When I first went natural, I was really on a tight budget. And I had no idea about styling natural hair let alone what products to use. There weren't any products for natural hair anyway because it was 2001 and no one had any products specifically formulated for my type of afro, kinky hair.
So, what I did was started to make my own. During this time, I learned so much about raw products and how they work alone and in combination with other products for my natural hair. I learned what worked and what didn't. I bought butters, exotic oils, essential oils, waxes. I combined herbs, spices, infusions and extractions. I kept notes, procedures, methods and results of my mixes - now all my research is contained in huge binders in my office.
I'm going to share my best and cheapest hair care products for you now – so you too can keep more money in your pocket and stop wasting money on products that either don't work, aren't good for your hair type or are simply re-labeled and new-fragranced products that are the same old same old.
Besides a shampoo and conditioner, you need 3 styling products to get you by. A butter, an oil and a gel. That's it. Most of the natural hair care products you see out there are a variation or combination of these three basics.
CHEAP AND LOVELY HAIR BUTTER:
Combine in a bowl, 1/2 cup refined or unrefined shea butter (or mango butter or some other butter) with a teaspooon to a tablespoon of a nice oil such as jojoba or olive oil or even Argan, a drop of useful essential oil like lavender or peppermint and whip it up with a hand beater.
TIP: If the shea is too hard to whip, put the bowl into a larger bowl and fill the larger bowl with warm water. So it's like a double boiler. Press and knead the shea around the warm sides of the bowl until it becomes soft enough to whip but not liquify. Also, USE DISPOSABLE GLOVES when preparing any mixture. Use a stainless steel bowl to mix the shea butter up if you want a faster transfer of warmth.
Place it in a resealable plastic container for daily use. For any excess, put it in a sealable plastic container, cover with plastic wrap over the top and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. For longer life, a drop of rosemary oil acts as a preservative.
This butter will compete with any basic hair butter out there.
CHEAP OIL MIX
This is for massaging into your hair and scalp after conditioning and while hair is damp. This mix will lock in moisture and help keep your scalp in great shape. It adds shine and softness to twists and protective styles.
Buy a bottle of Jamaican Black Castor Oil
Add a drop or 2 of your choice of essential oil. Check out this page for ideas on which oil is best for you.
Use few drops of this mixture and massage through your hair and scalp as needed. One bottle of JBCO will last you ages. I keep my opened bottles of JBCO in the fridge.
CHEAP HAIR GEL
Go to the store and buy a tube of Aloe Vera Gel (Make sure it is100% pure).
Use this lightly on your hair when you need a little hold or definition. For a smooth set, wrap a satin scarf around the area where you put the gel and leave it for 10 minutes. When you remove the scarf, you will have a set.
Aloe gel doesn't set as long as commercial gels, but it is a nice alternative and has benefits like condition and a soothing effect on the scalp.
Flax seed gel is another gel to try if you don't mind a higher preparation curve. It's cheap and has super holding power. The recipe for my Flax Seed Gel is here.
I have tried and tested all the above methods and can attest to them all working as I described. You don't have to spend a lot of money. When finances are tight, keep your hair rocking by using these basic methods to maintain and keep your crown beautiful.