Young Bethlehem local Tshediso Tshabalala won the coveted Dark and Lovely Golden Scissors Awards 2016 at a spectacular grand finale at Melrose Arch, Jozi last night.

The Golden Scissors Awards, the nationwide hairdressing competition which celebrates creativity and technical excellence in the search for the brightest hairdressing talent in South Africa.

Thirty three year old Tshabalala was selected after a nine month, nationwide search led by a panel of esteemed judges, which included award winning hairstylists and industry experts.

Afro hair care is big business in South Africa with more than 13 000 salons (formal and informal) and tens of thousands of hair stylists. In 2015, more than 300 million afro hair care products valued at more than R1.7 billion were sold in South Africa and the industry grew at a whopping +14% in 2015 vs. 2014.

Thembakazi Ndamase, Dark and Lovely’s Marketing Manager, said hairstylists who are the heartbeat of the industry have to be highly skilled, talented and extremely creative because women are uncompromising when it comes to their hair. “We demand only the best and trendiest styles, which is why the average black woman in South Africa changes her hairstyle on average 2-3 times a year. This means a complete hair transformation which requires innovation, creativity and the necessary technical know-how from your hairstylist, she said.

The weekend prior to the Grand Finale, Tshabalala and eight other regional finalists participated in an educational boot camp with the head of the Dark and Lovely Academy, Mimmi Biggar and the Technical Manager, Hanson Ndabeni. The Grand Finale was themed heritage (“hair- e–tage) and each contestant interpreted the theme with two hairstyles, Freestyle Cut and Avante Garde. The Freestyle demonstrated their cutting skills and the Avant Garde hairstyle celebrated their creativity.

Hanson Ndabeni, Dark and Lovely’s National Education Manager, who led the judging panel, said Tshabalala was definitely a cut above the rest, “His adherence to the theme was spot-on and relevant, he has excellent technical and chemical abilities and he managed to get the desired results from it. His workmanship, skill and his professionalism in tool choices and his ability to work with the tools were immaculate,” said Ndabeni who was also blown away by Tshabalala’s “overall Africanism choice which was beautifully captured with an en vogue look at the grand finale”.

Tshabalala was born in QwaQwa, in the Free State but he now owns his own hair salon, The Rock, in Bethlehem. “I’m a mix of Sotho and Zulu so I incorporated my Zulu heritage in the hairstyles I created for the grand finale. I love the vibrant colours, fashion and wonderful music associated with the culture,” he explained.

Tshabalala will receive prizes to the value of R150 000 which includes a cash prize of R70 000, a salon makeover, a full scholarship from the Dark and Lovely Academy as well as a year’s supply of Dark and Lovely products.

Lazaros Sumbane from Tsakane whose Tsonga culture inspired his hairstyles was the first runner up and audience choice award winner. He received a R40 000 cash prize and Dark and Lovely products.

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