Hello people! How are you all doing? Thanks to our faithful readers for their confessions in the last post. We are glad you all confessed. Lol
Today’s post is addressing issues we natural hair people with tight/ limited budgets face as naturalistas. Let’s face it, we probably take more time than we usually do to buy products nowadays because we are more aware of the key things our hair needs to grow. The average Nigerian natural doesn’t patronize her ”apple hair food” anymore. She wants something with hair-friendly ingredients and not some concoction packed with mineral oil and grease; she now wants quality products that would do her hair good but these products are usually ridiculously expensive since they are being imported to the country and very few Nigerians have stepped out of their comfort zone to manufacture hair care products for Nigerians. But, hey, your natural hair care doesn’t have to be expensive and you should not let your hair suffer because you are on a budget. You can spend less than N3000 monthly on your hair, YES, N3000 (That’s the average cost of most imported products) and still achieve your hair goals. Here’s how!
- Don’t try every new thing.
If you are newly natural and unsure of what products to get and use for your hair, it would do you a lot of good to take your time to adjust to this new lifestyle. Don’t be so eager to try every hair product you have seen or read reviews about. Settle down and listen to your hair. If your former hair products that are readily available and more affordable still work for you, then incorporate them into your hair care routine instead of opting for a new bottle of coconut oil. For example, every once in a while when I run of out oils or Shea butter, I substitute them with this KUZA hair cream I have always had at home till I stock up on my oils. It’s just as effective as your oils. So instead of buying everything new, try out your old products if you have any and see if they still work for your natural hair.
- Stick to the basics with your products and routine.
Yes, you should stick to the basics of growing and maintaining healthy hair which are cleansing with a shampoo, moisturizing with water, sealing with an oil and protecting with a scarf. Yes, it’s that simple. But bear in mind that the fundamental condition for hair growth and length retention for afro textured hair is constant moisture. No matter the amount of hair products you have or magic potions you are using, if they don’t have water as the first ingredient, you are doing your hair more harm than good because it would remain dry and that would result in breakage. So my point is, with water and a cheap oil like olive oil/shea butter, your hair can grow! Other things like a leave in conditioner, deep conditioner, protein treatment are entirely optional for a starter.
Also in terms of routine, Please keep things simple with your regimen not only for the sake of your hair but for the sake of your sanity. You don’t have to try all the hair care routines your favorite vlogger or blogger is trying. You don’t have to follow with all those extra stress that come with prepooing, weekly mud washes, protein treatments, co-washing twice a week, and the list goes on. Really, nobody has time for all those rituals. So keep it simple by doing only the things your hair needs. That’s why it is very essential you listen to your hair and that brings me to the next tip.
- Stick to What Works
How do you know what works for you? It’s easy! Just listen and pay attention to your hair. Over the course of 2 years and 10 months I have been growing my hair, I have learnt to study and observe it in terms of how it reacts to certain products, technique and hairstyles. For example, due to the fact that I have studied my hair, I realized that:
1) I have fine to normal hair strands and high density hair that breaks easily.
2) My nape hair at the back is the finest and retains the shortest length than other parts of the hair.
3) Coconut oil alone can’t seal my hair.
4) My hair loves shea butter and castor oil (for shine too) as sealants, olive oil as a deep conditioning oil.
5) My hair retains more moisture for a long time (about 6 days) in braids and cornrows than twists.
With all these knowledge, I have been able to save myself money and time by using/doing only what works for my type of hair. And this includes:
1) Avoiding or limiting the use of combs and brushes and opting for finger detangling instead, limiting my washing and detangling routine to twice a month, and avoiding the use of too much products.
2) Using Shea butter and olive oil.
Despite the fact that a common ‘’natural hair rule’’ says that fine hair like mine works better with light products like coconut oil than heavier products like Shea butter!
- Do It Yourself (DIY)
Become your own DIY queen and experiment with different recipes. Match make your products instead of buying separate products for every job. You can use one product to do the same job; for example, your deep conditioner can double as your leave in, just add water! You can also substitute a store –bought leave in for a spray bottle mix of water, oil and glycerin. In place of a deep conditioner, you can whip up avocado, honey and olive oil and simply add the mix to a regular conditioner. Instead of having to buy a blow drier or steamer for the sake of deep conditioning, you can opt for a cheap nylon bag. Even in terms of styling, you make crochet braids yourself instead of going to the salon to have your box braids or sew ins done and if you don’t have the time, for that, you can have a trusted friend do it for you like I usually do. No, it doesn’t mean you are cheap or you don’t have class, it means you are aware of your limited budget and you value the little you have by saving and spending wisely.
- Buy Local
Yes, buy local to save you some money. Buying local means buying what is readily available and affordable. Examples of these include buying your oils from the local market. There’s really no difference between imported Parachute coconut oil and your local coconut oil except their method of extraction/preparation. Opt for your Dudu Osun black soap as a cleanser; it is less harsh than your regular shampoos and more affordable than imported sulphate-free shampoos. You can buy readily available ones at your local supermarket from brands like Vitale, Organix, Tropical Naturals (maker of Dudu Osun) Natural Nigerian, Nature’s Gentle, ORS, Dark and Lovely, Mega Protectiv, Gentelle’s, Emily, and the list goes on. These brands sell products readily available in our locality. Alberto VO5 conditioners are also great staples for naturals on a budget like us!
- Protective Styling
Like I mentioned in tip number 3, my hair retains moisture better in braids and cornrows, therefore I now moisture, seal and air dry my hair in medium sized braids. I also try to incorporate protective styles/low manipulation styles into my routine every once in a while. They include regular flat twists, cornrows, box braids, sew ins, etc. But just because I get so easily bored of bound hairstyles like sew ins, twists with extensions and box braids, I limit how often I do them and go for flat twists, cornrows, regular twists, puffs and buns more often. (This is a personal preference.) Since protective styles and low manipulation styles help hair retain moisture, you will use way less products to maintain your hair when you get them done. For example, when I have box braids on, I only need to moisturize and seal once a week in comparison to when my hair is out where I would have to do the same thing twice a week.
- Rotate Products
Rotating products can help use your quality products for a long time. For example, you may have two deep conditioners, one that is readily available and affordable and one that is a bit expensive, instead of using up the quality and expensive one because you like it better. Lol. Why not reserve it for special purposes like using it after a long protective style- take down or just before flat ironing or coloring your hair when your hair really needs it? I know I do that with my leave in, Karen’s Body beautiful Leave in. I use it only on freshly washed hair and the week after ( four times a month) but have it in mind that some products come with a PAO ( period after opening) symbol. This shows you how long you can use your product once you have opened it. Try finding an “open jar” sign on the container with a number followed by the letter M, where number indicates how many months the product can be safely used for after opening. For instance, 12M means that product can be used during twelve months after you opened it.
Other effective tips:
*Before you buy products be sure that a product can last you at least 2 months. An 8 oz. /250 ml product can last up to 2 months if you are using the right amount.
*Analysis of how much you should spend per ounce/ml if you are on a budget. Personally, I suggest a 16ml/ 500ml jar/bottle shouldn’t cost more than N3000, 8oz/ 250 ml for N1500, 4oz/125ml bottle for N750 ,2oz/ 62 ml for N350, etc. these are my terms for what I consider affordable! Please know that my meaning of affordable may be different from someone else’s.
I hope this is of great help to naturals on a tight budget like me. Have a great weekend!
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Until next time,