A colleague just had her hair cropped short. She looks several years younger – like she had undergone a facelift. We got into the question of why she hadn’t done it sooner and she shared her story.
Her husband prefers long hair, so since they have been together, she has been keeping her hair long-ish to keep her man happy. A few years ago, she felt restless and wanted to cut her hair. This was her normal practice when she was single. She actually prefers to wear her hair short and free of extensions. Let’s just say that she met with a lot of resistance so she kept the peace by keeping her hair on her head and the extensions in.
Recently, the restlessness reared its head again and she pulled out all the tricks in the book (pleading, threatening, pouting e.t.c) before she finally wrangled very reluctant permission from her husband to get a hair cut. She says she finally feels liberated.
Now, this is a story which a lot of us (especially Africans), have heard time and time again and perhaps have come to view as normal.
The female cannot make major changes to her hairstyle at will. It must always be done with the consent of her husband/boyfriend. Sure, you can part your hair to the left or to the right at will but if you want to
Then you definitely need a nod from the man in your life. In fact, some women need to be sure that their partner is on board with every step they take to change their appearance (e.g. deciding to have make-up free days or to begin wearing make-up).
However, the reverse is not the case. I have never heard of a man asking for permission from his wife to change his hairstyle. They may talk about it, but there is no question that consent is needed. One may, of course, argue that men rarely can’t do much with their hair so there is no need to gain consent. Even if this was the case, I personally do not believe that men would actually seek consent. The liberal ones may discuss it, but it ends there. The choice is basically theirs what they want to do.
Do you find this normal? Do you find this to be right?
Hi, I’m Hadassah, a Nigerian microbiologist by day, blogger by night (I’m the author of nappilynigeriangirl.blogspot.com), hairstylist on the weekends, an artist in between, fashion enthusiast, natural hair lover and wrapping it all up, God fearing. I’m full blooded Igbo from Anambra (Igbokwenu!!!!) and reside most of the time in Northern Nigeria.
Have you always worn your natural hair natural?
Yes, I’ve always worn my hair natural. I grew up in the North, Kaduna to be precise and while growing up, it was common to see people with natural hair though it’s changed now.
Has it been difficult maintaining it?
I have fine highly porous hair that’s prone to dryness and breakage. For the first 11 years of my life, my mother was in charge of my hair care. My parents had a no relaxer policy until we were old enough to decide which wasn’t till we got to senior secondary.
Every second week on Saturdays was washday for my two sisters and I. She would shampoo (with Petals Shampoo and scrub our scalps vigorously…we felt the tingle everytime!), condition (with Petals conditioner), comb (using the ever present light blue wide tooth comb from roots to tips…luckily the conditioner would have done its work!), towel dry (with our heads bouncing all over…lol), grease (using Indian Hemp hair cream), comb again then make about 6-8 braids for stretch. On Sunday after church, she would either thread our hair. The next weekend, a braider would come to the house to braid our already stretched hair.We were very partial to Hausa/Fulani braiders because braiding was painless and they were really gentle. When you say ouch, they’d adjust their hands. I can’t say the same for the Yoruba and Igbo braiders we had though…lol! They didn’t really care much if it hurts unless my mum was around…lol! With this routine our hair thrived! My dad was especially proud of our long, thick hair and loved to ask us the names of our hair do!
When I started secondary school, I was responsible for my hair care and that of my sisters. I pretty much followed my mum’s regimen except I was gentler with detangling. We were given enough pocket money to experiment with hair products. I became (and still am) a product junkie! I would buy any shampoo, conditioner, hair lotion I saw advertised on T.V. and in fashion magazines I was crazy about. I think that was really when I began to notice how products had an effect on hair. Some shampoos were drying (my mum’s trusty Petals was among them), some made hair thicker (I noticed this with Motions products) and some were just perfect (Johnson’s Baby No more Tears was a favorite).
Everything kind of changed when I got to senior secondary school. It seemed that to be the ‘It’ girl, you had to have long straight hair. Natural hair was seen as childish. I didn’t really care because I was that annoying child that asked lots of questions and if I didn’t get a satisfactory answer, I wouldn’t budge! My parents always talked to us about peer pressure as we got older and telling me that ‘I had to relax my hair because it was a sign of maturity’ was hogwash. It wasn’t easy though…I was constantly being compared to my younger sisters who decided to relax their hair. What favoured me was that my hair was the longest.
