Going to the salon can be a nightmare for anyone trying to go the natural hair route. This is because a lot of hairstylists don't know how to handle natural hair. If your hairstylist does not have experience with natural afro hair, odds are that they will use the wrong products on your hair. For example, regular non-moisturising conditioners and shampoos containing sulfate are a no no for natural hair, but not all stylists know this.
If you have natural afro hair and are passionate about keeping your hair beautiful and shiny, it is my guess that you are constantly learning and relearning what works for your hair, so you must be aware that store-bought hair products with irritant chemicals are a poor choice for your hair.
To do your best by your hair, you most likely go for natural hair products. But shelling out so much money every month to buy these expensive products is often unsustainable.
For these reasons, the journey to healthy natural hair can be expensive and fraught with pitfalls, and if you are anything like the rest of us, you’ve probably wondered if going the homemade DIY natural products route to eliminate cost is a good idea.
And this begets the question: Are homemade DIY products good for natural hair?
And this is the answer: An unequivocal yes. In fact, including DIY curly hair products into your hair care routine is extremely beneficial if you can spare the time to make them yourself. If you have the knowhow, the time, and the patience, I actually advice that you make your own hair products yourself.
So, what are the benefits of homemade DIY natural hair products?
You know exactly what the component of your hair product is: You made it and so you know exactly what ingredient you put inside it. Because you love your hair, I am sure you won’t pack your DIY product full of chemicals and fillers that cause scalp infections or dry scalp. This is the number one reason I love DIY products.
You can address your peculiar needs: When you custom make your own natural product, you can make it to suit your peculiar needs. Perhaps you have dry hair and want a conditioner that softens and moisturises, you can address that need in the ingredients you put into your hair care product, a luxury you would not have if you bought a product off the shelf.
Of course you save money: This is the number one reason most people choose to go the DIY route. Most of the ingredients you will need for your products are relatively cheap. Some, you can even grow yourself in your backyard. Beyond this, most of the ingredients you will need will also serve in your skin care, so it is like killing two birds with one stone.
It may be better for your health: Research studies show that the average human being has on about 200 ingredients on each day. When you count the ingredients in your soap, hair products, makeup, deodorant, lotions, and perfumes, you’ve already enveloped yourself in a cloud of chemicals even before getting out of your door. The less chemical products you have on yourself, the better for your health in my opinion.
Things you need to know before getting started
If you are new to creating your own natural hair products, there are certain things you need to know before getting started.
The first thing you need to understand is that your product will not be able to last for weeks, as there won’t be any preservatives in them. You must understand that you have to use the products as quickly as possible, as you do not have the luxury of leaving them out for weeks. Bacteria and mould can grow on natural products, and I am sure you don’t want that.
You also need to understand that the consistency and colour of the end product may not be the same as what you are accustomed to. The reason for this is that you will not be putting in fillers or dyes or artificial colours. But while it may look a little different, it works just as well, if not better, than traditional products.
Let me make something abundantly clear right now. The hair you see and take time to care for, the strands above your scalp line, well…that hair is dead. Hair is actually made up of dead cells, and this is why it doesn’t act like skin does. However, the scalp underneath your hair is very much alive, and a healthy scalp will lead to healthy hair. Your hair roots embedded in the scalp are also alive. Your scalp and the part of your hair that is alive have specific needs for health and treatment, and learning how to correctly incorporate the ingredients your scalp and hair roots need into your hair care products will help you have beautiful, shiny afro hair.
I also want to caution you to be a little leery of online DIY hair products recipes. While most of these recipes are shared with the best of intentions, not all of them are efficient. Worse yet, not all are safe. If it sounds unfamiliar and outlandish, take a step back and evaluate things before going ahead to make that product.
Finally, understand that not all hair care products are suitable for all hair types. You probably know this already but it bears some reiteration. Some hair types will require you to handle it gently and some will require deep, intensive cleaning. So you need to get back to the basics of understanding your hair. What is your hair type? Do you have oily or dry scalp? When you have a good knowledge of your hair, it then becomes easy to formulate hair care products that are suited to your hair type.
There is a how
There is a how to hair care products formulation, but you can create so many amazing products once you understand the techniques of natural hair products formulation. Understand the theory and science first before you begin, and formulating hair care products becomes a lot of fun!
The basic ingredients you need
You can use these five basic ingredients as the base ingredients for your naturally coily hair, and you can choose to use them on their own or in combination with other ingredients.
Water: This sounds pretty basic right, but I am including it here as a basic ingredient when it comes to natural hair. This is because it is often the base for any natural product you are trying to formulate. While some people swear by distilled or spring water to make hair products, I do no such thing. It is however important that you never use hard water in your DIY product, as this causes build up on hair, making it harder for hair products to penetrate the scalp.
Shea Butter: This ingredient works fantastically as a base ingredient, mixing well with vanilla or citrus oils essential. You will get the best results if you whip it with a stand or hand mixer.
Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe Vera is also a great base ingredient. Mixing well with oil or water based ingredients, a lot of people use aloe Vera as a base for hair mists or moisturisers.
Coconut Oil: Whipped solo or mixed with other products for a light natural hair moisturizer, coconut oil does the same thing that Shea butter does, which is amazing things for the hair and skin.
Vegetable Glycerine: Working as an emollient and humectant, vegetable glycerine draws moisture into your hair, so this is a great option for you if you live in dry climates and seasons.
Other natural ingredients you may want to include
Oils are very important and they are very good components of DIY hair products. Beside the coconut oil highlighted above, you can also go for castor oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, or olive oil in the formulation of hair moisturizers, conditioners and hot oil treatments.
Lavender and rosemary essential oils are great choices for softening hair, stimulating hair growth and preventing hair loss.
For people of colour like myself, foods such as yoghurt, limes, honey, mayonnaise, avocado, eggs, bananas, and cantaloupe are great additions for natural hair conditioners. They soften and moisturise hair, making it more combable and more beautiful.
Some people also swear by ingredients such as chamomile tea, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and Epsom salt.
A word of caution
As much as I love the DIY natural product movement that is currently gaining ground, I implore you to ensure that you are very knowledgeable about ingredients and how they work on their own and in combination with other ingredients before you go this route.
Your hair is a delicate thing and should be treated as such. If you are not absolutely sure about what you are doing, do not go the route of DIY hair products.
On the other hand, if you have done your homework and know exactly how these ingredients work in and for your hair and scalp, going the DIY natural hair product way may very well be the best decision you make for your hair.
Once you arrive at the best combo of ingredients that address your specific hair needs, you are faced with endless possibilities; less irritated scalp, shinier and stronger hair, and a new wave of confidence.