Monday, May 11, 2015

The Nigerian Natural Hair & Beauty Show: all the details!

So ... have you bought your ticket yet? If not...why not?
It's just under 2 weeks until the biggest event we've EVER organised, and in between being ridiculously busy, we can't help the snippets of excitement we feel!
Here are just some of the things we have planned for you:
* The "Loving Your Hair With Natural Care workshop by natural hair expert and celebrity stylist (to stars such as Jill Scott, Teyonah Parris & Will Smith) Felicia Leatherwood. Yup, she loved Lagos so much last time, she's finally coming back!
Additional workshops by:
* Our very own founder & CEO Nibi Lawson 

* Ngozi Opara of The Heat Free Hair Movement

* Obia Ewah of Obia Natural Hair

* Wunmi Akinlagun of Woman In The Jungle

* Ijeoma Eboh of Klassy Kinks

* Cassidy Blackwell of Natural Selection Blog

Also let's not forget:

* Discounted shopping at The Kinky Apothecary Pop-Up Shop (including new additions to the products we stock!) as well a variety of hair and non-hair related vendors

* A Make Up & Pamper lounge from Lola Maja at Sacred Beauty
* The chance to get your hair done...for free!
* Networking

* Giveaways

* Amazing goodie bags sponsored by SheaMoisture & CURLS

... we're too excited to keep typing, to be honest. Let's just say we have a fantastic time planned for you, and you do not want to miss this one!

Tickets are N8,000 each, and can be purchased from:
* Sacred Beauty, 2 Abiola Close, Shonibare Estate, Maryland

To make sure all guests have a fabulous time and walk home with the best giftbags, there is a limit to the number of tickets we're selling. Once they're gone, they're GONE! So don't miss out!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy birthday to us!

Five years ago today I organised the first ever Kinky Apothecary event, having decided to channel my burgeoning hobby as a natural hair obsessive into something a little bit more structured. The beginning almost seems like just yesterday. I am not entirely sure what my ultimate plans were when I first started. I do remember thinking "as long as I make enough money to cover all the hair products my mum and I need, I'll be happy". When I planned that first 40 person workshop, did I know that 5 years later I would be on the home straight of the biggest event I have ever organised? I'm not sure.

All I know is that I am extremely happy I allowed myself to be guided into doing something that has touched many people's hair ... if not quite their lives. There are people I've met along the way, solely as a result of this little project, who have become like family. I have learned more in these last 5 years than through any of my formal education: the triumphs and mistakes as valuable as each other.

I'm so grateful and overwhelmed by the support I have received from friends and family over the past 5 years. A huge thank you especially to all our loyal customers - from the ones who attended our very first event, to the ones who only just heard about us this morning - you have kept us going all this time. There is absolutely no way we would have made it to this point without you.

Here's to many more years!

- Nibi

PS: I am going to spend the rest of the month taking a trip down memory lane via this blog. If you'd like to join me, here's the first flashback: I wrote about the very first Champagne, Cupcakes and Curltalk which took place exactly 5 years ago here and here. (Clearly I still wasn't that familiar with the modalities of blogspot!)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Update: The Nigerian Natural Hair & Beauty Show - Early Bird tickets now available!

Since Felicia Leatherwood's last visit to Lagos, a frequent question we've received has been when is the hair whisperer and stylist to stars such as Jill Scott, Teyonah Parris and Will Smith bringing her workshop back?

Well, we finally have an answer for you! Felicia returns on May 16th, and this time she's not alone! She'll be joined by Ngozi Opara, founder of the Heat Free Hair movement, Wunmi Akinlagun of Woman In The Jungle, Obia Ewah, the creator of Obia Natural Haircare products, Cassidy of Natural Selection Blog, and our darling Ijeoma, aka Klassy Kinks returns!

This is the biggest event we have ever planned, and we have some amazing stuff lined up, even we struggle to believe it sometimes! When we say we have been working hard to bring you something special, best believe we have been working HARD to bring you something special!!! We are just so excited and will be revealing more and more details in the run up ...

Early bird tickets now on sale via Afritickets. Click here to purchase!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Update: Current hair situation!

Hi all,

Just thought I should give a quick update on what's going on with my hair.

