Charlotte Mensah is a Ghanian-born hair stylist who has been working with afro hair for years. She was a lead hairstylist at Ghana Fashion and Design Week, and she won Afro Hairdresser of the Year (twice) at the British Hairdressing Awards. Mensah has been writing about natural hair types since 2005, though at the time her efforts were barely acknowledged. When they were, she dealt with negative commentary and doubters who thought the natural hair trend would be short lived.
Fast forward ten years and natural hair is the most talked about hair type both on and offline, including the appearances of textured hairstyles in runway shows and on red carpets. Given that Black women spend a lot of time on their hair, Charlotte thought we deserved a product that actually does its job. Her three-piece collection consists of shampoos, conditioners and hair oils that focus on retaining moisture (which we all know is a huge part of our hair care). Rapper Eve, author Zadie Smith and singer Janelle Monae are just a handful of celebrities who rely on the hands of Mensah and her team.
In an interview with Refinery29, the hair fairy shared her views on natural hair, cultural appropriation and why her new product line fills a void in the Black hair care market.
On cultural appropriation
“I think hair should be inclusive. If you point back to where you got the inspiration from, that is fine, but what I find disturbing is when people completely disregard where hair styles may come from. I might be inspired by something I’ve seen in Greece but I always give the reference back to where it came from.”
On lack of beauty artists able to cater to black models
“I find it really crazy. There are so many great afro hair stylists out there. Even if they can’t deal with the hair, they could learn. I am actually coming out with a whole series on the art of afro hairdressing next February. There will be courses every four weeks. I still go on courses – you are always learning when it comes to hair.”
On what was missing from the market
“I just felt like there wasn’t a desirable line for afro hair. There wasn’t anything luxury or prestige. I was forever giving clients advice and tips and isn’t it better that I give them something that afro hair needs. It needs moisture and nourishment and that’s what the Manketti oil provides. Black women spend so much on their hair and they deserve an aesthetically beautiful product that works.”
Check out some of Charlotte Mensah’s beautiful creations below.