Written exclusively for this blog by Sandra (aka Sandeey) of Hair of Life
You know you are natural in Nigeria when you are expected to relax your hair on your wedding day.
Natural in Nigeria means that your hair is everybody's business and they can make their comments as they please.
That day when you hear "I prefer your hairstyle today to the one of yesterday", you are definitely natural in Nigeria.
I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the point. It may be the same in other countries but since my natural experience has been in Nigeria, this is a bit of what being natural in Nigeria means to me. I'm not saying those things are negative because I'm used to all that. I think people do what they do because they aren't really used to seeing ladies wearing their hair in its natural state.
For me, there are pros and cons of being natural in Nigeria.
I feel like a superstar when my hair makes me stand out from the crowd.
I feel so proud when people big chop after seeing my kinky hair.
I don't have to go into any hair salon and battle with them about the fragile nature of kinky hair when they attempt to make the hair "manageable" by combing rigorously and using a blow drier set at a temperature that competes with molten lava.
Shea Butter and Black Soap are cheap and found everywhere!
No winter to force me into a protective styling frenzy.
Lovely humid weather keeps the moisture in my hair.
The water that runs out of my tap isn't hard!
When that beautiful humid weather makes your hair swell up.
I still haven't seen a salon that caters to natural hair the way I'd like (maybe I haven't searched well). I heard there are some in Lagos...but what do I know? I'm in Abuja!
Having conversations/arguments about how black women cannot have waist length hair.
Watching YouTube and being unable to find most products used and recommended by other naturals.
Actually finding those products at triple the original price!
Well, I find it easy being natural in Nigeria, as the cons all have solutions!
When the weather is humid, protective styling is key.
When you can't find a natural hair salon, be your own hair stylist.
When you don't want conversations on length of hair, just nod and walk away.
When you can't find the products that are sold abroad, substitute with what you can find in Nigeria.
This is how I cope:
Nature's Gentle Touch Deep Conditioner and Leave in Conditioner (found almost everywhere)
Beauty Formulas Intensive Deep Conditioning Treatment Wax (can easily be found)
Coconut oil, wonderfully made for me by a lady called Fatimah (she's a phone call away!)
Shea Butter and Black Soap from the market
Many products can be gotten through Natural Nigerian's website as well: naturalnigerian.com/
Also, I receive hair products as gifts from friends and family abroad. Instead of asking for shoes or bags...I ask for hair products :)
I guess it all boils down to finding what works for your hair, whether its a popular product among naturals or not.
If you are natural in Nigeria or want to be, keep one thing in mind: Your hair is yours and yours alone, so please yourself and not everyone else.
I love my country!