HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR

How to choose the best products for your natural hair

How to choose the best products for your natural hair 

If you find yourself reading this, chances are you just did the big chop or transitioned and now you are looking for the best products for your natural hair. Or maybe you've been natural for sometime but you are clueless about the best products to use for your naturally curly hair. You find yourself asking questions like, what kind of products should you buy? Should you just buy that product you saw your favourite natural hair influencer using? Calm down Sis, I'm about to wipe your worries away. 

The basic products needed by any naturalista is a cleanser, conditioner, moisturizer and a sealant which can either be an oil, butter and/or both. 


There are tons of natural hair care lines to choose from so it may be a bit hard to figure out which brand is best for your natural hair. Using the right products on your natural hair is very important if your goal is to maintain healthy hair. 

You should not buy a product just because you see someone using it or your favourite influencer gave it the best review. Chances are your hair has entirely different needs. Before buying a product, think about factors like your hair porosity. Is that product suitable for your hair porosity? Think about your hair's health. Is your hair healthy or damage? If damaged, what kind of damage? Will that product help? Always check the ingredient list. Not all products which claim to be moisturising or nourishing really live up to their claims. Look out for ingredients your hair love or hate. You should also put your current climate condition into consideration. Humectants like glycerin leaves the hair frizzy in a high humid environment. 

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about choosing the right products for your natural hair taking all these factors into consideration.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HAIR POROSITY AND THE PRODUCTS YOU SHOULD USE


The first step to maintaining healthy natural hair is to learn and understand your hair texture. When I say hair texture, I am not just referring to your hair type but also your hair density, width/diameter and most importantly, your hair porosity. Learn about your texture type here

In one of my previous articles, I mentioned that the next thing after learning your texture is to create a suitable hair care routine. If you haven't read that article, you can read it here

A hair care routine is an organized plan for taking care of your hair. I'm not going to dwell much on this because I already have a whole article on that. If you're struggling to set up a good hair care regimen, this article will help - How To Set Up A Good Hair Regimen

I also shared my own hair care routine in my last blog post. Read it here

A good hair regimen should address two basic needs which are moisture and protein. Healthy hair can only be achieved when the hair is protein  and moisture balanced so you should look into getting products that address both needs. How much moisture or protein your hair need depends on your hair porosity. 

Basically,  hair porosity is the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. There are three types of hair porosity - low hair porosity, medium/normal hair porosity and high hair porosity. 

Low porosity hair has cuticles that are tightly packed making it hard for water, moisturizers and oils to penetrate the hair shaft. 

Medium/normal porosity hair has looser cuticle layers that allows just the right amount of moisture to penetrate. 

High porosity hair has widely open cuticles that allows too much moisture to penetrate and escape the hair shaft. 

Hair Porosity
Hair Porosity Types 


Hair porosity is mostly genetic but can be influenced by external factors. Heat and chemical manipulation as well as other factors can cause high hair porosity. If you are born with low porosity hair, color treatments like permanent dyes can lift the cuticles and leave you with medium to high porosity hair. Damaged strands are usually porous. On the other hand, low hair porosity can be caused by dirt and product build-up. The heavy oils, butters and creams we use can form a moisture-repelling barrier on the hair cuticles giving the illusion of low hair porosity. This can be reversed by a doing a clarifying wash to clear up the build-up. 

What Products Are Good For Low Porosity Natural Hair? 

If you have low porosity hair, your main goal should be to infuse moisture into the hair strands while avoiding anything that can cause product build-up. This is because products tend to build-up on the hair strands instead of penetrating them. To solve this, you need light weight, water-based, moisturising and protein-free products. This doesn't mean you should abandon proteins entirely. You need to maintain your protein moisture balance and you can do that by adding some protein products to your stash and doing a protein treatment every 6 to 8 weeks or even more. Just don't use too many protein products and pay attention to when your hair needs a protein treatment. Use clarifying shampoos to help remove product build-up. Use light oils, creams and butters that can easily penetrate the hair shaft. 

Summary of Products

Cleansers - Clarifying shampoos and masks
Conditioners - Moisturizing conditioners and masks, protein treatment and strengthening masks (use occasionally) 
Moisturizers - Light weight protein-free water-based moisturizers 
Sealants - Light oils, creams and butters. 

Products for low porosity
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What Products Are Good For Medium Porosity Hair? 

