The first steps in your natural hair journey can be exciting, scary, joyful, nerve-racking, frustrating or all of the above… Yeah, sorry to tell you, but you can feel that bipolar… There are a lot of reasons for it and one of them is having to find natural hair care products to feature in your hair routine among the tons of curly hair brands and products out there. It can be overwhelming, especially because you want them to nurture and elevate your hair back to health and also because you want kickass curl definition, shine or hold that will last you days, let’s be honest.
Ten years ago that would be a Mission Impossible because this market segment hadn’t been explored yet and products for naturally curly hair were poorly formulated or very scarce when good. Today… Well, things can also be seen the same way because of the huge number of brands and products out there – some great, others not so great and others frankly bad.
Yes, you can quickly become a product junkie while going on this treasure hunt and while that can be fun there are a few things you should be aware of when choosing your hair products. I’m sure you don’t wanna be trying out products that damage your hair, aren’t worth your time or money or, at the very least, you wanna minimise the number of times this happens, right?!
If you’re with me on this one, keep reading and take the next tips into account on your next shopping spree.
#1| Get Familiar With Your Hair
Before you can go out buying hair products you need to have some sort knowledge of what your hair needs. This means you’re not buying the first thing that appeals to you based on scent, product constistency, friend recommendation, pretty bottle or whatever catches your attention.
You should always know your hair’s current hair health and buy products according to those needs. Don’t know how to get familiar with your hair? You can read this post, it will help you.
#2| Get Familiar With Hair Brands
Now that you’re in the natural hair community it’s important you get to know the hair brands everyone talks about – good and bad. As said before, the number of companies jumping on the natural hair bandwagon is increasing every year and by getting familiar with them you will also get familiar with the types of ingredients they use, how they use them (products formulation) and the price-quality-quantity relationship.
This will definitely help you save time and money on your product hunt. Here are few British natural hair care brands you should keep your eyes on and a list of my favourite brands (as well as tools and accessories).
#3| Product Purpose
Not all hair products are the same, you have shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, leave-ins and more and each one has a purpose (Hey, I know you know this, I’m just building up to make a point, bare with me 😉 ). However, though a shampoo’s purpose it to clean your hair by removing product residue, sweat, dirt and oil they can address different hair conditions.
For instance, a moisturising shampoo will clean your hair while at the same time use specific ingredients in its formula to moisturise your naturally dry hair. Another shampoo can have strengthening properties which can be ideal for hair that has been exposed to the sun or is high porosity. Other hair products can address other hair conditions such as dandruff, hair frizz, allergies, dyed/bleached hair…
Make sure you know what your hair needs and choose your products according to that never forgetting to establish a good moisture-protein balance (refer back to point number one and read the linked post).
#4| Know Your Ingredients
This one may suck because there are tons, literally TONS of ingredients out there, however, getting familiar with some of the most commonly used in hair products will help you decide what products to buy and which ones to stay away from.
It’s always a good idea to stay away from products with ingredients that take moisture from curly hair like drying sulphates or mineral oil. On the other hand, you can also be allergic to a specific ingredient and you’ll want to know the product you’re buying doesn’t have that ingredient or one derived from it like aloe vera or coconut oil (yeah, believe or not some people are allergic to these ingredients, which is tough given their frequent presence in hair product formulas).
If you’re allergic to coconut oil you can read this post and download a free pdf list of coconut-derived ingredients you’ll want to avoid.
Lastly, if you get all confused about the natural vs synthetic ingredients debate and need some clarity you can read this post.
#5| Get What You’re Paying For
This last tip builds on the previous one. If you’re familiar with product ingredients you won’t be fooled by good marketing and what is written on the label of a beautiful package. I can’t tell you a number of times I picked up a product on a shelf promising to do something or highlighting the properties of an ingredient as the main ingredient only to check the back of the label and confirm empty or misleading promises in the ingredients list.
When you know your ingredients you know what you’re paying for and you’re not throwing money away on bad products. Your hair may not love the product formulation (this is where the trial and error comes in) but at least you know that the ingredients in them are good and not harmful to your hair or a useless waste of your money.
In general, a well-formulated product will be based on natural or naturally derived ingredients and will cost anything between £10 and £20, or above. Regardless of this, always make sure you read the ingredients list.
I hope these tips will help your product purchase process and save you some time and money. But, as you can see you have some homework to do (getting familiar with your hair needs and product ingredients), but don’t worry trying to hurry things this is a process and you’ll get more proficient the more you practice.