I’ve been getting so many questions about my hair, the products I use, and how to use them. I remember when I did my big chop in 2009 and couldn’t figure out what products to use. The internet was a HUGE help to me then, and even now – especially YouTube. There are so many natural hair gurus in the blogging community who vlog and blog about all things natural hair – and I’m one of them (wink)! So here are my tips for how to use natural hair products.
Layering is KEY when it comes to using natural hair products. Different products have different functions, so you may use more than one product at a time to achieve a certain look. Oils and leave-in conditioners are used to retain moisture and promote softness. Butters are used to “seal” the hair and hold in the moisture. Gels of course are used to smooth hair, but are also used to define the curl pattern of your hair. Many of these types of products are multipurpose also. You may find a leave-in conditioner that also brings out your curls, or a moisturizing gel.
Water – The most inexpensive and most important natural hair product you can use is water. It’s free and it’s abundant. Water is your first defense against dryness. Dry hair = unhappy hair – and unhappy hair won’t grow. Tip: Keep a small spray bottle handy for wetting your hair
Oils - Oils are great for keeping the scalp from drying out and they give the hair a nice shine. You’ll want to use them sparingly though, too much can build up on the scalp and cause itching and irritation. Tip: the best time to use an oil is right after you wash your hair and are about to apply a styling product, and when you’re taking down a braid-out or twist-out. I mentioned some oils in a previous post, but here are a few popular ones among naturals:
Olive oil – a natural go-to product. Use this for moisture, shine, and anything you can think of
Coconut oil – best for taking down twist-outs and braid-outs or finishing styles
Jojoba oil – great for homemade leave-in recipes and moisturizing the scalp
Grapeseed oil – great for homemade leave-in recipes and as a pre-poo treatment
Castor oil – because it’s thick, it’s great for sealing twists and braids
Leave-in Conditioners – Leave-ins are great for ensuring that your hair stays moisturized and soft. They can rage from liquid spray-ons to thick creams and somewhere in between. Tip: Leave-in conditioners are great for detangling hair, and leave-in sprays are great for refreshing old hairstyles. Here are a few leave-ins that most naturals can’t live without:
Kinky Curly Knot Today – this lightweight, gel-like liquid leave-in does wonders for moisturizing and defining curls
Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioning Cream – I love how creamy it is!
Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-in Conditioner – great for refreshing old twist-outs and braid-outs
Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Mask – This one has a double duty – use it as a deep conditioner or as a leave-in conditioner. It smells amazing!
Butters – Butters are great for sealing in moisture and as a styling aid – especially for twist-outs and braid-outs. Tip: a little goes a long way, so don’t use a heavy hand with these. They also work well when used before gels to keep the hair soft (no one wants crunchy hair). Here are some common butters in the natural hair community:
Raw Shea Butter – you can find this product in any beauty supply store or hair stand. It comes in white and yellow
Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie – great for applying under gel for a wash and go
Pura Body Naturals Cupuacu Hair Butter
Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love or Creamylicious
Gels and Curl Creams – We all know that gels help to smooth the hair for styling, but they also help to define the curl pattern of the hair. Curl creams help us achieve the same results, but gives the hair a soft feel that gels often lack. Tip: Start off with a small amount. Use too much and you may end up with dandruff-like flakes in your hair- and it will take forever to dry. Here are a few natural best of the best’s:
EcoStyler gel – It comes in Krystal, Olive Oil or Argan Oil. They all are great! The only differences are the amount of hold and scent
Kinky Curly Curling Custard – It’s lightweight and it doesn’t leave flakes
Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding – It’s creamy, has a wonderful smell, and a little goes a long way. It holds curls like a dream!
Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic – It tames frizz, elongates curls and adds moisture
Don’t be afraid to try different products until you find the right ones your hair loves. The key is to take your time and experiment. It’s so easy to become a product junkie, so don’t go out and buy all these products at once. Do your research, find a product that is designed to meet the needs you’re looking for and go for it!
Whether you sport kinky curls or straight strands, you know that making sure that your hair is tangle free can be a pain – one wrong move and you could end up with a tennis ball-sized clump of hair on the floor – or worst. Not to worry! There are tools that you can use to help ease the burden of detangling curly hair. When used correctly, any of these three options can work perfectly to unleash the curly beast and leave your hair without a tangle in sight.
