Natural Hair and Products
One of the main reasons that many of us didn’t reach our natural hair goal is that we follow a hair-care regimen that lacks the proper hair products. Hair products are for hair-care maintenance. They improve the feel, look, and manageability of your hair. It is fundamental to have the right products for those who are building or maintaining a healthy hair-care regimen.
Hair Product Selection
For healthy hair-care, everything starts from the scalp. Shampoos are designed to lift and remove sebum and product build-up from the scalp and hair. Women with natural hair tend to shy away from shampooing because of its drying effects.
Frequent cleansing improves the hair’s moisture. When the hair cuticle is cleansed and free of product build-up, the moisture will penetrate the hair’s cuticle. Shampoos that contain sulfates strip the natural oils from the scalp. These shampoos are drying and damaging to natural hair. But we can achieve proper cleansing with gentle formulas. Free of sulfates.
So, stay away from sulfate shampoos.
This will solve your shampoo shyness! But keep in mind natural hair should be washed once per week with a sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo.
- Camile Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse
- Alikay Naturals Moisturizing Black Soap Shampoo
- TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo
Hair products can build-up on the hair shaft even when using regular shampoo. It worsens when using heavy oils, pomades, gels, and products that contain silicones. A clarifying shampoo is formulated to remove heavy products build-up giving the hair a squeaky-clean effect.
Products build-up is problematic!
Stop it before it gets out of control. When our hair is not in a good mood or not responding to the styling products. Often, we just need a simple deep cleansing. I recommend applying a clarifying shampoo once a month for maintenance and as needed. It is important to follow-up, with a moisturizing conditioner and or a deep conditioning mask to bring back the lost moisture. Clarifying shampoo is perfect before and after swimming.
Signs of Product Build-Up
- The shampoo is not lathering well
- Dry and brittle hair
- Hair feels flat and limp
- Styling products not responding
- Shedding and breakage
- Curls Pure Clarifying Shampoo
- As I AM Curl Clarity Shampoo
- DevaCurl Buildup Buster Micellar Water Cleansing Serum
- Kinky-Curly Come Clean Moisturizing Shampoo
Co-wash cleanser is a lightweight conditioner containing a gentle cleansing ingredient. Co-wash is a shampoo-less method. Sometimes referred to as co-washing. This is a great way to cleanse your hair without stripping the natural oils from your scalp and hair. Co-wash cleanses are a good alternative for people with a sensitive scalp. Perfect for people who use fewer styling products (less build-up) or workouts regularly.
- As I AM Coconut Cleansing Co-Wash Conditioner
- Palmer’s Olive Oil Formula Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner
- Alikay Naturals Co-Wash Me Cleansing Conditioner
- SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Co-Wash Conditioning Cleanser
Moisturizing conditioner is the heart of your hair-care regimen! Conditioner restores moisture lost to the shampooing process. But detangling is the core of the conditioning process.
So, you need a thick, creamy, and hydrating conditioner. They give a good slip and control. Moisturizing conditioner smooths the cuticle and softens the hair, improving manageability. Buy budget-friendly moisturizing conditioners.
- Garnier Whole Blends Replenishing Conditioner
- OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner
- Tresemme Botanique Conditioner
- Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Conditioner
Hydration is the key to healthy hair! A deep conditioning mask is essential for restoring moisture. It improves elasticity, repair damage, softness, and adds shine. One of the leading causes of hair breakage is the lack of adequate moisture.
Natural hair demands for hydration for survival!
A deep conditioning mask works best to increase moisture content. Maintaining the right level of moisture is very important but can sometimes be challenging. So, a deep conditioning treatment is greatly needed! Get the thick liquid consistency.
Yes, the thicker the merrier!
When using a deep conditioning mask, use heat to make sure you are getting the best penetration of the product. Sit under a hooded dryer or a heating cap for 20-40 minutes. Apply a deep conditioning mask every one to two weeks.
Give your hair the extra moisture it needs!
- Shea Moisture High Porosity Moisture Seal Masque
- Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque
- As I AM Hydration Elation Intensive Conditioner
- Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Deep Conditioner
The leave-in conditioner is the number one, the first styling product to form a thin protective layer by preventing dryness. Creamy leave-in conditioners are best for thick natural hair
How can my hair survive without a leave-in? Natural hair is drier than other hair because of its tight coiled curls. Natural hair thrives in high-moisture environments. It is very important to keep your hair moisturized to maintain a healthy head of hair. When selecting a leave-in conditioner, always go for one that addresses the hair’s moisture.
Make it a habit moisturizing your hair several times per week.
Moisturizing Tip: Fill a spray bottle with water and add one tsp of your favourite leave-in conditioner — Spritz daily or every other day.
