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Nicole Ezeh: Dear Naturalista, the Natural Hair Journey is Not Expensive

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Nicole: Hey Teniola, your outfit looks amazing. How have you been?
Teniola: Oh, this old dress? I’ve been managing, my dear. Your hair looks breathtaking. You people and this your natural hair sef. I always love seeing your hair but it’s sha too expensive to maintain.
Nicole (while gazing intently at her 350k weave): No, it’s not. It’s a matter of choice. You decide whether you want to break the bank or not in this journey and you don’t need…
Teniola: Ehn, warefa. I don’t have the time or energy
Nicole: But…..

Are you a naturalista, who’s had this or a similar scenario played out in front of you so much, you can’t recall how many times it has? You’re not alone. Teniola actually has a valid reason. Nicole may have been the only natural whom she’s met that is not a product junkie, so Teniola is not making unfounded statements. I reiterate that the natural hair journey is not an expensive one. Why do you have so much unnecessary products all over your shelf? I guess the real question is: why do you feel you need so many products to enjoy healthy hair strands? After much unconscious research, I’ve found that the ones with the most luxurious hair hardly cleanse, steam or have up to five products. The basic things that ensure you enjoy your journey and have awesome results will be highlighted in this article:

Hot Oil Treatments/Prepoo
This is a step in your regimen that can be achieved with just a natural oil. Pre-mixed hot oil treatments/prepoos are not necessary as unsavory ingredients (which are not natural but chemicals) are contained therein. That is not the problem with it, since I’ve stopped being an ingredient Nazi. The problem is the cost of the 16-ounce tub of 70% hype and 30% effectiveness. Coconut oil, Olive oil, Castor oil, Grapeseed oil, each used alone can give you better results. The different oils you own can be mixed and the mixture applied as your hot oil treatment. A 100g of herbs can be infused with a litre of coconut oil and you’re set for the year. Palm kernel oil mixed with a fragrance essential oil is enough.

Clarifying
There is an immeasurable amount of shampoos everywhere, but I bet the good ol’ African black soap never crossed your mind. It didn’t cross mine either at first, but when it did, branded shampoos were indefinitely suspended. Bentonite clay can be used also to clarify and guess what? It is a cleanser, deep conditioner and curl definer all in one.
Another option for clarifying is Castile soap. Get a bar of dudu osun, cut it into tiny little pieces and pour in 2 litres of boiling water. Allow to stand for some hours, stir and dispense into old shampoo bottles. 2 litres of shampoo is enough for a year. An ounce of Castile soap topped with three ounces of water is sufficient for each clarifying session. Clarifying can be done twice a month.

Cowashing
This is where it gets a little bit complicated if you are an ingredient Nazi. I think I can authoritatively declare that every conditioner is made up of strictly chemicals. If you are avoiding silicones, VO5 and Suave naturals are insanely cheap conditioners which do not contain silicones. Cowashing is washing with a conditioner only. This can be done, depending on your schedule, twice a month in between clarifying.

After-wash Rinse
These can be used to prevent or combat excessive shedding. If you detangle your hair carefully or so much as run your hands through your hair (*coughs, assuming you can) and notice your hair strands falling off, you need an after-wash rinse. Tea rinses and coffee rinses are ideal for excessive shedding. This is because the caffeine contained in the tea and coffee strengthen the hair strands at the root causing the weak link between the hair and scalp to become stronger. This naturally implies that decaffeinated coffees are not to be utilized. Black, green and red teas can be used. To get the most out of a tea bag, it is advisable to boil the teabags with the water as opposed to steeping it in boiling hot water. Pour it over your hair, massage it in and leave for 20 minutes. You may wash it off or not – though it tends to leave the hair hard and dry in some cases. In a year, you only get to use four packs of tea, saving you so much cost rather than buying a branded product which may just be a waste of resources.

