Balding men are exploring weaves to enjoy good hair days

Balding guys find way to regain confidence, and even turn heads

21 April 2019 - 00:00 By ZENOYISE JOHN
After discovering that he was balding Siyabonga Sokhela improvised and started entertaining the idea of wearing weaves.
After discovering that he was balding Siyabonga Sokhela improvised and started entertaining the idea of wearing weaves.
Image: Collage by Rudi Louw

Siyabonga Sokhela was just 24 when he started to go bald.

"I felt so old, and I would be embarrassed to remove my cap in front of people. It really knocked my confidence," said Sokhela, now 32, who is a manager in the Gauteng education department.

Three years ago, he read about "man weaves" on social media.

"I decided to try it," he said. "The change was drastic and I got very positive feedback from friends, family and colleagues. It boosted my confidence and transformed my life."

At first he was embarrassed to tell people he had a weave, "but I outgrew the shame. I use custom-made weaves and I also have fake dreadlocks that I wear as a wig."

Sokhela is among a growing number of South African men who are turning to the weave.

Johannesburg dentist Pitso Mashangwane, 33, said he had tried one three months ago after reading about it on the internet.

He said he had been forced to shave his head because in his teens he had dreadlocks, which had permanently damaged his hairline.

"I had always been a confident person, but when I lost my dreadlocks my confidence went down," Mashangwane said.

"I got used to having a clean-shaven head, which I still like, but I wished to have hair again. Man weaves have made me feel good about myself again, and I look much younger."

But Mashangwane said his weave was high maintenance and he visited his hairstylist every two weeks for treatment.

"[It] needs care to avoid being damaged and [you need] to treat your scalp to avoid dandruff, which can be a big issue. You also have to scratch your head carefully to avoid messing your hairstyle. Patting your head when it is itchy can be embarrassing in front of people."

Centurion celebrity hairstylist Patrick Missile said his salon had become a haven for balding black men, including TV stars, university professors, soccer players, politicians and pastors. He said some men also had beard weaves.

"Man weaves are a nonsurgical technique to help men who've lost their hair. The formal name is cranial prosthesis hair," Missile said.

Siyabonga Sokhela did not let his balding head be the end all and be all, he got a weave.
Siyabonga Sokhela did not let his balding head be the end all and be all, he got a weave.
Image: Collage by Rudi Louw

"The technique is similar to the way black women get hair woven onto their heads. The hair is attached to breathable lace, just like many of the weaves worn by women. This gives the most natural results."

Missile, whose female clients include Bonang Matheba, Refilwe Modiselle, Khanyi Mbau and Minnie Dlamini, said "installation" of a man weave, including special custom-made hair units, could cost from R1,500 depending on the hair quality.

"We charge about R800 for installation of beard weaves," he said.

The process, which involves either gluing natural and synthetic hair pieces to the scalp or sewing additional hair into the client's existing hair, takes about 90 minutes. The weave can be removed and reapplied at the next appointment.

Missile acknowledged that the beard weave does not last long and, because it is bonded to the jawline using "prop" glue, it sometimes causes skin breakouts.

Missile said the trend had revolutionised male grooming.

Some clients were brought to the salon "kicking and screaming" by their children and wives, but "the transformation they see afterwards is always drastic and rewarding".

He said most men did not want to reveal that they had weaves because in SA it was still seen as taboo for black men to be concerned about the way they look.

"Many men tell me that they do not want to come across as superficial and shallow. Some actors fear that they might lose believability," Missile said.

Johannesburg beauty and fashion director Alexis Tshangana said the man weave and beard weave trend was mostly driven by men wanting to feel young again and be creative in terms of how they looked.

She said image was very important to both men and women, and the fact that fashion trends were becoming more unisex and less gender-specific showed that "we are evolving as a people and we are less judgmental towards other sexes and other people's choices and points of view when it comes to fashion and beauty".

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