After a national wide search to find the next Sofn’free HairXpert, it was finally time for the highly anticipated grand finale, held at the Lyric Theatre Gold Reef City. The Final 8 contestants battled it out in hopes to clinch on the biggest title of the night and also walk home withR120 000.00. at the end it was Sharpeville’s Dumisani Lukhozi who came out victorious amongst them all, bringing creativity and outstanding technique that made him the envy of the night.
Speaking immediately after the judge’s announced their decision Lukhozi was visibly emotional about the win. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to enter this competition. I’m passionate about my work, and I hope that my designs in this final stage have inspired a new generation of hair stylists,” he said. Lukhozi’s winning hairstyles were the best creative interpretation of the grand finale theme: Afrofuturism. He walks away with R120 000.00 as the first prize. “I’m going to use most of this money to open a new hair salon, and I want to empower women so that we can make sure there are more young women stylists taking their work seriously,” said Dumisani. In addition to the cash prize, he also receives Sofn’free product for his salon for a 12-month period.
As with previous years, Sofn’free also awarded the Technical Excellence Award to the stylist who was seen to have mastered the knowledge and understanding of the functionality of the Sofn’free product range, by the correct and appropriate use of the products. The Sofn’free brand is unique to Afro hair, and has been developed and refined to appreciate local conditions. The stylists were all tasked with demonstrating an understanding of the different treatments that may be required of them when styling consumers’ hair such as straightening, texturising, moisturising, preventing damage, softening, introducing shine, and treating damaged hair.
“From a technical perspective, above and beyond the creativity, we were looking for a stylist’s ability to blend hair well with the ornaments, hair movement and form,” said head judge, Disce Mmamabolo. “All design elements had to be balanced, demonstrating a graduation of colour and shape; neatness; concept and criteria understanding,” he added. This technical knowledge represents the essence of the Sofn’free HairXperts Masters Challenge, and the stylist who won the R30 000.00 award was Tshediso Tshabalala from Bethlehem, in the Free State.
Sofn’free partnered with DRUM magazine, and the top 8 finalist had to impress DRUM magazine Editor, Thandi Mthethwa, who was invited to serve as a guest judge for the grand finale stage presentation. Thandi’s lifestyle journalist background was invaluable to the judging process, especially given the historic symbolism of the magazine in identifying the icons of style and beauty in South Africa; and particularly in line with the evolution of African beauty as defined by Afrofuturism.
The stylists also stood the chance to win the DRUM Viewer’s Choice Award which was valued at R30 000.00, and was won by Bheki ‘Shabba’ Hlomuka from Ladysmith, in KwaZulu-Natal. All that was required of the winner of the DRUM Viewers’ Choice Award was to get as much support from his friends, family, clients and community, to ensure that he raked in the most votes on the DRUM Magazine competition. This prize was open to all the top 14 stylists who made it to the Style-Offs phase, regardless of whether they competed in the grand finale or not.
The event attracted professional hair stylists from within Gauteng, and large number travelling from other provinces to cheer on the Top 8. Sibusiso Leope (DJ Sbu); Mapaseka Koetle (Dintle, in eTV’s SCANDAL); and other celebrity attended the event as well.