Recently a young woman approached me while I was on my way home to ask about my hair. My hair happened to be blown out that day so much of her curiosity was focused on the length of my hair. The first question she asked was “What products do you use?” I usually hesitate when asked this question and it isn’t because I don’t have an answer. I know that in asking that question she wants to know what combination of products she can use so that her hair will grow longer. I feel that in sharing the products that I use without providing the caveat that my low manipulation regimen is the most important aspect of my hair care, I am giving misleading advice. The truth is if you see someone with hair that you admire and want to know their “secret”, begin by asking them about how they care for their hair. Learning how they approach washing, detangling and styling will give much greater insight into how they retain length than the products that they use.
When it comes to hair products my mantra is this: Products are helpful but they cannot compensate for poor hair practices. On the flip side, you can retain length with 5 or 6 products from a drug store. I choose to use some quality products, several of which I have to purchase online, not because I think I need them to retain hair length but because I like the way they make my hair feel. I find this especially true of moisturizers. My hair often feels dry to the touch even when it has received the necessary amount of moisture. So, when I come across a product that allows my hair to receive both the needed moisture and to feel soft and supple I may continue to use it. This is not to say other moisturizers are poor quality because they don’t make my hair feel the same way. My hair may feel differently but if my hair is being moisturized then the ultimate result — healthier, longer hair — is the outcome.
In the first 7 months of my healthy hair journey I used drug store products in the “ethnic” hair section (mind you, this was before the plethora of “natural” lines currently in drug stores). I found a moisturizer that had water as its first ingredient and decided it was good enough. And you know what? It was. My hair retained every inch during those months. It was only until I tried one of two other natural hair lines that I realized I preferred them or that, in addition to water, I liked aloe vera juice to rank high on the ingredient list. Although I have changed products during my healthy hair journey, the truth is my hair hasn’t had a drastic increase or decrease in length retention. For this reason, I feel that only sharing the hair care products that I use without sharing technique is only half of the story.
I understand that at the beginning of your hair journey the temptation to be a product junkie is real. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting. But please know that there is no silver bullet product that will take you hair from shoulder length to waist length in a year. Trust me, I jumped on (and off) enough odd bandwagons to know that hair care requires identifying a routine that works and remaining consistent. As for the specific bandwagons I’ve joined…well, perhaps I’ll save that for another post :)
What do you find plays a greater role in your hair care regimen: technique or hair products?