Okay, so...let's rewind to March. Ya'll know that I love Shea Moisture. About 90% of the products I use on my hair are from this brand. And it's not because of any sponsorship or payment on their part -- I have no involvement with the company on a business level. I started buying their products because they were the only all natural drugstore hair brand that came highly recommended in the natural hair community that I had immediate access to at my local CVS. Everything else back then was only available online for me -- Carol's Daughter, Eden's Bodyworks, Miss Jessie's, Camille Rose...I could go on and on.
Carol's Daughter has a (limited) selection in my CVS now, but all those other brands still require a Google search and some shipping payments from me if I want to purchase them. And I do, sometimes. But as I've branched out into other brands, I still always make my way back to Shea Moisture anyway. Not just because of the convenience, but because it has so many great lines aimed at different hair needs, and I can always find things that work really well for my hair, all while never having to break the bank.
So, when I found out one morning on Twitter that Shea Moisture was going to be hosting an event at Ricky's NYC at the Union Square location, and that Jenell Stewart, one of my favorite YouTubers and natural hair bloggers, would be available for a meet and greet, I was super excited. I spent the next several hours confirming the news, dressing, and doing my hair and makeup. I even dragged my boyfriend with me when he got off work since I don't handle crowds well.
Turns out I was right to be a little anxious about the crowds. Ricky's on Union Square is a large store, much larger than the Ricky's in my neighborhood, and it was filled with naturals of every age, height, weight, and curl pattern. I must say, it was a little overwhelming to be around that many naturals all at once, when unfortunately I don't get to spend that much time with young black women my age.
I met a few nice people, and we chatted about our hair journeys while sipping the free cocktails offered. It took awhile before I could get to the person I came to see, Jenell Stewart -- she was surrounded by admirers and hardly had a break in between fans. I admired the fact that even though she must have been tired and perhaps a little overwhelmed by the hours and hours of greeting, she made sure to have full, meaningful conversations and connections with every person that came up to her. She was never dismissive or rude, and each person left feeling she was as sweet and relatable as she had appeared to be on her YouTube videos.
After what seemed an eternity, I met her myself and was thrilled to bits that she thought my hair was beautiful. We talked styling techniques, the new options that open up as your hair gets longer, and how cute her outfit was (apparently she's vegan now, and she has clearly lost a LOT of weight). And ya'll know I had to get a picture:
Right after this pic was taken, I got a very unexpected surprise. I was about to make a quick and quiet exit, knowing there was a line of women behind me waiting to talk to Jenell, when she said that that before we left, she had something for us. There was a big Shea Moisture sign hanging behind her (you can see it in the pic above in the background), and she reached behind it to reveal a reusable bag full of Shea Moisture goodies that were FREE! I was thrilled, since many of the products were things not yet available in my local CVS.
When I got home and explored the contents of the bag more thoroughly I was...intrigued. With the exception of one item, they were all from the new High Porosity and Low Porosity lines the brand had just released. Now if ya'll have been keeping up with Shea Moisture at all, you know that in the last few months that have gone CRAZY with the release of several new product lines. It's my understanding that the goal with this is to cater to as many different hair types and hair needs as possible, so that everyone can find a line that they like and are able to use.
The flip side of this, which I've seen from consumers who write comments on their social media, is that some people feel overwhelmed by the vast selection, and feel there are simply too many options. Some pick one or two lines to try, and upon realizing they don't work for their hair, dismiss the brand as a whole. This is problematic because it's down to user error -- if you tried two lines that didn't work out for you, it's likely because neither of them was meant to cater to your hair type or hair needs. Just like with any other brand, a little internet research and a knowledge of your own hair's needs will do wonders for narrowing down the selection so you can pick products that work for you.
Okay, enough babbling. These are the products that came in my lovely goody bag. I was really surprised they gave me so much. Also, with the exception of the coconut oil, these were all in FULL sizes like you would buy in the store, not travel sizes or samples.
100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Head to Toe Nourishing Hydration
Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture Seal Shampoo
Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Co Wash
Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Masque
Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Shampoo
Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Conditioner
Baobab and Tea Tree Oils Low Porosity Protein-Free Leave-In Detangler
Of the many lines that Shea Moisture was popping out in late February/early March, the lines that got the most attention, both from the brand itself in its advertising and from consumers, were the High and Low Porosity lines. Over the last year or so, many in the natural hair community have been arguing that rather than using hair typing, which indicates curl pattern, to determine what products we should use on our hair, we should focus instead on porosity, which gives a scientific explanation of the two extremes at which your hair can struggle to retain moisture.
I'm not very good at the science behind hair, and if you want details on how the porosity of your hair can impact your hair care routine, I'd suggest researching online. However, I can try to sum up, in VERY brief and unscientific terms, the general idea of each type. Low porosity hair, as the name suggests, is not very porous, and therefore doesn't let in the amount of moisture your hair needs. People with low porosity hair tend to have a sensitivity to protein, so protein treatments, or even daily moisturizers that are protein heavy, can be a bad idea. High porosity hair, on the other hand, is a tad too porous. It lets moisture in, but because it's so porous, that moisture flows right back out again -- think of water going through a strainer, if you need a visual aid. A strainer bowl doesn't retain the water you put in it -- water comes in, but it goes right back out through all those holes. Same is true for high porosity hair. Generally, people with high porosity hair have chemical damage of some sort, either from relaxers, or from bleaching and dyeing their hair. I'm speaking in broad terms here, and the things I've said do not necessarily apply to every single person with these traits -- again, not a scientist. But if your hair fits any of those broad descriptors and has a hard time retaining moisture, it's worth looking into it further and doing your own research.
I liked the idea of this system, but was hugely confused about how to figure out if my hair was high or low porosity. The tests YouTubers suggested yielded mixed results. Luckily, Shea Moisture came to the rescue and put a quiz on their website to help confused people like myself. Each time I took it, even if I changed the answer on certain questions I was confused/unsure about, the results were the same -- apparently, I have high porosity hair. This is likely because my hair is bleached and colored. So, since receiving these items, I've been using the ones that are in the the High Porosity line. This was exciting for me, because that line comes with a new hair masque, and I loooovvee Shea Moisture's deep conditioners. I was also intrigued about the shampoo and co-wash, and have been working them all into my routine to see how I like them. I decided not to test the Low Porosity line. Since my hair falls in one camp and not the other, the opposing line probably would not yield positive results for my hair. I gave those products to my mom, who's recently big chopped and whose porosity is, as yet, undetermined since her hair is very short.
I decided to explain my experience with Ricky's, and my acquisition of so many new products, as an introduction of sorts to the product reviews that are to come in the next few weeks. I will review all the High Porosity line items I own, and then move on to other products I've been using that I bought online. I've noticed, surprisingly, that a lot of people haven't done in depth reviews on the new Shea Moisture stuff yet -- I suppose it's because there's just so much, and it's easier to do overviews of the products than to review them one by one. But I will try to split up the reviews and focus on specific products so I can give you as much info as possible. Hopefully it'll be helpful for everyone. :)
Thanks for reading my second ridiculously long post in a row. Stay tuned, reviews should be coming in the next week!