Old-School Hair care products: Before the madness
So..........., I am slightly obsessed with my hair and beauty products in general and before I start reviewing, ranting, and obsessing over the products I'm experimenting with now I think it would make sense to explain my hair shenanigans so far and look back on the days when my hair care routine was so simple I could do it in my sleep. Before I go on I should mention that I am a curly girl, I'm mixed raced (Black,white and other things) with coily/spirally/kinky hair, I think it's in the 3C range but I'm never sure. I have about 3 different textures in my hair at any time and it tends to go in a gradient from my nape to the crown of my head with the loosest curls at the bottom and the tightest/kinkiest at the top. This alone causes trouble when it comes to styling but I shall talk about that another time. So here are the products I can remember using throughout all of my childhood and early teens.
Soft 'n' free curl activator lotion
This big bottle of lotion was my staple product as a child, my Mom had been using this product on my hair since birth and even after she taught me how to de-tangle and braid my hair myself I still used this product. It has a very runny consistency and I would use it every single day until my hair was saturated with product build up leaving it in a state where it didn't take much effort to de-tangle. However this resulted in my hair looking oh so greasy until I washed it which wasn't very often when I was (not cough cough) taking care of it myself (properly). This is one of multiple reasons why I have strayed away from using this product. But even to this day I keep a bottle in case of a hair emergency and will use it as a last resort when I'm too broke to use other products or I can't think of what else to do with the poof-ball on my head.
A list of the pros and cons of this lotion will tell you why I love it and hate it at the same time:
- It ACTUALLY MOISTURISES my hair
- It does what it says on the tin (bottle) leaves my hair soft and free :) and shiny
- It activates/defines my curls
- A lot of people say it smells nice when I'm wearing it in my hair
- It protects my hair from drying out throughout the day
- It also conditions my nails while I'm using it which I never realised until my mom told me
- It's cheap and lasts a long time ( when used in moderation)
- It leads to product build up very easily
- It takes forever to dry or be absorbed into my hair which is what leaves it greasy
- because of this I have to rock the 'wet look' for hours until my hair dries, unless I use a diffuser
- If I don't use a diffuser and leave to air dry it can feel a too hard and crunchy
- Without a diffuser It weighs my hair down and leaves it looking a bit limp and stiff
- I can feel the product slide off my hair and onto my face throughout the day and onto my hands if I touch my hair
- It also gets on my clothes and any fancy leather sofas/car seats which tends to annoy a few people :/
- compared to some products I'm using now my curls are not fully defined and can still look poofy
Soft 'n' free curl moisturising spray
So this is pretty much a diluted version of the lotion. In fact when my mom couldn't afford to buy any more of the lotion she would diluted it with water and put it in a spray bottle and I think this spray or my mom's knock off version was easier to deal with that the lotion. It helped with de-tangling, was easy to distribute, dried quickly, no crunchiness or any of the other problems I had with the lotion. However the problems I had with this product is that it wasn't moisturising enough, and when it dried my curls were not very defined and where quite poofy. Overall I never considered this spray to be worth the money or substantial enough to be used on its own, however when I used this in combination with the lotion in tiny amounts I got great results.
So this is one of the gels my mom would often buy but to be honest we would use any gel, even the men's ones because they all had the same ingredients. But I would use this on my edges so they would stick down, otherwise I would end up with this halo of frizz sticking up from my hairline. I would also occasionally use this to define a tiny section of hair and create one spiralling curl going down the side of my face (so not ghetto lol) which was a very popular style back when I was in secondary school .For practical reasons I persisted to use gel on my edges despite the following problems:
- any type of gel left my hair looking wet/greasy/overly shiny
- It left my hair MEGA crunchy which is why I've always been reluctant to use gel to define my curls
- The product would flake and look like dandruff when it dried
- It would also dry my curls (which is why gel is thought to cause breakage)
- most gels have alcohol ethanol in them which means my hair would be more likely to combust if I was anywhere near a fire of some sort.
Here we have some DAX WAX, from the name you can guess it has a waxy consistency. I would also use this to hold down my edges but green colour wasn't very discrete even though I have dark hair and I wasn't too keen on the smell. However I also had another revolutionary use for this which I will hopefully remember to talk about in another post.
Dark and lovely, another popular ethnic hair brand and another form of gel I would use on my edges. What I still love about this product is that doesn't come with the same issues as other gels, it doesn't dry and become flaky, it keeps my hair moisturised and still holds down my edges however the hold isn't as strong as normal gels but there has to be a compromise somewhere. Unlike other gels I feel like I have the option to use this on the whole body of hair as it does not have as much of a dry crunchy effect, however I must say that through years of trying new things, almost any product with a more solid consistency with have a slight crunchy effect on hair, including butters and thick creams.
So that's it, god this took longer to write than I thought it would would but I'm glad I've got it out of the way so I can get on to the more exciting bits. Nowadays I don't see or hear of any curly women using these kind of products, its as if they've been taken away from the scene (if curly hair was a big drama movie these old products typically found in ethnic hair stores don't seem to be the stars of the show any-more). I guess with new technology/knowledge and changes in how we perceive hair should look like, we are all trying to look for better or perfect products for our hair. But it really annoys me when I see generic high-street brands try to cater to our curly hair and produce rubbish products that don't work, especially when these brands have spent decades catering to straight hair and there are plenty of these old-school tried and tested products that have been doing a good job for years and for affordable prices.