Starting a new school year can be scary, especially if you're entering into your first semester of college or grad school. While it's normal to feel a jumble of emotions and anxieties before move-in day, a good haircut or fresh protective style can help you feel a little bit more confident in taking on all that change.
Alexis Coates, the star of this week's episode of Hair Me Out, is gearing up to start her first year of business school in the fall. Coates is excited for the transition, and is looking to upgrade her current wash-and-go style to something sleek and protective to mark her new chapter. She opts for Fulani braids, which combine cornrows with box braids for an intricate patterned effect.
The traditional West African braiding technique takes skill and patience. According to braider Francheska Keke, the process usually takes around six to eight hours from start to finish, primarily because each individual braid is so tiny. Keke explains that the benefit of getting Fulani braids is the styling versatility: You can wear the braids down, in a half-up style, or pulled back in a ponytail.
To start, Keke first brushes out Coates's hair and begins braiding tight at the root. With each individual braid, she weaves a golden-brown hair extension into the natural hair, creating a black-and-brown tonal blend from root to tip. Once she braids to the end of the extension, she dips the hair in hot water to seal the braid tight.
Close to eight hours (and probably hundreds of braids) later, Coates finally gets to see her new hair — and she loves it. "It's so cute," she exclaims, adding that the braids feel sleek, light, and practical for her new life in business school. "There are a lot of braids, but it doesn't feel like it. I think the knotless style helps it feel a little more weightless — I'm just so excited about how this turned out."