The Nigerian Naturalista’s Salon Survival Guide

Hair stylist: *combs your hair violently like he/she is trying to make you bald by force*

You: “Aaaaaah!”

Hair stylist: “Sister sorry, it’s painful ’cause your virgin hair is hard. When will you relax it?”

You: “I’m not going to relax it.”

Hair stylist: “Sister why now? Your own hair is too strong. Some people’s virgin hair is soft.”

You: *sigh in your mind*

Before I knew what I know now, this used to be a regular dialogue with my hair stylists. And if you have natural hair, you’ve probably had this dialogue before. Salon visits can be a dreadful experience for naturalistas.

While there are several salons in Lagos that deal with natural hair alone, they are not so accessible because they are fewer in number, usually more expensive than regular salons, and are not well spread out. (Most of them in Lagos are on the island or Ikeja).

However, regular salon visits do not have to be so frightful if you follow these tips:

  1. Stretch your hair before you go.

If you want to have an easy and painless salon visit, you need to stretch your hair before you leave, or let them do it at the salon before they start to braid your hair. If you need a quick fix you can blow dry it or stretch it with African thread, rubber bands (banding method) or wool. Stretching the hair makes the hair strands straighter, so it is easier to comb.

  1. Take your own combs with you.

Take at least your wide-toothed comb with you. Not only will you prevent yourself from contacting infections like dandruff and lice, you will also be saving yourself pain if they don’t have a wide-toothed comb at the salon. And please do not let them use tail-combs to comb your hair.

  1. Ask to comb your hair yourself.

Nigerian hairdressers can be quite impatient and so they comb your hair quite violently, causing you pain. Feel free to comb your own hair yourself, or show the stylist how to do it. Start by combing the ends and then work your way gently to the roots.

  1. Take your spray bottle with you.

Spraying your hair lightly with water makes it easier to comb, so don’t forget to take it with you.

  1. Take along your detangler/ leave in conditioner.

This is also to help you detangle your hair. Sometimes the hair stylist may complain that the water from the spray bottle makes the hair slippery, so take this along as an alternative.

  1. Be assertive.

Remember that you are entitled to a pleasurable experience, so politely inform the hair stylist if the braids are too tight, if he/she pulls too tightly on your edges, or of any other complaint.

Any other tips? Leave them in the comment box below.

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  • Damola

    Hey TNC fam. I ‘ve a town paper to submit on rape, sexual harassment and prostitution in Nigeria….please anyone with relevant link ‘ll be helpful & appreciated. . Thank you

    March 26, 2016
    • Funmi O

      Just to be clear do you mean you’re writing a paper and would like some links to help with research, or are you trying to submit an article to be published on TNC and want to know how to upload/go about this?

      March 28, 2016
  • The natural salon situation is worse in places that are not-Lagos: too few, too far, too expensive.

    I usually don’t carry any additional stuff to the salon- it’s not that important to me. I do deep condition my hair and put it in cornrows the night before, to straighten my hair and make it easier to work with. Spray on some leave-in and oil in the morning before I go to the salon, and I can get by. I ask the stylists to only take out the sections they can do before the hair strands shrink back into place. Taking my spray bottle sounds like a lovely idea, I might have to start doing that.

    The hair dressers I visit take a look at my hair and gently hand me the comb, before I scream at them for trying to kill me before my time. It helps that I usually have my hair done by the same people, so I’m not giving a lecture on Care and Keeping of Natural Hair every few weeks.

    Being assertive is good. It didn’t take me long to be able to spell out what I didn’t want done on my head, as the alternative is a lot of pain, which I was running away from when I went natural.

    March 26, 2016
  • Uche

    My worst days are over. Thank God. They used to pull my scalp my hair. But now I have the natural hair people dream of. In terms of texture that is. Because I think the gods took away my length and fullness and gave me soft hair instead. I love to deep condition and I love my leave in. Those are my two go to products. I wash and treat before going to the saloon. Luckily I have hairdressers I can direct.

    March 26, 2016
  • Funmi O

    Great tips gurl, from one natchy to the other. 😉 Best advice is definitely to be assertive. Don’t sacrifice your edges at the altar of some hard-handed hair stylist abeg.

    March 28, 2016
  • isys

    Or you could do what I do and do your hair yourself and go to the salon only when you want to do something elaborate *shrugs* #NaturalHustle

    March 30, 2016
  • Miss James

    I know they all think we are a pain in their pretty butts when we disagree with their ‘techniques’.

    March 30, 2016
  • Nikky

    Very good article and useful tips. Well done!

    April 9, 2016
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