Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.
READER QUESTION: Nikki, I have so many hair products, I'm really quite ashamed. How can I find products that work for me without accumulating more than I need? And what in the world am I to do with all these pomades and creams in my cabinet? Help!
CURLYNIKKI'S RESPONSE: Hello. My name is Nikki Walton and I’m a "product junkie."
If you’re a member of the online natural hair community, then real recognize real. It’s quite common and affects natural newbies and vets alike. For those of you not in the know, a product junkie (or PJ) is someone who compulsively purchases any and all hair care products in sight and is forever on a mission to find the next best thing.
Want to know if you're a PJ? Here are a few telltale signs:
Although one can run into some monetary and even relationship issues in the throes of PJ-ism, there are several benefits: (1) you’re a resource for the naturals in your circle, saving them time and money (2) natural hair care can at times, feel like an experiment, and trying new product combinations and ingredients keeps you on the cutting edge, and (3) it’s fun!
Below, find some tips to keep your product testing orderly and productive.
1. Process of Elimination: Yeah, the product testing process doesn’t work if you try everything at once. I’m definitely guilty of this. Please do your best to try one new product at a time so you can determine if it really works.
2. Take notes: Keep a journal and track your progress, as well as product successes and failures. This will help you with the above tip — keeping you on top of what worked beautifully and what failed epically. Also, eyeball those ingredients. You’ll see a pattern begin to take shape — products that consistently work for you will have similar ingredients. With this knowledge you can target, and even predict, the products that your hair will love.
3. Double duty: Look for products with multiple purposes. It’ll not only save you time on wash day, but your wallet too. I love stumbling upon a moisturizing and slippery leave-in conditioner that just so happens to hold my hair as well. The beauty of finding a rinse-out conditioner that works triple-duty as a deep conditioner or leave-in is oh-so-sweet. Give it time! Give yourself two to three weeks to determine if a product, product combo or regimen is working for you. Remember, only introduce one new product at a time.
4. Don’t be wasteful: To keep from tossing out woefully disappointing hair conditioners, I've been known to use them as shaving cream and at times, body gel. You'd be surprised at the effectiveness — many conditioners contain moisturizing agents and surfactants. Also, when trying to get that elusive last little bit of thick conditioner out of the bottom of the bottle, either cut that joint open or hold the opening under the shower stream for a second to allow some warm water in, seal it off with the palm of your hand, and give the bottle a shake with the other. This action cuts the thick consistency and allows the rest of the product to be easily removed and greatly enjoyed as the runnier consistency makes for a slippier (is that a word?) experience. You can also gift your unwanted bounty to your curlfriends, or take them to the next meet-up in your area to swap it out!
God Speed and Happy Product Shopping!
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.