The diary of a product junkie
20 Jan 2017
It’s always hard to admit your habits, let alone to share them, but I’m just going to come clean and say it – I’m a product junkie. I’ve been natural for just over a year now and I love it. No heat, no nasty chemicals and my hair is the healthiest it’s been in years, although it still has its moments.
So I’m walking through Boots and I notice they have now dedicated a whole aisle to Afro hair products. I feel my heart leap into my throat as I try and hold back the squeal of excitement. My eyes light up as they scan the abundance of shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners and styling products. So many brands, so little time. I feel like a child in a sweet shop eyeing up all the goodies available as they called out “buy me Jasmine, buy me!”
And this is where the problem lies; there are so many products out there made by so many different brands, with so many selling points. Where do you start? It all gets pretty intense, pretty quickly, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. After doing a bit of research, I emailed a few companies about their products and they sent me some to test and review. Three different companies, The Good Hair Club, Big Hair and SheaMoisture, sent me packages containing natural hair products so hopefully with my reviews, I can help spread some light on the essentials needed to start a natural hair routine.
Natural based products is the golden rule when buying goodies for your tresses. My hair seems so much healthier since I cut out on products containing sulfate and parabens.
The first items I received were from a beauty company called The Good Hair Club, an online website that distributes multiple natural brands that suit your unique needs. In the package I got Hug My Hair –Seal n’ Shine multi-seed hair oil, Boucleme – Curl Conditioner and Anita Grant – Curl Cleansing Co-Wash.
Oh my laaawd, this product really got me excited. When I took off the lid to give it a smell, I found myself huffing it for a good minute. It’s created using a mixture of essential oils including clary sage, ylang-ylang, lavender, cedarwood, lemon and rosewood, creating such a beautiful scent. The product’s base oil includes hemp seed oil, grape seed oil, broccoli oil, vitamin E and jojoba oil, which are all known for their hair growth and nourishing properties. I decided to use this oil after washing and using a leave-in conditioner to lock in the moisture, and I was very impressed. It left my hair soft, shiny and smelling amazing. A good oil is important in your routine to help nourish and seal in moisture; especially in these winter months. Most commonly used oil is coconut oil but other great alternative are jojoba, olive and sweet almond oil.
After doing a bit of research on the product, I found that at a price of £12.99 for a 100 ml it was at the top of my price range. However, I truly rate this product – save up and treat yourself because it truly is a good investment.
For my next wash day I decided to use Anita Grant – curl cleansing co-wash and Boucreme Curl Conditioner in conjunction with one another. The co-wash was priced at £5.95 and came in a smaller bottle which is great in your travel bag, although not that great when you consider value for money.
Co-wash is short for “conditioner only wash” and is a great alternative to shampooing, especially if you find that shampoo is stripping your hair too much, which can cause dryness. I only shampoo my hair once every two weeks and in between that I co-wash.
Once my hair was wet, I sectioned it and applied the co-wash to each part, massaged it in and then let it sit on my hair for a few minutes before washing it out. I must say I really like this product, it smells great and my hair was super easier to detangle. Its minty-rosemary smell really give you a uplifting sensation and you can almost feel the goodness being absorbed into your hair.
Rosemary essential oil has been known for its scalp health and growth stimulating properties, so if you’re looking for products to help your hair grow, look out for ones with this oil in; or if you’re on a budget, just buy the essential oil itself and apply a few drops to your coconut oil.
After co-washing, I applied decent amounts of the curl conditioner to my hair. There’s the option to leave it in if you have thick curly hair or to wash out if it is finer. I decided to leave it in, then followed with the Seal n’ shine oil and plaited my hair for the night. Honestly, this product was a bit of an anti-climax for me. Don’t get me wrong, it ticks a lot of boxes and it’s definitely super hydrating to my hair, but at £17, it’s not cheap. I like a conditioner with a lot of slip – slip means that the conditioner makes hair much easier to detangle, which helps preventing breakage, rips, tears or split ends. I wasn’t getting a lot with this product, which was disappointing.
The next morning my hair was super shiny and moisturised – you could see it even through the plaits. I then proceeded to braid out my hair and the result were great. My hair looked glossy and healthy with defined curls. Overall, it’s not that the curl conditioner is a bad product, it’s just the price and lack of slip which loses brownie points from me.
The next delivery I got was from a lovely lady called Melissa at Big Hair. I was sent their Deep Conditioning hair mask and Moisture Me whipped Butter, both priced at £14.95. Having a good, deep conditioner is essential to a healthy hair routine. Deep-conditioning your strands at least once a week really gives your hair the boost it needs along with replenishing any protein or moisture loss.
After shampooing my hair, I sectioned it into four and smothered the conditioner into my hair. I then twisted each section before placing my hair under a shower cap for 45 minutes.
The smell of this mask is delicious. It smells and looks like chocolate mousse. Its thick consistency is down to the Moroccan Rhassoul clay, which is known for its moisturising, softening and cleansing properties. It also has other amazing ingredients like cocoa butter, avocado oil, coconut oil and banana.
After washing the mask out my hair felt super soft and clean. My curls were popping – the definition was unreal. I love that it cleanses as well as conditions, removing build-up and replacing it with goodness. After rinsing out the mask I used my favourite leave in conditioner, ORS MONOÏ OIL leave-in conditioner, followed by the Moisture Me whipped butter and finally to seal the Hug my Hair oil. I then sectioned and twisted my hair into Bantu Knots, wrapped it in my satin scarf and settled down for the night.