The basics: (1) Detangling should only be done on hair that has been wet (not soaking wet, but damp) and coated with conditioner (or some sort of creamy product). (2)When detangling, it is critical that you start from the bottom of the hair shaft and work your way up to the root. ( 3) Be sure to work in sections. It makes the process so much easier and avoids working too much with the same pieces of hair.
Ladies I cannot stress enough how important this is. If you don’t use these methods, you’re going to end up with a lot of hair on the floor instead on of your head – and we don’t want that, now do we?
Wide Tooth Combs
Now you may be thinking, ” Akia, I’ve tried using a comb and all it does it pull my hair out”. Wide tooth combs are much better tools to use because the teeth aren’t as close together as traditional combs, making it much less likely to pull out hair when it catches tangles. Try using the Ouidad Double Detangler Comb or the Jilbere Shower Comb, specially designed to glide through curls without ripping out hair.
For ladies with strands that are more fine, or even if you have thick hair but have already detangled with a wide-tooth comb, a modified brush may be perfect. Brushes not only help to detangle, but they smooth out the hair as well.You’ll want to use a Denman brush. There are several on the market and many naturals swear by them – so pick your fav and go for it! You could also try the newest natural tool to hit the scene with a bang, the Tangle Teezer. I personally LOVE this thing! It smooths my unruly curls like a dream!
Your Good Ole’ Fingers
Yes, you read that right! You can use your fingers to detangle your hair – and they work just fine! I’m currently on a no-comb challenge and have been finger-combing for several weeks now and I love it. I’m able to feel my way through my hair and be gentle when I find a tangle or single strand knot. When using a comb or brush, you may not always be able to feel those small tangles, but with your fingers you can feel EVERYTHING – which is great. Even if you do use a brush or a comb, you can still use your fingers before, that way you’ve done some of the work that the tool doesn’t have to do. I find finger-combing also defines my curls differently than when I use a comb or brush – and I’m all about defined curls!
Remember ladies, your hair wants what your hair wants, and it’s important for you to find out what that is. Whether it’s finger combing, using a modified brush or a wide-tooth comb, make sure you treat your locks with TLC!
It’s no secret the lengths women go to feel beautiful. We get manicures, pedicures, spa treatments, and of course, run to our most trusted hairstylist every two weeks. But for many natural hair women, we are the stylist. We spend hours pre-pooing, detangling, shampooing, conditioning, deep conditioning, moisturizing and sealing- and that’s all before we actually style our hair. I know it may sound tedious and not worth the effort, but the results sooooo make the process worth every second. (plus you get sexy, toned arms in the process!). This leads me to my point. With the natural hair revolution booming, there are so many new trends in the natural hair care world – and I want to share a few!
Today we’re talking about oils!
Produced from the kernels of the argan tree (native to Morocco), argan oil is highly coveted for its medicinal and nutritious properties. While it’s been said to have restorative and anti-aging effects, argan oil is extraordinarily high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are necessary for our health and are responsible for the luster in our skin, hair, eyes.
It is used to remedy various skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and wrinkles. It also contains phytosterols, which are good for treating scar tissue. Moroccans use it on their skin, hair and nails – some even use it on their babies. (Can we say multipurpose?)
I’ve tried the One ’n Only® Argan Oil Moisture Repair Conditioner and I love it. Remember, every product reacts differently to different hair types. I say, if you’re going to try a hair product with argan oil, be sure to do your research and try it at least 3 times before you decide if it’s for you.
Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of neem, an evergreen tree native to India . It contains vitamin E and strengthens keratin, the main protein component of human hair. In India and Pakistan, it is used for preparing cosmetics like soap, hair products, body hygiene creams, and hand creams.
Neem oil is added to several cosmetic products for its healing characteristics. Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing in nature, Neem oil has been said to relieve dry and itchy scalp, dandruff, the symptoms of scalp psoriasis, as well as encourage growth. It can even help with hair problems like hair loss and premature graying.
