Life lately: The blues

December 23, 2015 Naija girl next door 21 Comments


 This is a difficult post to compose. I wanted to share a 'life lately' post and started writing but it became a tedious blow by blow account of NYSC woes. I closed the tab and wondered if I should even put up a post on this. When have you shared too much? I'm concerned about that too.
     I can't remember when last I felt this defeated. I'm a Nigerian who schooled and continue to live in Nigeria so you know I've had my fair share of Naija problems. Why is this one getting to me so much? This has to do with my NYSC posting. Now Your Suffering Commences. I used to laugh at this reverse backronym for National Youth Service Corps but it's not funny. It's true. Forget camp, it's three weeks (and I was granted exeat on health grounds). For the rest of the year I was posted to Eti-osa LGA, to a division of the Nigerian Army in Victoria Island. Still close to home. Good news. 
     The long and short of the wahala is that they chose to ignore my address, my LG, my health as evidenced by a medical report, all their nearby hospitals- and send me to their hospital in Apapa. I understand. There's a need. But there are other Doctors, and this one has a good reason. Plus, I begged and begged as I have never begged anyone before. Perhaps soldier=inhumane?
   If you have no "big man" in the army to speak for you, go and die. We need a doctor in Apapa.

       I was miffed but at first I thought okay I'll deal. Everyone who's heard is like, Nooo you can't go there. Do you have any idea how it is? Even people that don't know me but hear from my sis. I don't know what it's like. I've never been to Apapa. I've just heard on the radio about the trucks and trailers that bring traffic to total standstill. So I resisted and kept pleading. Now I'm being punished by being asked to come daily and wait all day, only to be told Come Tomorrow. Yesterday I was badly yelled at.

     I'm letting it get to me so much. I'm angry at myself for that. Y'all know I like food. I say it a lot. Unfortunately, I lose appetite once my mood changes. I get upset, no will to eat. Because of this daily punishment, I'm not eating well, ulcer's acting up and I'm ignoring the pain. I'm losing even more weight and feeling weak and sleeping too much and not going out (shocking) even with lots of events to go for. Only the daily drudgery in khaki.
It's not the worst thing in the world. Heck it's not even the worst thing that ever happened to me. I know this. So why has it affected me so much? I'm having a serious case of the blues. I'm even slightly irritated at optimism directed towards this. Lol.
This is not how I usually react to things. What is up??
   Maybe it's because I feel I'm too old for this. I'm not fresh out of school, that was two years ago. I've written professional exams and then worked for a year. I've been financially independent for too long and now because I haven't earned in months and am still being held up, I might have to ask my parents for support which I would HATE to do. They're very loving and Dad told me "If you need anything, please call."
 They know though, right from childhood, of all my siblings I'm the one who would save up my allowance bit by bit to buy what I want,  instead of "gimme money".
    This is adulthood. If you've been independent before, you know how bad it feels to need help again. My mum says that's irrational. Lol. Bless.

       Anyway the sooner they agree to issue this letter and I can get to Apapa, the sooner I can see it's not so bad (hopefully) and snap out of the anxiety.
      On the flip side, I have amazing people in my life that have been doing a lot to make me feel better. I love you guys and you know I'd do the same for you. Kiss kiss. Maybe I can afford to be such a crushed flower right now because I have them?
It's not all bad :) Good things have happened too.
     I got to be in the pilot epolisode of a cooking show. It's so far out of my comfort zone to be in front of a video cam. I almost chickened out but I'm glad I didn't. The experience was amazing.  I'll let you all know when and where it'll air. I don't know yet.
   Also, my brothers came to visit for a bit and it was awesome to have all four of us together in one place. It was fun, minus having to cook all the time and clean a lot and manage noise (when I'm not making it myself), but it distracted me from myself for a while. They left yesterday and I miss em.

      That's my life lately. Hope you're having a better time. 





The Wash Day that tackled hair loss

December 18, 2015 Naija girl next door 17 Comments

Hey hey, how's it all going?
   About two wash days ago I had a wash day worth reporting. I had been dealing with a hair problem and in one wash day it was magically sent away.
 If you wonder what is meant by "listen to your hair", this washday is a case in point.

    I had been losing hair for weeks. I don't even comb my hair, but for everytime I undid a twist; fluffed out a puff; finger combed my hair, I would lose very significant tufts of hair. My hair was feeling dry so I upped my moisturise & seal game, but carried on having to sweep the floor everytime I touched my hair. At that rate I was sure I would stop retaining length if I didn't fix it.