Medium porosity hair have no real restrictions. Your goal here should be to keep your protein moisture balance. Therefore, you should alternate between moisturising products and protein products. 

Summary of Products

Cleansers - Mild cleansing and moisturising shampoos/masks
Conditioners - Moisturizing conditioners and masks, protein treatments and strengthening masks
Moisturizers - Medium to thick water-based moisturizers (with hydrolyzed protein) 
Sealants - Any oil, cream or butter.

Products for medium porosity hair
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What Products Are Good For High Porosity Hair? 

High porosity hair easily absorbs moisture but loses it just as fast. If you have high porosity hair, your goal should be to keep moisture locked in the hair strands. You need products with heavier consistency, moisturising and protein-based. Use less stripping moisturising shampoos that doesn't strip the hair of moisture. Use heavy oils, butters and creams. Use more protein-based products to help strengthen your hair cuticle. You need heavier products to help improve your moisture retention. The best way to keep moisture locked in your hair is to layer products. The LOC/LCO method is a method used to lock moisture in your hair strands. The letter L stands for liquid, O for oil and C for Cream. The arrangement of the letters indicate the order in which you apply the products. Read more about this method here

Summary of Products

Cleansers - Moisturising shampoos and masks, co-washs 
Conditioners - Moisturizing conditioners and masks, protein treatments and strengthening masks
Moisturizers - Thick water-based moisturizers (protein-based) 
Sealants - Heavy oils, creams and butters. 

Products for high porosity
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RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YOUR HAIR'S HEALTH AND PRODUCTS YOU SHOULD USE

You need to put the state of your hair into consideration when choosing products. Damaged hair needs a lot of care. Hair damage is of different types. You should choose products based on the kind of damage you have. Color and chemical damage leaves the hair highly porous so you will need lots of moisturising products, a good protein reconstructing product and heavy sealants. Hair breakage may be as a result of dry hair or overmoisturized hair. Determine the cause of breakage and choose your products based on that. For dry and brittle hair, you will need a moisturising treatment. For overmoisturized hair, you need protein-based products. Always put the needs of your hair first when choosing products. 

Healthy hair cuticle  versus damaged hair cuticle
Healthy Hair Cuticle Versus Damaged Hair Cuticle 

INGREDIENT LIST 

Learn to check the ingredient list of any product before you buy it so you can be sure it will work for the reason you're buying it. It will also help you buy products with ingredients that your hair love or hate. For example, you know you hair loves shea butter. You may want to buy a product claiming to contain shea butter but checking the ingredient list and finding shea butter listed as the 16th ingredient is a turn off. There isn't enough shea butter in that product to benefit your hair. The first five ingredients in a product has the highest concentration and says alot about what that product will work for. Look for your favourite ingredients in that first five. If the first five ingredients doesn't add up to the product claims, ditch it. 

The best moisturizers for natural hair contain water, aloe and/or a humectant as one of its first ingredients.

Humectants are substances that attract water. They help draw water into the hair. Common examples of humectants are honey, glycerin or glycerol, aloe vera, elastin, flaxseed,  lactic acid, collagen, propylene glycol, panthenol etc. If you don't find any humectant in a product claiming to be moisturising, that product is a sham.

A protein-based product should contain ingredients like soy protein, keratin, silk amino acids, wheat protein, oat flour, casein, collagen etc. Always look for ingredients like this in a supposed hair strengthening and repair product.

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HOW TO CHOOSE PRODUCTS BASED ON CLIMATE 


Climate also has a role to play in the kind of products to use on your naturally curly hair. In a dry climate with very low humidity, you will need more moisturising products along with sealants to keep moisture in your hair since the hair will dry faster. In a humid environment with enough water in the atmosphere, using products with humectants will make the hair absorb too much water. This will make the hair frizzy, overmoisturized and can lead to hygral fatigue. Stay clear from humectants. At this point you need anti-humectant products with ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, hydrogenated castor oil, coconut oil, palm oil, silicones, beeswax, petroleum jelly, mineral oil etc. These products help coat the hair strands and prevent too much moisture from penetrating. 

Finding the right products for your naturally curly hair involves trial and error. Find alternatives if one product doesn't work for you but give a product up to a month of usage before concluding it doesn't work. Remember to always put your hair's health, needs and characteristics into consideration when looking out for products.

If you have more questions regarding this topic, drop them below or contact me directly using the contact form. 

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