Some examples of the Neem in action: A watery extract, similar to tea, is made from neem leaves and is used as a rinse to prevent hair loss. Neem leaf pastes are used like conditioning treatments to soothe irritation, prevent dryness and flaking, nourish the scalp and improve its general immunity and health. It can even be used to kill lice.
Hempseed oil is pressed from the seed of the hemp (cannabis) plant. Refined hempseed oil is primarily used in body care products. The oil is highly nutritious because of its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids, which matches the balance required by the human body. It also contains vitamin E, phytosterols and trace minerals and hemp protein is high in amino acids and protein.
Hemp seed oil is used for the effect it has on moisturizing and hydrating the skin. It is a highly nutritious food, and contains anti-oxidants, protein, carotene, phytosterols, phospholipids, as well as several minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus (two words - super food). It contains all twenty amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids, and contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E.
Oils are a great way to moisturize the hair and scalp without clogging the pores. These oils are not only good for the hair, but they’re great for the body. Give ‘em a try and I bet you’ll be glad you did!
Everywhere we look, from magazine ads to television commercials, companies inundate us with the latest lotions, creams, balms and butters to help us achieve soft, supple, glowing skin. We all want soft skin, right? Well here are 6StyleFree tips on how you can achieve beautifully glowing, soft skin without breaking the bank.
No matter how many topical products you use, if you’re dehydrated nothing will work except water. Makes sense, right? So get those eight glasses a day (at least) and you’ll be on your way to sexy, glowing skin in no time.
Tip #2 Create a moisturizing regimen
It’s very important when moisturizing your skin that you are consistent and follow a regimen. The key to getting and keeping soft skin is to make sure to moisturize frequently and daily, according to your skin’s need. The easiest regimen, I find, is to moisturize after every shower or bath. I also recommend using facial and neck moisturizers every morning and night. (Sidenote: moisturizing your neck can help prevent the infamous and dreadedturkey neck) Lastly, be sure to use the same product for a least a few weeks in order to know if it’s actually working for your skin. Most products don’t work instantly and need weeks to take effect, so keep it consistent and give it time.
Tip#3 Know the skin you’re in
It’s important to know what type of skin you have, so pay attention to it. If you find that you wash your hands often and they tend to dry because of that, make sure you keep your favorite moisturizer handy, so you can apply it directly after washing.
Also, pay attention to soaps you’re using; they could be drying your skin. Make sure you’re not showering too often or in really hot water. This can also cause dry skin by washing away the body’s natural oils.
I also recommend taking a Vitamin E pill (after consulting your doctor first) daily to help keep the skin soft and glowy. Trust me, after a week or so, you’ll definitely notice a healthy glow to your skin. I also break a Vitamin E pill open sometimes and rub the oil directly on my lips for added moisture, although you get the most benefit when you ingest the oil.
Instead, try all-natural shea butter. It’s thick, but won’t clog the pores, and when used after a shower it will help to lock in the moisture from the water. It melts easily in the hand, and whips up effortlessly in a blender to make a great homemade lotion! It can also be used on the lips and hair as well. Plus, it’s a natural skin protectant, protecting from the sun’s harmful rays.
Most importantly, it’s much less expensive than those fancy lotions sold in stores. And if you’re a sucker for fragrances (like me) you can easily add your favorite essential oil to it to create the perfect scent.
Tip #6 For soft feet, slather on some jelly!
Petroleum Jelly, that is. Vaseline, is the brand that most of us are familiar with, but if you’re trying to save a few bucks you can opt for a generic version (Equate often makes generic versions of name brand products for much lower prices) and get the same effect. While I don’t recommend you use petroleum jelly on your skin (it clogs the pores), I do recommend it for your feet.
The best time to use it is when you’re ready to go to bed. (1) Coat your feet in a nice, thick layer of the petroleum jelly (2) wrap your jelly-covered feet in plastic wrap (any brand is fine) (3) put your favorite socks on – make sure they fit a snug, otherwise they may slide off during the night and you’ll have a huge mess.
When you wake up in the morning, all or most of the jelly will have been absorbed into the skin. Wipe off the excess and enjoy you’re sexy, soft feet. You can do this as often as you like, even every night. Just be sure to exfoliate your feet regularly.