First thing, is it breakage or shedding?         Shed hairs have that little white bulb at one end and tend to be longer since they're dropping right from the scalp.
    I wasn't about to start checking all the individual strands, but from the few I did check, I was dealing with both breakage and shedding.
That's listening to your hair. Next, what to do about it.

Shedding: Caffeine.
I hadn't done a coffee rinse in so long.      
    There's another way I've used coffee once before that I really liked: a scalp prepoo.
I mixed instant coffee with a little water to make a strong brew, then I applied it directly to my scalp in sections.
    Black tea rinses also have caffeine and serve the same purpose but they didn't agree with my hair. [Read here and here]

    To prepoo my hair I used honey, extra virgin olive oil and palm kernel oil. This dark coloured prepoo mix moisturises and softens my hair.
I covered with a plastic cap and let it stay in overnight.

Breakage: Protein
   When my hair was relaxed it was easy to tell when it needed protein because it would be limp or weak or mushy. I'm still relearning my natutal hair so with time I'll be able to notice the signs.
This time the only pointer was breakage not responding to moisture.
    I used a Homemade masque on top of my prepoo.

  • 2 Bananas, blended and sieved.
  • 1 tsp Castor oil
  • 1 tbsp of my cocoa butter creme
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 egg for protein

I had stuff to do at home so I didn't rinse out until after about three hours. The plan was to cowash for maximum moisture, but since I had so much food in my hair, I took my shampoo into the shower just in case.
  I rinsed thoroughly, then cowashed with Shea Moisture Superfruit conditioner. 
      Everything was on point. No tangles; I was running through freely. No need for shampoo; the conditioner got out everything. Hair felt strong cos of the protein, but very hydrated too, and best of all, no hair was falling off my head. 
   The breakage and shedding were reduced to the bare minimum and have remained that way since that wash day two weeks ago. 
I used ny cocoa butter creme to seal my damp, soft hair.
    Threaded to stretch my kinks.

I've noticed that since my big chop, my hair has been on a mad growth spurt. I'm six months post big chop and there's more remarkable growth than the 19 months of my transition. 
   I'll try and scrunch up comparison photos to share. 
Who else is enjoying the harmattan and how it doesn't mess with your styles like humidity does??
I basically let my stretched hair hang out for days with little reversion.
After takedown

After three days

Bun till the following wash day
I was going to put in a protective style because of the dry weather, but I'm enjoying styling too much.
What are you doing with your hair lately? 

    The wash day Experience is here.


2 years post relaxer part II: Relaxed vs Natural

December 11, 2015 Naija girl next door 11 Comments

(Part 1 of this post is here)

     NITC 10 was when I knew I had to do this post, but it wasn't time yet as I was still transitioning. I gave a talk, and during the Q&A session a lady asked a question "I'm considering texlaxing my hair, do you think that would make my hair more manageable?"
Up until then I had been answering questions very honestly, being helpful by sharing my experience. Until that question. I gave her some answer based on stuff I'd heard a lot in the natural community. I said, "well, you know a lot of naturals do not consider natural hair difficult to manage. I think it depends on what you're trying to make the hair do..."
And many naturals present concurred "yeahhhh".
I wasn't completely honest. I was giving the "correct" answer, not saying my truth. My short answer would have been "Yes. You'll probably find texlaxed hair easier to manage." Notice I said short answer.

The long answer?
   Let's start from the Relaxed vs Natural debate. It splits the hair community into two major camps: 1]. Live and let live or as I like to say, Kink and let perm (it took a while to come up with this okay?)
2].  The "If you're not natural you are wrong" camp. They have been dubbed "Natural Nazis".

   I'm in the first camp. For me, it's just hair and you can do whatever you like with your own hair. Nevertheless, I understand where those in the second camp are coming from. If you hear why some people went natural and what it means to them ehn. Deep.
      For a lot of women it's much more than just hair; it's a journey of self discovery.  They've come from feeling less attractive or unworthy because they held themselves to prevalent standards of beauty that makes no room for kinky hair; to self acceptance, self love, confidence and awareness of the great beauty they possess.
It's meant so much to them that they want to preach it to everyone; and relaxed hair looks like self hate to them.

