Photo above: Siposetu Duncan behind the scenes at a Together Journal shoot.
Siposetu Duncan is a visionary South African-born, Auckland-based creative, stylist and model, and we were chuffed last year when she was picked as one of the new NZ Fashion Week ambassadors, alongside Ensemble friends Sammy Salsa, Jess Molina, Chloe Hill and Sarah Stuart (alas, NZFW did not happen; cancelled, again, due to the pandemic).
Earlier this month Siposetu, with Sevi'gne Shema, launched Things In Common, New Zealand's first Black-owned marketing and talent management agency. Together the pair are working to shine a spotlight on the many talented and forward-thinking Black creatives in Aotearoa working as photographers, makeup artists, hairdressers, models, content curators, designers and stylists.
If you follow her on Instagram, you will have clocked that Siposetu loves to have fun with her hairstyles - so we jumped at the chance to ask a bit more about her haircare routine.
What products do you use to take care of your hair and scalp?
My hair used to be longer than it is now. During lockdown, I asked my husband to trim it but he accidentally cut it too short. I almost had a panic attack as I hadn’t had it that short since I was 6-years-old (according to my older siblings).
The short hairstyle look has grown on me and I love how low-maintenance it is. I’m a simple girl. I like using the SheaMoisture products and a few of the Garnier products. Neither products contain silicone, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil or petrolatum. Sulfates make my hair and scalp feel dry.
I have a local brand that I’d love to check out - I’m wanting to get my hands on Mama Taku’s hair products for textured hair. I’ve heard amazing reviews!
Can you describe your maintenance routine and what you do for upkeep?
If you’re wanting a low-maintenance routine, shave it all off. Just kidding. Because of how short my hair is, it only needs to be co-washed once a week (co-wash is a method of just using conditioner, without the shampoo).
After co-washing, I go in with a hair moisturiser. Simple girl. Shampoos can be a bit drying for my scalp. Because of this, I use shampoo once every three weeks. On that third week, I love to shampoo my hair, deep condition my hair, oil my scalp and ends with coconut oil and moisturise my hair with some Garnier Hair Food.
Textured hair techniques are varied, but hair styling (especially in the media) is often viewed through a narrow Euro-centric lens that promotes 'Western' practices. What methods do you use on your hair and why?
I learnt that what used to be the ‘ideal’ hair style when my parents were my age was the relaxed look: straight, long, and shiny. This (quite obviously) goes against our natural beauty and is far more like what you’d see in the Western world.
Although there is nothing wrong with wanting relaxed hair, I had to check the reason as to why I was doing it. My parents’ generation were taught that straight hair was deemed as tidy, neat and appropriate. The intention of straightening hair then is so different to now. My mum now no longer straightens her hair. This to me is proof of how far she’s come.
My methods that I commonly use are braiding, crocheting, and just having my natural hair combed out neatly (or in a bun when it was longer). I choose these methods as it works more on accentuating the already beautiful hair texture that I have, and it also provides a creative approach to styling hair. Different coloured braids to different types of extensions can really open up the way to different ways to even wear my makeup or style my dress.
There's an emotional significance tied to hair within Black culture and identity - historically, social oppression and racial discrimination has forced many Black women to hide their natural hair. Do you mind telling us about your hair journey?
Growing up in a Black household, hair was a woman’s crown. I grew up relaxing my hair (a hair straightening chemical product), braiding and perming. My mum would never let me leave the house if my hair was not combed properly or neat.
When I moved to New Zealand, I never realised how different my hair methods were until I got to Intermediate school. I remember everyone going around in circles discussing their hair washing routines. I was the only girl with textured hair. It got to my turn and I told them I only washed my hair every 2/3 weeks. The look of shock and confusion in their eyes.
From that experience a bit of confusion developed around how I was to manage my hair. As life went on, I developed a group of friends from the wider Black community who had hair like mine; who washed as I did, who moisturised as I did, who combed as I did and who loved their hair.
I grew to love my hair, and I found beauty in the small curls and kinks. Nothing is out of place, and I learnt that appreciating all the different hair styles I could come up with was beautiful.
Fast forward to now, I find myself in a place where I love how different my hair might look to others, and I make sure to emulate that in the way I look after it.
Who do you see for your hair treatments?
Generally, I see to my own hair. It was pretty easy to pick up the braiding technique, and I’ve practiced quite a bit on my own hair.
For other jobs involving hair styling I have a friend called Devona (@houseofbrown_) who has done my hair quite a bit seeing as she’s a professional hair texture specialist.
How does your approach with your hair differ for events, versus day to day?
I rave over the low maintenance approach, but always making sure it’s neat. If I have a special event coming up, I do enjoy braiding my hair or even wearing a wig which allows me to try different makeup styles too.
Who else do you think has great hair? Where do you get inspiration for your hair from?
Any other good hair tips?
Do what’s good for your own hair. Our needs differ from person to person, even with those who have similar hair textures.
My textured hair type is 4C (tight, dense texture, coarse hair and has a natural lift). I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos on how to care for my hair and I’ve learnt a lot over time. I’m currently reading and learning on how to incorporate a better routine/ method via Mama Taku’s website. For my textured hair queens and kings, maybe we can learn a thing or two there.