Deep Conditioning
There are deep conditioners which seem to be made solely for you, but they contain Petrolatum and other not-so-great ingredients but my new motto in Naija speak is, ‘Me I cannot come and kee (kill) myself’. Youtubers like JourneyToWaistLength swear by cheap deep conditioners like Mega Profectiv deep conditioner. Once, I also read a very guilt-ridden post by Ekene of Kink and I where she steamed her hair with Africa’s Best Hair Mayonnaise and it turned her hair really soft, but the downside was (and still is) that the ingredient list made you cry.
I really do not care about those things anymore; though regular usage is not advised, it’s not a crime for a girl to want a deep conditioning treatment that leaves her hair soft with her pocket happy. If it is, sue me already. Do-it-yourself deep conditioners are cost-effective and completely safe. Luckily, I tend to stick more to DIYs than the above mentioned deep conditioners. Here is an article listing twenty do-it-yourself deep conditioner recipes which can save you a wad of cash.

Moisturizing
The LOC method is the standard procedure for moisturizing natural hair. Depending on your hair’s preference, LCO method can be used. This stage is broken down into three sub-stages:

Liquid
This is the first step in the LOC method. This process can be achieved with warm water or a leave-in conditioner. A DIY leave-in conditioner mix can be easily prepared with a conditioner and a few oils whipped to mix well.

Oil
This can be any single natural oil or oil mix. If you can, prepare your coconut oil at home. It involves shelling the coconuts, grating/blending, pressing the coconut milk out after adding some water, leaving the coconut milk overnight in an airtight container, separating the puree from the water with a spatula the next morning and boiling the puree to extract the oil.

Cream
Depending on your location, avocado, shea, mango or cocoa butters mixed with an oil or two can be whipped into a light, fluffy cream and preserved in a tub.

Stylers
For styling, you may still use whipped butters if you want big, fluffy hair. Some cheap alternatives include: setting lotions, eco styler gels (any styling gel will do), foam wrap lotions/mousse.

Supplements
Water and fruits are the only supplements you need. Vitamins, Proteins and Minerals are contained therein. Increase your water and fruit intake and your hair will flourish

These are the basic steps in a standard natural hair regimen. You can skip any step you want as some do by just cleansing and moisturizing once in a while. It’s okay. Don’t nobody gat time for all that stress. If you are the meticulous type, you can add the prices up and see that you get to spend less than #30,000 per annum.

Sorry for the six-month hiatus. Life happened. I’m back. I’ll see you in my next article. Peace and blessings. God bless you.

Photo Credit: Noriko Cooper | Dreamstime.com

A botanist, a practising microbiologist and a huge natural hair enthusiast committed to teaching Nigerian women about natural hair. Tweet at me: @_neekohl

23 Comments

  1. Ec

    June 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

    It is very expensive. The oils etc.

  2. Ms Jayee

    June 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Dear Nicole Ezeh, it is!!

    • Belema

      June 16, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Natural, Relaxed and Texlaxed hair maintenance are all in the same category when it comes to maintenance. It is not very cheap, but they’re all affordable if you’re not a product junkie and if you do your research well and know what works for you. Among the 3, natural hair is the least expensive. I’ve done all 3 types, I’ve even done Jerry Curls too so I know.

  3. Vee

    June 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

    It’s still expensive. We are even charged extra for braids. A lot of persons went the natural way thinking it was a cheaper alternative,a lot are back to relaxers

    • Mrs. T

      June 16, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      I have never heard of that. Where please? I have never been charged extra for braids; I have never heard of such until today.

    • anonymous

      June 16, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      My darling, pre-braid your attachment and have them placed to your hair as crochet. That’s what I do.

      My natural hair journey has been easy oh; crochet, wigs and then these funny plaits in between.

      I naturally have full hair and front hair so it’s all goos.

  4. Tosin

    June 16, 2017 at 11:20 am

    In the beginning it is expensive because you do a lot of trial and error with products but once you get a hang of it, its easy peasy. I use black soap to wash my hair, i dont co-wash no time for that. I mix gelatin with warm water to deep condition my hair.. After rinsing i use a leave in conditioner and shea butter on my hair. Then i install crochet braids to last for a month. When i have time i clean my scalp with apple cider vinegar and oil with virgin hair fertilizer.

