Photo by Good Faces on Unsplash
I have been doing this natural hair thing for a long time but it has only been the last three or so years that I have discover what works for my hair. I look beyond the front of the product bottles and like to delve into the ingredient list to determine what will give me shiny, defined curls. With so many products and ingredients with long and complicated names, it may feel impossible to narrow down which ones your hair likes and does not like. But anyone can do it when you start making looking at the ingredient list a priority. If you are new to the language of labels, here is a guide for what to look for.
Here are the five ingredients that I have found my hair loves.
1. Jojoba oil
Jojoba oil is extracted from the seeds of the Simmondsia chinensis or jojoba plant. I love this oil and make no bones about how much of it I use. It has replaced my coconut oil as my favorite oil to use for just about everything including for my oil cleansing method to cleanse my face. Jojoba oil has a similar chemical makeup as sebum, a very long shelf life, and is a great asset to any hair recipe. I add this to my deep conditioner before warming under my heat thermal cap or use as a pre-poo whenever my hair is tangled. Many claim this oil to be pricy but I always buy mine at Amazon.com and pay no more for it than any other oil. When low on body oil I use it as my body oil too.
2. Cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol
I learned a long time ago that not all alcohols are bad. Cetyl alcohol and cetearyl alcohol work as emollients, emulsifiers, and carrying agents for other ingredients in the products without the drying effects of ethyl alcohol. They work to condition and soften the skin, scalp, and hair and quite often used in moisturizers, conditioners, and anti-aging treatments. My hair loves this and when I see either of these in a product I know I will have no problems with that product.
3. Coconut oil
This fatty oil obtained from the coconut has a unique combination of fatty acids. It is a star in the kitchen and the bathroom. Most curly, wavy, and coily girls love coconut oil but as jojoba oil has taken its place in my favorite oil for hydrating and conditioning. I use it for the oil cleansing method and for moisturizing and conditioning my hair and scalp. Coconut oil stays on my list of Holy Grail products. I keep it around and sometimes use on my body I know that with my favorite products and what I gravitate to, I will always have coconut oil in my hair in one form or another. I still have several products that have coconut oil in the top five ingredients.
- As I Am Coconut CoWash (cleanser)
- SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner (rinse-out conditioner)
- SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Hair Masque (deep conditioner)
4. Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine
This replacement for silicones is water soluble and derived from vegetable oil. It is often used in hair conditioners and shampoos as a conditioner and anti-static agent, but it also binds to the surface of hair and gives excellent slip without causing excessive buildup. I love the slip this ingredient gives me whenever I use it in the TRESemme Naturals Aloe Vera and Avocado Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. Whenever I want silky movement, I grab this conditioner with no worry about buildup.
5. Marshmallow root
Marshmallow root or Althea officinalis is a polycrest herb that has been around for centuries and is used for medicine as well as being a wicked slip ingredient in several hair care products. It is the main reason I have had Kinky-Curly Curling Custard as my staple gel for years and why I will forever keep a jar of their Knot Today in my shower for those massive tangles I sometimes get.
Take away from my list
My hair thrives on natural ingredients. I align my arsenal with products and lines that use natural ingredients like natural oils, herbs, or derivatives of natural ingredients. No, I am not Mother Nature nor do I only use rainwater to wash my hair but once I reviewed the ingredient lists, I began noticing certain ingredients my hair responded well to.
Which ingredients does your hair love?
This article has been updated.