Tutu's hair

10:13 Naija girl next door 6 Comments

Every now and then there's that one girl who isn't on a hair journey; does little or nothing in the way of hair care, maybe even does some things that would leave us hair enthusiasts cringing; but has long and healthy looking hair.
    In my life that girl is Tutu. I remember first year in Uni, a few weeks in, when I helped her take down her braids and saw her free hair for the first time. I was wowed. All her rants of "watch how you cut o! My hair is long!" now made sense. This was long hair, and it was fuuuull. I had considered my hair long until then. From then on, whenever someone said to me "your hair is long", I'd say "thank you, but you should see my friend Tutu's".
     Now bear in mind, I was the one particular about hair care- I would always have the entire range of whatever hair care brand I was using- relaxer kit, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, styling creme, sheen spray. Granted I was doing A LOT of things wrong, using wrong products... but I didn't know that then, and I was also doing some things right- not overlapping relaxer and washing it out quickly (thanks to my sensitive scalp), deep conditioning weekly, keeping my scalp clean by washing twice a week, no tight braids etc.
    Tutu on the other hand, would go to the salon every now and then, use any lye relaxer and keep it in for *gasp* up to an hour without incident, wash with horrible salon shampoo ( I shall not name the common brands) and quick condition with the same brand. Then they would slather on some petroleum jelly mess posing as hair cream and she would come back whipping long, beautiful hair. She did not own or want any hair products.
    Time went by and every single one of us by 4th year at least,  had experienced damage and lost health and length. All except Tutu. Her growth rate is crazy. She only ever lost length to scissor-happy stylists and by her next relaxer in 6 weeks, the hair would be even longer!
   You can see how this would convince anybody that you need special hair genes to grow long hair. Well I was convinced. I stopped taking care of my hair, thinking "It would do as it pleases anyway". Bad decision. Not everyone can, like Tutu, get away with being nonchalant about their hair. I had always had dry hair but this was it. Hair was dry as a desert, breaking off like no tomorrow, uneven and dull. That was when I cut it to chin length as I said in my first post.
    Fast forward 2 years after my dance with the scissors, I got waist length hair. Yes I'm returning to natural but I first proved to myself I could do it while relaxed.

My point is this: Yes, there are girls with long hair who don't even have to try. Does it mean no one else can have long healthy hair? No. What I didn't understand then was that everyone's hair is different, just as our faces are different. You figure out what your hair needs and you do it and your hair flourishes. That's it. Tutu and I have very different hair types and needs. She has thick, oily type strands that are resilient and abuse-resistant. I have medium, dry hair that relies heavily on moisture and tlc to thrive.
    I have now come to the end of my speech :p
Here's Tutu's hair lately:
She had just touched up her relaxer (which she again kept in for way too long) for her wedding (Congrats again Iyawo!)
 Bra strap length (BSL) with no effort at all. And yes she's a full Nigerian, yoruba girl.
I've tried to promote healthy hair practices to her but she keeps saying she doesn't have the patience. Sigh. I did whip up something for her though. Next post.


Let's simplify this hair stuff

11:12 Naija girl next door 7 Comments

   Some of us who have been on this hair journey for a while are so used to talking about hair that we sometimes forget that newbies get lost in all that info. The terms that we use easily can seem like another language to someone just getting introduced to healthy hair care. Pre-poo, co-wash, protective style, type 4 hair, etc. Remember when you first heard those?

   I've read some great posts lately that are very beginner-friendly: they really broke it down. I appreciate it when bloggers take time out to explain something basic in hair care, maybe even something they have already explained before. God bless una.

1. For those who think that you need special genes to grow long hair, let Hadassah clear your doubts. She explains on her blog NappilyNigerianGirl that your hair IS growing, and why everyone can have long, healthy hair, with science to back it up o. Read here and here

2. Heard of shedding and breakage? Maybe you're wondering "what on earth is the difference?' or 'what about my hair that keeps falling everywhere- is that shedding or breakage? KL of KL's Naturals has done a fantastic job of taking you from ABC to how you can tackle it. It's in 3 parts. Read em all here

3. Yvette of HardMashonaType talks about very common things around here that explain why your hair has been stuck at one length. She's Zimbabwean and everything in this post is common in Naija too -I'm sure in Africa as a whole. Click here

4. If you're bamboozled by hair products, some complicated regimen or another, keep calm. It doesn't have to be that way. AB of TheKinkAndI takes you back to the basics of hair care. That's really all you need for healthy hair, honest. You can add later if you want. Who wants to spend all their income buying hair products? Read this to get great
hair on a budget, whether natural or relaxed.