- Kinky-Curly Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner
- Giovanni Direct Leave-In Conditioner
- As I AM Long And Luxe Pomegranate & Passion Fruit Groyogurt Leave-In Conditioner
- The Mane Choice Soft As Can Be Revitalize & Refresh 3-in-1 Conditioner
Defining cream is an all-in-one product that defines and moisturized curls while eliminating frizz and adding shine. Defining cream adds moisture and defines the curls. It has a hold of a gel, enough to keep your curls tight. It is great for a braid-outs and twist-outs.
A good defining cream is thick, rich, and creamy. If, you are looking for definition and moisture in one bottle. Get yourself a bottle of a defining cream.
- Cantu Coconut Curling Cream
- Curls Creme Brule Whipped Curl Cream
- TGIN Twist & Define Cream
- Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Styling gel is a popular styling product for natural hair. Styling gels help to define curls, add structure, body and hold the curls in place. Most gels have alcohol in its ingredients. Alcohols are known to dry out the hair and can lead to split ends and breakage.
Some styling gels can cause flaking when mixed with other hair products. Leave-in conditioners and curling creams are sometimes the biggest culprits.
Test if the products mix well together.
Application Tip: Apply your leave-in conditioners and or styling product to your hair. Mix a penny size of your leave-in and gel in the palm of your hand. If the consistency blends evenly and smoothly, these products mix well. If the mixture becomes clumpy or forms small balls, that means these products do not mix well.
Avoid gels that contain heavy protein or harsh alcohol ingredients.
- Eco Styler Styling Gel With Olive Oil
- Fantasia IC Polisher Gel
- As I AM Curling Jelly
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
Hot oil treatment is an excellent solution for dry and dull hair. It seals the moisture. Oils form a light film on the hair cuticle to help to seal the moisture and shine. There are many high-quality oils to choose from that are enriched with nutritious properties and packed with amazing benefits.
Why buy when you can make your own at home? I am all for DIY!
Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Protein is the building block for strong and healthy hair. Our hair goes through manipulation daily from washing, styling, combing, sleeping, etc. Most hair products have a small percentage of protein. A light/moderate protein treatments are great for maintaining the strength and health of your hair.
Great for those who use heating tools. Protein-based conditioners can be used weekly. But some people are protein sensitive. And can cause more harm than good. Therefore, pay close attention to your hair after using protein-based products. If you are experiencing dry, stiff, and brittle hair, these are signs of protein sensitivity.
It is vital to distinguish between natural hair shedding and broken hair. Hair shedding is a natural process and is a good sign of a healthy scalp since broken hair is a sign of breakage.
Use a protein reconstructor for hair breakage or after a chemical treatment. Protein reconstructor treatment has a high concentration level of protein than a light protein treatment. It works to penetrate and rebuild damaged hair shafts.
Please use protein treatments with caution!
Be careful, not to overuse protein. Using too much protein may lead to protein overload.
Protein and moisture balance are important! So, follow-up with a deep conditioning treatment to restore lost moisture. I recommend using a protein reconstructor treatment every 5-8 months or as needed.
Signs you Need a Protein Treatment
- Excessive dryness
- Increase shedding breakage
- Limp and stringy or sticky hair
- Lost/low of elasticity — if you try to stretch your hair while wet or dry and it doesn’t snapback
- Hair that has been colour-treated
Signs of Protein Overload
- Hair becomes dry than normal
- Your hair feels like straw
- Feel stiff
- Experiencing breakage
- Excessive shedding and tangles
Tips on How to Recover from a Protein Overload
- Concentrate on moisture and more moisture
- Do not use any products that contain any proteins
- Use a clarifying shampoo
- Deep condition and leave-in conditioner
- Low manipulation style
- Have patience — recovery can take up to three to five months
Moderate Protein Treatments
- ApHogee Intense Two Minutes Keratin Reconstructor
- Nexxus Kerahix Restorative Strengthening Conditioner
Intense Protein Treatments for Damaged Hair
- ApHogee Two-Step Treatment Protein for Damaged Hair
- Nexxus Emergencee Treatment for Damaged Hair
A heat protectant is used to slow heat transfer into the hair fibre from damage. Heat protectants come in a range of forms including sprays, lotions, creams, and serums. Spray and serums are more suitable and effective for natural hair. I am not a big fan of using heat. But I use it from times. Whenever you do, please apply a quality heat protectant!
- Aveda Brilliant Damage Control
- Mielle Organics Mongongo Oil Thermal & Heat Protectant Spray
- Cantu Shea Butter Thermal Shield Heat Protectant
- Quidad Mongongo Oil Multi-Use Curl Treatment
How to Read Your Hair Product Ingredients?