It was during one trying period that I discovered heat styling to straighten my hair. I noticed one particular girl with notorious long straight and less greasy relaxed hair comi
ng out of a salon. As soon as she left, I ran in and asked the stylist to do what she did to the girl’s hair on mine. After refusing a relaxer (I was scared of pain and burns) she suggested straightening my hair with a blow dryer at high temp, a round brush and some grease. That was the moment I realized the real versatility of natural hair. I could switch from coily to straight anytime I wanted.
Fast forward to University (Abuja) when I was really on my own… I couldn’t find the products I Iiked (expensive when I did) or a stylist I trusted. I bought a flat iron to cut down on the cost of straightening and it soon became an addiction. My hair became heat damaged and was breaking off like no man’s business. My turn around period for ‘conscious healthy hair practice’ was after I washed my hair one day and the curls wouldn’t bounce back!
I big chopped then, did my research and started again. With straightening (until I discovered heat protectants) and braiding(I loved my hairline) out of the way, I was kinda stuck with ‘out’ styles. I rocked wash and go’s, buns and puffs. I experimented with beautiful updos and learnt how to twist my hair. At the end of the semester, I would fix a weave in the current style and go home. Then braid in Kaduna before returning to school.
Apart from returning to natural hair, have you incorporated a more natural/healthy lifestyle?
Yes I have. My mum ,as a nurse has always been conscious of what we ate. That didn’t mean boring food. She couldn’t do that because I was a picky eater and I loved colors So she’d make sure our meals had red, green, orange vegetables and fruits. I think ‘conscious’ healthy eating for me was a result of serious demoralizing acne I had as a teenager. I noticed that certain foods aggravated it such as carbonated sugary drinks but if I had a diet of natural, whole food with lots of fruits and veggies, my skin cleared up.
Till today, I don’t take carbonated drinks but prefer water, yoghurt and fruit juice (preferably freshly made). This is a bit of a problem socially because you’ll always be offered Coke, Fanta etc and most hosts feel offended if you say you want just water and it looks pretentious if you request for juice or yoghurt. I’ve tried to manage malt drinks on such occasions which I prefer in cans (to take away) or if presented with the bottled one, I take my time drinking it so I’m not offered another. It has become a lifestyle for me.
Do you think there’s a link? Would you have incorporated those changes if you had not gone natural?
I think there’s a link between having natural hair and incorporating a natural/healthy life. Though being natural wasn’t initially why I opted for a healthier lifestyle (skincare is), it’s one of the reasons I’ve kept my resolve. I do notice changes in the thickness, growth rate and health of my hair when I eat more protein. In University, I didn’t eat as much vegetables and fruits as I was supposed to because I ate out. I noticed my hair wasn’t as supple and shiny as it used to. It was like the quality of my hair diminished despite an improvement in hair care products (Organics, Aussie Moist, BlowFish etc) and practices, so I decided to adjust my diet and see if there’ll be improvements and there was. The new growth was healthier, curlier, shiny and supple. I had to trim my hair again. I learnt how to use my hair, nails and skin as an indicator for good health. I watched what I put on and in my body. I researched and learnt how to read product labels in my hair and skincare products especially after I noticed rashes while using sunscreen to escape the burning sun in Abuja.
How do you manage to have natural hair and remain professional?
I learnt that your hairstyle and dressing influenced the way you were treated by conservative professors as a student and in the Nigerian setting, that meant your hair had to be smooth and neat. So I learnt not to take full afros to see my professors and styled my hair in neat buns and pulled back twists. When I really worked for the first time last year, I began to experiment with styles suitable for the work place. The Director I worked with was a conservative but stylish woman. She was very professional and principled and liked those working with her to be so. By observing her reactions to my hair style, I was able to learn what styles were suitable for the office environment. Apart from weaves and braids (which I rarely did because the weather is too hot for all that), I did different buns, twists and tried fingercoils for the first time. All were admired.
My epic office fail was when I tried a braid out. I usually do that on the weekends but I thought I had mastered it well enough to keep it neat and ‘weave like’. I was so wrong..lol! My hair which was fine as I left the house was a hot mess when I got to the office #humidity!!!! The Director had to make a comment for the first time. She told me she didn’t think it was casual Friday yet. I read between the lines! Luckily, I always have bands and a satin scarf in my bag so I did a quick bun!
Do you have a healthy goal (hair, nutrition, exercise)?
