Girl About Globe | Braids? Beware the doublecrossing Dutch

Linda Kennedy

Strategies to avoid heatstroke during Hong Kong’s summer are much discussed. But there’s another issue: how to dodge heatwaves. You know, the kind that hair crinkles into when the thermometer outstrips anti-frizz serum. 

For several hot days, you might pretend the trend for athleisure wear has expanded to athleaisure hair and sport a ponytail only suitable for the gym. But these are ‘hairdon’ts’ not a ‘hairdos’.

Soon thereafter, with the swipe of a sweaty finger, a dame arrives on You Tube. There, a panoply of tutorials exist for top buns, ‘super-simple running-late’ French chignons, and braids. 

Braiding is this summer’s hot hair ticket; some instructional videos have more than a million views which means, at any given time, globally, there is a huge number of braidsmaids.

I scroll around these updos. I seek the simplest explanation on how to take three strands of hair, and turn them into a braid that goes all the way round my head, elevating hair away from the neck. It’s called a crown braid. There are Dutch crown braids and French crown braids.  The Dutch braid is under, the French braid is over. (Not old-fashioned; the strands go ‘over’, not ‘under’.)

I click on a highly-viewed tutorial by a blogger, assuming 300,000 other women cannot be wrong. We are hair sisters, after all. I watch and assume the braiding start position: hands above head, faciliating the taking of three strands and the crossing of them under each other. I work down past my ear. Cross left side, cross right side.  At a point on the skull’s contour, I change my hands to an undergrip whereupon the strands become indistinguishable. I doublecross one side, and the braid becomes snarled up. I wonder why the hair blogger didn’t tell me to fix the strands with coloured ponytail bands before I changed hand position. Yellow for the one you just crossed over, blue for the middle, green for the next one to cross. Like wiring a hair plug. Hair DIY.

It’s clear why it’s called the Dutch braid. Doing the ‘nether-land’ – the lower, back section of your head – is the difficult bit.

From an acute angle, behind my elbow, I check the viewing figure again. Yep, 300,000 views. Either those other women are impressively nimble-fingered or the views are all by the one person who still hasn’t got the technique. Being this kind of braidsmaid is rubbish – no free hands for drinking.

After six tries, and 45 braiding minutes, I am saying the female Lord’s Prayer: ‘Give us each day our daily braid’. I’m also bored. Might at least You Tube tutorials develop into a new genre: hair satire videos? ‘Top Bun’ – a film starring Hair Craze, all about the high altitude adventures of a knot of hair. Can it survive? Will it lose height and tumble to shoulders above sea level?’

The point of braiding is that it’s a hair cheat in high heat, or when you don’t have time to do anything else. Something quick. Not this. I’ve been misled, by the doublecrossing Dutch.

Swinging my arms to get the blood back, I wonder if there is another way – say, a wig rental start-up. If they’re looking for investors. I am in. There must be lightweight breathable wig materials these days, with wicking to allow the scalp to breathe. There’s high tech fabric, why not high tech hair? Could ‘smart hair’ be a bubble? An actual bubble, not just bad big hair?

Any wig entrepreneurs out there, link your crowd-funding bid to a You Tube braiding tutorial with a million hits. You’ll get the money. Linda Kennedy

Categories Opinion