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Any product junkies in the house (raises hand)? The closets and cabinets of most naturalistas look a lot like a Harry Potter style wizard supply shop, brimming with countless concoctions promising to deliver great curls. I have a storehouse worth of hair products, so when I was asked to come up with just three natural hair essentials, it made me a little nervous. I had previously pared my list down to seven, but three? Initially, it seemed impossible. Of course, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my tribe, so I pushed myself to focus on the bare bones necessities. If I were moving away to a remote location with (gasp) no access to hair products, here are the three I’d stash away in my suitcase.

1. Conditioner (rinse out/daily conditioner)

A good rinse out conditioner is an absolute workhorse, doing triple duty as a cleanser, detangler and moisturizer. Look for a brand like SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner that is formulated for dry or damaged hair because it contains emollients, humectants, and oils designed to nourish textured strands.

2. Deep Conditioner (treatment/masque)

Deep conditioners help restore moisture and elasticity by penetrating the cuticle and hydrating each strand. If your curls feel limp and lifeless, many (not all) treatments containing protein that can temporarily strengthen your tresses. Would it be cheating, if I brought both kinds along?

MORE: Top 10 Deep Conditioners for Transitioning Hair

3. Coconut Oil

Oils boost the softness, elasticity, and shine (or sheen) of curls, coils, and waves. Coconut oil is one of a select few oils that also moisturizes by going beyond the cuticle and penetrating the hair shaft. It’s lightweight, versatile, and can be used for hot oil treatments to bolster deep conditioners and to seal in moisture. In fact, coconut oil makes a great head-to-toe moisturizer, particularly for people with dry skin.

As you can see from my list, keeping coily hair moisturized is the key responsibility for those of us with highly textured hair. Everything else (i.e. reducing frizz, defining curls, adding color) is a bonus. Hydrating textured hair keeps it healthy, supple, and ultimately helps with retaining length. If you’re looking to build a strong and simple healthy hair regimen with quality products, treat moisturizers as your building blocks. Your curls will thank you later.

If you could ONLY choose three, what are your essential natural hair products?

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