My goal is to just listen to my body and give it what it needs to work well. I make sure I drink enough water, eat a balanced diet and exercise…does running up and down the stairs everyday count? I think I burn a lot of calories trying to beat traffic too…lol! Maybe I’m not committed to exercising because I’m naturally skinny and don’t want to be all ‘muscled’ up on top of it but I dance a lot…that’s like aerobics, right? As for my hair, use my satin bonnet more and keep my hands out of my hair! #seriousHIHsyndrome
Based on all you know now, what would you do for your children?
Well, for one thing my children by God’s grace will have a healthy head of natural coils. My son will sport a coily teeny weeny afro ( I won’t be one of those crazy mamas that bantu knot, braid and bun their son’s hair….I guess I’m conservative that way..lol!). I now know suitable hair products for most hair types, better methods (no greasing scalps) and unique hairstyles I can do on the girls.
Definitely no relaxers until like my parents did, they are old enough to make their own choices (with guidance) and can stand by it. My sisters relaxed their hair. One is doing fine (she tries to use kids’ relaxers and is careful of ingredients in hair products) and the other decided to return back to natural after noticing that despite all the care while relaxed, her hair wasn’t thriving. She tried texlaxing, it didn’t work out and now she’s fully natural, she says nothing and nobody’s opinions can make her go back. She retains more length now.
Nutrition wise, they’ll definitely eat a balanced diet! My mum taught me how do make veggies appealing to children. For them, taste and appearance matters. I read somewhere that in an experiment, children left to select different foods from healthy options to the snacky ones managed on the whole to eat what was suitable for their body within the month of the test. I think I agree. I won’t ban junk food, it only makes them want it more, I’ll just expose them to healthier treats like my mom did!
Any words of wisdom or advice for others?
I know in Nigeria, natural hair isn’t mainstream and not fully accepted as professional especially when it’s out but I think just like some hair colours and crazy weaves that our relaxed sisters can’t rock in the work place, there are some natural hairstyles that shouldn’t be worn to the office. Hair should be neat and smooth. Gel especially aloe vera (for those worried about product buildup and such) can be used to keep flyaways in place. You can hold it down with a satin scarf and take it off when you get to work for a more polished look.
Embrace shrinkage! I believe it’s the hair’s way of protecting itself.
Also, learn to listen to your hair, your skin, yourself. God designed us perfectly with everything we need to thrive and be the best but most times we let external influences derail us from our real selves.
And finally, a big THANK YOU for featuring me and for providing a wonderful resource for natural haircare and healthy lifestyle.
Awww, thank YOU! Hadassah, for taking the time to share and for being part of the natural journey and a resource that Nigerian women can rely on.
I reluctantly accepted (I am not a big fan of not knowing the source of my ingredients). The next time I was reasy to make a batch of body butter, I used hers. Following my recipe here, I melted the Shea Butter. Imagine my absolute horror when I realized that I got Shea Butter and a bit more thrown in. I will let the picture below do the talking.
Now, this does not mean that ALL Shea Butter from the market is bad as I have used some in the past that appeared to be just Shea Butter. I say “appeared to be” because I did not conduct any microbiological tests on them – they may or may not have had microbial growths in them as well.
I however, have never felt comfortable about buying Shea Butter in the open market because of the way it is handled – out in the open with dust, exhaust fumes and other environmental pollutants coating them. Prospective buyers touching them with dirty fingers. Also, thanks to our sunny weather, the Shea Butter melts and is reconstituted many times before it is sold.
I apply the same principle to food. I will not buy raw leafy vegetables sold on the roadside where cars have had the chance to pass by and coat them with exhaust smoke and dust. I also do not buy leafy vegetables from a seller who has a stall next to a meat/fish seller. Once can be sure that the flies from the meat will definitely perch on the veggies at some point.
I digress, the point I am trying to make is that handling is very very important. It can make or break a product. Imagine using that Shea Butter on your face or body. Several things can result, ranging from dermatitis and to diseases that are much worse.
As with most things, buy from a credible source – unless you have decided that you are a willing risk taker.
In my mother’s village, a fruit we were sure to get and gorge ourselves on was Soursop (which we called Shawa Shop). This fruit is not as easy to find in Lagos so it was a matter of eating enough until the next visit, a year later. The reason why it is not easy to find is that transporting the fruit is not easy because of its irregular shape and how soft it gets when ripe.