5. In case you haven't already seen this, read (and see pics) of protective styles to help you retain length: here. By yours truly :*

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did. Let me know what you think :)


The wash day files : doing it all

11:34 Naija girl next door 2 Comments

Wash day was last tuesday so this post should have come earlier but I have been so busy: I was in my friend Tutu's bridal train (Congratulations madam!)
 I tried to type once, late at night in bed, fighting off sleep; and my phone fell smack on my face when I drifted off. Don't laugh.

      I had specific needs this wash day. My hair was calling for protein- it was well moisturised, but the strands were stretchy: what I mean is, I took one of my shed hairs and stretched it out. Normally, it should have some elasticity but quickly return to the way it was before being stretched out. Mine stretched too much and returned rather slowly. Plus, my entire head of hair didn't feel strong enough to withstand manipulation without considerable breakage. Not surprising, since my last protein treatment was 5 weeks ago.
      I started by shampooing.

Shampoo- I didn't pre-poo. My aim was to get everything out of my hair so the protein would penetrate optimally. I didn't dilute it this time, and I used warm (not hot) water to rinse. Warmth raises your hair cuticles and allows stuff you put in your hair penetrate. I gently squeezed out excess water, then wrapped a towel around to let it drip while I mixed my protein treatment.

Protein- I use raw eggs for this. Now a few people have had a bad experience with egg, so I suggest you wait until your hair actually needs protein because it's a strong protein treatment. Also, test a small part of your hair first (I'm ashamed to say I've never done that but that's bad behaviour. You should. Please).
      I used two eggs. One used to be enough but at this length I'm finding that I need more to cover my entire head. So 2 eggs + 2 capfuls of mustard oil (could be any oil. Usually I use olive or coconut but I decided to try mustard), + 3 drops of peppermint oil (for the smell)- I use Ossion which is sold as a massage oil but is 100% pure peppermint oil.
Applied in 4 sections, covered with a showercap and sat down to watch Grey's Anatomy.
I rinsed it out after an hour with warm water (not hot- unless you want cooked eggs in your hair).
There really is nothing better than giving your hair exactly what it needs. My hair was strengthened without the hardness that egg can sometimes give. It felt like I had already deep conditioned it and I was almost tempted to skip my deep conditioning step. I never detangle wet hair in the shower but this had me running my fingers through my hair with ease, at 5 months post relaxer!
Even with all that manipulation there was no breakage.
It's the best balance between strength and softness I've ever gotten after an egg treatment. It has to be the mustard oil. I'll experiment with my next protein treatment.

Deep Conditioning- Since my hair already felt so good, I just wanted to keep it that way. So I used just a bit of my ORS Replenishing conditioner mixed with a tablespoon of my new favourite addition- Palm kernel oil only.
I applied in 2 sections, covered with a shower cap and wrapped with a towel for warmth. I had to bead a dress by hand and before I knew it, 6 hours had passed though I intended to rinse after an hour.
Remember how I mentioned on my last wash day that it took effort to get out the deep conditioner while co-washing? I realize I have been heavy handed with my conditioner.
This time when I took off the shower cap, holy cannoli! there was nothing to rinse out. My hair had absorbed everything and felt so good to touch. Leaving for 6 hours may have helped, I'm not sure. I'll have to try again using the same amount but for an hour only.
     I rinsed anyway with cold water to close my cuticles and trap moisture. I have one more reason to love ORS replenishing conditioner: a bottle will last longer from now on because a little goes a long way and produces the best result.

Drying - I wrapped with a cotton t-shirt for 30 minutes then sealed in 4 sections with 2 drops per section of my oil mix- it contains coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and a bit of sunflower oil.

Detangling - With my fingers, then my wide toothed comb. My new growth was so soft, detangling was a breeze. I lost the least amount of hair I've lost in a long time during wash day. Compare with 2 wash days ago when I took a pic:

 I put in 4 big bantu knots, with my new growth held taut to stretch it out and prevent puffiness at the roots. Tied on my satin scarf and finally went to bed.

