The post below was featured in the October Curlkit
In the Natural Hair World there are so many products out there that claim to be the next miracle for our hair. Beautifully packaged bottles and jars line the shelves of every drugstore and discount store claiming to be the answer to all our prayers for the perfectly moisturized bouncy curls that we so crave. Our emails and social media accounts are bombarded with advertisements for even more products that are promising us their products can do what no other product can. As if that is not enough to confuse you bloggers and vloggers (myself included) then post about things you should and should not put in your hair. So how do you sort fact from fiction? How do you know what will harm your hair and what will make if flourish? What products are truly worth your hard earned money? After all didn’t we use any and everything on our relaxed hair without ever checking a label for ingredients? So why are ingredients so important now? Before you can understand how ingredients impact hair you first have to understand the importance of water for natural hair.
For most people when they were relaxed they associated moisture with oil. If your hair was dry then you needed to add some type of oil, grease or oily hair lotion to your tresses. We all remember the days of using so much oil sheen it looked like we had a fog machine in our bathroom. In our relaxed days water was public enemy number one. We would go to any lengths to keep it away from our hair. Now that we are natural water is our new BFF. Why the sudden change in attitude? Lean in and read carefully. Water equals moisture. Natural hair needs moisture more than anything else. So the key to healthy natural hair is to maintain moisture in your hair. This is where it gets tricky because you need products that will give your hair moisture and help to retain the moisture.
The Bad Guys
- Sulfates- Harsh detergents used in many shampoos and cleansers that strip the hair and can leave it dry and brittle.
- Petroleum- Cannot be absorbed by hair. Causes build up on hair and prevent moisture from getting into the hair. Sulfates are needed to remove it.
- Parabens- A preservative in many cosmetics and hair products that has been linked to breast cancer.
- Silicone- A.K.A “Cones” cause products to have great slip but can cause buildup on the hair and many can only be removed with a sulfate shampoo. Heavier Cones can also prevent moisture from getting into hair.
- Mineral Oil- Causes build up on hair and prevents moisture from getting into the hair. Sulfates are needed to remove it.
The key is to find products that have ingredients that will moisturize your hair (water based) and then use oils or butters that can seal the moisture in without causing buildup on your hair. For most of us that means using good old trial and error to find out what works best for your individual hair needs. This is how many of us become product junkies. In order to save money and time keep a list of ingredients that your hair likes and look for products that contain those ingredients. For example my hair loves aloe vera, honey, agave nectar, coconut oil, jojoba oil and other light oils. As a result I look for products that have these listed in the first five ingredients. Each and every person’s hair is different. What it really boils down to is you have to use what works in your hair. If petroleum makes your hair look great then by all means keep using it. But first and foremost do your research to find out what ingredients you are putting into your hair and what their purpose/impact is on your hair. Then you can make educated decisions.