Reader Question: How To Maintain Natural Hair In a Country Without Natural Hair Products

Esther’s Question

Dear Ijeoma,

Hi! First of all I really love your hair and you’re super pretty! I need advice on how to manage my hair. I live in an Asian country but am Nigerian. I was always natural from birth, but the country where I live in has no natural products or salons, it’s very frustrating. How can I maintain my hair without natural hair products because it’s starting to break a lot even after trims. My second problem is whenever I wear my hair in twist outs and Bantu out knots I always hear people say my hair is messy (especially my fellow Nigerians) and I should go relax it. How do I overcome all that discouragement??

Ps. Our hair is the same,  though yours is more healthy.

My Answer

First off Esther, as a 15 year old Nigerian living in Asia, you are SO brave for wearing your hair naturally! You just inspired me so much, and I’m sure you inspired someone else. To address your haters, our people are so backwards it’s frustrating, but just remind yourself that they really don’t know any better, because they’ve never been taught how to take care of their natural hair, and they’ve grown up for generations hearing and believing that relaxed hair is more acceptable. I’m sure your twist outs look fabulous!

Now to your question on how to manage your natural hair while living in a country where you don’t have many options for products or salons. You have to suck it up and use products made for people without natural hair, but use them carefully and in moderation. Buy regular shampoo and conditioner, but add oils (you should be able to find coconut, olive, or even palm oil, but if worst comes to worst, just use regular vegetable oil) to make them softer for your hair. If you can get your hands on shea butter from Nigeria, use it to mix your own moisturizer by melting and adding in some oils. You can also use eggs, honey, and mayonnaise as deep conditioners, and mixing up a bunch of different oils can help lock in your moisture. Also consider protective styling, maybe wearing small twists or cornrows for a few weeks at a time to minimize how much product you have to apply, and how much you have to comb your hair.

How do you take care of your natural hair when you don’t have access to products or salons?

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  1. Some products meant for straight hair do work well for naturals too. Use what is available; you may never know how your hair responds till you try it.