    That's their reality. It's beautiful and I respect it but it's not mine.
     It never went deeper than just hair for me.  I grew up having my mum adore my thick, dark kinky hair. I was brought up in Kano around beautiful Northern girls with all lengths and textures of natural hair: short to very long, 3a to 4c. Natural hair was the norm, there were relaxed girls too, just fewer. Why I relaxed in the first place is included in part I of this post.
     I don't feel any different as a person compared to when my hair was relaxed. Hair just doesn't run that deep for me. I like hair. I like long hair even more.
So! My comparison of natural and relaxed hair is based solely on my experiences with both. Finish.
     Back to the question about manageability. I found my freshly relaxed hair most manageable. Hair that straight just doesn't need detangling.
   I could create a parting and run my whole hand from root clear to tip in one swift motion with no catch, no break. Try it with my kinky hair- something will break: my hair or your hand.
    I could sleep with my hair loose (under a satin scarf, let's not get crazy now) and after the aforementioned quick motion, be out the door: no real bed head. My kinky hair will be flat and scrunched up where I lay, poofy where I didn't. Gotta twist before bed.
     I could curl my relaxed hair with just two french braids for a braidout, but I need to make smaller sections for my kinky hair if I want curls.
    I could curl my freshly relaxed hair and then decide to run my hands through carelessly, to loosen up the curls. Do it with my kinky hair and you will wonder who whisked my curls into cotton candy.
   Plain water sealed with drops of oil was enough to keep my freshly relaxed hair moisturised. My kinky hair drinks water, something creamy, butter/oil. Aaand repeat.
   How about when hair is dry but I still don't moisturise it because I'm wearing it stretched and I'm not ready for it to shrink!

    All said. Will I go back to relaxers? Neverrrr. It's all about what you weigh as more important.
   The above pluses last for all of three weeks, and then the new growth comes in.
    Are those few weeks worth months of the two-texture craziness of a relaxer stretch? Not for me.
   Are chemical burns a suitable price to pay for getting rid of shrinkage? NO. Especially when for a lot of styles I can use shrinkage to my advantage. Plus, I love the peace of being free of potentially harmful chemicals.
    Will I trade a big, bold, eye-catching, interesting afro for straight, universally acceptable hair? No more.

     I'll take that extra time to moisturise my hair, to twist at night before bed, to thread when I want to see some length. And if I really want very defined curls, I'll take that time to make those sections and lovingly curl that hair because my natural hair is worth that little bit o' extra ko ba haka ba?
    For me it's a choice between three weeks of more manageable hair while treating chemical burns, out of six months of battling two textures, only to repeat the cycle... and a lifetime of hair that takes a bit of extra time and effort, but the rewards are a happy scalp and big kinky look-at-me hair that even gets easier and easier to manage as you go along and keep learning.     For me it's a no-brainer. For me. That's my own experience.  

    What I'm saying is Do You. No one wears your hair but you, so no one has the right to judge you for how you've chosen to wear your hair. This applies even in the natural community. Some people still try to tell you how to be natural- if you colour, add extensions, wear a weave etc you're not natural enough. If you do a braidout, twistout, rod set- you're trying to change your natural texture to what it's not. If you use a ruler/tape to check your length, you're doing the most.
Gerrarahia with those rules.

  I won't ever let what's "correct" stop me from giving anyone my honest opinion again. I pledge to say my truth and nothing but.

See you in the comments.
All my love,

P.s NITC 13 IS TOMORROW. See the poster below for details.


Product Review: African Naturalistas Shampoo and Conditioner

November 29, 2015 Naija girl next door 6 Comments

Hi dah-lings :p
   This is a review of a pair of products from an Indigenous brand, #ProudlyNigerian African Naturalistas.

 Full names:

  • African Naturalistas Black Moisturising Natural Shampoo
  • African Naturalistas Moisturising And Detangling Conditioner
   I won them both last year when AN was rewarding top commenters on their blog. I had no idea I had commented that much and I was pleased. I didn't buy them, but I wasn't given these products in my capacity as a blogger to review. I won them as a random reader of their blog.
    Nevertheless, I will always give my sincere opinion based on my real experiences with products, no matter how I happen upon them.
Now that we have been assured of the absence of mago-mago, let's go on to the review.
Price and packaging N1700 for each. White plastic squeeze bottles with clear labels. Simple works.
Smell I had a hard time placing the smell. It smelled orangey but not like the fruit. It was from AB's review I finally recognised it as Vitamin C tablet smell. It's sharper in the conditioner than in the shampoo.
Colour and Consistency shampoo is a very light beige. Thick but free flowing.

The conditioner is thicker and white.

