Counting his losses and lost battles against his dream of having full beards like his fellow youth corps members in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, Victor Williams recalled how he was teased countless times by his friends.
So with the only two strands of hair on his chin, Williams has earned his share of taunts in life, particularly from close friends who feel blessed in many ways because of their beards.
“My friends usually say all full grown men have beards except few ones who should not consider themselves qualified to be called men. They often say such men are free to describe themselves as women,” he said with a deep sigh.
Now with his favourite fashion accessory, a new artificial detachable beard made from real human hair, things are finally looking up for Williams. Aside from serving as a huge relief for him, he was finally going to be able to join the trendy group of guys called the “beard gang”.
“I have spent a lot of money buying different forms of creams and oil in the past just to grow my beard like a real African man,” he told Saturday PUNCH during the week.
But buying different brands of cream and oil was a fruitless and wasteful effort for him.
“I was spending money that I could have saved on any product advertised by people as solution to the problem. The locally made beard creams and oils are sold within the range of N2,000 and N3,000 while some of the imported ones go for at $12 (N4,315).
“I have even used some herbal concoctions recommended by my neighbour, who has a full beard; he said he ordered them from Ghana.
“When I was 18 and realised I didn’t have beard, I started using mentholated Spirits to try to grow my beard but luck never smiled on me, but it worked for some of my friends,” he said.
Even as a young man who graduated with a first-class degree in Electrical Engineering, Williams still feels he doesn’t look hot enough. Sharing his experience during his three weeks’ compulsory NYSC orientation camp, he said, “I used to feel timid to approach some classy girls in camp because I just felt I wasn’t cool enough for them.”
However, Williams, who will clock 26 years by August has taken adequate steps to purchase his own pair of artificial beards which will cost him about $30 (N10,788). Armed with his artificial beard, Williams said he had no intention of revealing to any new lady he met that it was artificial.
“I have ordered for my own pair of artificial beard though it is quiet pricey as it cost about $30, but I’ll make sure it becomes my signature look, and I will make sure I don’t reveal to any girl that I am wearing fake beard,” he told our correspondent with a mischievous smile.
He also disclosed that someone recently introduced some supplements to him that could work like magic, but that it was too expensive.
“There is a facial hair supplement made in the United States that I just heard of and I understand that it works like magic, but it costs $159 (N57,179). But I cannot afford to buy it yet; maybe when I start working, I will do so,” he said.
Interestingly, like Williams, more men now opt for artificial fashion accessories to enhance their looks to match their fantasy. For long, women have been at the forefront of the race for artificial body enhancements. Artificial boobs, bum, hair, eye lashes and so on have been popular among women but it appears some men no longer want to be outdone by the womenfolk.
Tade Ogunleye’s tale is quite different from William’s because he was only interested in artificial moustache since he was already blessed with a beard. As far as Ogunleye was concerned, getting a moustache would make his swag complete on the streets of Lagos.
As a customer care representative in one of the top banks in Victoria Island, Lagos, Ogunleye considers his looks as paramount, so he takes his time to look good.
So when he heard about artificial moustache, he didn’t hesitate to place an order.
“It cost me about $20 (N7,192); I’ve paid for the moustache but it has not been delivered yet. Only my siblings will know it’s artificial. I had to place an order online to get it because I could not find it in most of the male fashion stores on the Island.
“When it arrives, I know an experienced barber that trained abroad who will fix it properly. He promised that the process will be pain free,” he said with a smile.
Destiny Uzor is a hustler at the popular Ikeja Underbridge, the perpetually busy and buzzing home of technology and fashion where many people go to for their fashion and technological needs. Uzor has seen himself through school with his body enhancement business, which he runs by the side.
During the week, our correspondent met with Uzor when she went under the guise of being a potential customer who wanted to buy the six packs body wear for her younger brother. Uzor was attending to customers when our correspondent made her request.
“I don’t have ‘six pack wear’ now, it is scarce in the market because guys, especially university students, have cleared everything in stock. So for now, it is not available. Normally, it costs N12,000 per pair,” he said as he continued to attend to the loads of customers before him.
When our correspondent asked for direction to another person who might have, Uzor insisted that it was not available in the market. He, however, recommended an herbal drug, which he vowed would give any male user the same result – six packs.
“I can only sell herbal drug to you; this herbal drug is very effective. Many of my customers have used it and they have testified to its efficacy,” he said authoritatively. Curiously, Uzor refused to reveal the name of the drug, claiming it was his little secret.
“Within a week, your brother will have a trimmed tummy and six packs. He doesn’t even have to finish the dose before he starts seeing the effects of the drug,” he said.
