Photo by @letts_curl
If you are trying new products to simply explore your options and feed your Product Junkie habit, then this article might be irrelevant to you. But if you are trying new products because your current arsenal is not up to par with your expectations, then this will help you prevent those disappointing purchases. Only you can determine which regimen suits your needs, but before you impulse buy or select at random (or because a YouTuber told you to), consider these four steps.
1. Do you know what your hair likes?
Before making a new product purchase, you should review the ingredient lists of your current products to see if there is something consistent that your hair may be responding adversely to. Sometimes it is one ingredient and other times it is the entire formulation. Your hair may reject coconut oil, silicones, and mineral oil, and reviewing your current regimen can reveal the common denominator. If this sounds overwhelming to you, stick to looking at the first five ingredients. If you have not done this yet, you could be repetitively buying products with ingredients that don't suit your hair.
Save money and shop smarter by trying products that do not contain ingredients that are in the current products you hate.
2. Do you expect the impossible?
If you are unhappy with your shampoo or an oil because it does not moisturize your hair, the problem might be you, not the product.
Moisture retention is the biggest concern for textured hair and it is important that it is reinforced in every step of your regimen, but sometimes our expectations can be misplaced. Shampoo is designed to remove debris, product buildup, and excess sebum - not leave your hair feeling soft and conditioned. Shampoos work by using surfactants and a pH balance of 4-7 that raises the hair cuticle. When the cuticle is raised, it will feel dryer or rougher than it does with a deep conditioner. It's supposed to! Many naturals complain of shampoo drying their hair, but the process is drying in nature in order to effectively remove dirt, which is why brands formulate a conditioner to help restore moisture and close the cuticle. It is one thing if your shampoo leaves your strands matted, but what you are mistaken for dry hair is actually clean hair. If you are searching for a shampoo that will leave your hair feeling like you can forgo a deep conditioner, that will never happen.
Most oils do not moisturize the hair; they simply help to seal in the moisture that is already in the hair. It is best to use an oil before or after applying your leave-in conditioner or moisturizer. They are not effective as moisturizers that can be solely after rinsing off your conditioner, so before deciding whether your oil is leaving your hair dry and greasy, consider using a moisturizer or leave-in conditioner if you are not already.
If conditioner is on your current shopping list, then consider whether you need a daily conditioner or deep conditioner, masque, or treatment. If you are expecting longer-lasting moisture benefits, then you should consider incorporating a deep conditioner, as it “contains long lasting, penetrable ingredients benefitting the strand from the inside out by finding the damaged areas and filling them in order to temporarily rebuild the hair strands.”
Read more: Daily Conditioner vs. Deep Conditioner
3. Did you remove your other products first?
Many products are formulated with water-insoluble ingredients, which tend to cause excessive dryness after accumulating over time. Before you can properly attribute your issues to this new product, it is essential to first shampoo to effectively observe how well the new product performs. You want to thoroughly remove all of the silicones, mineral oil, butters, and heavy oils that have built up on the hair.
You want to thoroughly remove all of the silicones, mineral oil, butters, and heavy oils that have built up on the hair.
Mineral oil and certain silicones require sulfates for thorough removal, so it is worth considering whether you want to continue using products that require sulfates to remove, especially if dryness is a concern. Co-washing and using co-wash conditioners are meant to be incorporated between shampoos, not to replace them. You want to make sure your hair has a clean slate when trying new products.
4. Did you follow the directions?
I am all for doing what works for you, but if you are using a product differently from how its formulators intended, chances are it will not work to its full advantage. Consider following the directions for your first use. For example, I love using daily conditioners on damp hair to detangle before cleansing, but if the instructions state that the product is to be used post-shampoo, then it is only fair to rate the product based on how it performed post-shampoo. Although it is great when a product works in several ways, it seems illogical to rant about a product that was not used as it was designed.
What products are you itching to try?
This article has been updated.