Ingredients, Promises, Directions



   The ingredient list is very friendly but being lil Ms Organic, I was concerned about Euxyl so I looked it up. It's a preservative that's considered much safer than parabens, formaldehyde.
You have to preserve your stuff somehow. Can't combine water and edible stuff and not expect microbes to take up residence if you don't add something to stop them. Better Euxyl than a bacteria colony.    Another concern was fragrance. It didn't say whether natural or synthetic but I didn't want that to stop me from using it. I've made giant strides going organic but I still use perfume. I still want to know though.          
      My Assessment
Moisturising Shampoo: Long story short, amazing. It doesn't really lather. The first time I used it, it was all creamy as I worked it into my scalp and I thought "this should be called Cleansing Cream or something". I wasn't expecting it to really wash my hair and scalp. I rinsed out and Lord it cleans! No need to repeat so the bottle really lasts. My scalp was as fresh as freshly minted bank notes. And my hair? It was soft chaiii. The product delivers every single time. Perfect balance.
It even got me through one trying wash day with hair chalk

Moisturising And Detangling Conditioner: It's their rinse-out conditioner and I used after shampooing as directed. It has real nice slip and made detangling a breeze. Once I rinsed however, it was all gone. I didn't get any extra moisture and my hair didn't feel like I had used anything. Adding more didn't change a thing. I was less impressed than with the shampoo.

 I've used up 2/3 of the shampoo and all of the conditioner.
  The shampoo is top notch and has become a staple for me. It is consistent, cleans thoroughly and leaves my hair soft and moisturised, at a really good price.
   The conditioner has been a good detangling aid but a girl got moisture needs.

 Will I repurchase? 
    A definite yes to the shampoo.
The conditioner- Maybe. I've not had issues with tangles but if I developed them and needed an extra conditioner with slip I could buy this.
   Available on  Konga and  African Naturalistas online store
If you know of any other site/store that sells these, please include in the comments below. Mwah!



2 years post relaxer part I: Why did I go Natural?

November 28, 2015 Naija girl next door 25 Comments

   Two years ago this month, I had my very last relaxer touch-up. It was November 2013 and in that year I had grown my hair longer than I ever thought was possible.
   At the time I didn't know what a erm, momentous occasion that last touch-up was going to be. I was just doing the usual, as I expected I would again six months after. I was grazing waist length and posted a blurry picture on Instagram.

   The plan was that at my next touch-up in 6 months, I would be hitting at least hip length. Being petite is awesome; few inches and your hair is at a new landmark, no struggle.
Then there's my growth rate too. I haven't measured it precisely, but it's pretty fast so unless I got sucker punched by terminal length, it was doable.
     Shortly after that I started the 30-day squat challenge. The effect would have created a narcissist. I mean. Hair down to there, skimming over a perfectly pert behind. Giddem.

    Four months after in March 2014, I made the decision to transition to natural.
Goodbye Naija Pocahontas dreams, I started this blog and embraced being just who I really am: a kinky-haired Naija girl next door. My hair quickly got the memo and changed direction from bum-wards to skywards. We were defying gravity man.

Why did I decide to transition to natural?
   If I had just one reason, I would probably still be relaxing my hair.
Two of my reasons have been present since my very first relaxer, so it was going to take more. It was going to be a logical decision based on a satisfactory portfolio.

  1. Relaxing my hair was never supposed to be permanent. I planned my relaxer months in advance and read every detail on the box and on the Instruction leaflet (I can be obsessive with planning) and nowhere did it say I couldn't just stop when I wanted to. I wanted the experience of sleek hair, no shrinkage, swish swish. And then I wanted my big bad afro back, thanks. It didn't happen because everyone said all my hair would fall off if I stopped. 
  2. My mum wanted me to return to natural and pushed for it. Left to her my hair would have never smelled relaxer. But mums want a lot of things don't they? Going natural was my decision to make but when I did, she was a factor.
  3. New information. While trying to find out why my relaxed hair had seasons of joy and seasons of mourning, I came across loads of info on growing natural hair too, and all the things it could do! Before then my view of natural hair was 2D: afro or bun. I was seeing so much more. I knew I was finally going to stop relaxing my hair. Still, it took me a while to find people who had successfully transitioned instead of doing the big chop. I didn't want to cut off all my hair in one fell swoop. I think I would have felt naked and confused.
  4. I was plain tired of relaxer drama. That little tearful dance in the salon was becoming unbecoming. Even the "milder" formulas for kids burned my scalp. I never even tried lye: you know those ones in cups you don't have to mix? I just knew it was going to be fury on my head.
  5. I had a chance encounter with Nigerian black palm kernel oil. It was nice as a prepoo, but my girl Tope mixed it with our then favourite conditioner, ORS Replenishing Conditioner. After her dc, her new growth was soft and smooth beyond understanding, like it had been hand-combed and kissed by angels. I did it too and had the same results. (Example here) Right there I declared the start of my transition, with PKO as my secret weapon.

