I think one of the biggest issues we face when going back natural is determining the right products for our hair. There are so many choices out there, a ton of reviews and perhaps a wish to achieve the same results as your favorite “hair guru” that it can become a little overwhelming when it boils down to deciding what is right for your own hair.
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Knowing your hair porosity refers to how well your hair is able to absorb and retain moisture. Porosity boils down to the outer layer of your hair (cuticle) and if your cuticle lays down flat (low), is somewhat raised (medium) or fully raised (high) on a day to day basis. Certain ingredients will seem to work better than others depending on their pH levels and your porosity. Steps like helping to lift your cuticles for better absorption or closing your cuticles in order to retain moisture plays a crucial role, all depending on your porosity.
Hair width is the circumference (thickness) of your individual hair strands, you will either have coarse, medium, or fine hair strands. Depending on the width, this is will allow you know whether you will need a light, medium, or heavy products. For example those with fine hair will probably end up weighing down their curls if they are constantly slapping on heavy creams, butters, and thick leave-in conditioners.
Density refers to how closely packed/how many hair strands you have on your head. It can sometimes be confused with hair texture when in fact it literally relates to how many strands of hair sprouts per square inch on your scalp. Knowing this can help you determine if you need products to help create volume (or for some of you) tone down the volume.
I always say that the first 5 ingredients are the most important since they are the most prevalent in the product (1 – 3 are key). You want to keep your eye out for ingredients your hair likes/dislikes. E.g. If your hair is not a fan of glycerin and it is listed at the very top, then chances are your hair will probably not respond favorably to it.
Keep a record and become self-absorbed! Jokes aside you want to take note of common ingredients present in products your hair likes/dislikes, any new products you have used, the way in which you styled your hair with the products, concluding thoughts on your results and finally take photos! It can become confusing if you are trying to keep only mental notes of everything, so your hair journal will become your best hair friend.
At some point you might try a new product for the first time and after one trial you think “Yes, I found a holy grail” and go out to buy 10 more bottles (before it runs out) only to find out after 3 – 4 uses your hair actually isn’t quite as excited about the product as you thought. Give your hair time to respond to products by using them several times for at least 1 month before you declare it as a favorite. This way you are certain your hair loves it and you won’t waste money.
Trial & Error
If you are trying something new for the first time, it is probably best to try and get your hands on sample sizes or the smallest bottle first. Some companies will even send out free sample sizes for you to test out. This way you are not totally wasting your money (by buying huge bottles) only to find out that your hair is not a fan of it. And remember to make note of the product in your hair journal!