A professional freelance hairstylist with a bona fide passion for hairdressing. That is how Johannesburg-based hair maestro, Matlhogonolo Podile would describe himself. After graduating from Central Johannesburg College, the renowned hairstylist launched his formidable career with apprenticeships at Hair Images Salon, as well as BLO Hair Salon. Determined to make a name for himself in the hair industry, Matlhogonolo acquired a job as a junior hairstylist at Lawaji Hair Salon where he gained extensive work experience. Exploiting his industry expertise, the multi-talented hairstylist took a leap of faith by becoming a freelancer and as they say, the rest is history.
Boasting a remarkable twelve years in the industry, the hairstylist’s hard work and desire to succeed are illustrated through his impressive track record. Since his ground-breaking freelance debut, Matlhogonolo has worked with various entertainment industry taste-makers such as Bonang Matheba and Trevor Noah, as well as thought leaders such as our very own, Previdar Magazine – and most recently, the sensational talent show, South African Idols.
We caught up with Matlhogonolo Podile ahead of World Afro Day (September 15) to chat about natural hair maintenance, as well as tips and tricks on how to make wash day less daunting.
Styling afro hair can be challenging when it’s not moisturised. What is your pro tip for keeping natural hair nourished?
A hot oil massage is a must! One of the best and most natural ways to provide nourishment to your hair is with a hot hair oil massage before washing your hair. Massaging the scalp and hair thoroughly with warm herbal oils at least twice a week will help lock essential moisture into the hair. Additionally, it will improve blood circulation to the scalp tissue, further nourishing hair follicles with rich nutrients. Olive oil or pure coconut oil is good for normal oily hairs while jojoba oil works well for very oily hair. People with dry hair should go with natural hair oils having ingredients like Brahmi, and almond.
As a stylist, which natural hair product do you swear by?
Products from Curls In Bloom and AfroBotanics remain undefeated.
What are your go-to hairstyles for clients with afro hair?
Low ponytail with ponytail extensions of the same texture.
Afro with side cornrows
Tapered Pixie cut (side and back hair is cut short and leaves top hair long with Afro texture).
Protective styling is an important aspect of maintaining healthy afro hair. Which protective styles would you recommend?
Straight back cornrows(with natural hair ) and then install a wig.
Which simple, yet beneficial hair tip do you think most people overlook?
Trim Your Hair Regularly
Trim your hair every 6-8 weeks to get rid of split ends. Split ends form when the hair is damaged due to heat styling, pollution, smoking, stress, and so on. Trimming does not magically make the hair grow faster. Hair growth happens at the scalp level, but trimming ensures healthy hair.
Choose the right shampoo and styling products
Using the wrong shampoo and styling products can cause significant hair damage. Look for products that are right for your hair type — oily, normal, or dry and target any problems you have, such as dandruff, or itchy scalp.
Try to avoid shampoos with harsh ingredients, such as ammonium lauryl sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate. And remember, cost doesn’t necessarily indicate the quality of a product.
Are there any DIY home treatments that you would recommend for afro hair?
is probably the most popular DIY ingredient for dry hair because it’s rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants which help to heal damaged hair by improving the health of the cuticle. Olive oil is often used as a hot oil hair treatment to strengthen, add shine, and restore moisture to dry hair.
Shea butter and avocado mask
Shea butter is a conditioner, moisturiser, and healing agent for the scalp. It’s made from the West African shea nut and is excellent for helping to control hair loss. Shea butter works well on afros/curly hair, it tames frizz and reduces split ends. It protects and hydrates damaged hair, too.
You have styled various clients and worked on various campaigns. What has been the highlight of your career?
There have been quite a few highlights. From 2018 to the present, I was given a big opportunity to be Head of the hair department on one of the biggest music talent shows in South Africa, South Africa Idols. What an incredible honour it is to work on the show and to do what I love.
In 2022 I was nominated for Best Hairstylist at the 2022 Africa Choice Awards. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. However, being nominated alongside other fellow hairstylists from different countries (Namibia, Ghana, and Nigeria) was an incredible achievement. It feels good to be recognised for the work I do.
What do you love most about your job?
Hairdressing for me is one of the best careers in the world because you can do anything. From working in a salon or owning a salon to editorial work in magazines to working on fashion shows in Paris, London, Milan, and New York, or travelling the world with a manufacturer teaching and educating and specializing in celebrities, the opportunities are endless.