Written by Hadassah Agbaps
Today I’ll like to discuss something I keep hearing…..
“Hmmm, natural hair is expensive o!” “Hmmm, natural hair is not for poor people o!”
Wait, WHAT!? Did I miss the memo or something? The last time I checked…
“Natural hair is for when you are broke.”
“Lemme give you money to make your hair. This one you’ve been carrying natural hair”
“Is it because you don’t have money to retouch your hair, that’s why you’re carrying natural hair? ”
“Why didn’t you fix your hair? No money abi? ”
If I keep on writing everything concerning natural hair and being broke I’ve heard in my life, this post will be the longest post ever!
So, how come that all of a sudden, natural hair is expensive and now for the rich?
The first point of argument is the price of natural hair products. Yes, I agree they don’t cost N1 but that’s not enough reason to say it’s expensive.
Let’s start with the person who asked me if I didn’t have money to fix my hair.
These days, it’s not fashionable anymore, to fix any weave that isn’t human hair, so bye bye to N800 weaves.
The average cost of a weave that the market man will promise “You can use it ten times and it will still look new” is N5000.
For reasonable volume, I will need two packs of hair. So my total bill on the weave alone is N10,000.
To fix that weave, I’ll pay a stylist about N1,200 and if I want a fancy place, N3.500. I’ll not include the 1hour I will spend waiting for my turn, and the 3hrs I’ll spend having my hair braided and fixed. I’ll not include the one day I’ll spend with a face-lift and pain, or the next three weeks I’ll spend knocking my head in a bid to scratch my itchy scalp.
Total cost : N11,200
Oh wait, it’s worth it because the market man promised me I’ll use my weaves 10 times, so, if I’m calculating cost per use, I’m actually spending only N1000 on the weave for 10 months. Let’s be real, who does that????
Painful thing is I’ll still be called broke because I can only afford N5000 weave which I *gasp* used 10 times instead of the N50,000 weave that places me higher on the social status ladder.
I’d rather use that N11,200 to buy a good bottle of sulfate free shampoo, a conditioner and a gel and have my hair in a bun for the next 10 months. I might be energetic and do one or two fancy up-dos while I’m at it.
Let’s assume I’m braiding my hair instead.
To braid my hair, I will need to buy 2 packs of Expression at N800 if I insist I don’t want to be swallowed by my hair, or 3 packs at N1200 if I exercised my neck muscles well enough with yoga headstands.
To have twists installed, I’ll pay my stylist N1000 if she’s cheap and N3500 if she’s not.
I’ll be expected to carry my twists for one year (that’s what she promised) or one month (that’s what’s practical for me, unless I want to be bald).
I will not include 45mins to cut and feather the extensions or the 6 hrs plus it will take for my butt to take the shape of my seat. I will not include the slight pressure I feel when she included my eyebrows as she was trying to pick my baby hair, or the nimbleness of my tiny body as I dodge the hot water when she wants to neaten or curl the ends, or the painful sigh of resignation when she squeezes my head with a hot towel. After all, she’s doing me a favor. I don’t need to spend my money again in a year on hair!
Total cost per month: N1800 (if I’m stubborn) and N1800 per year if I listened to her.
Oh wait, it doesn’t matter if my edges are receding because the chick’s got skills. She can braid an egg if you let her.
If I remember I’m human, not an egg, I’ll probably stop braiding when the sea that is my dying edges recedes as far as just behind my ears.
Oh, there’s this magic potion that grows edges sold for N10,000. Okay, no problem as long as it grows my edges.
Sorry, I’d rather be expensive and purchase a N1,800 bottle of leave in conditioner to moisturize my hair.
What if I decide I’ll be cheaper. I won’t fix and I won’t braid. Leaves me with two choices, either have natural hair or have well relaxed hair, abi?
Oya, let me relax my hair and be cheap about it.
I’ll buy N100 relaxer and pay a stylist who’s very cheap N200 for relaxing my hair. At least I’ll only retouch once every month (that’s what she advised) or once in 3 months because that’s how long it will take me to forget my last relaxer burns.
