Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. —Marie Curie

A woman looks out a window worriedly

This article started with a weird dream, but for once, not mine! A member of our sales team, also named April, is growing out her afro-textured hair and had an absolutely heinous nightmare about trying a new product before she even opened the bottle in real life.

After trying the product in her dream, she lifted her head to the mirror and saw… IT HAD RELAXED HER HAIR.

A paranoid Jerry Seinfeld
Hulu: Seinfeld

Creepy, right? But here in the waking world, we tend to have similar concerns, despite the drastic possibilities being beyond the norm for most.

Before it became a regular part of my job to test things out, I had a hard list of things that were 100% never going on my hair ever again. I stuck to co-washing and DIYing my own leave-in products, despite the limited success I was having with achieving the results I wanted.

My first week here, NaturallyCurly gave me products to use, most of which had an alcohol listed as the second ingredient, “scent” as the last, and a few “Evil Lab” sounding ingredients sprinkled in between. I just knew it was going to snap my hair off and leave me curled up in the shower like that racist girl in The Craft, but the people that sign my checks said “Let us know what you think,” so I steeled myself.

This is legitimately what I was expecting to happen.

Hair loss hex scene
Columbia Pictures: The Craft

Much to my very pleasant surprise, the Camille Rose Naturals Curl Love Moisture Milk (you’ll recognize it as the product I can’t not talk about in everything else I write“> softened my hair like nothing else I’d ever used, I didn’t shed more than normal, and I’m genuinely encouraged to keep using it! So that brings up the question:  Why was I so afraid exactly?

So far, the worst things to happen as I go through different products here have all been super easy to fix:

  • Co-wash product stripped my hair? Deep condition and stop using it.
  • Pudding is too heavy? Clarify and stop using it.
  • Leave-in conditioner smells too much like fruit punch and bad kindergarten memories? Roll over, cry a little, and stop using it!

As long as you can recognize that something’s not working for you, and know the steps to correct it, you’re free to use whatever you find puts your hair where you want it to be, “scary” ingredients or no. I even tried using my hair dryer again recently, and I’m still at 100% curl-fabulousness now that I know how to protect my strands and use heat responsibly.

So what would I encourage y’all to do whilst on the hunt for perfection?

To be fair, I don’t have any sensitivities when it comes to my scalp beyond my natural tender-headedness. If you already know your hair and skin do not play well with certain ingredients, keep steering clear of them! And if you’ve already dedicated yourself to 100% naturally sourced products for personal reasons, you can still experiment. The switches from shea to hemp to mango butter were real eye-openers for me, but by all means, keep doing you! Here are some of my tried and true methods:

1 – Don’t waste your samples

Make sure these don’t just sit around in that drawer we all have—put them to use!

2 – Find Giveaways

It never hurts to get something for free! If you’re within the 50 states, we’ve almost always got something cooking. Stalking brands you might be interested in on social media is another great way to get your hands on things with a little less risk.

3 – Do your research

Know your hair structure intimately, keep your personal environment in mind, look for reviews from folks with similar hair to your own, and always do as much homework as you can. Don’t obsess, just recognize that you’re empowered to inform yourself!

4 – Don’t set yourself up to fail

If you decide you’re going to try something new the night before you’re slated to give a presentation or walk down the aisle…you’re not only taking a risk of not looking your best for your big day, you’re taking a chance with your desire to push yourself in the future. Make sure you give yourself room to correct or recover just in case so you won’t be left running back to lackluster, if predictable, standbys after a curl breakdown.

5 – Keep cocktails in mind

Your deep conditioner isn’t going to do the job of your daily leave-in, your daily leave-in’s not going to do the same job as your style custard, and so on. Make sure you’re judging how well a product works for you by being mindful about the job it’s meant to actually do.

Throw all of your results in a product diary for future reference, and you’re good to go!

So April, this means you’ll be taking that plunge and going white-blonde like you’ve always been thinking, right?

… I… um… no comment!

For more on what my coworkers and I have tried, sign up for the newsletter, and look out for our Editors’ Choice announcements!

Meanwhile, do you feel like you’re letting concerns get in the way of what you want to do for your hair? What would get you to try something new?

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