Growing natural hair is probably about 60% correct styling and handling methods and 40% correct products. That's my extremely reliable statistical analysis after my nearly 21 years of having natural hair. Up until the age of around 14, I had ear-chin length pretty damaged hair. I got tired of my hair looking busted and decided after looking at all my cousins who had mid-back length hair that it wasn't in my genes or destiny to have raggedy locks. (side note: short hair is great too, just counteracting the myth that black girls can't grow long hair unless they have 'good' hair)
Like most black girls, I grew up being deceived by the lie that Dax, Doo-Gro, or other poorly spelled (because black women all speak like Chicken George from Roots (duh)) products would make my hair healthy, strong and long. Just like the cartoon woman on the front of the green tub. The combination of bad hair products (Dax, Sulphate shampoos), blow-drying and harsh combing meant my extra fragile hair was never going to last.
I did my research, and have finally got a few core products down that really work for my hair. Before I do some reviews of them here are some tips for finding products that work for you.
Generally with curly/ afro hair (or even if it's relaxed) there are some key ingredients to avoid:
1) Sulphates - e.g. Sodium Lauryl/ Laureth Sulphate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate - these are found in most commercial shampoos, and they strip curly hair of it's much needed moisture.
2) Mineral Oil/ Petroleum - somtimes labelled on products as Paraffin Liquidum / Petrolatum. This coats the hair and traps moisture inside, but also doesn't let moisture into the hair strand, leading to dryness and breakage. Most of the products we call 'grease' have mineral oil or petroleum in them. They are literally glorified Vaseline with food colouring. Don't waste your £1.99 on them, give it to charity.
3) Silicones - e.g. Dimethicone. Cyclopentasiloxane, Amodimethicone. The problem with these are that although they do work for some curly folks hair, they have to be washed off with sulphate shampoos, as natural shampoos aren't strong enough to remove them, leading to dryness. Using too many silicones also leads to product build up.
Sooo now onto the products I use.
Shampoo: Dr Bronners Magic 18 in 1 Castile soap. (yeh it's a mouthful)
I dilute this 1 part shampoo to 2 parts water, with a teaspoon of olive oil or an oil I got from http://www.afrocenchix.com/ and shake it up in a bottle. This lasts for aaaaaaggges. It's £8 a bottle, but one bottle lasts me 7 months maybe, and all the ingredients are completely natural. At first, my hair felt weird when I used it, but I got used to the feeling after a while and I highly recommend it. Get it at: ebay.co.uk or amazon.co.uk or britishcurlies.com
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner
After I shampoo deep condition with this conditioner and it is aammmaazing. Pricey, but in my opinion 100% worth it. Get it at: ebay.co.uk or amazon.co.uk or britishcurlies.com
Moisturising/ Leave in:
Cheap, cheerful, from your local Asian food/hair shop or from Sheabuttercottage.com (I'll do a controversial blog on the economics of black hair and why we should support black business another time) Note: This isn't the castor oil that you get in a tub, it's 100% pure and in a bottle.
Other leave ins/products:
Bee Mine Deja's Moisturising hair lotion - This is really good, use it as a leave in after I wash, and as a day to day moisturiser.
get it at: www.britishcurlies.com
Vo5 Moisture Milks conditioner -From some 99p stores ;-) I use this for co-washing, or when I run out of my normal conditioner, or when I'm between blessings (i.e. broke). I usually buy my usual conditioner in bulk though so I don't run out.
Hope someone found this helpful. If there's anything you want me to blog about, write in the comment box below or get at me on facebook if we're friends!!
Peace, Love, and (non petroleum) Hair grease!