It’s the masculine hipster look of the moment, one that is instantly recognisable without seeming overly styled. The desi afro may not be the ideal hairstyle for the summer, but salon stylists reveal the city’s male population is willing to brave the heat to save their manes.
Technical director Shailesh Moolya of Juice salons, who sports the same look himself, attributes the sudden popularity of the style t the unlikeliest source. “I think the Sri Lankan cricketer Malinga, with his curly hair and fierce attitude, made the look popular. Now we have lots of guys coming into the salon asking for a similar style, or who have already been maintaining the look for a while.”
Celebrity hairstylist Ity Agarwal of Psalm 13 salon insists that the style is accessible only to college kids or young alternative professionals. “When guys are going through that rebellious phase, they like growing out their hair. And since Indian hair tends to be in the range of wavy to curly, it naturally grows into a desi afro.”
Both Moolya and Agarwal caution that while the look seems low-maintenance, the opposite is usually true. “While the messy look is cool, it can get out of control if you don’t use the right products,” Moolya warns, adding, “And you need to keep it clean by washing it every alternate day, or at least rinsing it to avoid sweat and bacteria accumulating in your hair.”
One of India’s biggest names in hairstyling, Jawed Habib, however, doesn’t recommend the look. “In this season, it’s better to keep your hair short and neat,” he says, adding, “I don’t think it’s advisable for guys to maintain an afro in the summer. In fact, most of the men who enter my salon want to chop theirs off.”
Mane maintenance n Sure, the afro can grow naturally, but after a point, you need an expert to keep it under control. The look shouldn’t dwarf you, so ask your stylist to adjust the length and size to suit your face and physique.
*Given the season, you’ve probably got a swim in a pool or the sea marked out in your calendar. To avoid your hair soaking up texture-damaging chlorine and salts, wet your hair with plain water before stepping into the pool so that its absorption capacity is reduced.
*Leave-in conditioners are a good idea for curly hair, so that it doesn’t get too frizzy. Add the product to your hair and use a wide-toothed comb to untangle any knots while it’s still wet. Some products contain SPF, keeping your hair from being damaged by the harsh rays of the sun.