  5. Belema

    June 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Natural Hair isn’t expensive. Well at least for me. When I became natural 5 years ago, I spent ridiculous amounts of money buying Shea Moisture, Carols Daughter, Cantu, Tresemme Naturals, you name it. Some were okay, some were overhyped, truth is, I didn’t get extraordinary results, and they were damn expensive. When I moved to Nigeria, I saw this blog about how black soap is good for hair, I started to use Dudu Osun (which is Amazeballs for my skin), it dried out my hair and made it flaky. If you’re using black soap, it’s important to buy one which is specially made for hair care cause most black soaps are manufactured for skin care. Now, I have two shampoos that I use, when one is done I use the other, then repeat. Black Purifying Shampoo by Estella’s Pride, and the Coconut Oil Formula Shampoo by Palmers. I don’t co-wash, I’ll rather pre-poo or deep condition. I prefer to Shampoo than co-wash. For my conditioner, I use this conditioner from Namaste, when it’s done I use the Mango Butter formula conditioner from African Pride and repeat as well. These products have done wonders for my hair in every sense, and are not overly pricey as the past products I used to use which gave me very basic results. I use regular castor oil which is just as effective as the expensive JBCO; which by the way use to give me scalp inflammation when I was using it. Glycerin mixed with Water, stored in my fridge is the truth. My go to essential oils are peppermint and tea tree. Natural hair isn’t expensive, just know what works for you and don’t follow social media hype; everyone is making products these days ?. It might be expensive when you’re naive and just starting; ultimately natural hair isn’t expensive. Long story but you get my point.

    • Susan

      June 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Belema I agree with. Everyone is making products these days, it’s ridiculous. Bloggers turned manufacturers, Instagram overly hyping mediocre products. Some don’t know anything about formulating and aren’t qualified but are making products. There’s a difference between making stuff to use at home and making for commercial purposes. That you can mix one or two things together doesn’t make you a cosmetologist. That you have a Chemistry degree doesn’t also make you a cosmetic formulator or however it’s called. I will Buy Nigerian as people are hash tagging, but in general I am very particular about the what I use on my hair, particularly my skin. Just cause I want to grow the naira doesn’t mean I have to buy and use just about anything, sorry not sorry. The only Nigerian brands I can use for my hair are Kui Care, Estella’s Pride and Namaste (a fraction from Namaste’s line). And the brands for my skin are Dudu Osun by tropical Naturals as well as essential oils by Estella’s Pride & Vanity Oils; otherwise I stick to non-indigenous products I’ve been using for decades. I can’t begin to mention the overhyped products some of these Naija bloggers post online that gave me skin irritations and messed up my hair. Some naive people even buy these things for their babies and little kids. Some people aren’t even authorized to make things, and are making for babies?, it’s the people buying these things I consider foolish. Let’s not forget the international brands that are overly pricey and do basically nothing. Sorry for people who waste money putting rubbish on their skin and hair in the name of social media hype and follow-follow.

      1
    • Jen

      June 16, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Susan, have you heard of Natural Nigerian? She makes baby products with no nafdac number. I’m sorry, but I’m careful of the things I use on kids; be it local or foreign brands. She said she has a chemistry degree, I have a chemistry degre myself but that doesn’t qualify me to make baby products. I remember her as a blogger before she started making products and her posts were informative. I don’t have an issue with her making hair and skin products (even though I’ve used some of her products while I was in Nigeria and they’re okay, nothing extraordinary), now making baby products = that’s totally pushing it. When it comes to little ones, you must be careful. However, like you said, I blame the people who buy these things.

    • Hopeful Naturalist

      June 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Where do buy your glycerin from and how do you use it?

      There’s do much to learn.

      Gosh.

      I must admit it was so much more straightforward when I was relaxed. ????

      Help!!!!

    • Belema

      June 17, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Hopeful Naturalist,
      I buy my Glycerin from Estella’s Pride but you can surely find Glycerin in general in supermarkets, or even online; Jumia and Konga. It’s really not hard to find. I mix 4 ounces of Glycerin with 90ml of water in my spray bottle and I store it in the fridge. I use it to spray my hair daily or every other day. It’s really good.

