When it comes to styling our curly tresses, very few things infuriate us more than mixing two hair products and being ‘rewarded’ with snowflakes all over the hair. It’s one of those things most if not all curly girls have experienced at least once in their natural hair journeys whether they’re newbies or experienced naturalistas. However, if you rather avoid the hair flaking altogether or if it keeps happening to you there are a few tips you can try to avoid that curly hair look.
I don’t know about you but before becoming a curly girl hair flaking due to product mixing never happened to me, but then again my hair product portfolio basically consisted of a sulphate shampoo and a conditioner (Oh, the abuse on my hair!). I’m guessing a similar thing happened to most of us since the straight hair look was the norm.
However, there is a major shift on this front once we decide to let our natural hair grow and if there’s one thing a curly girl doesn’t have a few of is hair products. In fact, some have entire bookshelves full of hair products where books should be and there is no shaming on my part here, a girl gotta keep things tidy and organised right?! My husband certainly thinks I have a lot of hair products, but Iike to think I have options. No, honestly I only have a few hair products and besides you know guys… they always think we have too many clothes, shoes, makeup… you know. 😉
But put all that aside and what we’d really like is to be able to use our hair products (however many we have) without fear of them flaking on our hair. So here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years.
#1| Too Many or Too Much Product
Too often we think we need the detangler, the leave-in, the smoothie and the gel to achieve a certain look but all that does is overload the hair with products. You don’t need all of this, it’s possible to achieve the same thing with just two products.
Similarly, many of us start our journeys being a bit heavy-handed when it comes to applying hair products except, maybe, for fine hair ladies who know best and like to avoid flat hair look. Yes, there is such a thing as using too much product even if you’re just using 2 products. The hair can get sticky, oily heavy and with flakes all over. Our hair can’t possibly that much product in, it’s just gonna sit on the hair strand and create that ‘white magic’ we’d all like to avoid.
Stick to one or two styling products – a base product to moisturise your hair and something that is going to set your hair depending on what hairstyle and look you want to achieve. It can be a gel, a foam, a gelly, a custard, a setting lotion… something with hold.
If you’re still struggling to figure out what product goes well with what to achieve your desired look use a hair journal and take note of your ‘experiments’. This way you don’t have to rely on memory and you’ll be able to replicate your favourite looks. A journal like the Ultimate One-Year Natural Hair Journal will help do that.
#2| Mixing Different Product Brands
It’s in our nature to mix and try products from different brands. We do this because we don’t always like how a product line from a company works on our hair (or little things like the scent) but also because we like to experiment and sometimes mixing products from different brands give us the exact look we’re looking for.
However, because of their formulations, some products from different brands (not all) just don’t go well together. They don’t blend into each other and instead form a white ‘unabsorbable’ cream that sits and dries to become flaking on your hair.
I’ve found that if products have a complex or long ingredient list with a considerable amount of synthetic ingredients they tend to not go well together. I’ve learned that Cantu Curl Activator Cream, for instance, doesn’t play well with other brands and if you like to layer too many products than you’re in for a ‘treat’.
Tip. To avoid this type of flaking try a little trick I learned it from a hairstylist which hasn’t failed me so far. If you have new products to try but you wanna avoid the ‘snowflake effect’ just mix those products on the back of your hand. If they blend well and you notice they’re being absorbed into your skin with no trace then you got a good product combo. If this doesn’t happen and the product mix quickly turns into a white cream difficult to get absorbed into the skin and/or tacky and gummy then the products are very likely to flake when used together.
#3| Daily Moisturising
Moisturising the hair is a daily practice for many curlies as they believe that’s the only way to keep their hair moisturised. It often entails spritzing the hair with water and applying some sort of moisturiser. However, this daily practice creates product buildup which eventually may create flaking.
So now you ask me, how do I then keep my hair moisturised? Well, the truth is you don’t need to do this daily. I find that people do this because they don’t know how to identify dry hair, they’re using products that don’t foster hair moisture and/or they have poor hair care practices.
Here’s some reading on why you’re still struggling with dry curly hair, how you can start to know when your hair is dry and what you must do for healthy hair.
Buildup is a known enemy of hair moisture. It happens because hair products have ingredients in them that deposit on the hair over a period of time. This is the case of conditioning ingredients such as polyquaterniums (eg. Polyquaternium-10 or -11) which create a film around the hair shaft to make it soft, smooth, enhance shine and facilitate detangling.
Vegetable oils, hair butter and water minerals will also create buildup on the hair over time. What this basically means is that there is all this gunk sitting on the hair that is topped with more styling products and it’s no wonder that flaking happens.
To fix this problem, it’s important to use a sulphate free shampoo to properly clean the hair of product residue and keep buildup at bay. However, you will also need to include a clarifying shampoo on your hair routine (1/wk or 1/ every 6 wks) because of hard water minerals and to create a clean slate for the hair.
Simple solution, right!?
#5| Low Porosity Hair
If you have low porosity hair you probably already know that it doesn’t take up products in quite the same way high porosity hair does. Contrary to high porosity hair, low porosity hair has it’s cuticle layers tightly closed and resists water intake which means that products can just sit on the hair shaft.
Therefore, if you’re using too many products or too much of them, if you have buildup and/or if you moisturise daily your hair daily you can easily fall victim to the snowflake effect. So read up on my previous tips and make sure you avoid all the common mistakes.
For tips on how to improve hair moisture read How To Improve Hair Porosity.
How often does hair flaking happen to you &
What is your tip to avoid it?
When I look back at how I used to treat my hair, I cringe. Frying it with flat irons, using curling irons every single day, never deep conditioning it and using the cheapest hair products I could find was my MO for achieving ahead of lackluster hair.
I didn’t know what I was doing and didn’t really care to research good hair care either. When my hair started breaking and half of it was inches shorter than the rest, I knew I needed to make a change.
Hi James, I can relate to what you’re saying. I also cringe when I look back. Hope your hair is in much better shape now. 🙂
Thanks for sharing tips for low porosity hair. Your low porosity hair guide is so good. Now, I will avoid flaking on my curly hair. Please, Keep writing article such an article.
Thank you Ava. 🙂