As more black women ditch chemically processing their hair and embrace their kinks and coils, the question of proper hair care opens another can – what products are actually organic and sustainable?
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Our hair reflects our health so it’s crucial to use products that restore and sustain that vitality. However, for afro-textured hair, the cure for dryness, breakage, and not retaining length requires an understanding of the right products with the right ingredients.
While there’s a plethora of new age, natural hair care rules like the 3-step regimen that gained popularity through social media, the most important part of the process is discovering how your hair reacts to products.
Common Power ingredients
Like most beauty brands there’s a high chance harmful chemicals can be added into our most trusted products. Because coily, kinky, and curly hair requires extra moisture, a lot of natural hair care products rely on a concoction of oils and fruity additives: coconut oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera, honey, olive oil, castor seed oil, and shea butter.
Nourishing ingredients like aloe vera help saturate and moisturize the hair, while oils and shea butter lock in that moisturize. Typically, natural hair gurus suggest starting with the LOC method (leave-in, oil, cream) to get your hair accustomed to a routine.
Still, this doesn’t mean it’ll automatically work because all afro-textured hair is not the same. Different porosities, densities, and hair sensitivity can send you on a journey that’ll last years before you find the right products and routine. To cut the hoarding of natural hair care brands down, keep an eye out for sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, silicones, alcohols, and salicylic acid.
Organic Natural Products
Since large companies are well known for sneaking harmful products into natural hair care, embarking on the quest for sustainable, organic natural hair ingredients can be difficult.
In this review, I took the liberty of reviewing three popular organic natural hair brands: Kinky-Curly, OBIA Naturals, and Melanin Haircare. As an owner of thick, coarse, kinky hair, my main goal has always been sustaining my moisture through leave-in conditioners, creams, and following up with olive oil.
This simple routine has allowed my hair to flourish over my six-year natural hair growth. But I’m always in the market for trying out new products that don’t have harmful ingredients. For each product review, I started on freshly washed, conditioned, and deep conditioned hair.
Highlights: All-natural brand making products that are especially great for curl definition, but may take longer than others to fully dry.
According to Kinky-Curly’s website, they use all-natural products without preservatives, are phthalate-free fragrances, and safe food-grade colors. Their FAQ page breaks down other commonly asked questions such as who the products work best for (all thick-haired people), if the products alter hair texture, and the process of shipping.
The most impressive part of their website is the styling tips tab that highlights sections for people transitioning into natural hair, as well as a step-by-step demo. Towards the bottom of the page, they highlight more commonly asked questions that focus on product placement and routine.
Since I’ve already discovered the best organic shampoo and deep conditioner for my hair, I decided to try out the Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner + the Curly Custard. I don’t usually use gel on my hair because of how long it takes to dry but I liked how the Curly Custard pointed out that it helps elongate your curls (shrinkage is my worst enemy). Both products are lightly scented and have a light texture.
The Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner immediately detangled and moisturized my hair before I grabbed my detangling brush. I finger detangled each small section, then brushed the leave-in conditioner in thoroughly. My hair already had a shine and softness.
Next, the Curly Custard was slippery and fell out of my fingers a few times. I loved how lightweight it felt on my hair while still managing to define my curls fairly well. Towards the back of my head where my curls are 4b, I did have to add more of the Curly Custard to get a defined look.
Once the product was applied, I gently twisted each section. I dried my hair under a hooded dryer, then the next morning I rubbed olive oil on my hands to unravel. Overall, my hair felt soft and moisturized, but I did notice build-up towards the back of my hair. The twist also took a while to fully dry (a whopping two hours on medium heat).
Highlights: Natural haircare brand made by a YouTuber and her sister using safe ingredients, but a bit on the heavy side for me personally.
As a longtime fan of Whitney White, better known as Naptural85 on YouTube, I’ve always wanted to try out the brand that she and her sister, Taffeta White, created. A lot of Whitney’s older videos showed her experimenting with raw ingredients like using aloe vera plant as a pre-poo or her own concoction of flaxseed gel for her wash and gos.
