By Vicky Wandawa
Beautiful as that weave, those braids or cornrows may look, they might be emitting an offensive odour. And who knows, perhaps it is the reason he often wrinkles his nose in disgust or sometimes avoids you.
It is your crowning glory. With it, you can have a different look every week if you please. From braids, to retouch, to cornrows, to a classy weave and back to braids! You just fall in love with you, each time you stare at yourself in the mirror after a new hairdo. But how clean is it? Your hair could emit a bad odour if you do not wash it frequently.
A 23-year-old telecom sales representative tells how she realised that her neatly done braids had a rather offensive odour. She found out through a relative who, accompanied the news with a stern lecture on hygiene.
“My aunt gave me a lift to work. She was visiting the city and was on her way to shop before returning up country. She said she knew I was looking forward to getting a man for marriage, but just a sniff of my hair and all suitors would run off.”
“It was bad enough that I had just found out my plaited hair smelt bad, and then I had to go through the embarrassment of a hygiene lecture, at my age,” she states
Nonetheless, she admits that she was grateful. It could have been a potential suitor alerting her, which would have been more embarrassing.
“With braids especially, I do not go two weeks without having them washed,”she said
Martha, a bank teller, on the other hand, found out on her own that her hair had a bad odour and found a solution before anyone talked to her about it.
She went to a salon to undo the braids she had worn for about a month and as the salon women went about their work, she could not help but wonder whether they too smelt the odour from her hair.
On engaging her hair dresser about why hair would smell so bad, yet it had been plaited for only a month, she realised she had developed a lot of dandruff and she sweats a lot. These, in addition to hair ointment, made her hair smell. She says she found a remedy ointment for the dandruff and now washes her braids every week.”
Men may find the various hairstyles women wear classy, but would they tell them if those hairstyles emitted bad odour?
Dealing with bad odour
Joy Tumwesigye, a counsellor and accountant with Uganda Prisons, says she wishes all women had straight forward men who could tell them if their hair stinks.
“Unfortunately, many men will silently suffer the odour or even leave,” she said.
She adds, “A man would interpret bad odour this way; that if you cannot keep that hair on your head clean, then what about other sensitive parts on your body?”
She likens smelly hair to a dirty bed. “Smelly hair is as bad as having a baby who wets the bed and you only hang the sheets to dry, without washing them!”
So how can a woman ensure her hair does not stink?
Cissy Mirembe, a professional hair dresser and stylist with Ultra salon at Lugogo shopping mall, notes that hair, even when plaited, should be washed.
Most ladies worry that the hair disentangles quickly when washed, but she asserts, as long as it is done by a professional, it will stay neat. She says warm water and shampoo do the trick.
“Even for plaited hair like cornrows, find a hairdresser to wash between the lines with warm water, to melt the oil which when accumulated, leads to itching and bad smell. Have your hair washed at least twice a month,” she advises.
At high end salons washing plaited hair costs between sh10,000 and sh15,000 and even less in lower end salons.
She also criticises the artificial dreads ladies often wear for up to six months.
“They are convenient because one can wear them for over five months. Unfortunately, many do not wash them, leading to bad odour. Like any other plaited hair, they should be washed every two weeks at least,” Mirembe advises.
She says women should avoid using excess oil on their hair. “The oil is wasted because it will remain on top of the hair, hence grabbing dust.”
She also warns that excess oil blocks the sweat glands of the scalp and as the scalp releases sweat, it has nowhere to escape to, especially on hot days. The trapped sweat leads to an itchy scalp, smelly hair and dirty collars.
So, to avoid embarrassment or having people question your hygiene, plaited or not, wash that hair often, at least once every two weeks.