There is a lot out there about what to use and what not to use. I’m of the mindset that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in terms of my natural hair care are subjective and selective.
I remember when I first went natural, I used Aussie Moist conditioner. I then switched it up to the Hello Hydration, then I used VO5 Moisture Milk. Then I changed, because I read somewhere on the internet that the silicones in these products is bad for your hair and naturals should not use them at all because they keep that much needed moisture from penetrating the hair shaft and feeding our hair and keeping it quenched.
So I started reading labels, and doing more research on what silicones are, and I learned a few things a long the way.
- My hair felt dry and non moisturized with some conditioners that didn’t contain them.
- My hair was breaking when detangling
- Application, and not necessarily the ingredients, is equally important.
It’s really amazing, because when I first started my journey back to natural, I never thought I would turn it into a blog, or do as much research as I’m doing now. I’m glad I am, because there is so much information out there, and it’s confusing. I’ve also learned, that if you don’t do the research, you spend more money than you really need to in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I like buying new product to try on my hair. It’s just that nothing is more disheartening than buying a product, putting it on your hair, and then spending 15 minutes in the shower, crying because you feel like you put Elmer’s glue on your hair instead of a co-wash, and they claimed to be all natural, no chemicals and no SIILICONES.
Yes, there’s a story behind that Elmer’s glue comment. My sister, who’s been natural a lot longer than I have, helps me out with products. Things that she likes and things that she doesn’t get equal share with her, and I appreciate it. I tried a conditioner that she had brought, and I should have listened to my younger sister when she said the product was ‘Utter Shat’ (I edit, because it was a LOT more colorful than that. Ha Ha). But it was that experience that led me to believe that my hair does well with some ingredients that get all kinds of natural hair shade in our community.
These ingredients provide slip, reduce breakage, help in heat styling and make hair feel softer. These ingredients are commonly found in shampoos, hair conditioners and styling products. Some are used in conditioners, such as amodimethicones. Others are used to aid in color-enhancing products and color-corrective products because they increase the hairs shininess and glossiness. These are called phenyltrimethicones.
As I stated, that previous sentence is loaded with hard to pronounce words. And, let’s be honest, hard to pronounce is often equated with ‘that can’t possibly be good for you,’ logic. However, the ingredient does work well for many of us. It’s in a lot of naturals favorite products, some of which I mentioned at the outset. So how can something that sounds like and is a chemical, actually have any benefits?
According to The Science of Black Hair:
not all “cones” are bad and many are quite useful. “Cones” actually help with your ability to effectively detangle your wet hair. Much of the sleekness and softness we get from rinsing out our conditioners is thanks to those pesky “cones.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – DO WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU AND LISTEN TO YOUR HAIR. It will tell you exactly what it needs, and when. And it’s why reading labels, and knowing WHERE an ingredient is on the list is equally important. If your conditioner is say, a deep conditioner, more often than not, the first ingredient should be water. Even in your rinse out conditioners, water is the primary moisturizing ingredient. Now, if the ingredients after that are –cone this that and the other. Stop. Anything like that, and knowing that silicones COAT, then you know that too much of it is not beneficial to your hair. And not so long ago, a lot of these products contained those heavier silicones. But companies have gotten smarter about formulations. Cones such as Amodimethicone and Cyclo are more stubborn, and harder to remove. So if you are a co-washer, know that you’re going to have to use a shampoo to remove them, at least once a week. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not solely a co-washer, even with conditioners that are silicone free.
So how do I find out what to use? After using Hello Hydration for the final time, I let my hair just air dry and didn’t put any other product in it. My hair felt soft initially and it was easy to detangle. But after it dried, it felt coated and heavy. And while I liked what the conditioner did for me when I was transitioning, when I cut the last of the relaxer from my hair, it just didn’t work the same way it had previously. I then switched to the TresEmme Naturals Nourishing Moisture. They have changed their formula, and it now includes isopropyl alcohol (drying). And even though it’s farther down on the ingredients list, I still didn’t want to risk it. So to combat that I add Castor Oil to the mix, and my hair loves it. This is important because I use this conditioner as a co-wash, because it doesn’t contain silicones. I’m still researching the rest of the ingredients, and I’m sure it’ll change if I find something that I don’t want to use. But that’s all what reading labels and educating ourselves is all about.
Anyway, other ingredients to avoid in a deep conditioner are mineral oils, petrolatum, heavy proteins. These provide minimal results and only coat the hair. I’m not saying that they’re bad, I’m saying that you’ll have to use a stronger cleansing method to remove them when you do wash.
I’ve followed this reasoning, again from The Science of Black Hair, when looking for moisturizing and silicone use:
- Cleanse. My hair is HiPo (high porosity), medium density, 4a/b, fine. So I choose a moisturizing shampoo, that isn’t too heavy, but leaves my hair clean. My favorites of the moment are my African Black Soap from Chocolashea and Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo. Both cleanse, and don’t weigh down my hair.
- I apply my conditioner, with the castor oil. If I deep condition with the TresEmme, I’ll add this. If not, I’ll use one of the deep conditioners I have on hand. My favorites right now are EVA NYC, L’Oreal Oleo, or the Palmers Protein Pack. I then cover and let it sit for an hour. I don’t have a drier, so I leave it on longer to allow the natural heat from my scalp to do the work a drier would.
- Rinse, and apply my leave in, which is the Miss Jessie’s Leave-In Condish.
So remember, read your labels, and do your research. And above all, do what’s best for you and your hair.