The Imo State born man, who is in his early 30s, took our correspondent to another shop close to the bridge to get her the special drug. The shop was filled with young men and women who had come to purchase body enhancing drugs and cream.
“This is the drug; he will take one in the morning and one at night, but after one week, it is advisable that he stops using it because he would have started seeing the wondrous effects of the drug,” he said as he wrapped the green jelly like drug in a prescription bag.
Sharing his experience as a customer of Uzor, Tajudeen Alaka, a student at one of the universities in the city, described Uzor as popular in his school because of his job, even though he was an unregistered cosmetologist. “A lot of my friends patronise him, especially when they want to buy this six pack drug, you know that is what is reigning.
“Apart from six packs, Uzor can get you drugs that will make your brother’s chest very broad within few weeks,” he said but could not vouch that the drug would not have side effects.
Believing that he lost his ex-girlfriend to a hotter guy because of his protruding tummy, Chinedu Peters, 31, has become a dedicated customer to self acclaimed body enhancement therapists.
Speaking to Saturday PUNCH, Peters narrated stories of how he would spend on women and then end up being jilted. He vowed not to ever stop trying to be more and more attractive.
“I think my ex-girlfriend left me because of my tummy. I had done exercises with all the strength in me before someone introduced me to herbal drugs,” he said.
Peters further testified to the efficacy of the drugs he had been taking, saying he was gradually getting results for money spent.
“Now the girls are the ones rushing me; I have lots of them on speed dial on my phones because I’ve now worked on myself to adjust to their specifications,” he said with a wink.
Sharing her opinion about how guys enhance their body these days to entice ladies, Tolulope Faleye, a teller in one of the new generation banks in Ikorodu said she was disappointed when she discovered that her ex-boyfriend used to take some drugs to have six packs.
“I was shocked when I discovered he used to take drugs to have those six packs I admired. Even though I always like my man to look sharp and smart, I don’t like anything artificial. I even find it weird knowing that a man is taking extra efforts to have six packs to the point of taking drugs for it,” she said.
Faleye broke off her relationship with her ex because of her discovery.
Alfred Alozie sells creams that promise to give people pink lips. He was crowded by many customers, especially guys, when our correspondent met him at Ikeja Underbridge.
The cream is sold for N500 and promises results within two weeks of usage.
One of his customers, who identified himself as Banky, 28, during a chat with our correspondent who posed as a buyer, said he disliked the look of his lips when they were dark and that it was what led him to ‘pink lips cream’.
He started using the cream with the hope that it would change the colour of his lips from black to pink.
“Pink lips are the latest trend in town; I think having dark lips makes a guy look local but pink lips make you look cool and sophisticated.
“I know that before two weeks, the colour of my lips would have changed to pink; I cannot wait to wear a new look,” he added.
Narrating his past struggles to have pink lips, the Lagos-born dark skinned man said he had tried all the possible suggestions that friends and colleagues had given him but all were to no avail.
“I have tried all the things my friends told me to do, I have used sand and honey to scrub my lips as prescribed by one of my cousins but my lips remained dark. And because I have full lips, which are also dark, they don’t look sexy,” he told Saturday PUNCH.
Meanwhile, it appears to be boom time for Alfred Alozie’s business as he has opened a new studio in Lagos.
“This pink lips cream business can never go down; our customers keep increasing every day through referrals. Most of our clients are young bankers, actors, actresses, male and female fashion models and students, but they are mostly men,” he said.
However, Alozie refused to disclose the ingredients used in producing the cream, also describing it as his trade secret.
“I cannot tell you how we produce this cream, but if you are interested in learning it, you can come for a one-week training that will cost you just N50,000,” he added.
A psychologist at the University of Lagos, Professor Oni Fagboungbe, described self perception as a contributory factor in “why some men will want to enhance their physical appearance.”
According to him, there are three types of selves in psychology, “the way other people see you, the real self is who you really are, while the ideal self is the person you want to be which is created from what you have learnt from your life experiences and the demands of the society and what you admire in your role models.”
He said, “What is happening these days can be linked to what we call socialisation, influence and the power of technology; these factors can also influence a person’s real self.
“For example, if a man has a role model, there will be some features he will admire in that person, and until he starts seeing those features in himself, there will be tension and anxiety in him. So, if he admires the full beard in his role model; until he gets that artificial beard, he will not be satisfied,” he told Saturday PUNCH.
He however described human beings as having the power to accept and reject whatever trend they are faced with to avoid tension.
“People have the power to either accept or reject a trend, it is a matter of choice, but once a person admires a feature in another, it could result to tension and anxiety until he gets what he wants,” he added.