brunette curly
PHOTO BY AJ_Watt -- GETTY IMAGES
I am a firm believer in trial and error for finding what works for me and I rarely veer off from my Holy Grail products and brands. It is a hard sell for me to steer away from what I know works. So, how do I find something new? Either my sister (a true product junkie) swears by something or too many have touted something new as a must-have.

I recently confirmed that I have high porosity hair and I need to increase some measures like using a final rinse on wash day and beefing up my protein treatments. I cringe at the thought of trying something new, but I am making those efforts because my overall goal is to acquire and maintain healthy hair. Since I am on the prowl for some new items, I am sharing how I find what works and what does not work for me.

It doesn’t play nice with others

I love certain brands like SheaMoisture, As I Am, or Kinky-Curly. Rarely do I just commit to just one brand on my hair for washing or styling. If a new product cannot mix well with my Holy Grail list, it gets tossed or I will never buy it again. Not mixing well means flakes or turning into gunk in my hair either initially or once my hair has dried. I know most brands say use their entire line for best results, but I have found that many brands work just fine together and all you need is to find the right combination.

It creates frizz

I do not care for frizz and while I deal with it less than those in more humid climates (I’m in Denver), it still occurs. I usually get frizz from playing in my hair and disturbing the curl but when a product gives me frizz or better yet, does not hold in my hair’s moisture, I ditch it quicker than you can say “frizzy hair who”? I don’t play with frizz unless I am looking for a bigger look or volume but I can even control with the right products.

Some brands are just too watery for me and will provide no lasting moisture. I need water-based products that have emollients and natural oils. They moisturize and hold my hair like no other. I prefer gels that have ingredients with massive slip like my Holy Grail, Kinky-Curly Curling Custard that has a botanical infusion of water, horsetail, chamomile, nettle, and marshmallow as the first ingredient. It will hold my coils for days and the frizz be damned!

It doesn’t fit your lifestyle

I am an avid wash and go natural who uses a tweaked version of the Curly Girl Method. If products are not designed for wash and go or not botanical in their formulas, I tend to steer clear of them. Products designed for twist-out, braid-outs, roller sets, and the like usually aren’t great for my wash and go style, and I have found some to be too heavy. I don’t use many butters or creams.

The scent bothers you

Superficial or not, scent plays a major role in the way we feel about products. For example I hate products that smell commercialized because I consider something smelling commercialized if they added a fragrance. Usually if it smells unpleasant to me the word “fragrance” is toward the top of the ingredient list. Hey, I have to walk around with this in my hair, so why would I use something that smells bad? I love the smells of natural oils and ingredients like lavender, coconut, or fruit like peaches, but artificial fragrances smell like the old products I used to use back when I was relaxed. No matter what benefits a product has for your hair, if the smell does not agree with you chances are you won't reach for it if you have the choice.

It has the wrong ingredients

Pay attention to how your hair reacts to certain ingredients. If you can find an ingredient that is consistent among the products that don't work for your hair, then you will know what to avoid. For me, that ingredient is silicones. I have a love/hate relationship with silicones. I love what they can do but I also hate what they can do. My new fave is dimethicone and I am loving Macadamia Professional™ Ultra Rich Moisture Conditioner that my stylist Tiffany Prescott turned me onto. In all fairness, maybe it will not be that problematic, but I try really hard to leave products with silicones alone. I told you it was a love/hate relationship with silicones! I love the shine and slip they offer but it is usually at a price of me having to use sulfates to remove them.

Next lesson:

Do you spend more on products (that don't work) than you should? Read How I Stopped Wasting Money on My Hair.

Stop buying duds, check out the most popular curly products of 2016.

In a hair rut? Follow us on Instagram for inspiration.

Like what you see? For more articles like this, sign up for our newsletter!