You'll Never Guess How Many Beads Are On Solange's New Braids

We're only five days into 2018, but Solange has already secured the honor of having the coolest braids of the year. For her new Surface Magazine cover, the visionary wore some of the most decorated plaits we've seen — maybe ever. And if you thought last year's beaded braids were elaborate, then Solo's got a doozy for you.

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"Her feed-in braids were inspired by the Fulani tribe," Susan "Susy" Oludele, owner of Brooklyn's Hair by Susy salon, says. "She wanted something coming down, and she was really inspired by red. Her hair symbolizes passion, fire, change, and love — and that's everything she represents, too." With a color palette in mind, Susy and her team hand-painted wooden beads with red nail polish for the finished look. It took nearly 16 hours to create this style, decked out with a total of 560 beads on the ends.
"They were really heavy," Susy says. "And it took long because we had to level everything. We also had to separate tiny, tiny strands for the braids. It felt like a thousand strands for each braid"
For those who don't know, regular cornrows (with or without extensions) are made with overlapping sections of three. Feed-in braids are usually tiny and are closer to the root for a more natural finish. And for further authenticity, Susy used 10 bundles of non-alkaline weave hair. "Most synthetic hair has this coat on the extensions," she explains. "Some people are allergic to it for some reason because it's harsh on the scalp. So beforehand, I washed the hair with apple cider vinegar to cleanse."

With a color palette in mind, Susy and her team hand-painted wooden beads with red nail polish for the finished look.

Since functioning with nearly 600 beads is a feat that few can accomplish, Susy doesn't recommend trying it at home. She's formulating a line of beaded braid wigs and clip-ins for ease and comfort. Otherwise, she says that feed-in braids last from three weeks to a month if you take care of them. It appears that the magazine shoot was in November (per this Instagram) even though Surface's January/February 2018 issue will hit stands at the end of the month, and the digital story goes live on January 11. But we'd bet on the fact that Susy and Solange have a few more jaw-droppers up their respective sleeves. "I started working with her in 2011," Susy says. "She always has a vision of how she wants to look. She's truly a creative genius. When we're together, we bring things to life."

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