Here’s something from Francis in Brazil:


We Black people always want a hairstyle that is attractive, easily, economically and quickly maintained, that involves no chemical treatments or heating, and that allows us to participate in water sports without turning into a pumpkin. We discussed this earlier in an article entitled, “Free Your African Hair.”

Now, a compliment from teenage Black blogger Phil Pierre-Paul on my new “braids” has prompted me to explain how you, too, can get these Brazilian cornrow braids in just thirty minutes, for as little as five dollars.

My hair is not really “braided.” Until two weeks ago, I wore my head completely shaved clean. Then, after it had grown to the level you see here, instead of shaving it again I asked the barber to shave some cornrows into my head with a flat razor, to make it look like my hair is braided. (I took this idea from a Brazilian magazine called RacaBrasil.Com.BR, which offers many other haircare, style and cultural and political ideas from Brasil.)

Children and teens love this hairstyle.
They stop me on the street to compliment me.

The barber cut my hair with the “Number 1” (smallest) gate; used a straight-razor to design these rows, and voil??! I dabbed my head with the barber’s alcohol to avoid irritation and my “braids” were ready for showing, in less than thirty minutes.

For me, the advantages over “braided braids” are tremendous. Although I’ve tried, I have never had the patience to wait for my hair to grow long enough to be braided. That much hair is hot in summer and hard to maintain, and I’m used to the free-headed feeling of shaving my head completely. And I don’t like combing, cutting and shampooing an Afro all the time while waiting for my hair to become long enough for braids. I simply haven’t the patience for that.

If you get this haircut here in Bahia, Brazil, you’ll pay as little as five dollars USD (compared to fifty dollars for “braided braids”. In the United States, you can get a haircut like this for probably twenty dollars, compared an estimated eighty dollars or more for “braided” cornrow braids.

If your head is sensitive at the lower back and subject to irritation, this is a style you can use without shaving that area entirely, resulting in far less risk of irritation and bumps.

The above hairstyle is one that I can obtain in two weeks, starting from being completely clean-shaven and going to the look you see above.


Since the hair on my head is less dense than if it were braided, I feel fresher and freer in the hot sun. I tried to let my hair grow long enough for braids, but

This new look allows me to get “braids” with only a two week wait for my hair to grow long enough, and I only have to sit in the barber’s chair for twenty minutes instead of four hours.

But here are a couple of notes of caution: Go to a barber who has some experience cutting styles with a razor, e.g. a barber popular with the young set. When a barber uses a razor, always make sure that it is one with disposable Gillette blades, and that s/he has changed the blade in front of you. Always pass alcohol on your head afterward to avoid irritation.

If you’re subject to dandruff and/or seborrhea, the cheapest and most effective solution is Therapeutic T + Plus Gel Shampoo with Solubilized Coal Tar Extract, available at Walgreens for 7.99 for 16ounce bottle, or at CVS, for $7.13 for a 16-ounce bottle. The key ingredient is the coal tar. Use it all the time instead of those expensive brand name shampoos, and your dandruff will be gone for good.

Here in Brazil, this shampoo is much more expensive, for some reason. A good alternative is coco soap, made from coconuts. It costs less than a dollar for a large bar. This and hot water washes away seborrhea, leaving behind a pleasant cocoa butter smell and sheen.

If you try these braidless braids above, I hope you’ll be just as happy and free with them as I am!

Author’s Note: Also read “Free Your African Hair!”

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  1. Francis L. Holland Blog

    Thanks for running this, Adrianne! In the AfroSpear, we Blacks can write an article in Brazil and see it reposted for Blacks in Europe on the same weekend.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Black Women in Europe

    Happy New Year to you Francis! And I look forward to cross posting more from you in 2008. Thanks again for bringing me into the AfroSpear and becoming my brother in so many ways.

  3. those cornrow braids looks great, but what happened 6-7days after when hair in rows start growing?

  4. francislholland

    Adrianne, thank you for directing this question to me, since I am featured in the photograph above and have worn this style off and on for over a year.

    When my hair starts to grow out, I simply go back to the barber shop and the barber uses a Gillette razor in a straight razor handle to cut shave the rows back into my head. First he cuts my hair using “machine gate #1” or “machine gate #2”, and then he uses the Gillette razor to put the rows back in.

    Frankly, I didn't have the patience to wait for my hair to grow out and then pay someone 100-300 dollars (in the US or France) to put “real braids”. Instead, it's all done in thirty minutes once every two weeks, with an electric clipper and a straight razor. The last time, I actually fell asleep in the barber chair and when I awoke half an hour later my hair was already “braided” again! (The barber told me my head was heavy to hold up as he cut my hair.)

    Here is a link to a photo of my most recent variation (which the barber invented while I was asleep).

    So, the bottom line is that, as with any haircut, when it grows out you simply get your hair cut again! What could be easier (except real braids that last two or three months, and Rastafarian braids)?

    My wife has Rastafarian braids that she simply twists at the roots as her hair grows out. She twists them for fifteen minutes at night, in bed, before we make love. Sometimes, I help her. It's great foreplay!

    Too much information? No, I think the world has too much information about how to pay for expensive and noxious chemicals and hot iron treatments that give people cancer and leave even childrens scalps burned before they enter grade school. Go the natural way! It's cheaper, smells better than chemicals and burned hair, doesn't cause hair to break off, but instead encourages it to grow . . .

    <img src=”” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket”>

  5. francislholland

    This comment inspired me to offer some additional information at my blog about natural braids and these easier and less-expensive simulated cornrow braids. Please have a look.

  6. Francis, you trendsetter you! Your barber in Brazil Mauro is a great find. I expect to see these types of styles popping up in other places now!

  7. Francis, you trendsetter you! Your barber in Brazil Mauro is a great find. I expect to see these types of styles popping up in other places now!

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