woman with natural hair

Due to the increased range of hair products for the natural hair community, it can be difficult to determine which selection is best suited for your hair. Oftentimes, before we settle on a range that meets our hair’s needs, we have to spend our hard earned money purchasing products through trial and error. Selecting and buying hair products cannot only be daunting, it can also dig a hole into our pockets. Trust me, after five years of natural hair care, I completely understand. When I shop for hair products I make sure they meet these six criteria. Hopefully this will offer you a template with which to narrow down your product selection and not break the bank.

Watch: 5 Signs You Are a Product Junkie

Ignore marketing fluff

Before you purchase a product, get past the marketing fluff. By this, I mean don’t believe every catchy word on the jar. Companies make a lot of promises that their product will add shine, stop breakage, or even relieve dryness, but without the right ingredients, all these claims are just fluff. To see if a product does what it actually says it does, read its ingredients list. You may want to look for water/aqua as well as emollients and oils. You may also want to look out for labels such as sulfate-free and paraben-free, as these indicate the product’s formulation doesn't strip our hair of its natural oils and also doesn't have dangerous parabens that may be linked to cancer. There may be ingredients listed in scientific terms that you may not be familiar with, but as a rule of thumb, I always use Google to do a little research on the ingredient. If a product contains too many preservatives and artificial chemicals, I’ll leave it right on the shelf.

Try sample sizes

Many hair companies are now offering their products in sample sizes. Every chance I get I grab a couple and test them at home. I take time to assess the product’s performance. If it does a good job of removing my weekly buildup and relieving a dry and itchy scalp, I’m more likely to commit to a full-size product. Rather than believe that a product automatically does what it claims to do, I test it and mark it according to my own standards.

Pay attention to packaging

Now this is not too important. At the end of the day, it’s what’s on the inside that counts rather than fancy claims on the packaging. That said, I’ve got to admit I’m always drawn to products that are well packaged and branded. I think companies that take time to make their product stand out on the shelf, may also have a few other essentials, such as the product formulation, already figured out. For me, pretty packaging communicates that the hair company has thought long and hard about their ideal customer and is doing their best to appeal to them.

Sniff test

I'm quite sensitive to strong smells, and while I like a shampoo that leaves my hair feeling daisy fresh, I don’t want to feel like a walking bottle of perfume for the rest of my day. For me, if a product has overbearing accents, I’m least likely to purchase it. This to me may be a sign the product is not well formulated or balanced. Checking that a product passes the sniff test before I purchase rules me out from making purchases that will go to waste.

Compare prices

I don’t want to close my eyes in anguish as I swipe my card for a product. Unless this product is made from the rarest oils from the depths of the Amazon, I’m not willing to pay above market price. Some hair product lines are exclusive, professional, or even designer and so may warrant a higher price, but most products that are in the mainstream market should be priced within reason. Before you splurge, find out the price range of similar products in the market and then make an informed decision.

Buy multi-purpose products

I like a product that fulfills multiple hair needs at once. I have never been a fan of 2-in-1 shampoos and conditioners, but I sure do love conditioners that do well as both deep conditioners and even leave-in conditioners depending on how much I apply on my strands and for how long. I have often found that products with a more natural or organic base are more versatile. For example, apple cider vinegar can serve as a cleanser and when diluted and infused with a few other treats like aloe vera juice, it can serve as a leave-in mist. Some deep conditioners also straddle the divide between protein and moisture intense categories. Once in a while, I don’t mind a product that is highly moisturising but also restores my hair and leaves my strands feeling sturdy.

What factors do you consider when selecting your hair products? Leave us a note down below, we’d love to know!