On the website bio, they do point out that Melanin Haircare products use high-quality natural ingredients and meticulously chosen safe-synthetic products. Towards the end of the page, there’s a promise that none of the harmful ingredients I mentioned earlier were included, which lessened my worry about adding possible harmful ingredients to my healthy hair.
Also, each product has all the ingredients listed on the website so you know exactly what you’ll be putting in your hair. The product section has an in-depth description of what the product can offer your hair, the pH level, how to use, and all the ingredients.
Following in Kinky-Curly’s steps with using the leave-in and gel, I decided to try the multi-use Softening Leave-in Cream but opted for the Twist-Elongating Cream since there was no gel available. The leave-in cites helping with tangles and reviving moisture with power ingredients Provitamin B5, Bamboo Extract, and Wheat Amino Acid that stop breakage. It can also be used as a deep conditioner when left in the hair and rinsed out.
To begin, I parted my hair in four sections (I decided to try larger twists this time), and dampened my hair with water. I was shocked at how light the leave-in was. Once I rubbed it into my hands, it transitioned into a soft, butter-like cream. I raked the product in and noticed how soft and slippery my hair felt, something I rarely get to experience if products are super heavy. I then followed up with the Twist-Elongating Cream.
When first opening the Twist-Elongating Cream, I was met with a fresh whiff of shea butter. The cream is thick like a shea butter, something that is excellent for kinky, coarse hair. I took a medium-sized clump and raked it through my hair with my fingers, then brushed it through with my detangling brush. Once the product was settled in, I twisted the remaining sections and dried my hair under my hooded dryer (only lasted 1 ½).
The next day, I followed up with oil on my hands to unravel and was amazed at the definition, but not the softness. I watched a plethora of Melanin Haircare reviews that raved for the Softening Leave-in Cream and Twist Elongating Cream duo. Typically when I use butters, I let the leave-in remain much lighter with more water. Both products are on the heavier side for my hair and weighed it down.
I think Melanin Haircare is still an amazing product but simply a testament that your porosity and hair density can make or break how a popular product works.
Highlights: A vegan option that’s made to work on all hair textures and made with ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils.
The last of the bunch was OBIA Naturals. I heard about this product for a while because it’s been regarded as one of the best organic, natural hair care products for Type 4 hair naturals. Their About page also highlights this by explaining how their products are pH balanced, vegan, and herbal based that work on all hair textures. Founder Obia Ewah developed the products after falling ill and wanting to only use hair products that were just as healthy as the foods she was eating. The Bio page also has a video that shows Obia’s hair journey which adds a sweet, personal touch.
Another helpful tab on the page is the How-To Tutorials that show a range of natural hair influencers with different textures, porosities, and hair lengths. As someone who relied on sheer will and hope my hair would grow, it’s refreshing to see a brand utilize Type 4 natural hair influencers that show needed representation and get their chance to be included in hair care reviews.
OBIA Naturals doesn’t only focus on hair – there are body butters and oils, along with a tab for Men’s natural hair care. For the sake of this final review, I stuck with choosing a leave-in and cream. Except, there wasn’t an option for that on the website and my local Target only had the Sweet Almond Heavy Cream.
Technically, a twist out can be done only using butter and cream, so I took my chances. On the website, the product description claims to be great for thick, coarse hair with ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils that protect the hair.
I made sure to wet my hair thoroughly before going in with a handful of product on each section. The product wasn’t as thick as I imagined, in fact it was pretty mid-range. It raked through my hair with ease. It felt extremely moisturizing on my hair, and I noticed that when I rubbed my hair between my fingers it didn’t leave a heavy film or residue.
Once I finished twisting, I used my hooded dryer and unraveled in the morning. I didn’t see a huge difference from my usual twist-outs, which isn’t bad or good – it simply means that OBIA Naturals actually moisturizes my hair.
Creating sustainable, organic natural hair brands that cater to multiple hair types can be tricky. Kinky-Curly, MelaninHairCare, and OBIA Naturals prove that it’s still possible to create products that release natural hair girls from the stress of settling with harmful ingredients for the sake of a decent twist out. Whether you prefer wash and gos, twist outs, or perm rods, take your time experimenting with products to figure out what works best at sustaining your hair health.