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BN Beauty: Indigenous Products or High-End Brands?



I never like to argue; especially when it comes to topics I love like beauty, skincare etc. But when a close friend of mine, Ada***  kept trying to get me to try this ‘miracle product’ she had discovered, that was all we did.

A few weeks ago she had a really bad breakout that even surprised me. After trying to scrub & exfoliate her problems away with ‘high-brow products’, she turned to her local hairstylist for answers. For some reason her hairstylist always claims to have the answers to everything – whether it’s soft nails or a bumpy back, she’s got a cure. After Ada explained her predicament to her, she said “Ahn ahn, why you nor come since. Make I give you something make you use. You go raise me when you see the effect. All the customers I don give no even complain. They don’t even finish the bottle. Try it and come back. You go see!“.

Before we go even further, let me tell you some things about the problem solving liquid Ada was given. It had all its inscriptions in French; has the picture of a yellow bell pepper on its surface; contains a thick yellow liquid, and sells for N1000. To say I was more than skeptical when I saw the bottle was an understatement. The plan was to apply it every morning and night after washing her face and to watch the magic happen. I already thought it was going to end up badly, so I just waited for a negative outcome. What good could come out of this kind of ointment?!

A few days ago Ada sent me a photo of her face, and surprise, surprise…her skin was the picture of perfection. It looked softer, smoother, tighter and spot & pimple free. Magic? Voodoo? Optical Illusion? I don’t know. What I know now is my dear friend that couldn’t go out without foundation now walks about town makeup free.

So that got me thinking? Why should I spend more money on expensive branded products that claim to give amazing skin over night, when there are a few untapped local products that don’t make empty promises and instead just deliver.

Ada’s theory is this – “All these big brands just want to make money. Who will pay all their employees if they don’t. They water down the chemicals etc that are meant to get the job done, so we buy more when we see little progress.” “Whoever made this product probably made it in her kitchen over a stove and has gotten her money back.”

Her statement took me back to when my mom would swear by black soap. It was her everything! And till date people still stand by it claiming it works better than other soaps because it gives you more for less. They would rather go to the market and locate the woman who molds the black soap with her bare hands, than enter a cosmetics store and drop their ATM card.

As much as I hate to admit it, seeing Ada’s face made me want to try out this magical yellowish liquid. But the fact that I, and even Google Translate, can’t make out what’s stated on that bottle is enough discouragement.

So what is the end result? Do local products work better? Is it better to get down to the roots and use basic organic products to create a skincare product that works, or is it better to get an expensive product that claims it works?

Is it that our parents were right all along? Was it really better in the good old days where if you wanted to use something, you had to make it? From soaps to tonics, everything was made from scratch and it seemed to work then.

I think something I find very discouraging is buying a product that specifically states it will work in 10 days, and 15 days later I’m still stuck with the same problem. The Ads & statistics say you can’t rush the healing or rejuvenating process, but does that mean I should just stay in a life-long commitment? Are we simply paying for the Ad slots and salaries of thousands of employees based off a seemingly hopeless promise of perfect skin, or are they doing us a wealth of good by slowing down the process so our skin doesn’t get overwhelmed?

Share your thoughts BN readers.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime/Atholpady

Jennifer is the Beauty Editor & Style Representative of Get in touch - Send an email to: beauty(at) or style(at) | Follow us on Instagram: @bellanaijabeauty OR @bellanaijastyle | Follow us on Twitter: @bellanaijastyle


  1. Hafsat Blacksoap, Oil, Body & Hair Butter

    March 16, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    We should give our beautypreneneurs a chance! I have always believed that they will concot safer products than whatever is imported by unethical businessmen. A lot of challenges are faced by our manufacturers amongst which is packaging of products. That its not in a high end looking containers doesn’t mean its substandard. A lot of local producers of beauty products are coming up ranging from the low priced to the high end ones. Encouragement is what we need. Definitely, great and excellent things are coming out of Nigeria.


