Hello. My name is Mariama… and I am a product/hair care tool junkie. You name it, I got it! Flexi-rods (two sets, I didn’t like the first ones – poor quality), Curlformers (also two sets – I had to buy a new set when my hair grew out, luckily they’re not the real ones!), various bottles of oils, bags of decorative hair bands and pins, at least 3 different bottles of conditioners (I can’t resist a conditioner on sale), various shampoos blah, blah, blah… Seriously this list can go on for quite some time! Long story short, I have lots of hair stuff!
Once you start your natural journey, you’ll find it so much fun to try out new stuff – but it can be overwhelming figuring out how to start and what to use. If you don’t want to use all the pennies in your piggy bank, here’s a list of some items that you must have when you’re a newbie!
An essential is a wide-tooth comb. There are lots of other detangling aids like the Tangle Teezer or the Denman brush (there’s the normal one or you can get the one designed for thick/afro hair), you can even forgo combs and use your fingers. As a beginner I would suggest just a wide-tooth comb at first.
|L-R: Beautiful Textures Rapid Repair DC (doubles as a leave in), Dr Bronner's, Giovanni, Cantu Shea Butter|
If you find your hair is unbearably dry, a good leave-in conditioner may be what you need! It can make all the difference to dry strands! The best leave-in conditioners have water (aqua) as their first ingredient, this means they can penetrate the cuticle and moisturise the strand from within. Good cheap ones that both Zainab and I have tried are pictured above.
|L-R: Herbal Essences Hello Hydration, Frizz Ease, L'Oreal Hair Expertise, Tresemme Naturals|
Secondly, a rinse-out conditioner will be your new best friend! Find a good conditioner and stick with it. It should be able to cleanse your hair like a shampoo (lots of naturals use just conditioner to wash their hair), make your hair slippery, soft and smooth.
|L-R: L'Oreal Hair Expertise, Hawaiian Silky, Aussie Miracle Moist|
Not all naturals use shampoos, but it’s the only thing that keeps my scalp clean. You may read or see other people totally refusing to use shampoos with sulphates in them, but I say you should try it first. I have used shampoos with and without sulphates, and to be honest the shampoos with sulphates clean my scalp the best. I have also used clay and whilst it did make my hair soft, I felt it wasn’t very cleansing (plus it made Zainab’s hair incredibly dry).
Creams and Oils
You use these to seal in the moisture (the water and leave-in). They act as a barrier to prevent the water from diffusing out of the strand. You can use a butter and an oil depending on the thickness of your hair or just one of them.
- Butter – There are lots of different types: Shea (which Zainab and I use), Mango, Avocado. Or you can buy a cream (which is probably easier) instead of making your own.
- Oil – Once again you can buy an already made mixture or make your own. You can use one or make a mix: Olive, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Argan, Almond, Coconut, Castor… I would suggest buying one or two cheap ones like coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.
As I always say to Zainab, ‘stick a headband on it!’ A headband will save your hair do when it’s looking (let’s be honest) a bit crap. Stick it on your head –*poof* you have a high puff or *poof* you have a bun. I have had my hair tie since I was 12 and she hasn’t let me down yet. She may just be a scrap of black satin that I wrap around my head but she’s better than anything else!
If you’re buying an elasticated headband make sure it’s snag free (so doesn’t have a metal bit) and fits your head, there’s no point in a too tight headband (your hair will break around the band) or too loose (it won’t hold your hair).
I don’t use hair bands very often (my hair is too big so they always snap) but they can be very useful for sectioning, buns and puffs. You want plain snag free ones, just keep a couple on hand.
Get good quality bobby pins, not the cheap 100 for £1! You want quality ones that won’t bend up out of shape or flake at just a touch.
To sleep with, and once again you want a good quality real silk scarf and/or pillowcase. It’s worth it believe me, you’re going to be using it for (probably) the rest of your life, so don’t be afraid to spend a little money. I got mine from the Topshop sale but you can check eBay, ASOS and other retailers. If you still wanna be cheap, Primark sell sateen scarves that feel kinda the same (but after a wash or two they don’t really hold up well).
For sectioning when detangling and styling, try and get ones without teeth so your hair won’t get caught on them. The best ones are the butterfly clips.
Buy a pair of hair scissors and do not use them for anything else! Hair shears are extremely sharp so they actually make a clean cut through the hair, rather than splitting the strands. If you use them to cut other materials, like paper, the blades will become duller with each snip. So if you catch your Dad trying to use your scissors to descale fish (sigh – yes this is my life), snatch them and run!
So that’s all you need! Take this list to your local shop and demand for a shop assistant to help you build up your hair collection!