The Truth About Hair Products and Hair Types
For many years, black women had to use products that were geared toward straight-haired people. It hurt many women of color because they were forced to use products that were not good for their hair types. Moreover, they had little or no awareness of what to use on their kinky hair.
Once you take away relaxers, you realize you need better methods of caring for your hair than the ones that have been dictated to you by mega beauty companies.
Thank goodness for the internet, which has helped black women everywhere to purchase better products. Now we have great products on a wide scale for women of color, and curls have been broken down into subcategories for better understanding. The question is, how do you select the right products for your hair?
In this article, we’ll talk about products for natural hair, so you can make the right decision on what shampoos and conditioners to use for your hair. If you want to know what to use to get the most gorgeous, healthiest curls possible, keep reading.
Why Are Conventional Products So Awful for Natural Hair?
If you’ve been natural for a while, you’ve probably seen bloggers talk about harmful chemicals, or manufacturer product labels stating which ingredients a shampoo or conditioner doesn’t have.
It’s because certain ingredients in conventional products are horrendous for curly hair. Here are the top three worst offenders to curls:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. Sulfates are known to dry out kinks and curls and disrupt their curl pattern. It means you’ll be left with frizz instead of a lovely, defined curl.
Caucasian hair needs harsher detergents because scalp oils consistently coat the hair. Some European cultures are so opposed to moisture that they don’t even condition after shampooing, and this results in thin, straggly hair as they grow older.
However, it is crucial in our world. Curls require moisture to thrive. and it can mean the difference between rocking beautiful curls or trying to conceal your damaged frizz.
Sulfates are cheap detergents that give shampoos their suds. The problem is that it emulsifies with sebum so that the oil can be washed away, and it acts as a surfactant to loosen and remove the sebum altogether.
These cheap foaming agents damage follicles and increase hair loss even on straight haired-women, according to numerous medical studies. But they’re especially harmful to naturals because they cause dry and brittle hair. Using sulfates could result in both shedding and breakage to your curls.
- There are several types of alcohol used in hair products, and it is important to note that they’re not all bad. The usual suspects are conditioner and gel, so you should always check the ingredients before you buy, as they’re often used as preservatives and moisture-wicking agents.
Here is a list of the good and “bad” alcohols for natural hair:
Propanol, isopropyl, SD alcohol 40, ethanol, SD alcohol, and propyl. They evaporate quickly on the hair, carrying away moisture along with them.
Safe or Neutral Alcohols:
Benzyl alcohol and propylene glycol. These two alcohols are in the neutral category because they have no effect on the way hair looks and feels. Thus, they are generally safe for naturals.
Surprisingly Good Alcohols:
Cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, lauryl alcohol, behenyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol. These add slip and moisture, helping to condition and detangle the hair.
- Petroleum and its byproducts. Petroleum and mineral oil are popular in beauty products because they create the illusion of your hair being moisturized and shiny. Petroleum helps with creating a protective barrier, so that skin and hair do not lose their moisture. It also guards against damage from elements like chemicals, the sun, and wind.
The problem is, when you go to shampoo your hair on your next wash day, it’s hard to get the petroleum out. The result is dry, brittle hair, masked under a shiny layer.
Another side effect of petroleum products is the suffocation of the skin. Hair follicles need room to breathe and create healthy hair. They won’t be able to do their job of growing hair if they are suffocated. Petroleum byproducts include mineral oil, liquid paraffin, paraffin oil, and petrolatum.
Petroleum does nothing to nourish the hair. If you’re seeking to coat the hair, opt for shea butter, which is both nourishing and protective.
How Much Moisture Do I Need for My Curls?
Now that you know which ingredients to avoid, you’re probably wondering which products will add slip and provide enough moisture to stop breakage. Everyone has a different head of curls, so our needs vary. What works for someone you saw on YouTube may not work for the next head of curls.
Even though we’ve pinpointed curl patterns, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have 2-3 different patterns on your head. And then there’s high and low porosity. How well your hair absorbs water can make a big difference.
For instance, if you have low-porosity hair, you’ll get more moisture absorption if you add some heat to your tresses when you apply products.
Also, be attentive to the thickness of your hair and how you handle baby hairs, like edges. Thin and fine strands need extra TLC.
Aim to experiment with products and how you use them if you have natural hair. They’re not one-size-fits-all, and you may even find yourself pushing some to the back of the cabinet after a single use.
But with enough patience, you’ll find products that are well-suited and perfect for your natural curls.