Shopping for hair products can be fun. When you know what to buy. The products are gazing at you, with their fancy eyes. Yet you are confused about what to buy.
You are not alone!
A lot of us experience this. How many times have you picked up a product, turn the bottle to the back, and read the ingredients list? Or do you only read the front of the bottle?
Okay, sounds familiar, right?
So, what is important to you? Finding the right product, the holy grail? Or what ingredient in the bottle?
Yes, very much so. What you put in your hair is what’s important. Not only for your hair but for your health. The scalp takes in everything into your body. Hair products include many ingredients that can be intimidating. Learning how to read the product ingredients list is a great skill! It will save you money, time, and setbacks on your healthy hair journey.
The ingredient is the key! They have their specific job and are listed in order of how many in the bottle.
On that note. Let’s go through the common ingredients in your hair products.
Water is the first ingredient on the ingredient list and is by far the best moisturizing ingredient in natural hair products! Our hair products are made up of 60% – 80% of water. Good hair products will always contain water as the first ingredient! Hydration is the main component of water. Water also allows the product to spread throughout the hair. Water is the master of ingredients!
Sulfates are harsh detergents used in laundry detergents, hand soaps, and yes shampoos. They are used for lifting dirt and product residues from the hair and scalp. Sulfate-based hair product ingredients are drying on natural hair. They strip the hair, removing natural oils and moisture. There are many moisturizing sulfate-free shampoos to choose from that will allow you to cleanse your hair without drying.
Look for ingredients ending in sulfate, sulfonate, sulfosuccinate and isethionate.
Common Sulfates Found in Shampoos
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Lauryl (SLS)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate
Silicones are great for smoothing the hair strands and improving manageability. They act as a lubricant and make the product spread through the hair evenly, giving the hair a silky and polished look. But silicones have it’s good, and it’s bad.
Non-soluble silicones cause build-up. They seal the hair shaft, blocking the moisture from entering and leaving the hair strands. These silicones make the hair limp and dull, which can lead to dryness and breakage.
Although these silicones are great for heat-styling, they protect the hair shaft from heat damage. Non-soluble silicones cannot be removed with water or regular shampoo. Use a clarifying shampoo to remove that annoying stubborn build-up.
Look for non-soluble silicones ending with cone, col, conol or xane.
Examples of Non-Soluble Silicones
- Phenyl Trimethicone
- Stearyl Dimethicone
Water-soluble silicones are lightweight. These silicones have a little build-up.
And are easier to wash out with a mild shampoo. Lightweight silicones allow moisture to penetrate the hair shaft which is safer for natural hair.
Examples of Water-Soluble Silicones
- Dimethicone Copolyol
- Cetearyl Methicone
- Cetyl Dimethicone
- Any silicone with an abbreviation with PEG or PPG in front
Parabens are a class of preservatives used in hair and skin products to stop fungus and bacteria growth. Preservatives are used to prolong shelf life. Parabens are toxic and pose many health risks.
Preservatives to Avoid
- Diazolidinyl Urea
- DMDM Hydration
- Imidazolidinyl Urea
Alcohols give shampoos, conditioners and styling products a thick and creamy consistency. Alcohols will strip away the natural oil from the scalp, leaving the hair dry and brittle. Which leads to hair breakage.
Alcohols to Avoid
Alcohols are not created equal. Fatty alcohols are good alcohols. Fatty alcohols are emollients and are from natural sources.
Proteins are used to strengthen and rebuild the hair cuticle. Most hair products contain some type of protein but some contain more rich amounts of protein than others. Hydrolyzed protein is more aggressive because they are small and concentrated. However, hair needs an equal balance of protein and moisture.
Examples of Proteins
- Hydrolyzed Protein
- Amino Acid
- Soy Protein
- Wheat Protein
Humectants are used to increase the moisture content to the hair. These moisturizing agents that attract moisture from the surrounding air and bring it to the hair. Humectants are often found in conditioners and moisturizers. Products that have a high percentage of humectants can leave the hair sticky if applied heavily.
- Sodium Lactate
- Propylene Glycol
- Aloe vera
Occlusive agents are ingredients that increase moisture levels in the hair. These agents have oil like bases giving the hair a greasy feel. Occlusive agents can leave a heavy film on the hair shaft, blocking moisture from entering, which can lead to dry and brittle hair. A clarifying shampoo is needed to remove the silicone.
Common Occlusive Agents
- Mineral Oils
Emollients are lubricating ingredients (water or oil-based) used to make the hair smooth and flexible by building a barrier that stops the moisture from evaporating. Emollients improve hair manageability. Water-based emollients, on the other hand, do not leave a greasy residue. Oil-based emollients are heavier and leave a slightly greasy feel on the hair.