So the next morning, my hair and I just weren’t getting along. She seemed to think it was okay to still be damp after 16 hours of setting. I even used the blow dryer to help the progress but no! She and her dense self needs like fifty years to dry. While my Bantu knots were a failure but there is some light, at least my hair was super soft and hydrated. I only used a little bit of the whipped butter and the results were amazing.
A hair butter or cream is an essential to your routine to help seal the moisture in. Shea butter is a popular natural butter as it aids hair growth, making it soft and manageable. While some people are not fond of its smell, I find adding your favourite essential oil helps.
The final products that I tested were from SheaMoisture. This brand was probably one of the first natural hair care ranges that I saw in stockists Boots and Superdrug. Growing up in the snobbery of Berkshire, there weren’t too many places that provided Afro skin and hair care, so seeing shops become more multicultural was a massive step forward in my eyes.
SheaMoisture sent me their latest range which specialises in frizz defence. The range included a shampoo, conditioner and styling gel-cream, all advertised as protecting hair from UV rays, pollution, dry air and humidity. Although this range is for wavy hair, I still gave it a go as I’m all about that frizz protection. They also sent me their very popular Jamaican black castor oil treatment masque which I had been longing to get my hands on!
As wash day came around I was very excited to try their latest range. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the smell, it’s intensely sweet; like sugared almonds. For me, it was too much as I prefer more musky smells, but as the day went on it faded a bit and became more of a floral scent.
At first look the shampoo was extremely runny. I’d pour it into my hand, turn around to put down the bottle and half of it had run out of my hand. I ended up having to just pour it straight into my hair to prevent wasting it. After I washed it out my hair was clean and very soft, it’s definitely a good gentle shampoo.
The conditioner came in a pump bottle but I found it was too thick to actually funnel through the nozzle. In the end, I had to unscrew the lid and just shake it out – quite the opposite to the shampoo. The conditioner was nice and thick with lots of slip, making detangling a breeze. One word of warning – do not get this conditioner in your eye! It felt like the gates of Hell had opened within my eyeball. I found myself cradled under the shower trying to expel Satan from deep crevices of my retina. It was so painful.
But, after my traumatic experience, my tresses were shiny, soft and the curls were defined. I then proceeded as directed on the bottle to use the styling gel-cream. The gel-cream was a nice consistency and went through my hair with ease. It didn’t feel like it was just sitting on top of my hair, and it wasn’t crunchy or stiff when it had set. My wash and go typing was well defined and my hair didn’t shrink as much as it would without products. I would suggest a good curl defining product as part of your routine.
The last product I used was the treatment mask. One of the first products I bought when I went natural was Jamaican black castor oil or JBCO as it known. This oil is now an essential part of my regime. It is amazing for increasing hair growth and reducing hair damage. JBCO has a thicker oil consistency but mixing it with coconut oil or any other lighter oil can make it easier to work with. I would highly recommend getting your hands on some of this product if you struggle with hair growth especially around your nape and edges.
After shampooing, I sectioned my hair and applied a decent amount to each part before covering it with my shower cap and leaving it for 45 minutes. For the last 15 minutes I sat under my hair dryer to heat the hair under the cap. This opens the hair follicles to allow a deeper condition. I would suggest doing this if your hair seems dry, damaged or you feel it could use a real deep condition.
After washing it out, my hair felt healthier, moisturised and manageable. I really like the smell, it’s unusual – a kind of chocolatey scent.
Overall I like the SheaMoisture range. The prices of the products range from £10.99-£12.99 so are at the upper end of my budget, although they are sometimes on offer in different stores. I probably wouldn’t buy the Raw Shea Cupaucu but I’m a big fan of the treatment masque and may invest in their Jamaican black castor oil range instead.
Overall, testing the range of products was a great experience. I am a huge fan of trying different things, but as we all know, it can get pretty pricey. If you’re like me and always wanting to try new products, a great way to do this is via subscription boxes. They are a great way to get your product fix without breaking the bank each month. I spoke with Jamelia Donaldson, the founder of TreasureTress (an Afro/kinky/curl product box based in the UK) to discuss being natural, trying products and why subscription boxes are a great way to explore products without the big bill each month.
“I am a self-professed product junkie so I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for products (and still do). Would I say I’ve had any failed product experiences – no. I’ve had products which haven’t been my favorite – but I’ve managed to repurpose and put them to use otherwise e.g. using them when I am doing up-do’s as opposed to braid outs.
I am probably very biased as the owner of a subscription box; however I can honestly say I created TreasureTress because I wanted to try new products on a budget. Trying new products really does add up. I also wanted more from the product-purchasing experience than going, picking something up off the shelf and going home. I was hungry for a community, for information, for follows up, the opportunity to provide feedback. Subscriptions boxes make what can be a daunting and overwhelming, sometimes dull experience – fun, exciting and cool!”
Essentially, being natural is about trial, error and exploration. You’ll need a good sulfate-free shampoo, moisturising conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in, moisturising cream, a good oil and styling product. The importance of getting to know your hair is a big part of your journey, so be sure to do some research before putting together your regime.
Enough of the serious stuff, most of all have fun! Embrace all that is you, kinky-curls and all. We should be proud of our voluminous manes and flaunt them in all their natural beauty. Being natural has been such a confidence booster, and I truly wish you all the best on your natural journeys.