Food for the Hair?

Recently, we have been sharing information on home made conditioners for the hair. These are recipes that can  be used by anyone. It doesn’t matter if your hair is natural or relaxed. However, some people have been questioned by family members or friends about how ethical it is to use food items such as mayonnaise on one’s hair.

Honey is a natural humectant

Many of the DIY conditioner ingredients are readily available fruits and vegetables while some are more expensive such as the natural oils and mayonnaise. For example, honey and avocados are some of the most affordable household items out there. Mayonnaise is the convenient alternative to plain old egg conditioner. Mayonnaise is less messy and it is already mixed for you — this is what makes it cost more.

I think it comes down to a question of price comparison and value for money. It is the lump sum at one go as opposed to smaller amounts every now and again that can be hard to raise. For obvious reasons, people find it easier to spend K30,000 ($6) every month, as opposed to K80,000 ($16) every three months. If you add the price of three bottles of Vitafro (a glycerine based gel), it comes to the price of just over one bottle of olive oil and it is the same volume of product — except that the olive oil will last you much longer and it is way better for your hair.

In essence, I think that it is the principle of using foodstuffs for the hair, which gives the impression of depriving others or one’s household of food that many people find objectionable. This is unfortunate, because as I have mentioned, no one will think twice about spending twice as much money on chemicals for their hair, even when foodstuffs are so much cheaper and healthier. We also forget that we deep condition our hair once a week or more likely every two or three weeks, not everyday.

I know that many people have had the experience, of negative reactions and comments from friends or relatives. I am of the view that this speaks of the underlying reality that we do not value our hair and therefore are not willing to invest time and effort (and sometimes money) into looking after it. I remember how long it took me to find some coconut oil in Lusaka. I had read about how great it was for the hair, but I balked at the asking price of K60,000($12) in the health food shop. Eventually, I found some for only K20,000 ($4) in a pharmacy. What I have found even more pleasant, is how long the products last. Far much longer than some of the mass produced hair products heavily promoted in magazines.

I don’t want to go too political, but the truth is that many of these chemicals actually dry our hair and result in us using them more frequently and ultimately in buying them more and more. This is how multinational corporations work and these products are designed to get AND keep us hooked on them. Why else do we have terms like ‘creamy crack’?

Another reality is that in this part of the world, there is some prestige attached to store bought products. A friend (and fellow ZedHair contributor, Mwila), remarked, 

“I recall that when I was at school, it was a matter of honour to use Dark & Lovely and not some kitchen sink goo.” 

Honestly, I don’t think that much has changed in the last ten years. People want to show that they can afford the best products, and so they do not want to take time or be seen to be mixing their own products. Once again, this comes down to a question of attitude and priorities.


Picture from BBC Good Food.

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