My Essentials - Kinky Curly Come Clean, Giovanni Smooth As Silk, Direct Leave-in, and Deep Deep Moisture Mask
Going natural can be daunting, but one thing is for sure, you're going to need some products to help you care for your hair. Of course, with all the information out there, it can be confusing to know what you need vs. what's just a luxury. Contrary to popular belief, natural hair doesn't need to be expensive; you really only need a few different products and tools.
- Shampoo: You need shampoo of some kind, whether commercial or homemade. It is important to keep your hair and scalp clean so that it can remain healthy. I really like Kinky Curly Come Clean because it's on the natural spectrum of ingredients and a little goes a long way. If your scalp can take it, instead of shampooing, you can cowash, or use a conditioner or cleansing conditioner, to clean your hair and scalp. While some may only need to cowash, others may find that they still need to shampoo to really clean their hair and scalp.
- Conditioner: After shampooing, you have to condition to soften and detangle hair. There's a lot of different conditioners marketed towards natural hair, but trust me, that's just a gimmick. Find something that works for your hair and that you really like. I love Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner. It always leaves my hair really soft and smooth. If you cowash instead of shampoo, feel free to skip this part.
- Deep Conditioner: Every natural needs a deep conditioner. Our hair can get really dry and needs a little extra TLC. Look for something really moisturizing like Giovanni Deep Deep Moisture Mask. Deep conditioners are also really easy to make; things like honey, yogurt, olive oil, and aloe vera juice make for great natural, homemade deep conditioners.
- Leave-In: In my opinion, every natural needs a good leave-in. It keeps hair moisturized in between washes helping to retain moisturize, strengthen hair, and keep it detangled. If you use a leave-in everyday, you want to make sure it's on the lighter side so that it doesn't cause build-up or weigh down your hair (yup, natural hair can be weighed down). Giovanni has a few different leave-ins, but my favorite is the Direct Leave-In. If you want to skip the commercial brands, you can make a leave-in from aloe vera juice or a mix of water and glycerin.
- Oil: You need oil to seal the moisture into your hair. There are tons of different oils, and you will need to try different ones to find the best one for your hair. On the heavier end is castor oil and shea butter, while lighter oils include coconut and grape seed oil. Make sure you always seal moisture into your hair after you wash and after using a leave-in.
- Gel (optional): Gel is optional for a natural, but many like it for wash n gos and to hold styles, like braid outs and roller sets. I can honestly take it or leave, but I always keep some on hand, especially in the summer when humidity is more likely to ruin a hairstyle. I like Kinky Curly Curling Custard, but the price point scares some naturals off. It's a great gel, a little goes a long way, and it has decent hold.
- Blow-Dryer: Every natural should have a blow-dryer, even if they don't like using heat. I've found my blow dryer to be a life saver when I needed to make sure my hair was dry or set. There's a lot of different blow dryers on the market, and many are a lot more gentler on hair than their predecessors of yesteryear. Do your research and look around to find one that will be gentle on your tresses. (Note: I'm on the search for a blow dryer myself, so I can't recommend anything at the moment.)
- Curlers: Curlers include sponge rollers, perm rollers, flexi-rods, magnetic rollers, curlformers, etc. They're perfect for creating those little spiral curls and stretching hair without heat. I have all of them, but when you're starting out, you only need one kind, and if your hair is shorter, make sure that the rollers are on the smaller end.
- Bobby Pins and Hair Ties: This goes without an explanation, but for pinning hair in place or ponytails, every girl needs some bobby pins and hair ties.
And that's it. The most expensive thing on this list will be the blow-dryer, and it's really something you will buy maybe every 5 years depending on how often you use it. Even with the two Kinky Curly products, I spend about $100 a year, a little more than $8 a month, on just the essentials. So you don't need much to care for your natural hair and it most definitely doesn't have to be expensive.