Afros, coils and curls of all sorts are becoming more and more common as increasing numbers of women choose natural hair over chemical relaxers. But if you are on a “natural hair journey,” the volume of information about what you should and shouldn’t do can be overwhelming. We’ve done our research and consulted a natural hair expert to help you choose the products for your healthiest hair ever.
Ingredients to watch out for
Found in: Shampoos
These detergents remove grease and create lather in cleansers; shampoos usually contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). As well as removing unwanted dirt, they can also remove the hair’s natural oils, drying it out and changing its pH levels. To clean hair and retain moisture, choose shampoos containing sodium methyl isethionate (SMI).
Found in: Shampoos, conditioners, gels and serums
Silicones add a healthy sheen, provide slip for easier detangling and help seal in moisture. While this is helpful, they can eventually build up, preventing moisture from being absorbed, and requiring sulfates to remove them. If you want to use silicones, opt for those that are soluble and do not need to be washed out with sulfates.
Found in: Styling products and leave-in conditioners
As with silicones, alcohols can be used safely if you pay attention to which kinds are in your products. Some alcohols evaporate very quickly and lead to dry and brittle hair. Look instead for alcohols such as cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which help smooth and soften hair.
Found in: Conditioners and hair oils
Minerals oils are strong sealants – useful for keeping hair moisturised. They also provide definition for curls. But, when overused, they can accumulate on the hair and scalp, blocking out moisture, clogging pores and, ultimately, slowing growth. Use products containing mineral oils sparingly and moisturise hair well before using them.
Healthy Hair Helpers
When tending to natural hair, your goal is to achieve moisture, manageability and style. Candice Thurston of Candi & Co (www.candiandco.co.za), a Rosebank salon, recommends the following:
Natural oils smooth and soften hair, helping it retain moisture. There are a range of natural oils to choose from – Amla, sourced from the Indian gooseberry; Argan, pressed from the fruit of the argan tree; Marula, extracted from the nuts of the Marula tree; and olive oil – are all great options.
If you regularly heat-style your hair, minimise damage with protectants. Heat protectants are essential for blow-drying or ironing hair; a wrap-setting lotion helps when using curl rods and rollers, and curl creams give definition to twist-outs and braid-outs.
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