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When I had a relaxer, I didn’t care what I put in my hair as long as it did what the bottle claimed. “Red flag” ingredients were common in both my expensive and inexpensive product hauls. However, when I went natural, I began researching ingredients in order to find things that not only made my hair look good, but were also good for hair health. I learned that there were no real benefits, and even some cautions, with the above ingredients, so I cut them all out of my regimen unless I really loved a product. After all, many natural companies charge the same as salon products, so what did I have to lose?
My product junkie behavior grew exponentially, and as I look at my bathroom cabinet today, I am overwhelmed. When was the last time I was able to stroll into the drugstore and pick up some conditioner or gel? I can’t even remember; my trips to the beauty supply store now take forever, as I read through entire ingredients lists to look for one product that does not contain the ingredients I now shun. I buy most of my products online and often pay a hearty shipping and handling fee (sometimes up to $15), all because I feel as if I need products with lovely sounding names like kokum butter, burdock root, henna, amla, rosemary…trust me, I could go on. But in all honestly, who really did a thorough research study to conclude these ingredients actually benefit hair? Who is absolutely positive that my $20 conditioner is so much better than a drugstore brand? These are the things I often ponder. At the same time, I think my hair is growing out nicely, but who is to say that isn’t due to a healthy diet and good hair care?
In conclusion, I encourage you to listen to your hair above all else when choosing products. You may not need that $50 conditioner to get the deep treatment you need. Make sure your money is well spent and you hair is happy; everything else is just marketing.
I have been lurking on hair boards for YEARS, mainly because they always come up in Google searches when I look for hair info. I mean, what better place to get hair information than straight from the source? Hair boards are a much better place to receive feedback and tips for hair, because there is usually no hidden agenda to push a product or technique. Most of the time you simply receive good, solid hair advice from some wonderful ladies. However, I have seen some…er…beef previously between some of the boards (not exactly sure why), so I wanted to relay my thoughts on three popular boards in order for you to pick the right one for you. Here we go (and if you post on these boards and have further thoughts, please add them to the comments section!):
First, there’s Nappurality.com, a board that is very pro natural hair. They blatantly state that they do NOT like relaxers when you look at the forum rules, so don’t even try to go on there posting about relaxing/texlaxing tips and the like. They are also very organized with their forum structure and will move threads that people post in the wrong place (ie, posting something about a product in the general discussion section). They also blatantly state this on the board. They are also not a fan of hair typing, so you might get shafted if you go on there asking about your curl pattern. I have heard some describe NP as the “natural nazi” forum, however, I have posted there about products or hair care without any rude replies or negativity. I like the board – you just need to know that posting about trying to elongate/straighten curls isn’t going to fly. BUT THEY SAY THAT! lol…People don’t seem to post as often there though, so I don’t frequent the threads as much.
NaturallyCurly.com is in the middle of the hair world, at least IMHO. I’m not gonna lie, I’m probably biased because I stalk this place like the dickens and this site is one of the main reasons I decided I could go natural, so I feel as if I owe a lot to it. There are also a variety of personalities on the forum (some who are super pro advocates of natural hair, some who just want healthy hair, some who just have strong opinions period :) etc), so if you post you most likely will receive a variety of answers (some you might not like). There are frequent posts about straightening hair with heat (although, many posters will remind you that frequent heat causes damage) or techniques to elongate curls (henna, bentonite clay, cherry lola, etc), but there is a bit of adversity towards chemicals. But I mean…let’s be honest – the name of the site is NATURALLYcurly. If you post about getting a relaxer, most on the site will not try to stop you (well, some might), but may not offer you tips either. Because most of them don’t get relaxers! For instance, I try to read about caring for my hair daily, but I don’t read anything about texturizers/relaxers/blowouts/etc, because I’m currently not getting them. Now, if later I decide I want a blowout, yes I will read about it. Also…hair typing on the board is not looked down upon per se, but most posters find knowing your texture/porosity more helpful in figuring out your hair. So, if you ask about hair typing, you may be met with a, “Why do you care?” response. Now, when I first decided to go natural, one of the first things NC points you towards is their curl pattern page, so I initially thought that was the secret key to knowing your hair, and I think a lot of other newbies are like this. Therefore, I try to play devil’s advocate. Oh, and another thing…search the site to see if there is already a thread on your topic of interest before you post. I know that some forums have weird search engines, but NC’s is great, and people get annoyed when there are five different threads for “What’s a Good Moisturizer?” when you could easily do a search and get a ton of answers.
Then, there’s Long Hair Care Forum. I don’t post here, but it always comes up in my searches for vitamins/supplements/ingredients for growth. I think this is a really good site with one goal – healthy, long hair – no matter if it’s relaxed, natural, whatever. It’s a good message, but don’t go in there bashing relaxed hair or acting like being natural is better. However, I also find that the whole relaxed vs. natural debate gets a little out of control, so they may misinterpret your post of you are referring to natural hair in a superior manner. I’ve only seen that once though, and for the most part I can’t even tell what ladies are relaxed and which are natural unless they have pics. Overall, I find it to be a very informative site, but something weird always happens when I try to sign up. Oh wait – I AM a member!! LOL, why don’t I post here?!? Silly. Wait…now I remember – you have to pay to subscribe. Yea…ehhh…maybe later!
Final word for all sites – tread lightly, know the rules, if you have to complain about something, do so, but don’t do it constantly and please remember that you might not get the response that you want, but don’t generalize the entire site. I have felt like people have come incorrect at me on NC, and I LOVE that site (just not those posters, LOL!). On ANY site, if people become defensive they might act like jerks, but when that happens, my advice is to keep it moving and leave that specific thread. Seriously, there is an abundance of knowledge on all of these sites and they are GREAT resources, so check them out!