      March 17, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Abeg where can we purchase your products.? Your address will be more than welcome. Thanks a lot

  2. Becca

    March 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Isn’t it our Shea butter/ coconut oil and argan oil(Morocco) & numerous others that is now found in all cosmetics worldwide? They even now sell green magic lipstick in London and Tunisia, I source blacksoap for my German friends the putty one not barsoap.

    • tunmi

      March 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Exactly. Things that were ubiquitous before, we are now paying through the nose for it under the guise of “foreign”.

      This post made me think for Dora Akinyuli RIP. Our products are just as good if not better, there is simply no standardizing. That is something we can improve on and frankly that is a fed govt job. The same way medical and accounting practices are standardized and regulated is the same manner locally produced goods should be. There should be federal mandates on listing ingredients by mass, and specific definitions for what constitutes organic (a lot of Naija items are organic already but still). This will create jobs and encourage entrepreneurs. Why there is no made-in-Nigeria shea butter, coconut oil, black soap, konkon (wooden scrub) outside Naija shores is sad.

      In the same vein that Akinyuli enforced regulation of drugs, Naija’s markets need a regulation of its products and a separate body for safety standards and monitoring.

      Also Lagos State has a Board of Traditional Medicine to study and standardize traditional and alternative health care, for example. A lot of it is learning and becoming more educated whether formally or informally. And looking at other nations and implementng the good

    • SOLO ACT

      March 16, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      its 50/50 indigenous beauty stuffs are also good but let me tell u. when you start using high end beauty products that has the best of natural ingredients and also science behind it, you can see a difference. when u do microdermabrasion, chemical peels and use shea butter it makes it work better. so i say its even

  3. heyhey

    March 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    biko whats the name of the product. a picture will be much appreciated

  4. @edDREAMZ

    March 16, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    The problem with this local stuffs is that one can hardly locate or buy them…..

    • Kehinde

      March 16, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      We can locate them only if we ask. For instance, I make and sell hair creams with natural products only. If you are interested, you can reach me through my email


      March 17, 2015 at 8:52 am

      and ur email is……..

    • Nahum

      March 17, 2015 at 11:05 am

      What’s your email addy? I need natural hair creams for my daughter

  5. oby

    March 16, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    nice piece. .pls can we get the name of the product& a pic. thank you

  6. Koko

    March 16, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I use shea butter and I have amazing results even for a burn and once When I sprained my ankle. For my baby I use just shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil and his skin is amazing, takes care of skin issues too. For the foreign brands you pay for packaging, advertising, staffing and all that effizy.

  7. organic beauty

    March 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I swear by organic products because they really do give you more for less.
    Black soap has a variety of types and packages and trust me, its the breath of fresh air any nigerain skin needs. I mix and distribute for my friends and family and seeing the results make me wonder why people dole out so much money for brands that certainly dont feed your skin.

    Coconut oil is used by alot of these german models, argan oil does wonders, lemme not even start singing the praises of Shea Butter. Palm Kernel oil too…

    People just dont get it sometimes, if its not feeding your skin then you are wrong.

  8. wagamama

    March 16, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I can testify to BLACK SOAP, COCONUT OIL (which i make myself), and unadulterated SHEA BUTTER!!

  9. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    March 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Apple cider vinegar (Dr. Bragg’s) for facial tonic
    Oatmeal and Honey for exfoliating
    Castor or Argan oil for deep cleansing
    Argan for reducing laugh lines
    Orange peel powder or Fenugreek powder for black heads and pimples
    Lemon juice/Banana/Avocado paste for incredibly soft skin
    Bentonite/Multani Mitti/ kaolin clay mask. to tighten skin pores.
    Staple soap: Dudu Osun

    Drink lotta water.
    Eat water based fruits e.g Cucumber, water melon.
    Dance in front of the mirror
    Good to go.

    • Anon

      March 16, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      @Bobosteke & Lara Bian, can you please tell the underlying factor for this your name?
      I must confess I am always fascinated whenever I see it and I gets more interesting when I try to pronounce it. Pretty please with cherries on top. Thank you in anticipation.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      March 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Believing those “cheeries” to be agbalumo, I will answer your questions.

