Forty years of trendy hair ‘perming’ in Nigeria

Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of permanent hair relaxers into Nigeria’s fashion market.

ultra sheen 1Before the advent of permanent hair relaxers, the grandmothers straightening combs and curling scissors held sway. Ladies looked forward to hair stylists who always take them through the long rigors of heating steel combs in charcoal fire, oiling the comb with petroleum jelly before passing the hot comb through their hair.hot iron old school stretching comb

ultra sheenultra sheen 2The story however changed in 1976 when Johnson’s Ultra Sheen hair care range was introduced to the Nigerian market. Women caught the bug as modern hair dressing salons sprang up in every nook and cranny of urban cities. Lagos actually blazed the trail.ultra sheen

The permanent relaxer era opened a lot of job opportunities for youngsters. It put paid to manual and strenuous hair curling. The rusty curling scissors gave way to smart rollers of all make and sizes – plastic, plastic and foam, wire and foam rollers. Train the trainers was in vogue as Revlon Realistic school of hairdressing came up in Mushin, to train young girls and ladies the new skills.ultra sheen 2

It was called permanent relaxers because once you relax your hair with it, it would stay relaxed for about six weeks, depending on the texture of your hair and the skill of your hairdresser. Working class women were greatly relieved as they could keep the hair styles for long without having to look unkempt. The manual straightening comb- relaxed hair only lasted two or three days.

As usual, the quacks also had a pleasant time. Half-baked apprentice who rushed to open their own salons caught many women unaware and they paid with their hair.

Soon after the perm relaxers came the permanent curls relaxers, tagged Jerry curlers. It is surprising however why the pioneer products- Ultra Sheen and Revlon hair products are missing on Nigerian hair fashion shelves today.

More surprising is the fact that nobody remembers the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the trendy hair care products.

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1 Response

  1. Motunrayo Alao says:

    Nice story. Wonder why the companies themselves are not this thoughtful.

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