Guide to Choosing the Right Products

One of the major challenges most new healthy hair growers face is finding the right products that work for their hair. Many eventually become “product junkies”, buying every product and trying every technique they hear or read about as being good. While I will encourage you not to be afraid to experiment and try new things, being able to narrow down products you should try, and being able to differentiate what works and doesn’t work for your hair is key to getting your healthiest hair faster; and reducing setbacks.

How to Choose the Right Products

To help reduce the expense, time and pain of being an unfocused products junkie, we recommend the following steps as guidelines to choosing your products and beginning your journey:

  1. Determine your Hair Porosity & Density

If you don’t already know, take the time to determine how porous your hair is, and its thickness/density. This is key in estimating what sort of products will suit your hair better, and what it is most likely going to respond well to. Cutting out what your hair needs and doesn’t need based on these 2 factors will greatly help you in reducing mistake purchases and save you money… (Continue)

  1. Make a List of What you are looking for?

The first thing to do when choosing what products to use, is to make a list of what you need, and possible products/brands that satisfy this need. Below, in the ‘What You would Need’ section is a list of items you should have, to get you through your Healthy Hair Journey.  Do your research to find what products you want to try next, and use the remaining steps in the guidelines to whittle them down to a manageable amount. It is advised not to try too many products at the same time, so you can more accurately discover/pinpoint what your hair likes or doesn’t like.

TheBOAH.com’s healthy hair regimen sheet/calendar is one of the ways TheBOAH.com helps with the problem of what products to use. Each month, you can write down the products you will use under the “Products Used” section; and make notes of how you felt about the products, under the “Notes” section. This will help you keep track of what works and what doesn’t work, and in so doing, help you create and build your own hair regimen.

  1. Read a lot of Reviews (The power of referrals)

It is recommended that you read as many reviews as you can, to see what other women are saying about products you are considering trying, before you make your purchase. You should note especially, what those with similar hair textures and density as yours, are saying about a product.

TheBOAH.com offers an extensive Reviews page, where we encourage you to read and write reviews on different products available on the market. If a product you want to review is not on the list, we encourage you to email us on Reviews@theboah.com, with the products name, a brief description of it, and any thoughts you might want to share with us. We will upload this product to the list, so you and others can start sharing your experiences using it.

Register on this website, your hair and skin information, to make it easier for you and people with similar features to yours, figure out what products might works best, and what wouldn’t.

  1. Read the Labels

There are literally thousands of options available in terms of products you can use in your hair. Another way to whittle them down to a few is by reading the labels. Here are the things to look for when you go shopping for products that are good for African and black hair.

  • Look for yes words on labels like hydrating, moisturising, conditioning and strengthening. These are the things African and black hair need the most and where your focus should always be.
  • Stay away from hair drying ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (or ammonium lauryl sulfate), mineral oil, petrolatum, and alcohol.
  • Look for natural ingredients like essential oils and herbs.
  • Avoid 'for professional use only' products unless you really understand the instructions and trust yourself to do them properly, or will be going to actual bonafide professionals to apply them on your hair.

There'll always be exceptions to the rule, so sometimes you'll find a product that has 'bad' ingredients in it that works well for you and another that has 'good stuff' that does absolutely nothing for your hair. Stick with what works best for your hair, and use these as general guidelines especially when other options don’t work.

  1. Trial and Error method

There is no skipping the trial and error stage. You will have to try out products on your wish list to see if they work or don’t work in getting your hair hydrated, conditioned, manageable and healthy. Try 1 or 2 new products at a time, so you can pinpoint more easily what products your hair likes, and what it doesn’t; and make a note of it for future reference. Unless results are disastrous, use trial products for at least a month to get a good feel of how well they work for you. If you don’t like the way a certain product makes your hair feel, either try using it in a different way, or try an alternate product. Always remember to do a patch/strand test, especially with more potent products like relaxers. This is a journey, take your time and be in no rush to decide on what your staple products are.

Note that the products your hair likes or doesn’t like might change a bit if you decide to change hair texture e.g. going from relaxed to natural, or natural to texlaxed etc.

  1. Compare Notes with other Healthy Hair growers.

When you start, you will find that a very important and helpful part of being on a healthy hair journey is having a support network. Being able to reach out to fellow healthy hair growers, veterans and novices alike keeps you motivated, inspired, encouraged, supported and focused. TheBOAH’s forum
keeps you connected with other women on journeys similar to yours, so you can compare notes on products used, regimens, tried and tested methods, setbacks, problems and the like.

The ‘My hair story’ articles give you an opportunity to read about and ask questions to hair veterans who have been on their journey for years, and have been successful in getting healthy hair and achieving length; whether natural, relaxed or texlaxed.

 

The key is to experiment and use your regimen notes to figure out what works.

What You Would Need

 

African and black hair needs one main thing… MOISTURE! MOISTURE!! MOISTURE!!! Look out for products with words like hydrating, conditioning, moisturising and so on. Especially if your hair has undergone some kind of chemical treatment, like relaxing, colouring, to name a few; make sure your regimen includes some form of protein/reconstruction treatment. Avoid products made with alcohols, harsh sulfates, petroleum (petrolatum), excessive silicones (ingredients usually identified with ‘cone’ as a suffix) and mineral oil (paraffin liquidium). Again, do note that if there's a product that's working for you even if it has no-no ingredients, it's fine to keep using it as long as it's not damaging your hair over time.

