There was shock, horror, and even fright expressed when I posted the videos/pictures of my latest Big Chop on Instagram. It wasn’t a whim, it definitely was not planned and I’m still getting over the shock myself. This post is gonna be a bit of a long ‘un so settle in, get yourself some tea whilst I give you THE TEA on what happened to Grace and how we ended up where we are today.
I had a trip coming up in October and wanted to do something different with my hair. To be fair, I was getting a bit bored with Grace. She was longer but I wasn’t really feeling the energy or excitement to deal with her as I had before when I first got my cut. My options were braids (ugh no, just took the Fulani braids out!), weave (sorry?), wig (seriously what’s that?), get a blowout i.e. temporarily straighten my hair with a smoothing treatment or just go with Grace as she was. After some time deliberating, I decided to get a blowout. The last time I had gotten a blowout was the year before and I was rather excited to see how much Grace had grown since my cut. For more information smoothing treatment, read THIS POST, THIS POST and THIS ONE too. This is a treatment I am familiar with and have done about 3 or 4 times during my natural journey so I did not have any particular concerns or reservations about doing the treatment on this occasion. I booked an appointment with a well-known hair salon in Ikoyi the same day I was travelling and I was set to go. Upon arrival at the salon, I showed the stylist the style I had in mind and he confirmed he could do it so we were good to go.
Except we weren’t. It started with the styling. The styling was in a word, poor. In two words, extremely poor. The style I asked for was not what I got. It wasn’t even close to it. The stylist waited two hours after he had started on my hair to tell me that the style I asked for was not possible on my hair so he had done something else. WHY DIDN’T HE TELL ME THAT WHEN I SHOWED HIM THE PICTURE? Why God why?????????????????????????????????????? A senior stylist came along and asked what the issue was to which I explained showing the picture of the style I had requested. After speaking with the male stylist, she explained my hair was too long for the style and offered to neaten up the bob I had not asked for. I expressed concerns about heat damage and too many passes with the straighteners. They told me I had no need to worry and after a couple of washes my hair would revert back to its 4C curls.
8 WASHES LATERI tried sulphate shampoos. I tried deep conditioning my hair overnight. I tried bentonite clay. If you follow me on Snapchat, you would have seen that I even tried washing my hair with Guinness beer.Nothing. My curls weren’t coming back. I called the salon several times, requested to speak with management and the owner and got fobbed off every single time. I sent strongly worded emails seeking a refund and an audience with the owner of the salon. I went in to the salon where I was offered a bentonite clay treatment (which did nothing but highlight the extent of the heat damage) and a perm rod set (which had the effect of hiding the heat damage with the rodded curls). I asked to check the products they used but they just showed me the standard Mizani smoothing kit. After more phone calls and emails, I finally received my refund. The Guinness experiment was the final straw. If you missed the snaps, I’ll put them up on Instagram you can have a good chuckle at my expense. Once it became clear that a big chop was inevitable, my sister came along to literally hold my hand as my namesake, Mr Bidemi, did his thing. Bless his heart he was so reluctant to shave my head but did a fantastic job. To be honest, I’ll never know what they did to my hair beyond the undisputable fact that they damaged it beyond rescue. Did they slipped some “extra ingredients” into the Mizani products? I don’t know but it’s possible. I’ve done smoothing treatments multiple times and never had any issues prior to this occasion. The second stylist’s attempt to salvage the first stylist’s nonsense styling was probably a very bad idea as it meant even more heat being applied to my hair. What is not in doubt is that my hair was irretrievably destroyed and there was absolutely no accountability or mechanism to speak to management or the owner of the salon for recourse. They gave me a refund but I have no hair now. Grace was definitely the loser in this go-round.
What I have learned from this experience? No more smoothing treatments, at least not in Nigeria. To be honest, no more salon treatments in Nigeria full stop. This was only my second visit to a Nigerian salon but it is definitely my last. I have managed to do my hair for the last 2.5 years on my own and I will be fine from here on out. My warning to my fellow naturalistas especially the ones who are thinking about trying a smoothing treatment is that it is imperative that you conduct thorough research on the salon at which you are going to do the treatment and weigh up the pros and cons of doing the treatment. If you’re on the fence, don’t risk your hair; wear a wig and don’t be proud like me because it’s not worth losing all your hair to chemical/heat damage as a result.
What is also certain is that as Grace grows out, I will be extra careful, extra kind, extra patient, extra appreciative, extra loving to her. I won’t take her for granted again. I won’t be so quick to get bored with her. I won’t just hand her off to any old stylist again. This is my mane, and I am super proud of her. Like the phoenix, Grace will certainly rise from the ashes of this disaster.