Rant: Finding hair products in Nigeria

I don’t know about you but I’m having a difficult time finding good, reasonably priced hair products in Nigeria. I know there are several online vendors that have great products: Sizzelle, Naija Hair Can Grow, Natural Nigerian, Olori, TwentySix85, etc. However, I am not always comfortable making purchases online. It’s not like I haven’t done it before. When I did, the products were fine and the customer service was good. I miss going to my local Target or CVS and being able to pick up exactly what I want. There are many issues that I’ve encountered buying products in Nigeria. Here are a few.

Here today, gone tomorrow

I cannot even count the number of times that I will find a product I like and go back to the shop only to find it’s not on shelves. Gone away never to be seen again. For example, last year, I was in Grand Square and I saw Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair – Creamy Hair Lotion. I was in need of a moisturizer so I picked it up to try it out. It worked wonderfully. I was glad that maybe I found something I could use and it was available in shops. WRONG! I went back a later and I could not find it anywhere. I checked so many places. It was awful and sad.

Racks on racks on racks

Some of the imported products are so expensive. I’m not a billionaire yet, so I don’t want to spend all my money on the products I want. I went to another supermarket in Abuja where they carry some of the popular products found on hair blogs and forums. I did not see any item for less than 4K. No thanks!

I'm not on Scrooge McDuck's level yet.

I’m not on Scrooge McDuck’s level yet. Source

Poor quality

Some products made in Nigeria and those one can easily find leave much to be desired. Many of the products I see on shelves have really bad ingredients (mineral oil, petroleum, etc.), which could be detrimental on your hair journey. Why must we suffer like this? While I was serving (NYSC), I ran out of moisturizer. I went to the market and other shops in hopes of finding something decent. All my hopes were dashed, so I ended up buying a product I used prior to my hair journey. I just had to make due.

Availability

That previous story ties in to my next issue, product availability. People who live in major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, etc. have a greater chance of finding decent products. What about people who live in rural or more remote areas? Don’t they need decent products? Recently, I was in Lagos and I went to a pharmacy to pick up something. This shop has a decent supply of hair products. I even found a sulfate-free shampoo at a reasonable price. I would NEVER, EVER be able to find that in the place I was serving.

The search for products can be tough. Source: GifBin

The search for products can be tough. Source

So, what is the solution? I have no idea. There are some Nigerian vendors making and selling their own products (Natural Nigerian, African Naturalistas, Neriah Naturals, etc.), which I think is great. I believe this all boils down to business. If there is a need, someone will find a gap in the market and supply that need. Hopefully, we as consumers can become more knowledgeable about what we need for healthy hair and demand better.

What has your experience been when looking for products? Has it been easy or difficult for you?