Whether you're just beginning your natural hair journey or have the LOC method down pat, us naturalistas are always learning something new about our manes. While the internet is awash with recommendations for new products and techniques to try, it's hard to know which ones are really worth our time and money. To keep our routines just a tad more streamlined these days, we reached out to Whitney Eaddy, celebrity stylist and founder of Juices & Botanics, to share the three things you should never buy as a naturalist and all the items you should definitely have in your routine instead. (Spoiler alert: Some of them may surprise you.)
3 Things a Natural Hair Expert Would Never Buy (and What to Buy Instead)
1. Satin or Polyester Pillowcases
"Satin is a man-made synthetic [fabric that uses] polyester or nylon materials. Although widely promoted, satin is not the most beneficial for natural hair," says Eaddy. In fact, satin, polyester and cotton are the main culprits of frizz, breakage and split ends while you're sleeping.
So, what does Eaddy recommend instead? One word: silk. Silk pillowcases and accessories (i.e. wraps, scrunchies and bonnets) are a great way to protect your hair. It's also more lightweight and breathable than satin. "Most natural-haired women tend to experience dry hair, so using silk can help lock in moisture. Plus, the amino acids found in silk fibers are great for helping to replenish lost collagen in the skin, and the high moisture absorption rate of silk helps keep your skin and hair at just the right humidity," adds Eaddy.
Shop silk products: Damn Gina Silk Hair Wrap ($50), Silke London Hair Wrap ($70); Slip Pillowcase ($89)
2. Coconut Oil
Yup, one of the most popular hair remedies is a huge no-no for natural hair. "Coconut oil is not all that it's cracked up to be for natural hair. It's not water-soluble and can make it extremely difficult to properly cleanse and thus, hydrate the hair," explains Eaddy. "If your natural hair is on the drier side, coconut oil can actually increase brittleness, breakage and shedding."
She adds, "Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid (a fatty acid), which penetrates the hair shaft as well as completely coating each strand, making it water repellent. Our hair is made up of bundles of amino acids within each strand. These amino acids serve as the building blocks for strong, healthy and hydrated hair. If your natural hair is experiencing breakage and these amino acid bonds are exposed, coconut oil can make your damage and dryness worse." Simply put: CO might weigh down your locks and make strands greasy for some naturalistas. So, if you have a sensitive scalp, oily hair or low porosity, you might want to skip this fan favorite.
So, what does Eaddy recommend instead? "Use a lightweight oil that provides a blend of natural conditioning elements. Organic and natural essential oils are the ultimate nutritive ingredients to aid in healthy and restorative hair growth," says Eaddy. Swap out coconut oil for lighter options like grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, argan oil, marula oil and/or chia seed oil. These specific oils are just as nourishing and overall won't lead to buildup.
Shop oils: Now Solutions Grapeseed Oil ($12); Pattern Jojoba Oil ($25); Juice & Botanics The Drip Healthy Hair Growth Elixir ($30)
3. Hair Grease
This one is definitely going to make the older generation gasp since it's been a staple for decades, but hair grease might be doing more harm than good. "There is a lot of unlearning to be done for those of us who were brought up thinking that our hair and scalp needed to be constantly greased with products. The danger in using grease doesn’t lie so much in using it on your hair but in what it does on your scalp," says Eaddy. "The primary ingredients in grease—mineral oil and petrolatum—create a moisture barrier for our skin. With that barrier blocking your scalp, it's unable to give off heat. By blocking your skin's ability to breathe, it can also clog your pores, resulting in further damage."
So, what does Eaddy recommend instead? Hair oil or a scalp serum. "This option will provide optimal nourishment to the scalp without causing any clogged pores or product buildup," she adds. Again, regularly incorporating lightweight oils that are soothing and gentle will keep your hair and scalp healthier in the long run.
Shop oils: Melanin Haircare Multi-Use Pure Oil Blend ($22); Adwoa Beauty Blue Tansy Treatment Serum ($36); Vegamour Gro Hair Serum ($58)