I've been in loose twists since December. Loose twists have been in my styling arsenal since some time in 2012 when Miss (now Mrs) Fizzy introduced me to them.

I prefer them to regular twists as they are much quicker to put in and take out (you only twist the roots and the ends), and they yield a fullness and stretch you don't get from regular twists, making them more versatile and allowing you to style as if your hair wasn't twisted (I've pretty much had a different updo every day for the past two months).

Every two weeks, I shampoo and deep condition my hair while still in twists, as I would if my hair was loose, apply my leave-in and oil (my favourite products are detailed here), and when about 50% dry I undo each twist, detangle, remove the shed hairs and retwist. About twice a week I spritz and seal the ends.

I've been traveling a lot, so it's a protective style that's perfectly suited to my schedule.

This vintage post has some more information on when I last wore my hair in loose twists for an extended period of time.

Here's a great tutorial by Alicia James for anyone looking to try them.

I'm getting a bit bored of them though, so suggestions for my next protective style are most welcome! You can leave them in the comments below.

Until next time,


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Products we love this Valentine's (and every) Day! (plus a guide to picking your products)

Picking products is a very individual thing. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the next. That's why whenever I get one of the most frequently asked questions "What products should I use for my natural hair?" I am always hesitant to start reeling off a standard list of products.

As I point out in the FAQs, when you first go natural, I always recommend focusing mainly on increasing your moisture levels, eliminating products with sulphates, silicones and mineral oil, which is why we make a point of stocking as many products as possible without these ingredients. After you have an understanding of your hair, you might find that products containing these ingredients actually work well for your hair, and that's fine. However as a first step, try going without.

So how do you narrow in on specifically what products you need? First of all, it's important to consider the 5 basic steps of a routine: cleansing, conditioning, moisturising, sealing and styling, and then thinking about whether you have a product that works well for you in each category. It is also important to note that some products perform well for multiple functions, for example, the Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner is great as a deep conditioner, but also light enough to use as a leave-in (moisturiser), or sudsy enough to use as a cowash.

So let's delve into each category in a bit more detail:


Essentially, washing. This could be by way of a shampoo, whether clarifying or moisturising (depending on your hair's needs), a cowash (washing with conditioner), a detoxifying mud wash (using a clay such as bentonite or rhassoul mixed into a paste with water, aloe vera juice and some oils, depending on preference) or even clarifying with apple cider vinegar or baking soda ... but we'll go into these homemade cleansers in more detail in a later post.

Cleansing prepares your hair for the rest of your regimen, and is essential for removing all the grime that has accumulated since your last wash (obviously), and removing build-up that could have occurred in that time, allowing your conditioning and moisturising products to penetrate effectively.

If you haven't been using any particularly heavy products since your last wash, or your hair is feeling particularly dry, a cowash or a moisturising shampoo is perfect for you. If you've been using heavier products (butters, e.g. shea or cocoa butters, or some sort of whip containing these ingredients) or products containing silicones, you'll need a clarifying shampoo once in a while. 


Adding the moisture and nutrients back into your hair after washing. With natural hair, it is particularly important never to skip this step especially if you've cleansed with a shampoo. Most naturals will soon discover that with its multiple purposes, conditioner is the one product they can't live without, and they will go through it about ten times faster than they can ever use a bottle of shampoo!

Like cleansers, conditioners come in several different forms depending on need, including rinse out conditioners, deep conditioners and masks. Products marketed as a rinse out conditioner can be made into a deep conditioner or mask by adding in ingredients such as honey and staples.

It is important to note that your conditioner should have water as its first ingredient. Some people like to make their own, mixing ingredients you can find in your kitchen, and I frequently have people telling me they condition with a mixture of shea butter and honey (for example), but they are still experiencing dry hair. These ingredients are not sufficient to condition your hair on their own. So the best thing, as I suggested, is to use an actual, ready made conditioner as a base (doesn't have to be a particularly expensive one), and just mix these ingredients in.


It's extremely important to keep this step in after rinsing out your conditioner, and also during the week between washes. Moisturisers can take the form of lighter conditioners (leave-in conditioners), creams, hair lotions and spritzes.