       It's been two years. I transitioned for 19 months and then chopped off the relaxed ends.
1 month post BC

I've been fully natural for five months and I feel like there are some truths that aren't readily acknowledged by most naturals. Or maybe everyone else has it different.
I don't want to make this post any longer than it is so I'll air it all out in part 2: comparing my natural hair with my relaxed hair, and I'll also share important bits about my transition. 

    A question. What do you consider your hair anniversary? Your last relaxer? The day you decided to go natural/ start taking better care of your natural or relaxed hair? Or is it your big chop date? Cos right now I feel like I have three. You know I love to hear from you. 



The Short and Sweet Wash Day + Twist & Curl

November 20, 2015 Naija girl next door 16 Comments

 Sometimes it's great to have a full pamper session. We deserve it. We've been good girls all week, we've protected our hair, kept our hands off it; we've managed to maintain a relationship with our satin scarf/bonnet even though it's bent on walking out on us at night while we sleep; we even remembered to moisturise and seal most days.
 A pamper session would be appreciated: those tangles melting away under the command of a superior conditioner, then an oil, some sort of rinse, hair soaking up that good good, scalp singing shampoo praises... except we're the ones supposed to do all the work.
    As much as I would like to have a 7-step wash day from optional pre-poo to that essential seal, most of the time all I have in me is enough for maybe two steps. I live for those all-in-one treatments. Remember the amazing clay masque? Another one I like is the Shea Moisture Purification Masque [read the review]
     Heard about or seen Naptural85's video on her 15-minute co-wash? In the video she detangles in two sections with lots of coconut oil and follows with her cowash conditioner. [At this point stop the clock if you're going to cover and deep condition.] Then she gets in the shower and uses more of the conditioner to wash her scalp, rinse and out. 15 minutes and wash day is done. I mean.
     I did something similar last wash day.
1) I detangled my hair using a lot of coconut oil in four sections.
2) Applied SM Purification Masque on my hair and scalp. The slip gave additional detangling help.

Both pics taken just after applying conditioner.
3) I put the four sections in bantu knots and covered with a plastic cap and towel to have some heat, for an hour.
4) Rinsed thoroughly, rubbing my scalp to encourage cleaning. 
5) wrapped in a towel to drain, then applied a new leave-in: Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Conditioner. My Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Conditioner is almost finished so I got this.

6) sealed with a tiny bit of coconut oil and stretched my hair in twists, then wrapped the big twists on flexi rods. I was aiming for a good stretch not definition, so I wasn't precise.

My hair was really soft and mostly happy, except it was oily from the heavy use of coconut oil to detangle. Next time I'll remember that Nap85's hair and mine are not age mates. 
   Anyway, results:
Day 1

Day 2: put the barely-there curls in a puff.

    My curly styles hardly ever look the same the next day and by day three, gone. 
On day three I went back in the shower to get rid of some of the oil. I hate oily hair. I used just a tiny bit of Africa Naturalistas shampoo and it took out just enough oil, so I had the softness without the oiliness. Win.           How was your wash day? 
The wash day Experience is here



The Versatile Blogger Award: 7 random facts about me

November 18, 2015 Naija girl next door 20 Comments

Heyyy people
     I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the t-t-t-talented Dupe of modhancrochet Thanks girl, it's an honour. You guys, she crochets whole dresses. Everything I crochet becomes a beanie :(
    About this award, you accept by:
  1.  Thanking the person who nominated you and linking back to their blog, as above.
  2. Sharing 7 things about yourself and 
  3. Tagging 15 bloggers you'd like to honour as well.
Alright, 7 things about me. Let's see if I can mix fun trivia with deep, dark revelations. Jk; those shall stay in my cupboard Mwahahahaha!

1. About my name, Sandra. My mum loved the name Alexandra and what it means- Helper of man. Then last minute, she thinks her baby daughter might grow up and complain that the name is too long, so she has them put a shorter version on my birth certificate: Sandra.
I am so salty about it. I find Sandra quite basic and would have preferred to have all nine letters of Alexandra in my birth cert.
I have a friend who's Alexandra and every now and then Momma smiles and says "That's your name you know". Yeah I know, but I can't really use it can I? I am "Sandra" *sulk sulk*
      Fun fact: I'm living up to my name, helping people medically. That makes me happy.

