I’ve had African X-pression braids done for most of my life, from the kids bob style with beads, to fishtail braids. I’ve had thin twists, box braids in all lengths and sizes, colourful braids, and crochet.

The list of African hairstyles is endless! I thought I’d done it all, until I went to Bali and got the infamous Bali Braids hairstyle.

What they use:

I thought I was going to get a familiar braiding experience, so I selected the box braids style I wanted from the photos in-store, and out came the strange looking flat rope belt.

After research, I’ve learnt that it’s nylon webbing. They couldn’t confirm at the time because of a language barrier.

What I was expecting was a range of hair extensions, so this was a huge surprise and I couldn’t imagine how that could be turned into box braids.

I was never ready. This rope is unweaved and becomes long, thin nylon strings which is what they use for braiding.

I was only concerned because unlike the extensions for African braiding, these are limited to chopping the finished braids to your desired length and burning the ends.

The final look with ends chopped and burnt

In comparison, I was expecting good old X-pression braids.

The difference is I find X-pression hair is not ONLY great for braids and cornrows.

Recently it has been adapted to be used as a weave as well, using a crochet method to install it into cornrows and then straighten or curled, depending on the desired  style.

With the nylon, it doesn’t initially look like hair, but when braided it’s got a nice, strong hold.

The styles you can achieve are still limited, so if I was only going for the chopped ends look, THEN I’d pick Bali Nylon over African X-pression braids.

The braiding experience

Overall, I did have up to four people doing my hair. As uncomfortable as that sounds for some, it’s a lot quicker.

You need a lot of patience for braids, but once they’re on they last a while and are low maintenance, therefore worthwhile.

The idea of lots of people working on one head seems phased out in a lot of places, so I appreciated having that option.

It was also a typical African salon experience, with the hairdressers gossiping away while completing the job.

It’s brought back some nostalgic feelings, and my love for braids back. My winter protective style is sorted!