Majoring in Curls  
 
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I’ve always maintained the idea that nature is good. If it comes from a plant that’s grown from the earth, it’s probably good for me and my hair. After all, humans are natural, so nature must complement how our bodies work.

I’ve had tight curly hair for about eight years, and in that time I’ve tried a lot of products. And the ones that seem to work the best with my hair are those that are either pure or contain a good amount of natural ingredients. Hair conditioners and creams with lots of moisturizing elements make my hair feel incredibly soft, and make me feel good because I’m not putting tons of chemicals on my body. It always makes me less nervous when I can recognize and pronounce ingredients. And on a college student's tight budget, they don't break the bank.

Olive oil is one of my favorite natural things in the entire world. I use it in my hair, on my skin, and -- way too liberally -- in my cooking. It has been used for thousands of years as a skin soother and moisturizer by the Greeks, Italians, and pretty much everyone in the Mediterranean area. These days, thankfully, you don’t have to live in a warm climate like that to reap the benefits. You can use it straight from the kitchen, without any additions. Massage a few tablespoons into your scalp and throw on a shower cap for around 30 minutes. Make sure you shampoo well afterwards or your hair will retain that slightly greasy look. (Believe me, I’ve tried it.)

Shea butter is also wonderful for the hair and skin. It comes from the nut of a tree in Africa known as the Mangifolia tree and is very prized because of its properties. It’s a natural protectant from the sun’s rays, which is oh-so important these days. And it has strong cell regenerative properties, so it restructures skin and hair cells. Ladies with brittle, dry curls would do well to invest in some shea butter!

We can add to this wonderful list the miraculous aloe vera plant. As well as being a good source of hydration for hair, it’s a general heal-all for skin problems. A huge bottle of 100 percent aloe vera is one of the cheapest beauty aids I’ve ever found. You can use it on wet hair as a styling aid, on dry hair as a frizz-control gel, as a facial moisturizer, and as a soothing remedy for burns. And in some cultures, it’s been used as a remedy for hair loss.

Avocado Oil and honey are two other moisturizers to add to the list. I love them primarily because they taste great. (Not together, I hope) But you can also apply them to the scalp and massage them in just like the olive oil for the same benefits. Play around with these different types of pure substances before you reject them. Some may work better with one type of hair than another.

Although some herbs and plants don’t actually do much for your hair or skin, they’re great when added to shampoos or treatments for an extra boost of scent. One of my favorites is lavender, which may be too strong if added too liberally. With all of these, it’s better to start with a drop or two and work your way up, depending on how strong you like the scent. Lavender has a naturally calming and relaxing effect, which is handy for stress-laden college lives. Sandalwood also has a similar effect, and it's a little more earthy if you don't like floral scents.

These two scents can also can be used as a remedy for depression, which can affect people in the winter when the sun disappears for days on end. Another good remedy for the winter blues is a citrus scent. If you add a few drops of lemon, bitter orange, or grapefruit extract, I guarantee it’ll perk you up. This is especially beneficial early in the morning when it’s hard to pick get yourself out of bed to that first class of the day.

Keep an eye out for those natural ingredients and figure out which ones work for you. In the long run, you might be creating your own natural potions that are geared just for you!