    • Belema

      June 17, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Trust me, it’s not hard. My cousin became natural months ago. So what I advised her to do then since her hair hadn’t gotten to her desired length = cornrows. She made medium sized cornrows, like 18. After which she used wigs. She washed her hair every month, after which she deep conditioned and made cornrows afterwards, someone did this for her at home. She used a Growth Oil to massage her scalp and edges every night before going to bed. Then at Morning(s), she use’ll the Glycerin+Water mixture on her hair before carefully wearing her wigs, and when she got home; she’ll take out the wig. She did this for 6 months until her hair grew. And it sure did grow. I wish I had someone to advise me like this when I became natural. If you’re not a fan of Wigs, you can do crotchet braids, avoid Ghanaian braids or tight braids. Just endeavour to keep your hair moisturised. She used pretty much all the products I use cause we live together. You’ll be fine ?

  6. Uberhaute looks

    June 16, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Not just hair care but also skin and cosmetics…everybody has become a manufacturer now and I’m scared for Nigerians

    • Jen

      June 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      It’s not just Nigeria. Even here in Canada, and the States people with no knowledge and qualifications are making and selling products, the U.K. as well.

  7. lilo

    June 16, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    LOC method – replace the Liquid with a Leave in Conditioner. You will send me a gift card later 🙂

    Natural hair is expensive for product junkies which we are /were especially during the early phases of transition. Once you learn to stop aspiring to someone else’s hair length or growth or curl pattern, the journey becomes cheap, easy and blissful.

    Right now, I am a happy person with Cantu and JBCO. Every 6 weeks I go to a natural hair salon to wash, deep condition and treat my hair. Then put it in protective style for another 4-6 weeks. Thing is my hair has grown past the stage where I can wash it and detangle it myself without damaging it. I used to wash it myself when it was shorter so having a pro wash it now has added more cost but it’s worth it. Detangling is not for kids…

    • Hopeful Naturalist

      June 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Can you recommend a good leave in conditioner?

    • bobosteke

      June 17, 2017 at 9:08 am

      @Hopeful Naturalista

      I know you didn’t ask me, but try Aweni’s Aloe Vera Hair Pudding. It’s 3500k usually. But its on sale now for 2300k on Beautiphic.
      I used Cantu Shea Leave In is also great.

    • Exquisite

      June 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Hopeful Naturalist,
      Go to a good supermarket where you can find hair products and you can buy any good conditioner, some are even affordable. Just make sure it contains no sulphate and silicone. And it has vital ingredients, like Avocado, Coconut, Argan, Olive Oil, Jojoba, Aloe Vera, one or more of these ingredients and you’re good to go. A good conditioner MUST have water. Depending on what you want, you can buy a leave-in conditioner or a deep conditioner. Be careful of what you use on your hair and PLEASE be careful of all these Instagram hair manufacturers.

  8. bobosteke

    June 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I used to be a do-it-yourself junkie until I discovered Miss Jessie’s pricey Sweetback Treatment, Shea Moisture and Beemine.
    When the recession hit, fear did not let me even finish using them. I suddenly remembered how mayonnaise, honey or avocado used to make my hair very soft and moisturized. I mean Shea Moisture’s Manuka Honey Hair Masque went from 3900 to 9000. That was enough to cure me from product name dropping.

    I discovered that oils, dudu osun and a boyfriend who loves to detangle hair, are all I truly need. The castor oil sold in pharmacies is just as good as the JBO we tout. Trader Joes Coconut oil is just as good as those sold in the market by the gap toothed mama. How many oil go make hair grow, sef? Shea and cocoa butter n’kan? For protein treatments, mix gelatin (N250) in hot water. Aphogee 2 step keratin ain’t got nothing this can’t deliver in volumes.

    More importantly though, grow your hair from within. This is walnut and avocado season. Eat with relish. Eggs thankfully don’t come in seasons. Dont be shy, abeg. Titus fish aka Mackerel is excellent. Sweet potato sef dey. Beta carotene and all that filling sweetness.

    If you still feel like spending though, check out Sales on Beautiphic. Thank me later.

  9. Hopeful Naturalist

    June 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you soooo much Belema, bobosteke and Exquisite. ???

    This sure helps!

    • bobosteke

      June 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      You are most welcome. Resist the temptation of staring at huge Afros too and wanting immediate results. They took years to grow. They are alright as target goals but it brings out the hurry hurry spirit aka product junkie in us.
      And remember, a little goes a long way.

  10. Lol

    June 18, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    What type of hair does the person who write this article have? 4C, 4A?

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