of your personality/character. The series looks at how each person chooses to wear their Krown with pride.

 

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Can you tell us what triggered your hair interest? This will sound so clichéd, but do you know the song I am not my hair, by India Arie? It’s always been one of my favourites jams, but it wasn’t until years after I heard it that I began to understand what she was really saying. Often as young girls we sing along to a song without really understanding what its purpose or message is. The way India describes her “hair story” in the first verse is how my hair chronicles kinda went. You start with whatever hair your parents decide you need to have. Then you become a little girl who does certain hairstyles because that’s what the school deems acceptable. From there you become a teenager, get influenced by pop culture and base your hairstyles on what’s “trending”. Then you become an adult and still get peer pressured into doing what your circle finds palatable. Eventually, your hair starts to fall out because you’ve either put way too many chemicals in it or braided it for too long or sewn on too many weaves.

How do you see natural hair empowering women? For me it says you’re slowly, but surely, getting to a point where society’s standards of beauty don’t define who you are. You no longer feel forced to relax your hair or wear a weave just because the expectation to have straight hair weighs you down.

You are ready to celebrate your hair and turn it into whichever shape of krown you desire because it’s an extension of who you are, but by no means defines who you are. In many ways, I hope black women feel free to be whoever they choose to be through their krowns.

Any last words? Women need to understand that the type of hair they choose to wear is not linked to who they are or who other people assume them to be. Whether you’re into braids, weave, wigs, fades, cheese kop, dreadlocks, afro, or anything else you find appealing, remember your hair is your krown.

No one can dictate what it should look like nor what it should mean to you. What matters is that you love it, nurture it and make the most of it.

 

*Connect with Kwena on Instagram: @kwenasays

Connect with me on Instagram @Nontando58 https://www.instagram.com/nontando58/?hl=en and find more of my work here: http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/style

This piece was first published in the Top of The Times on June 9 2017

Stem cell team brings new life to skin

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REGENERATION SQUAD: Jerome Jackson, Tracy-Lee Rosslind and Aseyah Rosslind. Picture: Rizqua Barnes

The USE of stem cells in the beauty industry has been making headlines for years. There are several breakthrough results that have been attributed to stem cell innovations.

It has been reported that stem cells can help achieve younger-looking skin. They are thought to encourage cell regeneration and repair skin damaged by the sun. But what are stem cells and what does the scientific term mean?

Chief scientific officer for natural product range Dermistem Jerome Jackson explains: “The advancement in the understanding of how stem cells work and how we can create them is changing the world in an unprecedented way. Stem cells, basically, are cells that are undifferentiated. That means that they can become any type of cell in the specific plant or animal – a skin cell, or liver cell, for example.

“This technology has changed the landscape of biological science, especially in regenerative and resurrection science, and medicine,” Jackson says.

He says: “Stem cells enable regeneration of previously irreparable damage. There is an unfortunate misunderstanding that whole, live, plant stem cells are used in cosmetics, and this is not true.

“We use an extract of the stem cells… we lyse (split open) the stem cells. This kills them, and we process the liquid contents of those stem cells into a botanical active that can be added to cosmetics for mostly regenerative and anti-ageing effects.

“There are creams employing the use of human stem cell extracts. However, these should be, and mostly are, regulated as drugs (medicines) and not as cosmetics.” Jackson, a consultant herbologist (herbal or botanical medicine) by profession, is passionate about natural medicine and its power.

His field of study also includes biology, medicine and natural medical science. He and aromatherapist and natural perfumer Aseyah Rosslind founded Dermistem in Plumstead when they realised that there was a huge demand for natural base cream products.

Their range of natural skincare systems consists of cleansers, toners, moisturisers, serums, eye gel, exfoliators, a hyper-pigmentation cream and two excellent masks that contain Swiss glacial water which they use at their in-house treatment salon.

“Our point of difference is the plant stem cell extracts that we use throughout our range. Our skincare system is high in botanical actives and vitamin A, and we have kept it as natural as we possibly can – natural works.

“Our ethos is, ‘what you put on to your skin, you eat’. Therefore, use something that the body recognises,” says Rosslind.

The beauty and skincare market is saturated at the moment with a high demand for natural and organic products… leading to most consumers making uniformed choices about the right products to use.

Rosslind advises: “The thing that scares me the most about skincare products is the harmful ingredients that they contain and how they can affect one’s health. Therefore, we encourage consumers to learn what those ingredients are and to read labels.

“Avoid those harmful ingredients as far as possible. There is always a new thing that comes along, whether it be jojoba wax, Argan oil or AHA skin products, because there are always new raw materials being developed to address the needs of particular markets.

“You can’t go wrong with good basics though – establish a good daily routine of – cleanse, tone and moisturise. Look after your skin and remember to be gentle with it. Good skin can indeed be your make-up – skincare is essential – make-up is optional,” Rosslind adds.

For information, see Dermistem at  Image 2 RosslindXDermistem by Ashley Marie.jpg

Tracy-Lee Rosslind

From fashion stylist, producer, TV presenter to marketing director of a cutting-edge skincare brand, Tracy-Lee Rosslind has partnered with Dermistem to co-create a serum named RosslindxDermistem #RxDskin. She will be launching a full premium range called Diamond, which will be showcased at In-Cosmetics Global, a skincare event held at the ExCel in London in April. We spoke to her:

Tell us about the RosslindxDermistem range.

It is a natural unisex skincare range created to repair, protect and enhance your natural skin. It is auto-adaptive, which means it adapts to any climate and skin type. It contains plant stem cells and glacial water imported from the Alps, all to increase hydration and repair. It is especially for those in the entertainment industry using a lot of make-up and constantly under hot lights. I got a few of my industry friends to come and try the product. They all loved it.

Tell us about your beauty routine.

In all honesty, I never really had a beauty routine, but since turning 30 I can see a definite difference in my skin. It is the reason I walked into Dermistem in the first place. I use a cleanser, toner, our RxD Serum, an eye gel and then the Stem Cell Moisturiser.

What is your one can’t-do-without beauty product?

Our RosslindxDermistem Priming Serum; it really keeps my skin hydrated, ensuring my make-up stays put and flawless. I love putting it on if I am feeling tired, it refreshes me. I love the refreshing naartjie scent that does not linger for too long as we have ensured that it becomes odourless once completely absorbed in the skin. I am a big fan of perfumes and do not like it when it is affected by my creams.

Connect with Tracy-Lee at and Instagram @mstracyleerosslind

 

This feature was first published in the Cape Argus on January 10 2017.

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