Again, the difference between moisturisers and sealants should be noted here. Oils are NOT moisturisers. Therefore you cannot moisturise your hair with an oil.

You need to be looking for products with water as the first ingredient, or ensuring water (or aloe vera juice) form the basis of your store-bought or home made spritzes. 


Now this is where your oils and butters come in. They serve to seal in moisture already present in your hair. Therefore anything oil or butter based should be used on damp hair, or over a water based product.

Several sealing products also work well as a styling product. See below.


This depends on how you choose to wear your hair. If you're going to keep your hair in twists, or some other sort of protective style, you will probably find gels or puddings to be unnecessary, and that you're fine twisting with your butter.

For twistouts, braidouts, rollersets, etc, a products with hold works best. This includes your gels, curl puddings and setting foams.

Note that in Nigerian humidity, it's best to avoid any product, but especially stylers, with glycerin high up on the ingredients list, if you're wearing some sort of stretched out style. This is because glycerin is a humectant which draws moisture out of the air and to your hair, causing your style to swell, shrink and frizz.

If you want to wear your hair in a wash 'n go, and your hair needs help with defining and holding a curl, I find layering a gel with stronger hold (e.g. Ecostyler Argan Oil gel) over a gel with a softer hold (e.g. SheaMoisture Curling Gel Souffle), to be particularly effective (and conversely, products with glycerin work well here, to introduce some softness to the possible gel crunch). 

Once you've figured out all the stages of your regimen, it's quite easy to see where you need additions to your product arsenal. At this point, you can try out a few products from each category to decide on your staples. I find that it's best to find 3 products in each category that are staple products, so that if you can't get your hands on one, you can substitute it for one of the others.

It's also important to play around with products. What might not work for you in the advertised way might be great for you in another way. For example, the SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque did nothing for my thirsty tresses as a deep conditioner. But as a product for twistouts and braidouts? Heaven in a jar!

And finally also note that there are several homemade alternatives to each category, but to prevent this post dragging on for years, we can cover this topic in more detail at a later date.


Once you've figured out a basic regimen, you'll soon find it easy to tweak your regimen and possibly find variants that work better for you, or fit best into your lifestyle, like I discuss in this post

For example, some people like to add in the "pre-poo" step, using a conditioner or oil before they shampoo. I sometimes do, and sometimes don't depending on how much time I have, what products I am using (I tend to pre-poo if I am shampooing, but not if I am conditioning), or generally what mood I'm in. 

There are also several treatments that can be added in to your routine, such as protein treatments, or you can add in henna and ayurvedic treatments. For some people, this is a necessity, for others not so much. Again, this is about research, trial & error, but yet again, more on this at a later date!

So now we've got the basics straight, what are some of our favourite products?

The Kinky Apothecary top product picks 

*based on a quick survey, The Kinky Apothecary bestsellers, and my personal favourites*

1. Cleansers: 

* Bobeam Cheris Hibiscus Shampoo Bar
* SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser 
* Homemade Bentonite Clay, Aloe Vera Juice, Rosemary & Lavender essential oil mixture

2. Conditioners:

* Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner
* Bee Mine Bee.U.Ti.Ful Deep Conditioner
* Obia Natural Haircare Babassu Deep Conditioner

3. Moisturisers:

* Karen's Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Deep Conditioner
* CURLS Cashmere Curls Leave-In Conditioner
* SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie

4. Sealants:

* Not being biased, but The Kinky Apothecary Whipped Batter (also great for the body, and excellent as a twisting product, if I do say so myself) was the resounding winner in this category!
* Pure unrefined Shea Butter
* Castor Oil

5. Stylers:

* CURLS Blueberry Bliss Control Paste- both for edges and bomb twistouts!
* Jane Carter Solution Wrap & Roll Setting Foam - great for roller sets, but also awesome under a gel  or over a butter for extra hold in a braidout or twistout
* Obia Natural Haircare Curl Enhancing Custard

* Bonus go-to styler: Ecostyler Pink Styling Gel gives a good, but not crunchy hold on my braidouts and twistouts that is excellent at battling Lagos humidity.

Don't forget to head over to the shop to view all these and more products we stock.