2. I'm really bad at returning personal calls. Someone or the other is always angry with me. I'll want to leave it until I'm settled and then somehow I forget, or I have it at the back of my mind "Have to call A back, should definitely return B's call" and then I don't. Next thing I know, the person is calling again and I'm like "Kai. I should have called first."
    At work on the other hand, I'm a robot with vibrating antennae. Will not even miss your call unless I'm gloved, and then I'll call back immediately my hands are clean. Why I can't translate this to my personal life is beyond me.
Wofai Fada's Instagram kills me

3. I look nothing like my mom except for the gap in my upper front teeth. I love my gap but didn't think it was anything until people would point it out and call it cute.
Details of this hairstyle here
  All my siblings had it but theirs gradually closed up after they got their permanent teeth. Mine is the last survivor (Roarrr) and Mom is very happy it stayed.
Fun fact: Diastema is the medical term for it. Plural is Diastemata.

4.  I hate watermelon. I'm not a picky eater at all but growing up I was convinced it smelled and tasted like Quinine and would spit it out each time I braved it. The sight of a heavily seeded watermelon gives me goosebumps and makes my back itch. It's the seeds. Ick.
Now I can stomach it, but I would never just volunteer to eat it or buy it with my money.

5.  Speaking of food, I would try almost anything. Bring on the Octopus. But, I draw the line at Lungs and Intestine (no "assorted" thanks), Dog, Cat, Snake and for some years now: bush meat. Did I hear a gasp? I know, I know, Nigerians don't play with their bush meat. I mean Grasscutter specifically, although I haven't had any other kind either.
If I were to tell you the story of how Rats terrorised me in my hostel, third year Uni...
Let's just say I don't see the difference between house rat and bush rat aka Grasscutter.

6. I'm very possessive of some of my music. I love finding obscure artistes that perhaps only a handful of people know about because they're not commercial. They're real, raw. Lyrics for daysss. Concentrated content. They reach deep. The icing on the cake is I won't hear them elsewhere. It feels extra special and I become like Smeagol with The Ring. It's ugly.

7.  I really wanted to dance ballet as a little girl. Ah! Naija rained on my parade with this one o.
Now I'll never know if I had the talent. At the very least, I would be able to do a full split now. *takes a moment to daydream*
Once in a while I incorporate an attempt into my solo locked-in jam sessions in front of the mirror.
And that's my deepest secret. No one will ever see.

     I feel like the bloggers I know that might do this have already done it or have been nominated, but I'll still nominate a few and if you do it you can leave a link below so I can read it.
   Not up to 15 but more than half is pass mark eh?



Product Review: Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque

November 06, 2015 Naija girl next door 6 Comments

Good evening lovelies, hope you had a great week. It's the weekend whooooop! Where the turn up at?

Today I'm sharing my experience with the Shea Moisture African Black Soap Purification Masque.

     It was my very first Shea Moisture product ever, I won it over a year ago in an Instagram giveaway by @Kinikinks and the kinky Apothecary. I'd had my eye on SM products for a while and my first was awoof. The joy.

Packaging  It comes in the blessing that is a jar. Who else gets beat by that arm wrestling you have to do with bottles of thick conditioner? I like the packaging, with its black label.

Price  In Nigeria, price ranges from N2900 to N5000. In the US, $12.99 on SM website to $14.99 on Amazon. In the UK, £14.99 in African hair & cosmetic stores, which is not a joking sturvs at the current exchange rates.
Smell  It takes deliberate, thoughtful sniffing to put a finger on the scent. It is a sweet smell- mostly plantain, a dose of clay, hints of flower and herb. When you read the ingredients it all makes sense.
Colour and consistency Light grey, thick but not fight-with-container-thick. Flowy.


Stellar. No red flags. Nothing to be wary of.

                 Promises and Directions

                  My Assessment
     I always did the deep penetrating method to cleanse and deep condition in one step. I apply to my scalp and hair, finger comb through, cover for 45 minutes to an hour then rinse thoroughly.
 Hair: I got consistently awesome results. It rinses out and leaves me with clean, oh-so-soft, very moisturised hair. It's amazing for hair. Sometimes I can even afford to skip my leave-in and go straight to sealing with a bit of oil/butter.
The scent lingers for the day and is gone by the next.
 Scalp: It gets my scalp clean since I concentrate and rub while rinsing. Just remember it's like a co-wash; if your hair is very dirty or has lots of build-up, clarify.

