A South African reader of mine recently mailed me this question (excerpt):
I am so frustrated. I want to try so many things with my natural hair
but I am confined. How do you go about this challenge?… I live around Johannesburg. Are there things
that you want to try out
badly but cannot because Joburg does not have?
That question was part of a longer question but it highlights the essence of her query. I thought it important to share my response to that and the overall thinking many of my readers and friends have when it comes to choosing products for their natural hair.
I’ve mentioned it several times before, but I think it’s key for this statement to have its own blog post. Don’t limit yourself to the Black hair aisle. In South Africa, many supermarkets etc. separate the hair care products by ethnicity. One thing I’ve learned when going natural is, just because it’s in the Black hair aisle, doesn’t mean it’s automatically great for my hair. There are many products that are marketed to White women that can work perfectly fine on our hair too. Your hair’s not going to automatically fall out when you try a ‘White’ hair product. At the end of the day, hair is hair. We all share the same main hair components.
I say this strongly because many fellow Black women are shocked when I say I used Garnier Nutrisse’s hair dye. ‘But that’s for White women’, ‘Will that really work on our hair?!’ or when I was regularly using Tresemme’s shampoos and conditioners ‘No ways, doesn’t your hair fall out?’. No, my hair did not fall out or smell funny or become straight. In fact, I’ve found that Garnier’s dye worked much better on my hair than a dye marketed to Black women. It’s really just that: marketing. If these same products didn’t have advertising using models with long blonde hair and were placed in the Black hair aisle, you’d probably at least give them a look instead of passing right by them and heading straight for the Black Like Me bottles. I’ve actually found that most of the products I’ve experimented with since going natural are the ‘White’ ones.
Unfortunately, I’ve learned that many products targeted to us Black women are filled with ingredients that are cheap and ultimately bad for our hair. This keeps the costs down and allows these brands to sell them at a slightly cheaper rate. Not to say that’s all brands… but many. There’s no doubt that our American and overseas naturals have more
options when it comes to hair products and hair extensions etc. but I
wouldn’t let that bring you down or confine you too much. There are a
few products here that we South African based naturals can still
use and purchase easily. Yes, we can get American products shipped over but that’s not as accessible or as affordable as heading down to Clicks and picking up a huge bottle of Tresemme for R70. It’s a case of reading up on them, then trial and
So ladies, I’d encourage
you to research and experiment until you find your happy place. Whether it’s in the ‘Black’ or ‘White’ aisle 😉