The curl community consists of people with different lifestyles who like various aesthetics and have hair with conflicting temperaments. The sole purpose of hair care knowledge is to help others make informed decisions about maintenance and styling. Reading about ingredients and regimens are helpful, but properly applying the knowledge is paramount. Seeking advice from experts and testimonials from others can start you on your journey, but then you are left to navigate your journey, which could be filled with woes of failed expectations if you are not listening to your hair.
Good versus bad ingredients?
Rather than thinking that certain ingredients are good or bad, comparing them is a better approach. Silicones are better…for people who cleanse weekly. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is worse than cocamidopropyl betaine…for someone seeking an effective and gentler cleanser. It is all about experience. Your perspective on products, regimens, and application should be unique to your wants and needs. A balance must be established. A great example is beeswax. Beeswax is not a bad ingredient; it just may not be ideal for your distinctive hair needs.
DIY is often upheld as the elite route to hair care but the expertise of product formulators and cosmetic chemist is extremely valuable. Where ingredients are sourced and how they are extracted, formulated, and preserved matters. All argan oils and shea butters are not of the same quality, so there is the potential of becoming frustrated when trying to formulate your own products and expecting them to perform well or better than commercial or professional products in an effort to take the “best” approach to hair care. Everything has pros and cons.
Listen to your hair
Do not succumb to fear mongering. When reading about ingredients, evaluate if the information is applicable to your needs. Is weekly cleansing with a shampoo working for you? No? Then consider using a co-wash conditioner. Do you use heat tools (e.g. curl wand, blow-dryer, flat iron) regularly? Incorporating a heat protectant is highly encouraged to reduce the potential for heat damage. No one knows your hair better than you do, so listen to it.
A Lot of Grey, A Little Black & White
As Sister Scientist says, studies on parabens are ongoing and inconclusive while sulfates are overgeneralized, and it is important to acknowledge that. There is more power and less stress is determining what works for you. Part of the reason so many identify their hair care journey as a “struggle” is because they may be on the polar ends of the spectrum; you are probably doing too much or doing too little. Review your regimen and see what you lack or may be doing in excess. The biggest cause of damage is neglect and over manipulation. Accept the grey and the freedom in it to determine what is best for you!
Read more: Why Product Recommendations are Not Enough