 

The Basics  

 

Basic product items you might need include:

  • Moisturising Deep Conditioner (To be used every time you wash your hair. Put a generous amount on towel dried air, and let sit under a shower cap for about 15mins, if using a steamer/hood drier (on low heat), or at least 45mins if you are not using heat. Use after a protein deep conditioner, to give softness back to hair. Make sure to keep your protein/moisture balance). Examples: include
  • Sulfate-free Shampoo (Wash your hair every week, or once every 2 weeks with a mild shampoo. If you cannot get sulfate-free shampoo, try mixing your mild shampoo with clean water, or using a regular conditioner to wash hair (termed as co-washing). This reduces the stripping and drying effect of shampoos containing sulfates). Examples: include L’Oreal…, Argan Oil, natural locally available alternates include Black Soap (Dudu Osun)
  • Clarifying Shampoo (Wash away product build up every 4-6 weeks with a shampoo containing a milder sulfate such as Sodium laureth sulphate. Avoid shampoos containing more than one sulfate). Examples: and natural alternatives Apple cider vinegar
  • Regular Moisturising Conditioner (All-purpose source of moisture that can be used in many versatile ways. Use it for about 5mins as an extra moisturising step after washing with shampoo; in place of shampoo to wash your hair (co-wash); or apply a little bit on wet hair as a leave-in conditioner, if one isn’t available. You can spritz a mixture of clean water and a little bit of conditioner on natural hair to make it easier to style, and on wet relaxed/texlaxed hair, as a leave-in. Spray it on new growth when stretching between relaxers or transitioning, to make hair easier to manage). Examples: include Herbal Essence’s range of conditioners
  • Water-based Moisturiser (It is best to moisturise your hair daily, or every other day (depending on how dry it gets), with a water based moisturiser that is free from mineral oil & petroleum. As a result of the very curly nature of the hair, and hence how dry it gets, those with natural hair especially, need to be very religious with this. Seal in this moisture by applying a natural oil after). Examples:
  • Natural Oils (To seal in moisture. Natural oils include: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut oil, Shea butter (or Ori in Yoruba), sunflower oil, almond oil, amongst others. The type of oil you use may depend on the density of your hair. For instance, some naturals can use heavier oils like shea butter, which may be too heavy for someone with fine relaxed hair). Examples:
  • Leave-in-Conditioner (A good leave-in conditioner gives much needed extra moisture after you wash your hair, whether you intend to air dry, roller set or use direct heat afterwards. If you cannot find one you like, you can always use favourite regular conditioner as a leave-in on wet hair, or spritz a mixture of conditioner and distilled water on dry hair). Examples:
  • Protein Conditioner (Hair can get some strength from protein conditioners, especially if it’s been chemically treated, e.g. coloured, relaxed, and so on. Especially for relaxed hair, and those transitioning to natural/texlaxed, try alternating moisturising deep conditioner with a light protein deep conditioner, every other week, to maintain your moisture/protein balance, keep your hair strong, and reduce breakage. Do a strong protein deep conditioner every 4 to 6 weeks, or if hair is damaged, to give much needed strength to hair. Those with virgin natural hair (i.e. not chemically treated), can use a light protein deep conditioner instead of a strong one, every 4-6 weeks, as hair may be more protein sensitive and may not require as much protein. Naturals with colour treated hair might need to use more protein conditioner treatments than those with virgin natural hair, to avoid associated breakage). Examples:
  • Heat Protectant- (Protect your hair before using direct heat like blow-dryers and hair straighteners, with heat protectant. Apply on wet or dry hair. They come in liquid spray bottles or in a more thick, creamy consistency). Examples:

Extras

Depending on what you are trying to achieve, other product items you can consider investing in, to optimise your healthy hair journey include (Note: These items are not conclusive, and do not represent everything that can or should be used to achieve healthy African hair. It is advised to start simple, and delve into extras as of and if needed):

Essential oils- Always mix with a carrier (natural oils listed above) oil, never use concentrate. They are great for stimulating blood circulation in your scalp, which promotes hair growth. Mix 3-5drops of essential oil with every 10ml of carrier oil (like olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil and so on). This can be used to oil and massage your scalp 2-3 times a week, to promote hair growth. Different types of Essential oils have different properties. Click here to find out more about each type.

Gels- These are great for smoothening down your edges, to make hairstyles neater, especially when you are natural, transitioning or stretching between relaxers. Be particular about ingredients in gels… The hairline is very fragile, and breaks off easily, which if not watched can result in traction alopecia (retracted hairline). Make sure gels used do not contain no-no ingredients like mineral oil, petroleum, and so on.

Neutralising Shampoo- Should be used to wash hair after applying relaxers or texturisers. It balances out the high base nature of the relaxer to return hair to its normal pH level. Most kits come with a neutralising shampoo, but where not available, this can be bought in any regular shop. Example: Profectiv Neutralising shampoo

Relaxer- Just for those who wish to grow their hair relaxed or texlaxed.

Texturiser- For those who wish to keep their natural hair texture, but want to loosen their curls, making it easier to manage. (Note this is an irreversible chemical treatment, and care for chemically treated hair applies when deciding to use this).

Frizz-control Serums- Great for reducing frizz, especially on relaxed hair. Can also be used on human hair weaves and wigs, to smoothing hair out.

Polish- Great for adding shine, especially on relaxed hair. Also great for adding shine on human hair weaves and wigs.

Elixirs-

Henna-

Braid outs- shea butter, coconut oil and honey, aloe-vera gel or curl cream/ Henna- reddish tint to ur hair, fuller hair for fine/thin hair

Keratin hair blowout

 

The key is to experiment and use your regimen notes to figure out what works.

 

Naturals:

One of the greatest things about being a natural head is that hair care gets much simpler and less is more. Most good products for natural hair tend to be made with natural ingredients. Look for products made for natural hair and curly hair texture. For naturals, the product items you will need for your journey include:

 

Apple cider vinegar- for clarifying shampoo for au naturals

 

Relaxed & Texlaxed: