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Are you struggling to find staple products for your natural hair? Type 4 natural hair is described as a tight, springy curl pattern that can be both voluminous and dense. While this hair type can be challenging to manage at times, with the right products and techniques, you can keep your coils moisturized, defined, and healthy.
After almost 18 months of this natural hair journey, I have found natural hair care products that work well for my hair type during my wash day routine. When I first transitioned, I studied the Curly Girl Method on my short curls by only using products with natural ingredients and wore mostly wash and gos, but now I use styling tools, straighten my hair, and wear protective styles. Either way, my ‘fro is growing curls are popping, and I’m seeing consistent results, so clearly I’m doing SOMETHING right.
If you’re a new natural with kinky or curly hair and looking for the best product for your natural hair, here are some affordable suggestions and my staple products that you can add to your personal hair care regimen, resulting in healthy hair growth regardless of your curl type.
Hair Growth after a year of using staple natural hair products in my natural hair regimen
Product buildup can lead to dryness and breakage. A good clarifying shampoo is essential for type 4 natural hair to help remove product buildup, dirt, and oil on the hair and scalp without stripping of its natural oils.
My go-to clarifying shampoos are Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo and African Black Soap and Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleansing Shampoo. Both shampoos are good for clarifying, removing buildup, and adding moisture.
Co-washing refers to washing the hair with a conditioner instead of shampoo. This helps to keep the hair moisturized while still getting rid of dirt and buildup.
I co-wash my hair at least once a month with As I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing Conditioner or Jane Carter Curls to Go Curl Drench Cleansing Co-Wash. After using the As I am cowash, my scalp and hair feels squeaky clean. This product helps retain moisture on my strands and makes it easier to manage.
Another co-wash I use frequently is Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea CoWash. It is just as affordable and penetrates the hair shaft to improve strength and flexibility. If you wash your hair in sections, a little product goes a long way because it distributes generously through each section.
When it came to finding staple natural hair products, finding a great conditioner was a lot of trial and error. My conditioners generally come in three categories: leave-in conditioner, wash-out conditioner, and deep conditioner. Below are my natural hair staples in those categories.
Leave-in conditioners are great for type 4 natural hair as they help to keep the hair soft and moisturized. Look for a leave-in conditioners that is moisturizing and works for your hair’s porosity.
Ingredients to look for in a leave-in conditioner are glycerin, aloe vera, or jojoba oil. These ingredients help lock in moisture and prevent dryness.
I love EDEN BodyWorks’ Coconut Shea leave-in, Jane Carter Solution Curls To Go Untangle Me Weightless leave-in, Shea Moisture’s JBCO Reparative Leave-In Conditioner, and Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave-in Conditioner. All four leave-ins have a great slip and work well with pretty much any styler used on my 4a natural hair.
Wash Out Conditioners
When I first transitioned, Tresemme Naturals and Paul Mitchell: The Conditioner were my holy grail product staples. In the past couple of months, I switched to using the SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner, or SheaMoisture’s Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner.
When my hair needs a bit more tlc, I apply deep treatments for about 15-30 minutes on wet hair. My favorite deep conditioners for natural hair are Kinky Tresses Avocado Infusion Restorative Conditioner, Eden BodyWorks JojOba Monoi Natural Deep Conditioner, and Shea Moisture SuperFruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Hair Masque.
Hair butters, creams, and other types of moisturizers are essential as they help prevent dryness and hair breakage. I used to make my own whipped hair and body butter with pure unrefined organic Shea Butter, Vitamin E oil, and Jojoba oil.
This diy hair butter is used for twist outs, and braid outs, and helps relieve dryness and breakage on the ends of my hair. It can also be used as a daily moisturizer for your body during the winter.
When purchasing a moisturizer for your natural hair, look for ingredients that have glycerin or honey which are humectants that pull the moisture out of the air and draw them into the hair follicles and scalp. I have since stopped making diy recipes and now purchase hair butters and creams like As I Am DoubleButter Cream.
Natural Hair Oils
Oils are great for natural hair as they help seal in moisture and add shine to dull and brittle kinky hair. Some oils like castor oil, grapeseed oil, and argan oil can also be used as a heat protectant when straightening your hair.
I generally use coconut oil as a pre-poo, massaging my scalp with the oil and deep conditioning for 15-20 min with a plastic shower cap. Pre-pooing with coconut oil helps as I rinse and finger detangle after deep conditioning.
Coconut oil is able to bind to the natural protein structure of the hair cuticle, helping it retain natural moisture and reinforcing the hair fibers, making them stronger.
I also love castor oil and use it to help relieve my dry and itchy scalp and as a sealant on my 4a natural hair in the winter months. Castor oil acts as a humectant, absorbing moisture and benefits the hair cuticle by locking in moisture.
My favorite brand of Castor oil is Caribbean-American owned Tropic Isle Living’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil. If it is too thick, you can also easily add essential oils like lavender oil, coconut oil, argan oil, tea tree oil, or peppermint oil to dilute it. You can also use castor oil for holistic purposes and hot oil treatments.
Gels for Natural Hair
The last staple products for natural hair I use are in the gel category. Gels are a great styling product to define curls and keep them in place. I normally use lightweight gels in my natural hair for wash-and-go styles or to slick my hair back into a bun.
Good gels contain ingredients that help keep your hair moisturized and should provide a hold that doesn’t cause your hair to be crunchy or flaky. My favorite gels are by Eco Styler (usually Krystal) and Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel.
Type 4 natural hair requires a consistent and well-thought-out hair care routine to keep it healthy and beautiful. By using these staple products, you can keep your coils moisturized, defined, and healthy.
Remember that part of everyone’s natural hair journey includes a whole lot of trial and error. Whether it is due to hair texture or porosity, what works for one person may not work for another, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different products until you find what works best for your hair to achieve your hair goals.
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