     The next day I took out the bantu knots. See how my new growth is cooperating with my relaxed ends?
That's what stretching out your new growth does. Normally the stark difference between natural and relaxed hair textures will cause tangling and breakage, but stretching out your new growth really helps if you're transitioning to natural hair or just trying to wait as long as possible before your next relaxer touch-up.
This was the best wash day I've had in forever. Everything was working. My hair felt like butter, breakage and shedding were at the barest minimum, my hair was airy and bouncy and doing everything I wanted.
How was your wash day?



I style: braidouts

20:26 Naija girl next door 1 Comments

Hello people!
I just want to show you guys what I've been up to with styling in the past few days. Before now i got in a styling rut and didn't even notice. I started to just pin up my ends or throw in a bun and go.
    Lesley of fresh lengths recently did a braided style and it just reminded me how much I loved to do them when I started my hair journey.
  Last saturday I made the braids kind of loose so they would be fatter:

 On sunday night I took down the braids and got braidout results I have never gotten, ever:
I got very loose s-shaped curls and I loved!
The curls were just around the perimeter though, the centre of my head had no curls because there were no braids there.

I tried to recreate the curls for my whole head by parting my hair down the centre, then I moisturised and sealed and made two braids as loose as I possibly could:

Results on monday:

Not as loose as the day before but hey, who's complaining? I separated the curls for more volume I fluffed and I puffed and I made my hair big :D

The look lasted til I washed on tuesday. Post coming up.
What have you been doing with your hair lately? Let's talk in the comment section :)


the wash day files: lazy wash day + meet the curls

10:46 Naija girl next door 4 Comments

Hi people :) Forgive me for the dark picture.
   I haven't been feeling up to doing a lot with my hair lately. I bunned throughout the week from my last wash day and skipped my mid-week co-wash. I have been a good girl with my moisturising and sealing though, did it nightly. Yay me.
I shampooed on my last wash day and haven't put anything besides water and a few drops of oil in my hair since; so a co-wash was the plan.
   I really didn't feel like jumping in and out of the shower so I did something I haven't done in a while- deep conditioned on dry hair.
Deep condition: ORS replenishing conditioner + 2 capfuls palm kernel oil (PKO) + 2 capfuls coconut oiI. I spritzed my hair with water and applied the mixture in 4 sections then covered with 2 shower caps and wrapped with a towel for an hour.
Co-wash: Used my vo5 conditioner (of course). I do this in two sections. I find that four sections work for me with deep conditioning and detangling, but two is so much easier when I wash.
I used warm water.
   I had some buildup from the deep conditioning that wasn't too easy to work out without shampoo, but I kept going with the warm water till I got it out. Did a final cold water rinse to close the cuticles and trap moisture and i was done.
Drying and detangling: PKO worked its magic again and I had soft, soft hair :D
T-shirt dried for 20 minutes, sealed with a mix of EVOO and coconut oil then detangled with my fingers followed by a wide tooth comb.
Detangling was hassle-free. Only one knot caused by shed hairs tried to mess with me but I said no no no!
I put my hair in a ponytail, massaged my shea butter mix into my edges and tied down with my satin scarf. Wash day was done (curtsies).
It is SO hard taking a picture of the back of one's head

   If you noticed, I don't use a leave-in conditioner. I tried some; store bought and homemade. I won't say any was bad, they did what they were supposed to do: eased detangling, added moisture (I think. I don't know if it was any different from my normal moisture levels).
However, I didn't like the side effects- product buildup, residue on my hands, stickiness from some, oiliness - I like when the amount of oil in my hair is measured and deliberate- from conditioning and sealing only. I hate oily hair.
  I'm not on the hunt for the ideal leave-in, my regimen works just great for moisture retention and I like the simplicity of fewer products and steps. But if there's one I absolutely have to try, please go ahead and suggest, don't be shy :)

Meanwhile, I took pictures of my new growth last wash day:
Looser curls at the back half of my head, finer strands at the nape-

Tighter curls at the front half, thickest at the crown:

Drop me a line :)