- Plant Oils – jojoba, coconut, sesame
- Natural Butters – mango, shea, avocado
- Fatty Acids – linoleic, oleic, stearic, lauric,
- Fatty Alcohols – cetyl, cetyle, ceramides, stearyl
Emulsifiers are used to thicken and stabilize hair products (that contain oil and water) from separating into each layer.
- PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Glyceryl Stearate
Phthalates are used as plasticizers. They are used in food and beverage containers to soften them. Phthalates are used as solvents and fragrance in many hair products. Research has shown that phthalates interfere with male and female reproductive systems.
Let’s inspect the many products to build or to maintain a healthy hair regimen.
Shopping for hair products that are made for natural hair can sometimes be a struggle. I am certain many of us have encountered this frustration along our natural hair journey.
Who remembered walking down the hair aisle hoping to find the perfect product for your hair?
Walking down the hair aisle seeing the term “multicultural” can be disappointing. I question myself if these products are suitable for my natural hair. Although these terms are great for identifying one’s origin. But when shopping for hair products, many of us natural-haired women have found these terms to be misleading and discontent. These terms cause division among those who have textured hair (kinky, curly, wavy, etc.)
Finding the right product suitable for your natural hair is a bigger struggle itself! Hair has a mind of its own. Trying different products (the process of elimination) can be frustrating. It is often time-consuming, discouraging, and definitely expensive.
I believe if you know your ingredients will lessen the frustration and setbacks. In many words, how are you going to find your “holy grail” products if you are not willing to try different products?
Finding the perfect product that your hair loves is what we are searching for! So, the process of elimination is necessary.
To find the perfect hair product, we have to learn through trials and errors!
But keep in mind. There is no hair product that works well for everyone. There is no guarantee that any hair product will meet the expectations and claims shown on the bottle.
Many have often asked where I buy my natural hair products. The good news many companies/brands specializing in natural hair care. I recommend you Google search for “beauty stores”, “hair stores” in my area.
Do your product homework!
Do not waste your precious time and money. Research on the products you are interested in. I want to buy a deep conditioner and leave-in conditioner. So, I research online using strong keywords.
Example: Top ten deep conditioning mask for natural hair, best leave-in conditioner for natural hair, etc.
Places to Buy Hair Products Online
Natural Hair Brands
- Camile Rose Naturals
- Shea Moisture
- Kinky Curly
- Mielle Organics
- Karen’s Body Beautiful
- Tree Naturals
- Alikay Naturals
- Do your research on the product — read the customer reviews
- Avoid products that have been tested on animals
- Keep an eye out for products on sale — buy two or more
- Review ingredient list
- Read the store or website reviews
As we know, preservatives are ingredients that extend the shelf life of hair products. The open-jar symbol represents how long the product is good for once it’s opened.
Many have debated whether the product is good past the expiry date. I have very sensitive skin, so I know better not to take any chances using expired products. Second, some products might be expired and look and smell fine. But they might have grown bacteria, fungus, etc.
I can only recommend that you follow the expiry date, listed on the back of the bottle. The open symbol determines its shelf life after opening; “M” stands for the month. Examples: 6 M, 12 M, and 24 M.
Check your cabinets for expired products!
How to Apply Your Hair Products?
How you apply your product can make a big difference in how your hair looks and feel. The key is the product distribution. It is important that all of your hair is coated with the product. Take your time to smooth the products into your hair strands.
- Section your hair in four
- Apply your products in small sections
- Apply a penny size per section
- Rub the product on your palm
- Run the product through your hair — use a wide-tooth comb for more distribution
- Rake and scrunch — leave-in conditioners and gels
- Massage the shampoo into your hair and scalp
- Apply your leave-in conditioner on soaking wet hair
Assess the product and its effect on your hair. Pay close attention to the way your hair feels during and after application.
Do not touch your hair after applying your styling products. Let your hair dry in peace!
Quality healthy hair products combined with proper hair techniques will make a huge difference in a healthy hair journey. Product selection is very important to maintain a healthy hair-care regimen! Always exercise caution when trying new products. Also, pay close attention to your hair after using new products.
Do your own research! Make it a practice of reading customer reviews before making a purchase. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many magazine ads, how fancy the bottles are and how famous the product brand is. What counts are the ingredients in the bottle and how your hair responds to the product.
Today, many healthy hair products on the market for natural hair. It is a blessing, how far we have come! It is an encouraging feeling walking down the hair aisle or shopping online with confident!
Listen to Your Hair!
What are your favourite natural hair products? Need help with selecting your hair products? Leave your comments below.