Legendary Black British hairstylist Charlotte Mensah has released her debut book, Good Hair: The Essential Guide to Afro Textured and Curly Hair. Here’s why it should be next on your reading list.
It goes without saying: Charlotte Mensah is an icon in the hair industry.
Throughout her career, which spans three decades, the hairstylist has become a go-to for thousands of people in search of healthier curls. As well as countless celebrity clients and awards, there’s also Hair Lounge, Mensah’s Notting Hill-based hair salon, which has become a sanctuary for the Black community.
Despite it being 2020 and there being a hair salon on most high streets, the search for one that caters to Afro hair can still be a struggle. But Hair Lounge is often praised for its knowledgeable staff, effective services and ability to treat afro and multi-textured hair with confidence.
Now, Mensah has embarked on a new addition to her impressive career journey: a book.
Good Hair: The Essential Guide to Afro Textured and Curly Hair, £12.99, is an overdue Bible for Black hair but it goes way beyond your average hairstyle book.
Between the pages, you’ll of course find clear and helpful step-by-steps on how to do different hairstyles, including twist outs, bantu knots and cornrows; advice on detangling, hair oils and washing (Mensah advises against co-washing); tips of identifying your own curl texture(s) and informative cultural and political history lessons on topics such as hot combs and curly perms.
But that’s not all. Weaved throughout the book are passages in which Mensah talks openly about her life. It’s a moving story, too. After growing up in Ghana and moving back to Britain aged 11, Mensah discovered that her hair texture had a profound effect on her experiences at school. Sadly, Mensah’s mother passed away when she was just 13. It was then that she developed a love for hair maintenance and styling when she stepped up into a parental role for her younger siblings.
Within each autobiographical section, Mensah speaks candidly about her life experiences and her career journey. In the 1980s, she honed her skills at Splinters, a legendary now-closed Black hair salon based in Mayfair, under the tutelage of Afro hair icon Winston Isaacs.
In the late 90s, she was awarded funding by The Prince’s Trust to open the Hair Lounge, which also led to Mensah launching her own hair care range. She has only gone from strength to strength and in 2018, she became the first Black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame. With each turn of the page, your respect for Mensah only deepens and the opportunity to read her honest advice and tips feels like a privilege.
It’s more than a hair guide – it’s a celebration of afro, textured and curly hair.
Good Hair: The Essential Guide to Afro Textured and Curly Hair by Charlotte Mensah
Good Hair: The Essential Guide to Afro Textured and Curly Hair by Charlotte Mensah, £12.99, is available to buy now
Images: Charlotte Mensah / Karen Lasme