My hair care regimen has developed over time through trial and error with many different products. When I found a regimen that worked for me, I was consistent with it in order to achieve the best results for my hair. Much of my natural hair journey has been spent researching and relearning my hair after many years of relaxing and straightening my hair. I needed to understand how to properly care for my hair so I could achieve not just longer, fuller hair, but healthier hair. I couldn’t become solely interested in growing long hair that I neglected the health of my hair. There is no use in having hair that is dry with split ends all for the sake of saying you’ve achieved a certain length milestone in your natural hair journey. Think about it as quality over quantity. Or in this instance, health over length.
Product Selection Tips
When it comes to finding your favorite products, you have to experiment with products that contain different ingredients to see what your hair responds best to and helps you retain moisture. My hair loves aloe vera juice, coconut oil, and shea butter. Conversely, my hair does not respond well to sulfates. Some natural’s can use products with sulfates, but I find they dry my hair out. I also avoid products that contain isopropyl alcohol for the same reason. When it comes to product selection, you have to allow products a chance to work. I try not to use a product once and then write it off as “bad” just because I did not achieve the results I wanted. I try using the product at least once more; paying close attention to the directions. If the product still does not produce the desired results, then into the trash it goes!
Your product selection should also include reading the product claims and key ingredients highlighted on the front of the package. If the product boasts about how you will achieve a certain result based off a key ingredient, such as argan oil, then review the ingredient list looking specifically at the first 5 ingredients. The first 5 ingredients in the product make up about 90% of what is in that product. The remaining ingredients can comprise as little as 1% of the product make up. So if a product lists argan oil as one of the last ingredients, chances are the product contains very little argan oil; therefore your hair is not truly reaping the benefits from that ingredient.
Next, “listen” to your hair. If your hair is prone to dryness, make sure you are using products that list water as the first ingredient or simply mist your hair with a spray bottle that contains only water. A common misconception is that water dries the hair out when actually the opposite is true. Our hair needs frequent hydration to be healthy. Our hair also requires a balance of protein as well. Protein needs will vary. If you color or use heat frequently, you are breaking down the protein bonds in your hair and will need to use a protein deep conditioner on a regular basis to restore and then maintain the strength of your hair. Even if you do not color or heat, you hair will still suffer from some form of damage in the form of mechanical damage, which is likened to “wear and tear” on the hair. Mechanical damage comes from brushing, combing, washing, and styling your hair. To repair mechanical damage, you will need to occasionally incorporate a protein deep conditioner into your regimen. If your hair feels weak and “mushy,” then you can definitely benefit from a protein deep conditioner.
Another tip is to keep a hair journal. Make note of what products worked and which ones did not work. Do you see a pattern in the ingredients your hair responds favorably or unfavorably to? How did you apply the product? Did you apply it to wet or dry hair? Did you use the product in combination with another product? Your hair journal can prevent you from being a product junkie. You start to see patterns and that information will help drive your buying decisions.
My last product selection tip is to follow blogs and YouTube channels for product reviews. I subscribe to many different blogs and channels from women who have a variety of curl patterns and textures. However, ultimately I decide which products to use. There have been instances were my favorite content creator disliked a product, but it turned out to be a Holy Grail for me.
I cleanse my hair very 2 weeks. I alternate between shampooing and co-washing. I see what my hair needs when it’s time to wash it. I deep condition each wash day for 1 hour with heat. I moisturize my hair 3 times a week and apply products using the LOC method (applying a leave-in, oil, and sealing all that goodness in with a cream). At least every other night, I spritz my ends with a light moisturizing spray mist. This has been key for me in retaining length. Your ends are the oldest part of your hair and the most prone to breakage. Depending on the length of your hair, your ends could be several years old. For my hair length, I consider the last 4 inches of my hair as the ends. My hair is about 20 inches long at its longest point.
My Staple Products
1) Shampoo – Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa Shampoo. This shampoo provides a deep cleanse without leaving my hair stripped
2) Co-Wash – Eden Bodyworks Coconut Co-wash. This product cleanses my hair, smells great, provides slip to help with detangling, defines my curls, and is inexpensive (16 oz. for $8.99).
3) Deep conditioner – Each wash day I deep condition. Do NOT skip deep conditioning. Your hair will thank you for it! I typically use the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey and Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque or the Shea Moisture 10-in-1 Superfruit Complex Renewal Hair Masque as my moisturizing deep conditioners. After using these products, I feel like I have new hair! My curls are revived, shiny, and moisturized. If my hair needs protein, I will use the Shea Moisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Masque. After using the product there is a noticeable reduction in the number of little hairs around my sink that have broken off J
4) Leave-in – Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen Grow and Restore Leave-in. I just….I love this stuff and can’t stop raving about it! Maximum curl popage (yep, that’s a made up word!), slip, and moisture for days. And did I mention you get 160z of product for $10.99?!
5) Oil – Coconut and olive oils. These are great lightweight oils. I make sure I purchase organic, virgin un-refined
6) Cream moisturizer – Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. See…I tried to venture off and try other moisturizes. And I did come across some other great moisturizers, but this is my all-time favorite that I revisited earlier this year after about a 1 year hiatus. Soft, moisturized, tropical paradise smelling curls is what I get after using this product. It acts as a good styler, too!
7) Edge Control – Curls Passion Fruit Control Paste. Two words: edges laid! This product holds all day, doesn’t flake or dry the hair out and smells sweet.
8) Gel – Olive Oil Eco Styler gel. If I want to do a wash-n-go, I use this. If I want a defined twist out or braid out, I use this. If I need a slick bun, I use this! This is a great styler that works for many styles and doesn’t contain alcohol, so no dry hair here!
9) Refresher Spray – Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Refresher Spray. This is a lightweight, yet effective product to add a little extra moisture to your hair.
Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Leave-in conditioner, As I Am Coconut Co-Wash, Eden Body Works Coconut Soufflé, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, and the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo.
Finding the right products for your hair takes time, but is well worth the effort to help to you achieve the healthy hair you desire. Experiment with different products. Read product ingredients to validate products claims. Pay attention to your hair’s needs and keep track of what you hair likes and does not like. Use the power of the internet to find product reviews before you purchase a product so you can make more informed decisions. I know most want length, but if you are consistent and give your hair what it needs, it will be healthy and you will retain length over time.
What are some of your favorite products? Or are you still searching for your Holy Grail products?