This week, I went to Lagos Island and right there on Balogun street there was a lady selling Soursop. I bought what I could carry. As I ate it at home, I was transported back to Aguata, Nanka where my mother is from.
For those that don’t know what this fruit is and what its benefits are, this post is dedicated to you.
Apart from the fact that this fruit is a delight to eat, recent studies have shown that it packs a punch when it comes to keeping us healthy and possibly cancer free. It is able to do this because it contains some Acetogenins.
Annonaceous Acetogenin in the Soursop tree are “. . . not only are effective in killing tumors that have proven resistant to anti-cancer agents, but also seem to have a special affinity for such resistant cells.”
That means that it seeks out the tumors that are resistant to some anti-cancer medication or other compound and kills them. That is as close to perfection as it can get. It is also reported to do this without the normal toxicity that comes with other anti-cancer drugs which lead to hair loss, weight loss, the killing of other healthy cell which will then eventually lead to weakened immunity.
These naturally-occurring acetogenins are produced in the leaf, stem, bark and fruit seeds of the Sour Sop tree. It is
The wonderful thing is that the Soursop tree produces Annonaceous acetogenin in its leaf and stem, bark, and fruits seeds so the entire tree is a cancer fighting machine. It is a wonder we don’t all have a Sour Sop tree in our backyards.
As with all things, if you decide to use soursop for anything other than as a refreshing fruit, ensure that you only do so with a qualified medical practitioner’s help.
To give a balanced view, read about some of the side effects: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/herbal-remedies/graviola2.htm
Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, Volume 10, Issue 3, March 2002, Pages 561-565
Our scalps always sheds dead cells (these are called corneocyte squames). This happens to everyone and usually goes on without any notice on our part. However, when something happens to throw the body’s balance off, this shedding becomes evident/visible and we call it dandruff.
Trivia: The average person sheds about 4kgs of corneocyte squames per year.
So what causes Dandruff?
The scientists that can’t agree that Dandruff exists do agree that if indeed it exists, it has varying causes. Here are highlights of the various causes:
The list goes on and on!
Trivia: Dandruff is also known as: Pityriasis Capitis or Seborrheic Dermatitis.
So now a quick check on what we know:
With something this elusive, how does one pursue a natural solution?
Trivia: Dandruff is age related and is rarely seen before puberty. It usually comes at the onset of puberty, peaks in the early twenties and declines in middle and old age. It does appear to pick up again after the age of 50.
I know I haven’t exhausted this topic by a long shot. Leave me your questions in the comment section and I will use that to do a follow-up topic on Dandruff.
Hello! Introduce yourself (or like my Nigerian folks like to say, let us meet you!)
My name is Mnena Orvaa. I am 32, I am a lawyer. I am from Benue State. Mother to 2 boys. Only 1 is living.
I know that you are partial to Natural Living. How did you arrive at that or have you always led a natural lifestyle?
I have not always lived a natural lifestyle. My bias towards it began when I couldn’t cure my stomach ulcer in hospital in 2010, and when in 2011 I started dealing with my son’s asthma. As a child, I always had bouts of pneumonia.
Has it been difficult or expensive maintaining it?
I started my love affair with natural living as a means of dealing with various health challenges as I just mentioned. I found out that there is a link between natural, wholesome nutrition and managing most health challenges, especially asthma. Going from eating junk to eating vegetable salads and fruits daily proved expensive at first. With time I narrowed it down to the most powerful medicinal and antioxidant vegetables and that cut the cost. I narrowed it down to garlic, cayenne pepper, onions and pawpaw leaves juice. All of these raw for maximum benefit.
Where did you learn about living a natural lifestyle?
I first learned from books. 2 specific books, written by 2 different Nigerian women, who battled and survived breast cancer by faith and a total overhaul of their diets. Strictly back to nature. I did not give heed to them till I started facing problems of my own. It may be extreme but I have effectively enforced cooking without those seasonings we call Maggi or Royco or Knorr and so on and so forth. Then I learned from Femi Kusa. He writes very educating health articles on alternatives to Western medicine. From ‘big pharma’ conspiracies to local herbs and supplements. Find the articles on Thursdays in This Day Newspaper. Above all, I learned from the internet on a site called Earth Clinic.
What are the local things that you have found work for you?
Garlic and cayenne pepper have the tie at number one. Garcinia kola and ginger. Raw onion juice. Like I said, I have narrowed down my must haves in terms of nutrition to the most powerful antibiotic, antiviral-the ones that combat oxidative stress the most. Cheap and always locally available. Vitamin C is also very important.