Happy Valentine's!

- Nibi xx

Friday, February 6, 2015

Some of our favourite YouTube natural hair gurus

Yay for the weekend! There's nothing we like better than passing a Saturday or Sunday afternoon watching natural hair styling videos on YouTube.

If you're looking for some weekend kinkspiration, look no further than these 10 lovely ladies whose videos always inspire new styles. So sit back, grab a cuppa, & check out some of our favourite natural hair gurus!

1. FusionofCultures

2. BlakIzBeautyful

4. Chescalocs

5. simplycre8eve

6. LoveYourTresses

7. NaturalNeiicey

8. MahoganyCurls

9. Naptural85

10. TheChicNatural

Who are some of your favourite natural hair gurus? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hello 2015! Here’s a flashback to 2014 at The Kinky Apothecary.

Since we’re almost at the end of January 2015, this seems like the perfect time for my procrastinating self to wish all our customers, readers and Kinky Apothecary family a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2015!

So I was absolutely horrible at posting on the blog last year. There has been a phenomenal amount of growth and change at Kinky Towers over the last 14 months or so, and in that time, blogging unfortunately fell pretty low on our ladder of priorities.

However, I’m sure most of you would have noticed by now that The Kinky Apothecary has had an Instagram account for a little over a year, on which I personally am very active and have managed to document all the important highlights of 2014. 

So for those of you who for some reason are still not following us, or who might have only just started towards the end of the year, or for anyone who just wants a recap, here is what (according to Instagram) has been going on in the world of The Kinky Apothecary … and most important of all, my hair!

We kicked off 2014 with me trying my hand out at erm, "modelling" for an as yet unnamed campaign that is as yet unpublished... but launching soon. Yes. Cryptic. But we had a blast working with photographer Reze Bonna, Aderonke Adebanjo, Lola Maja and Odun Ogunbiyi as our creative director.

In February I was invited to onto the set of Moments with Mo with Dami of Neriah Naturals and Dabs of Naija Hair Can Grow, to talk about natural hair. Spreading the healthy hair message, and defending the natural hair corner (where the need arises) are matters that are very close to my heart, so it was great to get the invitation. Presenters Dolapo Oni and Bolanle Olukanni really made us feel at home too. Great times!

Also in February, Ngozi Opara, the creator of the Heat Free Hair movement reached out to me to let me know she would be in Lagos. I think her company idea is phenomenal, and I'd always admired her as a business woman (especially a Nigerian business woman), so I was really pleased to discover she was just as lovely in person as I had hoped. Her visit happened to coincide with Social Media Week, where I was speaking on two panels: the first was organised by Ore Somolu-Lesi of the Women's Technology Empowerment Centre. The second was specifically focused on natural hair, and so when I mentioned to the organiser, Kathleen Ndongmo of Natural Ever After, that Ngozi was in town, she leapt at the opportunity to bring her onto the panel, and what was originally intended to be a discussion on how naturals have been able to expand their reach and connect with others globally through social media quickly turned into a natural hair seminar with the panelists fielding hair-related questions and offering tips and advice. 

In March, I jumped at Felicia Leatherwood's invitation to meet her at the Natural Hair Academy in Paris, which was a real experience where I got to meet some amazing people, such as Eva Obasuyi and Rene Daniella, the beauties and brains behind DieseMag and Own By Femme! If you're in Paris this March, get a ticket!!!

We also set the wheels in motion for Felicia's next trip to Lagos. Announcement coming up soon...

In April, we were focused on our next steps, so decided a protective style would be the best way to free up some time. Back came the marley twists! 

More networking in May, first at the Woman In The Jungle Show in London
Wunmi, founder of Woman In The Jungle
Where I got a chance to see Miss (now Mrs and Mummy) Fizzy from Leave In The Kinks again!

And then at Curlvolution, also in London, where in between the workshops and shopping, I had the chance to witness this excellent panel of speakers: Felicia Leatherwood, Taren Guy, Natural Belle, Deborah Blake of Curlformers, and Emma Dabiri, aka The Diaspora Diva, who took the hair conversation well beyond the usual issues of styling.

