Whether you're natural, transitioning, or you just big-chopped, there are several natural hair care best kept secrets that are important to keep in mind while shopping.
The bare minimum
The only true pitfall that I've discovered since being natural for the last two years is the desire to splurge on expensive hair products. At times it's necessary, at other times, it's not. And what's worse is that you don't even know if the product will meet your expectations or completely fall flat. Each trial run of a new product is a gamble, and when you do the math, it's best to just KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
Here's a bare minimum list of products that you should always keep on hand as a natural:
1. Oil (plus an optional moisture enhancer)
My favorite is olive oil. Others enjoy using coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, castor oil, etc. Many naturals make their own combination of several types. Instead of using water as the only moisturizer before applying oil, there's also the option to use a product like aloe vera juice.
2. Leave-in conditioner
These products can easily be mistaken with styling products. Make sure you pay close attention to the label rather than the benefits like "repairs breakage" and "hair growth". Those things are wonderful. However, a styling product won't have the long-lasting, moisturizing effect of a leave-in. I always get distracted by the catch phrases, so don't let them distract you. Shop for the words "leave-in conditioner".
3. Styling product (optional)
This is where I've wasted the most money. I've bought so many styling products that are just never quite the right fit for my hair. Ideally, these are the products you can have the most fun with. Maybe you're looking for something that makes your tresses as soft as a feather. Or maybe you're styling your hair in such a way that you need something that melts any knots and defines your curls. My current favorite is Lotta Body Hair Milk. Whatever you desire for this optional product, you can always find with a little trial and error. DISCLAIMER: Try one at a time. You don't need more than one styling product if you're sticking to the bare bones.
4. Deep conditioner/co-wash
I love doubling my deep conditioner as a co-wash. Because of the thickness of my hair, I choose quantity over quality. My favorite is Aussie Moist Conditioner. Why? It comes in a 29.2 fl oz bottle with a convenient dispenser nozzle. It's cheap, long-lasting, and leaves my kinks and coils happily moisturized. On a budget, I'd suggest a two-in-one like I use. If you're open to splurging, maybe you use a cheaper product for co-washing and a more expensive product for deep conditioning. It all depends on your preference, but it never hurts to weigh your options.
This is where every woman can save. We all use our conditioner 2-3 times more often than shampoo. I suggest you buy a great one that's sulfate free. My favorite shampoos are by Shea Moisture.
6. Gel (optional depending on how you style your hair)
I thought the eco styler gel craze was overrated. Turns out, it's not. If you don't have some already, you should reconsider. From taming fly always to defining curls, it's a natural's dream come true. The only downside is that gels are drying, so make sure that you properly moisturize your hair before applying.
Watch to see how I use my bare minimum, essential hair products to go from havana twists to a two strand twist out.
What's your list?
Besides these items, there's not much else that you need. Anything else is purely optional. The bare minimum list can be used to prevent you from buying multiple styling or leave-in conditioners at once. While I'm a complete advocate of breaking routine and trying new products, it's best to do this only after you've found a reliable product that works and most importantly, the product container is nearly empty. I like to think of it like this: Don't replenish before it's finished.
I hope this helps you on your natural hair journey. Let me know in the comments what specific products make up your bare minimum hair care list. Until next time, stay beYOUtiful, keep life sweet, and never stop feeding your soul. -xo
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