After I decided to embrace my kinks and go back natural, I struggled to find what I needed to care for my hair. With so much information out there it gets really hard for new naturals to understand what is essential so you can take care of your natural hair without breaking the bank. Here is my list of 15 products and tools that should be part of any afro natural hair beginners kit:
- Shampoo: These are created to remove dirt and build up. If you use products and are especially a heavy oil user like I am, a shampoo is needed to clean your hair. There are many types of shampoos out there, if you can get a mild shampoo that is not so drying then the shampoo is perfect for you. There are however other naturals who avoid using shampoos at all costs and prefer co-washing.
- Conditioner: A conditioner is every natural’s best friend. It provides much needed moisture and is of great help during detangling. There are three general types of conditioner – traditional conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and deep conditioner – each performing a similar task of softening your hair. As I mentioned before, there are those who avoid shampoos and prefer to co-wash (using conditioner to wash). Traditional Conditioner is the conditioner you use everytime after you shampoo. As opposed to Deep Conditioners, they are created for frequent use however they still need to be rinsed out as opposed to Leave-In Conditioners.
- Deep Conditioners: These help strengthen your hair and provides moisture and essential nutrients to your hair. This is not the same as your everyday conditioner but created for limited usage. The frequency you do deep conditioning varies from person to person and you should look at what your hair needs. Some people need to deep condition more often than others. They are usually done to strengthen the hair. They can be protein based or moisture based and whatever you decide to use will depend on the condition of your hair. It is however important to alternate your deep conditioning sessions. This will ensure your hair is soft, strong, nourished, and less prone to breakage.
- Leave-In Conditioner: This is very important for your washdays. They seal in moisture, softens, helps with detangling, tames frizz and hydrates the hair. These are mostly water-based and are designed to be left on the hair. They are not as strong as conditioners that were designed to be washed out and if used as leave in can cause build up.
- Oils: These have properties and benefits that provide strength, shine, softens the hair and are great sealants. Almost all my DIY mixtures are made up of or contain oil, from pre poo treatments, hot oil treatments to daily moisturiser. I currently have the following which I use either individually or a mixture of depending on the purpose. Please note that the following were not all bought at once, I usually buy them when I find so do not go crazy trying to find all these oils. An absolute must have for me is Coconut Oil and EVOO:
- Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Jamaican Black Castor Oil
- Castor Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Argan Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Lin Seed Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Essential Oils: Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils
- Moisturizer: I love the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Shea Butter: This is another product I always have. It works well as a moisturizer and what I love most about it is the fact that I get no skin break outs as I do with most hair moisturizers.
- Eco Styler Gel: This is great for styling and what I love about it is it’s lightness on the hair. I tried it for bantu knots and flexirods and the results were great. It did not dry out my hair and I had not frizz at all. For those that love “wash and go” or are not into making their own gel, then this is the perfect gel for curl definition.
- PATIENCE: You will need a lot of patience to take care of your hair. From washdays that take a full day to complete, to months passing by and you not noticing much growth or the endless shrinkage there might be days you might get tempted to just chop it all off.
- Wide Tooth Comb: Excellent for detangling, sectioning during styling.
- Bobby Pins: You can never have enough bobby pins. They are really useful during styling and can be just what you need to achieve whatever style ranging from fauxhawks to a simple updo. Remember to get the ones with rounded ends (the ones that have little balls at the end), they are so easy to use and do not tug at your hair and cause breakage.
- Satin Scarf / Bonnet: Once you have this and start using it you will immediately notice a difference in your hair. Your styles last longer and most importantly, your hair does not dry out as fast do not tangle as when you sleep directly on a cotton pillow case with no protection for your hair.
- Spray Bottle: Very essential. I use my spray bottle during pre poo treatment, during detangling, styling, moisturising stages. So go ahead and get one.
- Large Butterfly Clips: They are very useful during any time you have to work on your hair in sections. In my case almost everytime. Pre poo, washing, moisturising, or just to simply keep my hair out of my face. Just make sure the edges are well rounded and not sharp to tag and break your hair.
- Microfiber Towels: These are lifesavers on washdays. They help reduce tangles/knots that you are most likely to get using traditional towels.
- Showercaps: For your pre poos, conditioning and deep conditioning sessions, you cannot do without your showercaps. If you forget to get any, you can always find a plastic bag around your house and it will work as well but showercaps are comfortable.
These are just some of the things I think are crucial to have when you start your natural hair journey and I wish I knew from when I did the Big Chop.
What are some of the products/tools that you would recommend to those only starting their natural hair journey’s now? What were the essentials for your beginners kit?
(Top image credits: Thinkandgrowchick)