Learning what “Products” Work for my Hair
I’m almost at 2 and a half years of being natural. It has been quite a journey of figuring out what works for my hair. I think we all go through this process where we are obsessed with trying out a variety of products. Product junkie, anyone? Many women give up on being natural because they can’t seem to find what works for their hair. Or because they expect a product that works one way for another person’s hair to work for their own. Or they are searching for that magical product to make their hair curly when they don’t naturally have S or Z patterned hair. Just like nutrition and exercise, I have learned that we have to be patient and observe how our hair responds to different products and styling processes. Like nutrition and exercise, we may not find any immediate gratification, but staying in it for the long haul pays off. Below are 5 things I learned that DO NOT work for my hair and 5 things that DO work for my hair and why.
DOES NOT WORK:
1. Coconut oil: So many curlies swear by this and I have tried sooooo many times to make it work for my hair. However, because my hair is protein sensitive, coconut oil simply leaves my hair dry and brittle. So…if you are witnessing dry and brittle hair from coconut oil use, it might be a sign of protein sensitivity.
2. Sulfate AND sulfate free shampoos: I have tried so many different shampoos. While transitioning I used Miss Jessie’s cleansing shampoo that was sulfate free. It seemed fine then, but then I checked the rest of the ingredients and there was too much going on. I’ve also tried Giovanni’s, Wen, Curl Junkie’s Cleansing Conditioner (which my hair loved, but I was allergic to), and Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa. Either I was allergic to these or they were just too drying. See Number 3 on my does work list for my solution.
4. Aloe vera juice solo: Sadly, I’m allergic! My hair loves this stuff though. Aloe vera juice is a great hair moisturizer and leaves the hair soft.
5. Glycerin at the wrong dew points and temperatures: One of my faaaaave products is Curl Junkie’s Smoothing Lotion. However, because of the glycerin I do not always get the same results. During the winter when it is cold outside and the Dew Points are below 40 my hair is rough and brittle after it dries. During the summer it does pretty well, it will swell up and get frizzy because the dew points are higher. However, it stays soft and I like big hair anyways. During the Spring and Fall when dew points are bet. 40-60 degrees, you can’t tell me nothing!
1. Olive oil and grapeseed oil: To die for! Grapeseed oil gives me great shine and just refreshes my dull hair.
2. Shea butter: THIS WAS MY LIFE SAVER. Throughout the beginning of my journey I used to seal with oils and my hair would become dry a lot quicker. Because my hair loses moisture fast (high porosity) I need a thick sealant. I also tried various brands of shea butter. I tried the SheaMoisture line too, which a lot of curlies swear by. It wasn’t doing it for me either! Not all shea butters work the same and you definitely want unrefined. So…after my leave in conditioner (Oyin Hair Dew or Curl Junking Smoothing Lotion depending on the season) I slap on my shea butter mixture, twist this bad boy up, and I have moisturized soft hair for days. I like to put olive oil, grapeseed oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil and Vitamin E in my shea butter mix.
3. Bentonite Clay: THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I CLEANSE MY HAIR. Thanks to a couple of great friends, I decided to give Bentonite Clay a chance. It’s a good thing I did. This was the FIRST time I ever cleansed my hair and it felt soft, moisturized, conditioned, detangled, manageable, and I had poppin curls. Need I say more? This is the shit! So…I mix a whole lot of bentonite clay with Apple Cider Vinegar (great for maintaining the ph of the hair and clarifying) and olive oil in a plastic bowl and with a plastic spoon. Don’t use a metal spoon as it affects its potency. It should look like pancake batter or a bit more liquidy. I like to spray my hair with water so that it’s damp, I find it helps with detangling. Some people just apply it while dry. I do it in about 6 sections, 3 on each side and twist each section after. i wear a plastic cap for about 15 minutes to retain moisture. I hop in the shower, rinse it out, and i’m set. i could end there, but I often condition with Yes to Carrots (my holy grail from day 1) to make sure it’s all out and add extra moisture. SOMETIMES, I’ll also use the CJ banana and hibiscus deep conditioner.
4. Products with aloe vera juice as a top ingredient: While I may be allergic to aloe very juice on its own, this isn’t the case with products with aloe very juice. My hair pretty much requires it in order to stay soft, supple, and moisturized. My products of choice are: Oyin Hair Dew, Curl Junkie Smoothing Lotion, and Kinky Curly Knot Today.
5. henna: So I’ve done henna twice now. I’ll refer you to curlynikki.com for her regimen on hennaing. I use Henna Maiden’s Henna and Indigo mix to maintain a black color. Though drying at first, I do notice an intensified curl pattern and a bit more shine. Most importantly, it’s the best way for me to strengthen my hair as various protein treatments have taken me weeks to undo the dry and brittle feeling. So for strength I like henna or light protein treatments like Curl Junkie’s Repair Me.
There you have it peeps. The “products” I have found that work for my hair. If you really notice, they are all pretty natural and simple. Once I learned to simplify my routine, my hair became healthier and grew longer. I don’t have much urge to try new products now. My holy grails are also cheap and last a while. Hopefully this gave you some clues as to what might work for your hair. The cool part is that it may come either from my Does or Does not work list or neither at all. That’s because everyone’s hair is different! Celebrate it!