Total cost. N300 per month (if I listened to my brilliant stylist) and N100 per month (if I listened to the pain).
I don’t need to buy any maintenance products because they have them in the salon.
My hair begins to break and change color. It’s not as black and as shiny as the first time I retouched.
Two choices: Either I start buying N1500 kit or I buy her Indian hemp mix for N150.
I take option A. I buy the kit.
1. Relaxer with kit
I start using the products included in the kit because I’m too cheap to buy larger sizes for maintenance.
My hair improves. I continue with the Kit.
Total cost: N1,700.
Later, I notice the thinning and add option B plus steaming.
2. Relaxer with kit plus steaming and Indian hemp mix
Total cost: N1,700 plus N150 plus N200 for steaming equals N2,050.
The health of my hair seems to wave in the direction of health, this month and look unhealthy, next month.
I conclude that long hair is just not in my family or I’m growing old or I’ve started buying fake kit.
Personally, I’d rather use that N2,050 to buy a good deep conditioner and if I were relaxed, I’d invest more in protein and moisture products.
Oh yeah, I observed my friend who was relaxed and now she’s natural and her hair looks thick and black.
I decide to cut my hair. Natural
I’m still cheap, remember!
I will not spend more than N2,000 on my hair but I can’t buy a decent sulphate free shampoo and conditioner for N2,000. Neither will I spend money on knowledge.
So, I buy a sulphate shampoo for N300.
Shebi it’s just to wash hair, abi I roll for gutter???
I will also buy shea butter N50. It’s the best ‘moisturiser’. All these people selling leave in conditioners more than N50 are expensive o!
My hair gets dryer and dryer. Stronger and stronger.
I ask my friend. She lists all the things she used to get her hair soft. It’s about 5,000 different things most of which I can use to cook a pot of soup.
Palm Oil, Okro, Pepper, Spinach water, Banana, mayonnaise, yoghurt, honey….. Chai! this natural hair thing is expensive o!
I spy another friend with healthy texlaxed hair. It’s long and thick.
Abeg, shrinkage is rubbish on top of the money. I can’t even see if my hair is growing sef.
I decide to texlax like her. I still refuse to invest in my hair. My stylist didn’t know what texlaxing was but I explained some more…”Oh, blowout!’ she cried.
I settle in the chair. She ‘blows out’ my hair and then apply plenty petroleum jelly and blow dries my hair. Ah, you see, my hair was even long sef….which kind of natural hair torture…Mtchewww.
It’s soft at first and then gets harder and harder. I call my friend . She lists a bunch of products she’s using. Everything ends in ‘thousand, thousand, thousand’ .
Texlaxing is hard and expensive oooooo!!!!
Let’s be real, if you want to have happy healthy hair, relaxed or natural…. You need to invest in knowledge (that one be eating megabytes like PacMan) and good quality products. (They are not N1).
Like everything in this world, there are people who take things to the extreme and buy things they can’t afford. Some people can’t afford N550,000 weaves but they’ll do anything to buy it. Some people can’t afford N20,000 for 1oz of shampoo but they’ll still buy it just to belong. Some people buy expensive products they don’t know how to use just so they can use #productjunkie tag.
It’s all about priorities, instead of spending N50k plus buying the best weaves to hide damaged hair, why not invest that money in products and knowledge to treat and prevent damaged hair.
Instead of spending N7500 trying to buy hair growing pills, why not invest that money in a good moisturiser to prevent dryness which is one cause of breakage and poor length retention.
Before purchasing products, place a budget on what you can afford and shop around for the best products at that price.
It’s more expensive treating damage than preventing damage. It doesn’t matter if you’re relaxed or natural. Invest in the best you can afford and save money in the long run.
That’s just my N1, anyway. I’m cheap and can’t spend more than N1.
So guys, do you think natural hair is expensive? Weigh in in the comments section!
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Writer – Hadassah Agbaps is a science geek by day, natural hair blogger by night. She blogs at www.nappilynigeriangirl.com where she shares her experiences as a Nigerian woman with natural hair living in Nigeria. Instagram – @nappilynigeriangirl | Twitter – @nappilynigerian