Should Naturals use products Made for Relaxed hair?
Today many of the leading brands and lines have created products that either target, or cater to the needs of women with natural hair.
But this wasn't always the case...
When I first went Natural I was so eager to find the perfect product that I splurged on almost anything with the word 'natural' or 'curls' on the label/name. I wanted to distance myself from the products I'd used on my relaxed hair. It was a way of reaffirming that fact that I'd left that all behind - the relaxer and everything linked with it.
I threw away or gave away most of the hair products I used when my hair was relaxed and/or during my transition period and started stocking up on Natural Hair products. It got to a point where I was buying or ordering at least 5-6 new products a month. I didn't have the time to try most, or I'd try them out once or twice and hate them and never look at them again. I was also eager to try the popular products that everyone was ranting, raving, blogging and vlogging about. Bad investment, waste of time, waste of money.
Eventually I stumbled across and switched to the Curly Girl Method and that once again involved chucking any products that contained silicones, sulphates and/or drying alcohol. I got rid of products I really liked. Products that worked for me and products that were giving me the results I wanted. The CG method was great but tedious. Avoiding lots of products was for me, more stress than it was worth, and rather expensive too. The Method works, don't get me wrong, but I've found ways to manage my hair just as well with a little more ease and convenience. Perhaps one day I'll switch back to it, but for now, I've opted for a regimen more tailored to my current lifestyle and schedule.
The Relaxed Hair Products
So back to products before I started transitioning I had already made some minor changes to my hair care routine. I had started adding a little olive oil and honey to my deep conditioner for example. I carried this all the way into my first year post big chop and dropped it somewhere along the way. I sometimes mixed my pink oil conditioner with my Dark and Lovely cholesterol too (a secret my auntie let me in on back in my early teens).
The way the mix made my hair look and feel was wonderful. It also made de-tangling my hair a lot easier and smoothed (not straightened) my hair out almost as well as a relaxer. Was there any reason to abandon it? No. So I think I'm going to try it again. The main aim of most of these products is to provide manageability, moisture and shine. These are shared objectives for people with both natural and relaxed hair.
I didn't abandon ALL products when I went natural. I suppose some were shelved. My organic root stimulator replenishing conditioner for example, I still use on and off til today.
Although it's normally only when there's nothing else available.
Some time last year, I realised that a lot of the products I was using were either products I'd used BEFORE I went natural, or products I'd used during the transition period. All my Curly-girl-friendly products were great, but none really had the wow-factor. There was always some other issue that prevented them from being staple products, for example; eco styler gel and TREsemme Naturals together created white clumps of residue on my hair; and the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie flaked and leaving a white powder on my shoulders, back, and clothes.
Should Naturals Use Relaxed Hair Products?
In MY opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using products that weren't designed specifically for natural hair. If the product works for you then what is the problem? Most of these products are made to manage black hair anyway. Some of the products and combinations I used when my hair was relaxed still work great for me now that I'm natural. Over time, these products have actually been reincorporated into my hair care regimen. Leave in conditioners that I threw out because of silicones were re-purchased. Creams and butters that were buried in boxes were dusted off and opened. They smell good, they make my hair feel nice, and they're making my hair care easier. In fact, the only products that I'd probably never go back to (apart from actual relaxers) are sulphate shampoos for relaxed hair, because even then, they were extremely drying. But the conditioners? Leave ins? Moisturisers? A lot of them have crept back into my regimen.
This is not to say that ALL relaxed hair products will be good for YOUR hair, but if the only reason you've discarded them is because they don't say 'Natural' on the packaging, you may be missing out. Having the word 'natural' written on the label doesn't mean the products contain all natural ingredients anyway. There's no sense in wasting products you liked simply because you don't like the fact that the lady in the picture has straight hair.
Changes in product and regimen are normal I think when you're returning to your natural texture. You want to try everything. You want to know what works, and you want healthy hair that grows. There's nothing wrong with that. But products became a bit of an obsession for me. I couldn't walk into a store without picking something up and taking it home to 'try'. Even now I have products I've never tried because I discovered they had a particular smell or ingredient or consistency I didn't like. Products that have never been opened for no reason other than I couldn't be bothered or I didn't like the look of them (yes, I'm that shallow). Although the habit has died down as the years have gone by, I still find myself buying more products than I ever use or intend to use. I buy them because I'm curious but they're left unused mostly because I now know what works for me and what I like. I'm open and eager to try new products, but generally speaking, I revert back to what I know. What I know is, my hair is healthy and it's growing.
In summary, if it works, and you like it, use it!