My Natural Stories | What Products do I Use?

imageOn the day this photo was taken, I had styled my hair with a product recommended by someone at the Natural Hair & Beauty Show in Toronto, Ontario.  It was Earth Tones Curl Styling Cream.  I twisted it before bed to get this look in the morning.  Throughout the years that I’ve had my hair natural I have tried so many products.  Too many to count.

To start with, I have had my hair natural since 1996.  There was no YouTube. No bloggers. No big natural hair community of people sharing and exchanging ideas and experiences.  In fact, sometimes I think, if only I saw how big this was going to be…..perhaps I too could have been launching some fabulous product! It wasn’t in my mind because I never imagined that the natural hair industry would grow to become what it is today. I never imagined so many women choosing to let their natural kinky, curly hair be free; mostly because everyone thought I was bold and crazy to chop off my relaxed hair when I did.

Everything on my journey was trial and error.  One of the first products I used on my hair was Kemi Oyl.  I remember braiding or twisting my hair at night with this oil so that it would be easier to comb in the morning.  I then started to using Mizani Conditioning Hairdress cream.  Again I would braid my hair with the cream before bed, so it was easier to comb and wasn’t too matted or dry the next day.  I used this product for a couple of years.  I soon started to alternate between the Mizani and the KeraCare line of products.

Pantene Pro-V Relaxed & Natural collection.
Pantene Pro-V Relaxed & Natural for Women of Color was the first run of this product line. 

One day while shopping at Target in Detroit, Michigan, I discovered that Pantene made products for Black women’s hair texture.  I tried it and I was hooked.  Since 2004 I was committed to using products from the Pantene Pro-V Relaxed & Natural for Women of Color line (that’s what they used to call it). It was soon renamed to just Pantene Pro-V Relaxed & Natural and now they have separated the lines, one specifically for relaxed hair called Pantene Truly Relaxed, the other is Pantene Truly Natural.  The decision to divide the products is a reflection of the reality in the hair industry.  More women are choosing to stop relaxing their hair.  With that means they are looking for products designed specifically for their textures.

Pantene's Truly Relaxed products are designed for relaxed hair.
  Pantene’s Truly Relaxed products are designed for relaxed hair.
Pantene's Truly Natural products include a Co-wash and a twisting custard.
Pantene’s Truly Natural products include a Co-wash and a styling custard.

Companies have recognized that natural hair is big business. Other well-known brands have also expanded their product assortment to include ‘natural’ hair care.  One report says that relaxer sales dropped by 26% between 2009-2014.  I also read one that said sales of natural hair products have risen by about $200 million since 2009.  These numbers are a reflection of increased use in styling moisturizers, creams, lotions, pomades, and setting lotion sprays.

Earlier this year I stopped using Pantene and began testing out a variety of products.  When attending Natural Hair events I have been privy to receive sample products have even bought some at hair supply shops to see if there was something new I could try.  Earlier this year I started using Jamaican Black Castor Oil and Raw Coconut oil on my hair and scalp.  I also tried some products from the Shea Moisture line.

Sheena's Hair Care, Nourish.
Sheena’s Hair Care, Nourish.

Another product I have been using this year is Sheena’s Hair Care.  I was recently introduced to it by the company Founder who suggested that I try it and see for myself.  I used the Nourish conditioning cream, which I found to be great for locking in moisture after washing my hair.  It’s also great to use before bedtime when I twist or braid the hair.  I would recommend it for daily conditioning.  The product is all natural and provides my hair with just the right quench it needs to keep from feeling dry and brittle.  For me, it wasn’t what I would use for styling my hair but it’s amazing for conditioning.  I still need some type of styling products so my twist-outs last longer.  Everyone’s hair is different and it’s all about finding the balance and what works for you.  For me, it’s a great moisturizer that I would use as a layer under a styling cream, gel or butter.  I know that for other women it worked very well to style and help keeps the curls under control.

Right now at this moment I have gone back to washing with Pantene. I know some scoff at the idea, but honestly when I stopped using it I noticed my hair wasn’t the same.  I wash with Pantene Pro-V Truly Natural and condition with Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Strengthen, Grow & Restore Treatment Mask.  After towel-drying my hair I would lather it with a moisturizing cream like Sheena’s Nourish or Jamaican Black Castor Oil and spray with a conditioning spray; either Pantene Setting lotion spray or Dark & Lovely Moisture LOC Super Quench Leave-In spray.  If I blow dry my hair I will put KeraCare blow-dry serum on it before I do that.  If I am just twisting it I will twist and let air dry overnight.

Pictured below is how I twist my hair so that I have a good look in the morning.  It can be quite exhausting at times because no matter how late I get home, if I want my hair to look fresh the next day, I have to spend the time to twist it again.  Of course there are a few days when I can simply tie it with a satin scarf or wear a satin cap to bed and it will be fine the next day.  It all depends on weather conditions, climate and how well the twists lasted the day before.  I can tell now if I need to do it again.

This is how my hair is twisted before going to bed. I actually blow dried my hair in this photo and then twisted it.
This is how my hair is twisted before going to bed. I actually blow dried my hair in this photo and then twisted it.

I often have others say they think my hair is soft and very easy to work with. That is far from true. I certainly don’t have what many refer to as “wash and go hair”.  I’ve never had “wash and go” hair.  Even when I used to relax my hair it was never like that.  It’s always been a lot of work.

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