    1. They said it would stop itchy scalp? Hmm. I hardly ever have scalp issues- no dryness or itching or dandruff. But this one time, I had just taken off extensions and had a terrible itch. Maybe a reaction, I dunno. I even hurt my scalp a bit from scratching. I put this product on my scalp and hair and covered as usual. Not only did it not help the itching, my scalp was smarting where I was hurt. A tingly essential oil was what stopped the itch- peppermint or tea tree, not sure.
   Two days ago on wash day, a section of my scalp was itchy. Only one section and not as bad as the first time, but this product still didn't help. It took cold water to stop the itch.

    2. The price might be a minus if you tend to spend less on hair prods, but I'm getting used to paying more to get authentic organic stuff. Also, this one will let me combine the money for co-wash conditioner and deep conditioner.
   Also, a little goes a long way and gets results.
 I'm much more light handed than most people. Some got 6-8 uses. I was surprised.  I should have up to 8 uses now and at least 3 to go. I once used more than usual and honestly it only gave me more to rinse out.

Verdict  Wonderful for hair- it's an awesome deep conditioner and I wholeheartedly recommend it. But if you need a product for itchy scalp, look elsewhere.

Will I repurchase?  Heck yeah. The ingredients are an organic lady's dream, it lets me lazily combine two steps AND gives me juicy hair.

You can get it on Konga, Kinky Apothecary and

Have you used this masque before? Any thoughts? Would you buy it? 


Giveaway winners

November 03, 2015 Naija girl next door 9 Comments

*panting* Did I make it? I said I was going to announce winners on the 2nd.

*resets clock to 23:56 pm*

:) thanks to those who entered for the giveaway. To all others who commented, thanks for the nice words. You guys rock.

    Notice I said winners, not winner yes?
Well I was feeling very generous after putting up the giveaway and decided two people should win.

1. Fasters fingers first- the first person to enter the giveaway: Congratulations!
2. By random selection after eliminating number 1:
Breaking stereotypes about Doctors' handwriting

Congratulations Uju Lilian Ikegbune!
   You both have won two packs each of grey hair- colours 44 and 51.

Another winner- I realized I never informed the winner of the hair chalk from this post. It was to be won by the first commenter, who turned out to be a close friend that if I know well, will definitely not use it. We agreed on a suitable replacement for her and so the chalk goes to the second commenter: Africa Naturalistas. I'm guessing that was Atilola of the team.

Congratulations to all the winners. The first winner already submitted her email address, so Uju and Atilola, please leave yours below so I can get your winnings to you.



Hair update: Wash day, Grey Box Braids and a Giveaway [CLOSED]

October 22, 2015 Naija girl next door 19 Comments

     Hey my people,
Let me warn you; this is a long post.
   I've had this post brewing in my head for almost two weeks and I keep "intending" to type it but, holiday. I'm swinging between two extremes: when I'm indoors, any muscle twitch must be absolutely necessary (helping out with the minimum I'm allowed to by my aunts). When I'm outdoors I'm superwoman doing everything and going everywhere and WALKING my butt off.             Actually no, my butt is quite intact. Growing even. As my biggest aunt said "you can't go back dry o, they have to know you came to your aunty's house". So y'all hurrrd? I have been fed to stupor. I'm well buffered against the machinations of Youth Service orientation camp.

Wash Day
     Two weeks ago I had the only real wash day I've had in quite a while. I mean, I washed weekly when I had my faux locs in, but all I did really was lather my scalp and rinse, then use my cocoa butter cream on my scalp and length of my locs.
   When I took them out I had a proper wash day. My scalp was clean from washing a couple of days earlier so I focused on deep conditioning. The goal was a strengthening treatment to help my hair withstand all the protective styling I had done and those to come. This was before I did my blonde crochet tapered 'fro.
I took out the faux locs by cutting off the burned ends and unraveling the Brazilian wool, then undoing the twists underneath. I enjoyed a few moments with a bomb twist-out before detangling.

Homemade strengthening treatment: Nothing makes me happier than using food for non-food purposes. I made a masque in the kitchen out of:
  • 1 avocado 
  • 1 banana
  •  honey 
  • olive oil 
  • Coconut oil 
  • 1 spoon of my cocoa butter creme 
  • 1 egg and 
  • half a cup of peppermint tea.

I put the avocado and banana in a blender, with peppermint tea instead of water to help it blend well, then sieved it to get out any bits that might want to lurk in my hair.

 Mixed in the other ingredients and it was done.
   I misted my hair with water in a spray bottle and then applied the masque in sections.
Covered with a plastic cap and then a towel for heat, for about an hour then rinsed thoroughly. Both egg and avocado are very strengthening for my hair so there's no softening, hair-like-butter feel. It felt strong and ready to take on any protective style.
   I applied some honey and worked it in to get out any remnants of the masque, then rinsed again thoroughly. There was no hint of banana or egg smell in my hair. Score.
    Wrappped a towel around my hair and let the excess water drain.
Leave-in: my cocoa butter creme and then I let my hair air dry without stretching it. The only reason: I had missed seeing my hair and what it can do.

  As usual I didn't comb, just did a little more finger detangling. I was surprised to see my hair form into a lot of tiny springs.

We're growing baby!
   Generally when you stretch your hair you've worked out the kinks so you don't see a curl pattern. I honestly didn't think I had any visible curl pattern. No hangups, I love my hair either way.
After this I did the cornrows I used for my crochet tapered cut.

Hair Update
So I took out the style after two weeks. I was getting really uncomfortable not washing my hair and because of the thickness of the extensions, I wasn't sure I'd reach my scalp easily.
So. I did a quick wash with my cornrows in place, just so I wouldn't have to do much to stretch my hair. I didn't DC because I wasn't feeling up to spending much time on hair.
When my hair was 60-70% dry, I took out the cornrows, worked in my shea butter creme and put my hair in twists to complete the drying process stretched.

Grey box braids
  I put in yet another protective style right after.
   Come o, I've managed to have three hairstyles on this six-week trip. I mean I knew I would protective style all through but I never planned to change it up so much.
Anyway, I did grey box braids! Yay! I've wanted grey extensions since forever.

They're rare at home and when you do find somebody's mother's daughter-in-law that sells on bbm, it's for an arm, a leg and seven teeth.
     I didn't braid the traditional way, I didn't even do it this nifty way, I crocheted it in. I read that it's faster. From my experience it is much much faster, and also easier on the arms since you spend more time braiding with your arms down, not on top of your head.
All I did was prepare the hair by cutting and braiding it first. I cut in two lengths: in half for the centre and front, quartered for the back and the sides near my ears. I didn't really feather the ends because I wanted the look of a blunt cut, not tapered. The idea was to get a shaggy bob. I love the bob box braids that have been in style and I wanted to get that length without having to burn the ends.
 I decided to do a more boho-looking one than the clean, precise bob that's popular.

Pre-braiding leaves a loop at the top that's perfect for crocheting.

Ready to braid. Lol
I braided my own hair straight back, then attached the braided extensions with a bobby pin once again since my latch hook is chilling in Lagos.
When I was done, all I did to seal was level the ends with scissors then dip in very hot water. The result is a light seal that lets the ends unravel just a few cm.

I love, love, love! I was able to get the look I was going for. I wanted all grey but my very conservative friend Alex vehemently discouraged me so I bought black as well. I used 51, 44, 1b and 280 (black with very few strands of grey).
   That night she buzzes me when I'm almost done braiding, sends a picture of Rihanna with grey/silver hair and goes, "you can do the all-grey. Sorry"
Trust issues. Rihanna had to step in to convince my friend I wasn't crazy to want grey braids.

I'm still loving it with the black anyway so no harm no foul. Love you Lex.
So, that's my hair lately.
   This method is fast, easy, my hair is well protected and my kinks won't make my braids fuzzy and rough. Also, because my hair isn't in the braids I get the full effect of the grey without my dark hair toning it down. The only disadvantage is, kanekalon hair is kind of silky so the knots slip sometimes and I have to pull on the braids to tighten. So yeah, I'm not retiring my twist method just yet.

GIVEAWAY TIME [CLOSED]: Just to say a big Thank you, I love you to all of you wonderful people that take the time out to read my blog, I'm giving away two packs of braiding hair to one fortunate reader in colour 44 and 51. 51 is lighter than 44.
Colour 51
It's open to residents in Nigeria. Yes, not just Lagos.
For a chance to win, just leave a comment below saying what style you would like to do with the hair. Pretty simple yes? If you're a guy and you want it for a woman in your life- mum, sister, significant other- just say what style she would want to do, or what style you'd like to see her wear with this hair. The giveaway closes in two weeks, November 8th. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on November 9th.

Peace, love and protective styles,
P.s- wash day experience over here