      They are childhood nicknames from my dad.

      I can’t think right away of what bobosteke rhymes with except to explain it like this: ste, (as in ste-phanie); ke ( as in ke-pt).

      Lara is pretty common. Bian as in (Be-ann)

      Hope this helps. Now, to those “cherries”….

  10. Person

    March 17, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Hmmmn, My people. One time like this ehn, I was at Sephora and this associate conned me into buying a $11o ‘thermal cleansing balm’ from Omorovicza. I went home, and when I saw it at first, it was black. Then, I smelled it and paused. I was like why does this smell like ‘ose dudu’ aka BLACK SOAP? I said naa, it can’t be. Put it on my Clarisonic and was like JISOS!!! ‘awon people yii ti gba mi sha’. I swear that ‘balm’ is the ose dudu of my growing up years in liquid form. I returned it the next day and collected my money. Let’s not even talk of the foolishness that is buying a facial cleanser for $110 freaking dollars! And then, I had to ask myself why I was buying L’Occitane shea butter cream for $44, when my grandmother can source the original at a much lower fraction of the cost. I finally admitted to myself it was the elitist in me, that preferred these stupid brand names. Do they work? Yes, they do. But the so-called ‘local’ brands work just as well. I whip my own shea butter now, thank you very much. The only things that I buy that are high end are PERFUMES and SERUMS, and even the serum sef, I’ll sideye the company to hell. Everything other thing, I’ll take the drugstore version. Afertall, Lancome Visionnaire is the same as L’oreal YouthCode Texture Perfector.

    Sorry for the epistle, but I guess you can tell I am a beauty addict! Above all, the real secret is inside out- drink water like your life depends on it (it does actually, a gallon a day), exercise, and eat a lot of greens and fibers!

    • AtimN

      March 17, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      LOL! Same thing happened to me with OJON hair treatment! Got back home and it smelled just like Palm Kernel oil. I checked their site and found that it was “an ancient Amazonian secret formula” lol, which of course was not given away on the website but thanks to google, Ojon is the American Oil Palm, another specie of oil palm.

  11. stayce

    March 17, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Me i have been a victim of these over-the-top-brands. Trying different brands to get rid of pimples and stuff, all to no avail. I stumbled upon an article on the wonders of honey and cinnamon on the face. I tried it and voila! in 5 days my face is noticably smoother! And to think i spent only N880 on the stuff. I have a friend that uses brown sugar and honey as a bi-weekly scrub, her skin is divine. No more to big name brands biko nu, our local products work just fine.

  12. Magz

    March 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I never grew up with high end things; i grew up with using vaseline/petroleum jelly as body cream, lux/joy as bathing soap. I discovered the wonders of shea butter when i was in 400 level (thanks to my roommate, Yewande). My fellow bellanaijarians, i now use shea butter as my body cream. I do not bother buying it in Lagos, i just beg my grandma to help me buy in large quantity from Akure and take it whenever i go to visit. It doesn’t spoil, it does not have expiration date. And no, it doesn’t darken the skin, i am light in complexion. The most expensive soap i have ever used is Dettol cool.

    There are just some things I cannot spend a lot of money on, i would feel like i’m cheating myself.
    Like someone said, when you buy high-end products, you pay for not just the product but also the packaging, the staff etc.

    • wuz ere

      March 18, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Interesting read and comments. To everyone swearing by shea butter, dyu use sunscreen after using it or nah? Is sunscreen really that important? Pls help!

  13. NaijaPikin

    March 17, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    When it comes to beauty products, please remember that our skin/hair types differ. What works for 1 person may not necessary work for you.

    I typically start off with the cheaper options and try for 6 weeks to see if it works for me. If not, i try something else until I find what works for me. Then i stick to it.

  14. tunmi

    March 17, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    BN how about a business directory section for entrepreneurs, in Naija and based outside to advertise/post their website/blog/contact info?

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