Hair in Naija : Rundown cabs

10:46 Naija girl next door 4 Comments

  You remember when I mentioned in my last wash day post that I had a long day?
Well i had to make a short trip that day and it turned out my only option was a cab.
 Not one of the brand new cabs with impressive air conditioning, not one of the decent ones with confrontational fans posing as Ac, not even one of the regular ones whose windows you quietly wind down... I had to get into the kind whose ignition doesn't work, "push to start" or human powered as someone called it. Lol.
    The car was ancient, the seats threadbare. Then I received info that TWO people sit in front, FOUR at the back. Because no journey is worth that level of discomfort, I paid for 2 seats to sit alone up front. I was surprised at how much this annoyed the other passengers.
 That trip was supposed to be relatively short but it felt like eternity. It was hooooot. In addition to the sun which already had me delirious, the floor (bare metal) spewed heated air at my legs and feet.
    As for my hair, the bun I put it in wasn't even protective enough. The rough, dirty fabric against it was terrible. I kept thinking "I just washed this hair!"
At some point a little girl sitting on her mom's lap behind me kept pulling on my hair so I had to lean forward.
I got out eventually; sweaty, blinded by heat, hair askew and definitely home to colonies of microbes. Ugh!

 A hot shower was in order. For my hair, I divided into two sections: left and right, and plaited the ends. I rubbed in vo5 conditioner to loosen up whatever rubbish I had gathered. Then I rinsed over and over with warm water until I was satisfied it was clean. Final cold water rinse and voilà! clean, soft hair. This semi-wash also did something else- got rid of the oiliness from my last overdone prepoo. 2 birds, one conditioner stone :D

 I didn't even have to detangle because I already did that when I washed the day before. The plaits allowed me to handle my hair mininally. I'll figure out how to incorporate them into future wash days. I sealed with my mix of olive, coconut, sweet almond and sunflower oils: just two drops in either section.
 I've pretty much bunned since then, only taking down to moisturise and seal before bed. That was last Friday. I'm in the middle of another wash day so there'll be a post on that coming up.


The wash day files: Loc takedown + wash

01:56 Naija girl next door 6 Comments

Hi all! This is coming a little late. The locs came out on thursday, after my exams were over. It's just been crazy since then.
       Ok here's how it went- I cut off the burned tips and unwrapped the kinky hair, then I took out the braids with oil on my fingers to minimise friction. There were good things-
If I burnt or cut any of my own hair, I didn't notice (yay!), plus my hair didn't feel dry at all. I thought it would cos I hadn't been consistent with moisturising.
    On the other hand, the junction between my natural hair and my relaxed hair was well and truly matted. Have a look:
It took time and patience, but I finally separated it all and to my surprise i had very little shedding and mimimal breakage. Here's what I was working with after:

Next it was time to pre-poo. I used Nigerian black palm kernel oil (PKO) in my deep conditioner the last time and I've been curious to try it other ways. So I set some aside and then poured in some mustard oil. Too much. Cripes. I couldn't pour it back obviously so I kept going and added some of my vo5 conditioner. It says 'strengthening' on the label and I'm all for that especially since my hair didn't feel like it needed protein. I applied in 4 sections, massaging my scalp and covering hair from root to tip. Then I covered with a plastic cap and settled down for an hour.
This turned out to be my oiliest prepoo ever cos I had to use it all up. Ororo everywhere- my neck, back, shoulders. Ugh.
   An hour later I shampooed with my diluted doo gro moisturising shampoo and warm water. Hair still felt kind of oily afterward but I didn't want to overdo it with the shampoo. I skipped adding any oil to my deep conditioner and just used it straight. I covered again with a plastic cap. Normally i would wrap it up in a towel for warmth but I was so sleepy, it was about 1am after a very long day. I just crashed. I woke up by 5am and caught sight of my black tea (to combat shedding) which I was supposed to use BEFORE deep conditioning. Sigh. I rinsed with it anyway and finished with plain water.
   I used my towel to catch drips without rubbing my hair at all. Then I wrapped it up in a cotton t-shirt to dry. When I took off the t-shirt, my hair felt moisturised and still a little oily, but not as soft as the wash day when I raved about PKO. My theories are:
1. Shampooing after using the PKO as a prepoo might have washed out its effects.
2. I shouldn't have used the black tea, which is known to harden hair, AFTER deep conditioning.
I sealed in the moisture with a very tiny drop of oil in each section.
  Detangling was not a breeze. Did i say before that there was very little shedding or breakage? My bad. I spoke too quickly. I encountered a couple of stubborn knots, more shedding than before I washed, and a few broken strands when my patience wore thin.They were all nice, healthy strands except one: it was split in not one, not two, but get this- three spots along its shaft. The horror. I went on a search for more of those to cut out but didn't find. I think it was just a deviant.
Finally  tangle-free

