One of the most asked questions of those who are natural, “What products do you use on your hair?”
Let me first say that a product is not the answer, but rather a means to an end. What I mean is if you have tightly coiled hair, there is no product that will give you soft ringlets. Your hair is just your hair. No product can be your everything, especially since most naturals have multiple textures. Also depending on what hairstyle you are trying to achieve you will need different products to achieve different looks.
Here is a list of popular products, I am not endorsing products here although I have used many of them and they work well.
1. Cleanse: Popular shampoos include Herbal Essences, Tresseme Naturals, Garnier Fructis or value brands like VO5 and Suave Naturals. There are specialty lines from Alaffia, Jane Carter Solution, Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curls. There are natural products like African Black Soap, Apple Cider Vinegar or Baking Soda. Lastly, there is also the no-poo or co-wash method in which conditioners are use to cleanse in place of shampoo. Try a few out and use what you think is best for your hair. When I purchase shampoo I choose one that does not contain sulfates (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate). These are harsh chemicals known as surfactants that strip the hair or irritate the scalp. Although shampoos that contain these ingredients also contain other ingredients to help combat these problems. Remember shampoo is for the scalp and should be applied to your scalp using your fingertips not just slopped in your hair. As the condition of your scalp changes (dry, itchy, oily, etc) you should adjust your shampoo accordingly.
2. Condition: Popular conditioners include Herbal Essences, Tresseme Naturals, Crème of Nature or value brands like VO5 and Suave Naturals. There are specialty lines from Alaffia, Jane Carter Solution, Kinky Curly, Miss Jessie’s or Curls. There are natural products like eggs, tea, henna, mayonnaise, coconut milk and yogurt. Once again try a product to figure what is best for your hair. A good conditioner should soften, help moisturize and provide slip for detangling. While shampoo is for the scalp, conditioner is for the hair. Be mindful in applying conditioner directly to the scalp as many contain silicones or other ingredients that can cause buildup on the scalp.
3. Water: This is the best product you can ever use and it’s FREE! How awesome is that? I know years of relaxers and straight styles have lead you to believe that water is your enemy but nothing could be further than the truth. Water is the greatest moisturizer available.
4. Oil: Olive, Grapeseed, Coconut, Almond, Jojoba, Safflower, Moroccan (Argan), Shea. Okay so Shea is actually butter, but it serves the same purpose. Most, if not all of these, products can be found on the shelves of your local super markets. Oils are used to seal in moisture, soften the hair shaft, add shine, and combat scalp dryness.
5. Stylers: This is the front-line of the product war. Products are used to combat frizziness, moisturize, add volume, slick back, provide hold, define curls or reduce shrinkage. Specialty products include Kinky Curly Curling Custard, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic, Curl Gel-les’c, Jane Carter Solution Curl Cream, and Darcy’s Botanicals Curly Jelly. Other products such as Cantu Shea Butter, Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Parnevu Leave-In Conditioner, Sta Sof Fro Curl Activator, IC Fantasia Gel and Eco Styler Gel can be found at your local stores. Natural products include flaxseed gel, vegetable glycerin, shea butter, and aloe vera gel. Depending on your style you can find many of these products helpful. When purchasing specialty products for the first time choose the sample or smallest size that way if you do not like it you are not stuck with a jar full of product. If you do have left over unliked product opt to swap products with another natural.
This is a basic overview on products for natural hair. For a more in depth info and recommendations check out my product reviews.