Hair Raising Experience in London Town

The trininista hair trifecta -
shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner
N- for Nubian. Adventures into Nubian Hair would be a great way to describe the past hour of my life.

When I did my first degree in Jamaica, it was the norm for Trinidadian students to have 2 suitcases - one with clothes and books, the other with food - the story was that food was too expensive in Jamaica, so we "imported" via suitcase our own foodstuff. Now while London is not cheap, I was surely not about to forego warm clothes for a box of Cheerios. Besides, there are enough bargains around to ensure survival.

However, there was a mandatory shopping stop before getting on that British Airways flight. Pennywise, or as I call it, the Trini Boots. Being a black woman/nubian queen is a unique experience in many ways, but coming to London without products was not an option. White people seem to think we can all use the same things and be happy and beautiful. We cannot. Black hair alone is something totally different to white hair, so packing my stuff was not vanity, but necessity. As for London, I had been here before and experienced the nashiness of some of the black women here and did not aspire to look like any of them. So I can attest that half of one suitcase was filled with lotions, hair products, makeup etc.

Seven months later, I am still pretty good for beauty stuff but I realised last week that I was on the last of my post-shampoo leave-in conditioner, which can mean the difference between crackly and dry hair and shiny, healthy looking hair. Not wanting to wash my hair this weekend without it, I prepared myself for the wild adventure that is Lewisham. Now, I go to Leiwsham pretty regularly but I generally hit the shopping centre and Tesco, and that's it. Nothing against Lewisham mind you, cause my mother can attest that even in Trinidad, I avoid the high streets and prefer to get what I need within the confines of a mall - be it Gulf City Mall, Price Plaza, Grand Bazaar or West Mall. So nothing against Lewisham...

However, Lewisham is no Oxford Street either (which I also avoid 90% of the time in favour of Westfield Mall) and the characters I spot on the streets are cringe-worthy to say the least. I saw one white girl, with about 30lbs too much around her midsection in a bra top and low rise jeans, and I cringed.

In any event, my hair needed salvation so I traipsed through the streets in search of a hair products store. Even despite the fact that I knew they would not have anything, I escaped into a Super Drug hoping against hope that they would have what I needed. Nada. So on I went.

After 5 minutes of cat calls from Africans and Jamaicans, and some really odd looking white girls, I found a store - Shabba Hair & Cosmetics - and as I entered, the harps started playing. There it was - a plethora of black skin and hair products, a virtual Pennywise at my fingertips. It was great. Made me wonder then, why if such a store exists, do some of these girls look so pop-down! Nah man. I had expected to get something close to what I normally use but I got EXACTLY what I needed. And more...

Like the two cross-dressers looking at wigs. It was a scary sight let me tell you. Here were two black men - not men who could possibly pass as women - but two big, black, ashy elbowed black men, in lace front wigs, lipstick and heels. To say I was amused would be an understatement. The Indian dude showing them the wigs did not seem too aghast. This seemed like a normal thing for him - to show two black men the best he had to offer in wigs and weaves, and hair sheen. Very polite they were though as I said "excuse me" in an effort to pass. Not to mention complimentary, commenting on how lovely my eyebrows were and asking me whether I waxed or threaded. Too funny.

But at least I head to Cardiff with shiny hair on Monday, cause I am not quite sure how many black people I will find there, but at least I can well represent the sistas (and wannabe sistas)!


  1. Oh my goodness, you can't be serious? There are LOADS of places in London you can buy black hair products. You mentioned 'harps playing', I don't know where in London you stay but believe me, if you travelled to Brixton, Hackney, Tottenham, Finsbury Park, Wood Green, Croydon, Streatham, Walthamstow, Harlesden (and many other areas), you would be hearing those harps on a regular basis!

    I originally come from Bristol (not too far from Cardiff) and the situation for black hair products in my hometown is dire compared to London. Granted, it's not Atlanta, but hey, London really isn't that bad for us sistas and our hair needs :)

  2. Yes and while I am quite certain these places do exist, these are not places I will be going to on a regular basis. Yeah...will not be going to Brixton anytime soon. Lewisham is as good as it will get for me, thanks. But really, based on the women I see, in-store advice and assistance needs to be ramped up immediately.

  3. What gets me is that all these stores seem to be owned by Asians...since when they know more about black hair than black people?

  4. Ahhh ok, I see. I thought from your blog post that you were saying it was hard to get hold of black hair products in London, so I was commenting just to clarify.

  5. lol @Anonymous - whoever you are. I was saying the same thing. What can a Pakistani tell me about kinky curls? Or weave? lol. Hilarious.

    single - Girl, is not even a London thing, it is a general thing. I really don't like shopping outside the confines of a mall unless absolutely necessary, and additionally places like Brixton remind me of places back home that I don't go to either. It is a personal thing. Jamaicans would call me stoosh. Stoosh and proud, yes. lol.

  6. I turn my back for five minutes to play with my new blog and spend hours typing up Hubby's replies to the comments he got for his post and I discover you are a tv star. The ad below is superb - congrats on your 'fame' - I shall be asking for your autograph next.
    Glad you got your hair sorted out. You have to keep those Trinista standards.

  7. So glad you were able to find the products you were looking for! I always feel like I come equipped with an army of hair supplies whenever I travel anywhere, too. I have some crazy curly hair and without the right products, well, it's just a disaster.

    LOL at the cross-dressers.

    PS: Thanks so much for stopping by again the other day. So funny, I was just thinking about you recently. Hope all's well, girl! *HUGS*


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