I put the hair in loose bantu knots and went back to bed. I had this picture taken when I got up later and noticed this:

 Straggly ends. Attack!
I chopped off about this much from each section,
then redid the loose bantu knots. When I took them down later I had these waves:
Worth the trouble eh?

I had a busy day ahead so I had to put it in a bun. That busy day ehen, whew! It would have a post of its own.
How did your wash day go?



Hair in Naija : Hairdressers

01:12 Naija girl next door 13 Comments

 Photo credit: www.crunkfeministcollective.com

  Hey people!
I'm in high spirits today. Exams are finally here and will be over in a few hours. Whoop!
    So I read a post on this blog: newlynative.com, and the writer said she had to learn to do her own hair because she has "a healthy distrust of hairdressers" in Nigeria. Lol. No truer words. This is why I'm a serial DIY-er. Apart from the fact that I enjoy doing my own hair, Naija hairdressers will instill the fear of God in you. My experience with them has been a journey in its own right. I can't highlight everything but these are top of my list:
1. The Tail comb Terrorists:- These ones walk around the salon brandishing tail combs, ready to tear any strands in sight.
Of all the hair crimes they commit with this weapon, the worst has to be when they use it to touch up your relaxer. The amount of hair I lost to this comb in my pre-hair journey days... I weep.
When they grudgingly agree to use a wide tooth comb, they go right to the roots and PULL. But big girls don't cry.

 2. The Straightener Soldiers:- I can't count how many times I've been urged to flat iron my leave-out hair when I get a weave installed. "Aunty it will be fine, true! It will be smooth", then he/she proceeds to come at me with a SMOKING flat iron. On whose hair?? No thanks! The part I don't understand is that the weaves are hardly ever even straight. Wavy, curly, whatever- the hissing straighteners are never far away.

3. The Relaxer Radicals:- my scalp is super sensitive, my hair gets processed veery quickly. From my very first relaxer it's been about speed, speed, speed. I tell the stylist before I sit down, again when I bring out the relaxer box, yet again just before they start applying it.
So imagine my frustration (and this happens consistently) when sista takes her time, only to have my scalp burning in the back before she's even started on the front sections. And this is after basing my scalp heavily with vaseline and using a kids' relaxer. You see why I want to go natural? On top of this, they want you to sit and wait so that the hair will "sleep" ie fry.

4. The Dangerous "Experts":- They know your hair better than you do. The last time I was in a salon (3 months ago), I went to have a weave put in. The salon in lekki phase 1 shall remain nameless in this post. This particular hair dresser was a multi-talented hair criminal. First, she was a tail comb terrorist. I promptly banned all combs within a 5-mile radius.
 I brought out my own wide-tooth comb and she used it against me: pulled from the roots. I yelped, she apologised (bless her) and then said it was because my hair was "due". Yes my hair was about 10 weeks post relaxer but that's small potatoes for me. I routinely go 6 months without. I told her as much and here was her reply :"Ah! No no no, it's too much o, your hair will fall out!"
Pause. My hair was past mid-back length, long and full. Hers was not "due", it was limp and uneven. The fact that it was short wasn't the problem- any length is great as long as it's healthy. This was not. She really was in no position to give hair advice. I had to go: "Really?! Have you seen my hair?"
   Then I felt bad and spent the rest of the session being very nice. She asked what I do to my hair and I gave her some pointers. I hope she uses them. She did a really good job with the weave so it wasn't an all-bad experience. A wince here, an ouch there, nothing I couldn't bear with gritted teeth. I got 3 weeks out of that protective style- really good.

     Oh and here are my hair's trusted friends:
The clear one is my Conair shower comb- detangling since '02.
The red I got at Ebeano supermarket in Phase 1. I don't know what brand it is, it just has 888 inscribed.

  What has been your experience with hair dressers in Nigeria? Any you would recommend? Any hair crimes committed?