Finding the right products for natural hair can be challenging. It can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends and techniques or to expect one product to provide instant results. Though the myth that length = good hair health is rampant, in actuality this couldn’t be further from the truth. Volume, moisture retention, and manageability are just some of the things that need to take into consideration when building a suitable hair care regime. As such, you may need to incorporate multiple products into your routine to achieve your desired results.
We sought out the knowledge and expertise of hair pros Jonathan DePaca, Faith M. Armstrong, and Wendy Gutkin to learn more about natural hair products, specifically what they do and how to best use them. Keep reading for your best natural hair routine ever.
- What does it do?: “Curl cream defines curls and promotes texture while adding elasticity and hydration to hair,” DePaca says.
- Who should use it?: Anyone looking to reduce split ends. “Curl cream is perfect for anyone who wants to strengthen their hair barrier and add separation. It also encourages the natural curl pattern to develop in the process,” DePaca explains.
- How to use it: For best results, DePaca recommends applying curl cream to wet or damp hair as “the wetness of the hair dilutes the product and prepares the hair for the final touches when it’s almost dry.” He continues: “Once the hair is almost dry, I add a bit more product and scrunch the hair until the curls become beautiful and well adjusted before letting the hair air dry naturally." Curl creams layer well with other products such as gels or leave-in conditioners.
- What does it do?: Gel mousse is a hybrid product that offers the frizz control and definition of a gel but with the flexible feel and finish of a mousse.
- Who should use it?: “Gel mousse is perfect for those with waves, curls, and coils who are looking for volume and definition. It can also give straight or relaxed styles the body and hold they need, depending on the product," Armstrong explains.
- How to use it: Apply to damp hair and rake through with fingers to add definition to waves, curls, or coils.
- What does it do?: A curl-reviving mist adds moisture and elasticity back into the hair after it has been slept on or worn. “It can reactivate a curling product and helps keep coils looking defined and frizz-free with only a couple of spritzes,” Gutkin says.
- Who should use it?: Anyone with wavy or curly hair looking to refresh their curls after wearing them for a day or more.
- How to use it: To refresh your curls, apply your curl reviver spray or mist to dry hair in sections, starting from the bottom, and scrunch to work through the hair. “You can also mist the hair with water around the face and top of the hair prior to applying the product for extra moisture,” Gutkin explains.
- What does it do?: Leave-in conditioner extends hydration from a typical rinse-out conditioner while aiding in the detangling process.
- Who should use it?: “Leave-in conditioner is ideal for any hair type that desires the prolonged benefits of their traditional conditioner," DePaca explains. "For those with curly hair, leave-in conditioners can aid with shape and bounce.” It can be especially beneficial for those with damaged or dry hair.
- How to use it: “Leave-in conditioner should be applied to damp hair from the middle of the hair to the ends post-washing and combed through to ensure an even distribution of the product, “ DePaca says. Some leave-in conditioners also provide heat protection to add a barrier against thermal damage; if you use hot styling tools on a regular basis, you might want to find one that can protect your tresses, too.
- What does it do?: “Edge control is used to smooth or slick down hairs along the hairline and nape of the neck,” Armstrong says.
- Who should use it?: Anyone who is looking to smooth or lay short hairs or curls along their hairline can use edge control.
- How to use it: “Apply the gel directly onto the [styling] area and, using a soft brush or comb, drag product through the ends in the direction of the hairstyle or along the forehead and/or temples,” Armstrong says.
- What does it do?: Hair oils are lightweight, non-greasy oils that add hydration and natural radiance to the hair, with the added benefit of reducing split ends.
- Who should use it?: “Hair oil is a must-have for all hair types but it can work wonders on curls,” DePaca says. “Oils provide very deep and intense moisture for your hair and will add shine as well.”
- How to use it: DePaca’s top tip for applying hair oil is to put it on wet hair to dilute it a little before blow-drying. “I would also add hair oil from the ends up to the middle of the hair, as you can see where the hair is absorbing the product and preventing over-saturation at the roots, “ he explains. For those who love to indulge in a bit of self-care, hair oil can also be used on wash days prior to washing, in combination with a hair mask.
- What does it do?: Hair butter is a mixture of oils and butter that acts as a moisturizing sealer to protect the hair from dryness, frizz, and breakage.
- Who should use it?: Hair butter is perfect for those who have coarse, thick, or curly hair with an extremely dry, brittle texture, as it works to strengthen the hair.
- How to use it: According to Gutkin, it’s always best to focus on the ends when applying hair butter. Apply in sections of your hair and massage it in to ensure the butter is penetrating. “For best results, leave it on for 20-30 minutes and then shampoo,” she says.
- What does it do?: “Heat protectant creates a barrier from excessive heat caused by styling tools that are used on the hair,” Armstrong says.
- Who can use it?: Anyone who uses hot tools to style their hair.
- How to use it: Spray in sections on thoroughly dry hair. “Let the protectant dry before using any heat on your hair,” Gutkin says. When searching for a heat protectant, DePaca suggests looking for one that is “light enough not to weigh the hair down and to be layered with other products.”