Keeping up: For all the time since the lockdown was announced, one of the things that have remained closed is salons. And although in the beginning we saw pictures of people looking unkempt and ungroomed, things seem to be different now. The men look shaven, the ladies do not adorn headwraps and the faces are beat to the dot. Esther Oluka spoke to some people to find out how they are maintaining their appearances.
By now, you may have noticed that as much as salons remain closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some Ugandans have managed to keep their external appearances on point and in check. The women have managed to change hairstyles, get professionally done make-up as well as a perfect set of polished nails, which they keep altering from time to time. The men have not been left out too! A notable number have, in some way, managed to get hair and beard shaven. So, what tactics are these six Ugandans using to keep up external appearances while salons remain closed?
I went to YouTube for make-up lessons
“Before salons were closed, I would just walk there to have my hair, nails and make-up professionally done. But when the services were temporarily stopped by government, I resorted to YouTube for beauty tutorial lessons, including how to apply make-up. It was very important for me to learn these things because I continued making public appearances during lockdown, including going for television interviews. There were also online sessions I had to attend, therefore, I had to be very presentable. However, I am not yet as great as the professional make-up artists. So far, the one thing I have failed to do is how to perfectly polish my nails. It is always a struggle. With the hair, I had to rely on wigs interchangeably.
I have a curly and straight one. There are, however, people who criticise me for always wearing these particular wigs. They keep pushing me to try wearing other hairstyles, but salons are closed. I am aware that some people sneak into these salons to have their hair washed and styled, but I will not do that. I refuse to break the law. I want to set a good example to other members of society that they need to stick to the regulations. Besides, it does not make sense if I am urging others to observe social distancing and yet, I am sneaking into a salon.”
Makindye East MP
My barber comes home
“I have been using the same barber for the past six years. Before salons were temporarily closed, I would go for a haircut at his salon in Kibuye, an area within Kampala City. However, now he comes home to cut my hair. I stay in Lukuli, Makindye Division and he trims my hair and beards every after seven days. I do this frequently because my hair tends to over grow. I pay him Shs25,000 after every haircut. The amount caters for both services rendered and transport. As for my nails, my wife helps me cut them from time to time.”
My housemate plaits my hair
“Currently, I stay with a housemate who knows a thing or two about styling hair. She is always watching beauty and hair tutorials on YouTube. So, when salons were closed, it was the perfect opportunity to put her skills into use by working on my hair. She unplaits, washes, blow-dries and styles it. We have all the necessary hair and styling equipment in our apartment, including a blow-drier. She plaits me different hairstyles but I am mostly fond of twists and braids as they do not require me to sit for long hours. I pay her about Shs30,000. I apply my own nail polish because it is something I always did even before the lockdown.”
Housen Mushema, actor
I bought my own shaver
“I opted to get my own shaving machine as soon as the lockdown was announced and now there is a professional barber who comes home to cut my hair and beard. Whenever he is cutting my hair, I always ensure he wears a facemask and his hands are sanitised using the sanitiser I have at home. I also wear one while he is shaving my head and when it is time to cut the beard, I take it off. Besides wearing a facemask, I usually encourage my barber to also wear gloves. Sometimes I buy him a pair or he carries his own. After his services, I pay him Shs50,000, an amount which caters for his transport. But I must say that I miss going to the salon mostly because of the interactive environment and interesting discussions.”
Wigs have been my saviour
“I have a few pieces of wigs which I wear depending on my plans for the day. I have a braided wig, a curly one as well as short and long ones. I prefer wearing one over moving around with cornrows, which a friend usually helps me plait. I pay her Shs10,000 every time she does them and I usually keep these cornrows for two to three weeks. I wash the hair myself.
In times when I get tired of the wigs, I simply leave my hair unplaited and let it breathe, but I do miss going to the salons, sometimes.
In fact, one morning, I woke up with the intention of cutting my hair short. However, I could not do anything because all the professional salons I wanted to go to were closed. I even tried to ask around for services of professional personal barbers but I failed to get a recommendation.
When I want to wear make-up, there is someone who helps me and she is just a call away. Sometimes, she comes to my place to apply the make-up and on some occasions, I go to her place. When I cannot get a hold of her, I resort to applying my simple basic make-up tips. I apply make-up only when I have a very important appointment or meeting.
For the nails, there is a professional who helps me and I pay him depending on the work he has done. For instance, if I get just a manicure, I pay him about Shs20,000, including transport. Amid the ongoing coronavirus, of course, we all observe the different directives intended to limit the spread of the disease. If anyone is going to work on me, we both wash our hands as well as wear facemasks.”
I only trim my beard
“I have not cut my hair from the time the President instructed salons to close. I am an obedient citizen. I have seen people going into salons through backdoors to have haircuts. I will not do that. The truth is, I fear coronavirus and do not want to leave any room for infections. So, even if it means not cutting my hair, so be it. My hair has grown in the past months since lockdown. I have an afro, which I maintain by simply washing my hair with soap and water. Sometimes, I comb it after bathing, a process which is usually painful. On other occasions, I leave it the way it is especially if I am staying home. In case I want to leave the house and it is unkempt, I wear a hat. My profession as a visual artist gives me chance to be a carefree man. For the beard, I shave it myself every after three weeks.”