Based on all you know now, what would you do for your children (male and female in terms of hair, nutrition, natural living as opposed to the way you were brought up e.t.c)?
In the past, I was so ignorant. I ate and fed my boy junk food. At a point I left for law school and antibiotics were abused when he had ordinary coughs. Not that then I couldn’t have given him the antibiotics, because I also didn’t know better, but I would have been consistent to avoid resistance. Abuse of antibiotics and very poor nutrition eventually caused him to develop asthma. It pains me, but I cannot change the past. Nutrition wise he never takes the Bobo or the Viju milk or the Ribena or the Indomie and the cakes and biscuits that on certain days was all he ate. He never liked eating proper meals and I ignorantly indulged him. No sweets, no ice-cream. No chocolate. No foods from the box. Then as regards hair, I will not relax my daughter’s hair as long as I am in charge. Maybe I try to compensate for what my ignorance caused my boy, I make his bathing soap myself, cook his meals, use Shea butter for his skin. I make sure he lives very close to nature and it has done him a lot of good. I also DO NOT give him synthetic antibiotics. Enough harm already.
Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for others?
Please, let us do our research. You will be amazed at your own lifelong ignorance! I have found as a fact that some solutions to huge health issues will be answered in natural living. It is our best bet to a healthy lifestyle. Have faith. Even cancer has been dealt with by returning to nature. I have dealt with ulcer and asthma and I know what nature can do. Never compromise on vitamin C. If you will not take it from food, supplement. The white unflavoured version. Be natural! Stay healthy!!
Lots of people are less bold than I am to make such claims but when you have truly overcome by such simple natural remedies you will be amazed. Nature will always be our solution. I truly believe.
Ladies in Abuja, that have been looking forward to a meet up, I am proud to announce that the second edition of Capital Naturals will hold in Abuja on the 1st of June, 2013. If you missed the last one, here are some pictures. We will do better in the picture – taking department this time.
So, if you are ready to –
I will be there along with my co-organizers (Natural Mane of Deepbrown & Kinks, as well as Chioma Momah of Bibi Naturals).
Expect to see a flyer out soon with more details.
P.S – If you would like to be a vendor at the event, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fernande Browne contacted me on Facebook a day or so later to say that she styles hair and would like to volunteer to speak at the next meet up. I have heard that claim quite a few times so of course I had to go and verify for myself. By Wednesday, I had presented myself to her with an open mind to see if she could substantiate her claim. Here is what I was looking for:
After about 3.5 hours of working on my hair, here’s what I got.
Now, am I satisfied with this? On a scale of 1-10, I would easily give her a 9. I only deduct points for something which is not really her fault – my hair is like a dense forest and parting it is never an easy task – even when it is detangled. However, once I mentioned this to Fernande, she immediately tried to do it a bit gentler. Now, I will score her:
After she was done with my hair, I hugged her (I was so happy to have finally found a natural hair stylist that whom I could afford and whose work I did not have to “manage). You want to contact her? Let me know below and I will email you a number.
We had over 10 vendors in attendance selling products that a lot of people obviously came a long way to get. I would like to thank our vendors – apart from the fact that they ensure that all your junkie needs are met (and exceeded), they also help to fund the meet up and make it free for participants to attend. Another big supporter is the Omenka Gallery in Ikoyi which allows us to use their space. They have a lovely garden with a water view where one can purchase drinks, snacks and food when not viewing the awesome paintings they have inside.
Unfortunately, we had some challenges on the day of the meet-up – a speaker could not make it, our compere – Chigo, was unavoidably absent, the projector didn’t work – but I think it worked out in the end. However, thanks to the experience at this meet up, we have determined that we will definitely begin planning for the next one earlier. The date has not been chosen yet but it will be in July.
We are already in talks with a stylist who will be on hand at the next one to offer tips, styles and more. Expect to see a few things being done differently at the next one.
Enough talk, you want to see the picture from the events…I have loads!
Let’s start with the close-up views of the hair styles that were on display that day.
Let’s look at faces now shall we? Pictures thanks to Maje Ayida of Eden Lifestyle
We had speakers who spoke (naturally) on several topics
Now, let’s step outside. Omenka Gallery boasts a lovely garden and a calming view of the lagoon.
There were more vendors there but unfortunately I don’t have more pictures…if I find some, I will upload them.