I figured before we get into more product reviews, and more natural hair talk in general, it would make sense to update you guys on what’s changed about my hair routine since the 2nd big chop and my decision to quit using Shea Moisture products. When I say I rode hard for Shea Moisture in the past, I mean it — about 90% of all my hair care products were from that brand. But I was firm in my resolve to quit using their products after the ad scandal that rocked the internet. Like so many of you, I had no problem with SM wanting to expand their brand and market to women of different races and/or with different textures, but I did take issue with their complete dismissal of their core audience, the kinky haired naturals who put their brand on the map in the first place. I’m not doing a whole post on the issue because there are already so many of them, but I realized I didn’t want to invest money in this business when it’s clearly not checking for us anymore.
Lucky for me, the natural hair community was mostly united on this issue, and loads of articles sprung up offering alternative black owned brands to replace Shea Moisture. I had known of these brands, seen their ads, heard other naturals rave about them, but had never attempted to use them. Brands like Camille Rose Naturals, Mane Choice, As I Am, and Thank God I’m Natural. All of these brands have expanded and become more mainstream in recent years, but they still go out of their way to indicate that their products are mainly for black hair, which is much appreciated.
I’m still not quite at the level of product junkie-ism I was when I first big chopped and went natural (Lord, the money I wasted…), but I did cherry pick a few popular items to start experimenting with, mostly from Camille Rose and TGIN. Before we get into that though, let me give you a basic outline of my routine these days. The actual products used may change over time depending on my needs, but the types of products used and the order they’re used in does not change much. I think it’s consistency in the basic outline of your routine that will get results long term, and also show you where your routine is going wrong if you’re struggling.
So, without further ado, here’s how my routine (usually) works:
- Pre-Poo. My hair my be a lot shorter after my 2nd big chop, but it’s still long enough to get badly tangled if I’m not careful. Pre-pooing with coconut or avocado oil the night before wash day helps enormously with detangling once I get in the shower. It softens my hair and makes it easier to manipulate so that I deal with less breakage and shedding. This is especially important when I’m working with a week old wash and go, which will get far more tangled than, for example, a twist out.
- Shampoo at least once a week. I’ve found that shampooing my hair, as opposed to constantly cowashing, is the way to go if I want to properly cleanse my hair. Cowashing is fine for an in between refresher if I’ve been hitting the gym and my hair is frizzy, but it doesn’t replace shampoos for me at all. In other words, cowashes are optional, shampoos are not. I look for sulfate free, moisturizing products so that my hair doesn’t feel stripped or start breaking, and even if my hair does feel a little rough after washing, I have good quality conditioners to replenish the moisture that’s been lost.
- Use a rinse out conditioner to detangle. This has been my detangling method since the beginning. I drown my hair in conditioner (really, who uses a “dime sized” amount, anyway?), and then gently brush it with a Tangle Teezer or Denman Brush. I know neither of these are universally popular anymore, but they work for me. My hair is far too thick and dense to try finger detangling, so this gets the job done in a timely manner.
- Deep condition every other week or so. Now that my hair is not color treated, I don’t deep condition as often as I used to. Now it’s usually every other week, or just when I feel I need it. I’m still looking for good deep conditioners to replace my Shea Moisture ones, so if you have suggestions, let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page!
- Style as a Wash and Go (most of the time). Unpopular opinion — wash and gos work better for me than any other style. Yes, twist outs keep my hair slightly more stretched and therefore result in fewer tangles, BUT the style just doesn’t hold in NYC humidity the way a wash and go does. Eco Styler gel is still my ride or die — it plays well with all my other hair products, defines my curls well, and makes my wash and go last a week or more. Twist outs, if I’m lucky, last me 2 or 3 days. The extra manipulation of having to constantly restyle kind of cancels out the benefits of wearing my hair stretched. This may change in the winter when my hair isn’t constantly frizzing up, but for the summer, this has been my go-to style, with twist outs only being a once in awhile thing.
- Clarify once a month. I was basically following the Curly Girl Method when my hair was longer, not because I believed it was better than any other routine, but because it preserved my color. So I used no sulfates in my shampoos, and no silicones in my conditioners or styling products. Now that my hair is not dyed, I’ve introduced some silicones into my routine, and that meant adding a sulfate shampoo to clarify and wash out those silicones every so often. I only use that shampoo about once a month, and make sure to moisturize and condition my hair afterward to prevent damage.
Last but not least, here’s a shot of my hair in a wash and go, so you can see my progress since my haircut!
I know it’s hard to tell because of shrinkage, but it’s coming along nicely! My bangs especially are coming in fast. I hope you enjoyed this post, and that what I said is helpful to some of you. Stay tuned for more product reviews, and of course length checks as the months go on! I’d love to compare this shot to my hair at the end of this year!