So there you have it; A few inexpensive and fun options to help you achieve soft, gorgeous skin.
Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have any skin moisturizing advice you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and spread the love.
I came across this video while playing around on youtube and it blew my mind! We all have our preferences as to how we choose to get rid of body hair; some of us tweeze, some wax, some shave, some use an epilator, and some may even go the laser hair removal route.
Now, I won’t go into detail about the best ways to remove hair because, frankly, that’s not what this is about. I want to take a brief moment to stress the importance of READING. ( Have I confused you yet?) You may ask, “What does reading have to do with removing body hair?” My answer is, “EVERYTHING, silly!”
If you haven’t watched the video I linked at the beginning of this post, please do so now. It’s the best way to understand what I am saying. Go watch it now. I’ll wait (plays elevator music)…………………
Have you watched it? Good. That is exactly what will happen if you do not READ THE DIRECTIONS or do some sort of research before you try to wax your body!!!!!! If you can’t read, please ask someone or watch a youtube video or something!!!!! (I know the woman in this video purposefully waxed her body incorrectly. I thought it was HILARIOUS and wanted to share while also making a point)
WARNING: If you do not read directions or research your hair removal methods before experimentation, the following can occur:
Red and raw patches of skin on affected areas due to incorrect waxing techniques
Pinched skin near eyebrows due to improper tweezing
Razor bumps and scratches due to incorrect shaving methods
Burn marks due to improper waiting time for hair removal creams
Overall pain and discomfort because you thought you could wax your own legs/bikini/eyebrows or tweeze your eyebrows like the women who GET PAID to do it in salons and spas
Ladies – and gentlemen- we must put an end to the self-mutilation and self-inflicted pain caused by self-hair removal method. The moral of the story…..
Let someone else do it!!!! At least if they mess up you don’t have to pay for it.
Do you or a “friend” you know have any beauty horror stories? Got any advice?
It’s safe to say that America has an obsession with appearance, trends and social acceptance. One of the first things we notice about a person is the way they look. In fact, it’s often said there’s nothing like the first impression. More often than not we are judged and judge others by their appearance first. What we often notice before anything else is a person’s hair.
America was founded on the backs of African Americans and for hundreds of years it was socially acceptable, and desirable, to hate all things related to blacks and to teach that hatred to all others, including blacks. As a result, I can’t help but to think that America is still in the mind-frame of despising all things that are natural to African Americans. Still in the 21st century, it’s shocking when a woman wears her hair in its natural state . She’s deemed as being radical or going against-the-grain. That says that the normal and acceptable thing to do is change the way your hair looks so that everyone can be okay with it.
Are you Okay with it?
In Chris Rock’s film Good Hair, Rock makes several valid points. He says that the inspiration for the film came from his young daughters. Rock essentially told his young girls that he doesn’t care if they relax, weave, or go natural, just as long as they do it for themselves. He wants his girls to be okay with their hair and not to worry if anyone else is okay with it. Not just his girls, but Rock even said that he made the film because he wants Black women to feel better about their hair.
Not only does this “trend” of changing your natural hair to be more socially acceptable promote self-hatred, but it also promotes financial instability of the average American. Rock points out in his documentary that women spend 20% of their income on their hair with relaxers, weave, and extensions. The hair industry is a billion dollar industry because of this, meanwhile women are damaging their credit, going without necessities, and building debt all in the name of having “good hair”. Not to mention that their real hair is being burned to the core with chemicals that if not properly formulated could burn a hole right through the scalp! Some have actually experienced this.
Now, I’m not one to judge. In fact, my motto is “to each his own”. However, I do feel socially responsible to say and do something about a problem that negatively affects African Americans and women. I agree with Chris Rock. It’s your hair, do what you will with it. Yet, before you get that monthly relaxer or freshen up those extensions, think about why you’re doing it.
Think about that damage that is being done not only to your physical body but your mind as well. Have you ever seen an eighty-year-old with 14 inch extensions or long silky freshly relaxed hair?
Are you relaxed, natural, or somewhere in between? How do feel about natural hair? What about relaxed? Share your thoughts!