"There’s no need for 100 different products to properly take care of one person’s head of hair."
“It’s a rush that I get,” Tisha Prater said, explaining the feeling she gets upon entering Ulta, her favorite beauty supply store. “I go in there and know I’m going to get something, but I don’t know what.”
Confessing to spending more than $80 on her latest shopping spree at the store, Prater admitted that although she bought a few items that she needed to flat iron her naturally 3c curls, she also bought some things that she knew she didn’t need.
“I talked myself into buying more combs even though I have a basket of combs at home, but I felt as though I needed a brand new one,” she said. “And I bought more duckbills clips even though I have a thousand of those,” Prater said.
And Prater isn’t alone. There are thousands of other natural women who are struggling with an addiction to buying hair products, which is commonly known as “product junkyism.” Unlike a regular shopping addict, hair product junkies only buy tools or products that claim to be beneficial to their hair.
While some people in the natural community frown upon being a product junkie, others embrace it.
“I know I’m a product junkie and I am proud of it,” Julissa Norman said.
Norman, a 29 year-old substitute teacher who has shoulder length kinky-curly hair says she relishes in all of the new products on the market because when she first went natural four years ago, there weren't even half of the products now available on the shelf.
“Before, I felt as though I had to pick and choose which product I was going to tolerate because I knew they weren’t made with my hair in mind,” Norman explained.
“Now, I personally feel like a kid in the candy store whenever I go to Target or Whole Foods to shop for hair products,” Norman said. “It’s a great feeling knowing you are going to have more than one or two options when looking for a particular product that actually works.”
While some women are happy with the abundance of products options they have for their natural hair, others see it as excessive.
“There’s no need for 100 different products to properly take care of one person’s head of hair,” Felicia Montgomery said.
As a self-professed reformed product junkie, Montgomery decided to stop buying any and every product once she felt companies started to take advantage of what she calls the “natural hair boom.”
“Before a lot of women were going natural, there were only a few companies catering to women with natural hair and now you see every line trying to produce a product with horrible ingredients in it, slap an organic label on it, and target it to us,” Montgomery said. “It’s just not right.”
Montgomery credits her success of no longer being a product junkie to self-awareness.
“I started to read the ingredients on products and do my research,” she explains. “My fascination with products changed once I realized why most of them didn’t do what they claimed they would do. The ingredients were garbage!” Montgomery said.
“It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of natural hair products."
It is Montgomery’s opinion that once women who struggle with product junkyism realize exactly what they put in their hair isn’t necessarily the best for their hair, they will stop buying new products. But for all women that is not the problem.
Prater, who not only shops for products and tools for her hair, but also her daughter’s curly locks, credits her addiction also to habit.
“On a normal day when I just want to get out the house [I got to Ulta] because it just makes me feel good,” she said. “I leave feeling really good. It’s not until I leave that I have buyer's remorse.”
So what’s a girl to do?
“You have to exercise restraint,” Norman said.
While she admits she is a product junkie, she claims to know when to put her credit card away.
“It’s very easy to get lost in the sea of natural hair products, but that’s why I put myself on a monthly spending limit, so I don’t go overboard,” Norman said.
For those who are tired of holding the title “product junkie,” but still struggle with the thought of not having the next best thing for natural hair, there are other options to choose from.
LolaGreensHair.com is a site where you can buy and sell gently used natural hair products for a fraction of the retail price. There you can get your fix without the full amount of guilt of buying an expensive product that you may not like. NaturallyCurly's CurlTalk also has swap boards.
You can also turn to other naturals for help by attending natural hair meet-ups in your area. Some meet-ups will feature a product swap, where attendees bring in products they didn’t find useful. Attendees can then choose from products other people brought in. This way you’re not paying to try another product and also giving away a product that would have otherwise contributed to your unused collection.
If all else fails, you can always get help from someone you live with to help you break your addiction. For Prater, that is her husband.
“He helps me try to keep my spending on track, Prater says. “He tells me stop buying things and I think that helps me.”