During the course of the month, we also added a bunch of new brands to our range, including Obia Natural Haircare, SheaMoisture, Karen's Body Beautiful and Namaste Organics. We also expanded the existing ranges we carry, adding more products. Apparently you love them, and we're not surprised!

Also in May, Berry Dakara and a bunch of other Instagrammers kicked off the #31daysofkinkz challenge: everyone had to post a different hair style a day for 31 days. Of course I crashed and burned after day 5, but here were a couple of my favourites:

June saw my return to TV after receiving an invitation from Spice TV to appear on Style 101.
On Style 101 with Hauwa Mukan of HRM sneakers, Pepper Chikezie of Retrospective and host Tallulah Doherty

By this point, Lagos humidity had started to get out of control and drive me nuts, turning a braidout from this:

To this, in a matter of minutes:

In June, I also got invited onto NdaniTV to film an episode of Beauty Beats which you can watch here! 

I made a final attempt at a braidout before the humidity got too much for me. This combo of CURLS milkshake and Obia Naturals Curl Enhancing Custard held up quite well:

But I gave up the charade pretty soon after, and went into my next protective style: waist-length box braids!

June also saw us participate at Naija Hair Can Grow's Salon Day Out, and Nigeria's first Loc Appreciation Day organised by Locitude!

Our stand at Naija Hair Can Grow's salon day out

Ade Balogun of Locitude and organiser of Loc Appreciation Day, with host Bassey Ikpi 

Also in June (yeah, busy month!) we launched two more concessions on the Lagos mainland!

Sacred Beauty. Maryland home of The Kinky Apothecary
In July, I got a chance to act as Creative Director for the day, when Pride Magazine allowed us to take over their beauty pages with a natural hair special. It was a real challenge, but loads of fun, and I can't wait to see the finished product!

As part of the shoot, I also got to style actor Najite Dede's locs

In August, I got a little bit of time off, and while in the States on holiday, got the chance to go for what is now becoming my annual mini-chop. I generally keep my hair long, but find it easiest to manage when it is somewhere between APL and BSL, and no longer.

Also while in NYC, I happened to run into Ijeoma of Klassy Kinks, who we had an event with in December 2013!

Stay tuned, we've got something else in the works...

We spent September fine-tuning things in-house and preparing for what was going to turn out to be an extremely active final quarter of the year. I also spent it totally enjoying my new hair shape!

October was when it all kicked off for us again! First of all, we joined the Freedom Park family, where we set up a temporary home for Felabration

And debuted our new pink stand!

That weekend, Locitude organised a loc styling workshop and styling competition. It was amazing to see the creativity that went into coming up with looks doing the styling competition, in such a short space of time, and we were so happy to sponsor the winner, Olisah of Me & You salon, on an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai!

In October, we also held two bootcamps over one weekend at our two mainland concessions. Our bootcamps started a couple of years ago as a way of providing a intimate setting (of not more than 30 people) for people to ask one-on-one questions and tackle their hair issues. We decided to bring them back to get to know our mainland customers, introduce you to the concessions and give you the chance to have any burning questions answered.

In October, we were also very busy preparing gift packages for two of our favourite designers: Maki Oh and Grey at Lagos Fashion and Design Week, where we brought back our favourite product: The Kinky Apothecary Whipped Batter

In November, we took part in Lost In Lagos Live. It was great to meet customers old and new, as well as all the other vendors!

And finally, December! We kicked off the month at the block party which marked the beginning of Big60 at A Whitespace Lagos

And ended with our one-day Pop Up Salon- still part of Big60 at A Whitespace, Lagos

With a bunch of people getting involved, such as Sacred Beauty, Grey & Cointreau, I can't think of a better way to have ended the year! A full write-up is coming soon, but for now, you'll just have to be content with a photo of my last hairstyle of last year- a loose twist updo- as I took a few minutes off from proceedings for my last interview of the year, with Spice TV again.

It was our busiest year yet, but an extremely rewarding one, and I am so excited for what we have planned for 2015! Incidentally, our 5th anniversary will be coming up during the course of the year, so keep your eyes peeled for some major announcements and changes, all of which are going to come in quick succession! You are not going to want to miss a thing…

Nibi xx