Guest Post By Tola Okogwu, Hair & Beauty Writer: Founder & Editor – My Long Hair Journey
One of the questions I get asked most frequently is which product should I use for my hair and the short answer is, whatever product meets the needs of your hair. Choosing products is a very subjective thing and the decision should be primarily based on your hair and its needs.
Hair texture can help determine what type of product you should look for whilst density helps determine how much of a product you should use. Hair with a thick strand diameter, tends to look and feel coarse, while with a thinner strand diameter looks and feels fine. Fine hair tends to need a lighter product than coarse hair does as each individual hair strand is easily weighed down by too heavy a product leaving the hair limp looking.
The more strands of hair on your head, or the higher the density, the thicker your hair will appear. Hair with lower density or less volume will appear thinner. Thicker hair tends to need more product than thinner hair does due to the sheer volume of hair requiring coverage.
Let’s take a look at two women who appear to have similar hair type. One has thick hair and fine strands and the other has thin hair and coarse strands. Their hair may fall under the same hair type i.e. 4B and even look similar but the way it behaves would be very different.
The woman with thick hair and fine strands though she may have thick hair, each of the many strands are fine, and will be easily weighed down by product. Thus she would need a light product but a lot of it to get good coverage due to the high density of her hair.
The other woman, though she has thin hair, also has coarse strands, and would need a heavy product, but a much smaller amount due to the low density of her hair.
Therefore, the first woman would probably need to use a large amount of a light product, while the second woman would use a small amount of a heavy product.
When looking for hair products, density and texture matter far more than the shape or look of the curl.
Physical condition refers to the physical state of your hair, i.e. natural, relaxed or colour treated. Other factors to consider include porosity, dryness, breakage and scalp sensitivity. If your hair is chemically processed, it is much weaker than hair which is still in its natural state. The level of ‘damage’ however depends on the chemical process and how well the hair has been maintained.
Protein vs moisture
If your hair is chemically treated then you should include products which strengthen and fortify hair. All hair requires moisture to prevent breakage but chemically processed hair also requires protein to help repair the damage done during the chemical process. Look for products which contain hydrolysed proteins, keratin, elastin and ceramides. Protein can also help with porosity issues where hair is unable to hold onto moisture for very long. A word of caution however, protein based products come in varying strengths and should be followed up with a moisturising product as they can make hair overly brittle and cause breakage.
Water or oil based
Contrary to popular belief oil is not a moisturiser, rather it helps seal in any moisture that’s been added. The first and true moisturiser is water and this is why it’s important that your moisturising products contain water. It should be in the top 3 ingredients of any ‘moisturising’ product you choose. Your moisturiser can then be followed by an oil based product to seal.
If you have sensitive skin/scalp then you may find certain ingredients such as Sulphates, Silicones, parabens and mineral oils aggravate the problem. It’s important to identify any sensitivities and always check the ingredients list on any product before buying. There is now an increasing number of natural/organic products ranges which avoid using the aforementioned ingredients.
How & Where to Shop For Products By Heather Katsonga of Neno Natural
Where should you shop for products?
Online. The best place for natural hair product variety is BritishCurlies.co.uk or CurlyEmporium.co.uk – it’s the same company. Curly Emporium is the name of the shop and the British Curlies website provides other resources, e.g. a blog.
Amazon.co.uk has also started having natural hair products listed so you can compare the prices on there to those on the British Curlies website.
I find that whipped, creamy butters are much more effective for application on dry hair. And firmer, unwhipped shea butters that haven’t been blended with water are better for sealing in moisture after you’ve just washed your hair.
How to Shop For Products:
Look at the ingredients list. My trick is: the fewer the number of ingredients I can’t pronounce the better. Also, Latin-like names are usually good things like oils and herbs, e.g. Simmondsia chinensis is just jojoba. Chemistry-like names are the ones that are more suspect although they are not necessarily bad. They usually have endings like “-oxide” or “oxyl” and numbers. Google those names to find out what they are.
For information on how to layer on hair products, please read: Moisturising Black Hair: LOC Method vs. LCO Method. [http://www.nenonatural.com/3/post/2013/01/moisturising-natural-black-hair-loc-method-vs-lco-method.html]
Heather Katsonga-Woodward is an Author and Entrepreneur. She is the founder of the natural hair blog and product line at NenoNatural.com.