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7 Money-Wasting Natural Hair Mistakes

Avatar • May 10, 2012

Going natural is an exciting time. Everything is new, and you want to try every and anything that is recommended to you. But that can quickly leave your pockets thin. Here are seven mistakes that can leave you poorer.

1. Becoming a product junkie

Let’s start with the obvious — it’s very easy to overspend on products. Now, admittedly, we’re in a natural hair product boom. Older companies are constantly releasing new additions to their lines and newer brands are popping up every day. Motions, Sof N’ Free and Cantu Shea Butter all recently come out with natural hair lines, and some of the products are pretty great! To avoid spending hundreds, be disciplined about using up old products before adding new ones. And if you buy a product that you don’t like, try swapping it or selling it online before replacing it. Lola’s Green Hair is a great swap/sell site for natural hair products, and there are multiple natural hair forums online that have swap/sell threads.

2. Jumping on bandwagons

Because there’s always something new where natural hair is concerned, it’s important to have an “If it ain’t broke” mentality when it comes to your hair. This is not to say that you should never try anything new, but be WISE about what you try. The Huetiful Hair Steamer has been a great tool for many naturals, while others paid close to $200 for the steamer only to find that it didn’t do much for them. Same with the Tangle Teezer, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, the Denman Brush, etc, etc. Remember that everything is not going to work the same for everybody, so don’t be afraid to let some bandwagons ride on by.

3. Getting salon trims too frequently

Most stylists will tell you to get your hair trimmed every 6 weeks. But the reality is that everything is relative. Natural hair on the whole is typically in better shape than relaxed hair due to the absence of chemicals. Plus if you are a natural that does a lot of protective and low manipulation styles, your ends won’t get much of a chance to fray, split or knot. Judge your ends for yourself to determine if you need to trim every 6 weeks, and keep in mind that some naturals only need salon trims once or twice a year! Many naturals get by with the ‘search and destroy’ method — clipping out knots and splits as they come across them. You can save money AND length this way.

4. Searching for the ever elusive “holy grail” curl definition product

Some of the most popular images of natural hair are of women with gorgeous curls — Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelis, Corinne Bailey Rae. But it’s important to remember that this just won’t happen for everybody. Period and full stop. Even if your hair IS capable of curl definition, it might be a cute look but result in excessive tangling and breakage, or you might only be able to achieve it using non soluble silicone-based products that dry your hair out, or excessively greasy products that give you a jheri curl-esque look. If you try curl definition and it doesn’t work out, move on to a different styling approach. Don’t keep throwing away money looking for a curl definer, especially since they tend to be more expensive than other conditioning and styling products.

5. Getting salon styles that only last a few days

We’re natural girls living in a straight-hair world and, unfortunately, this often means paying more at the salon. It sucks, yes, but it is a reality — for now. Given this, you must be strategic about what styles you go to a professional for and which you do at home. Don’t spend money on a $75 twist-out that will only last a week or a $80 loose-hair updo that will only last a few days. To get your money’s worth, opt for styles that you can keep in for 2 to 4 weeks, like flat twisted and cornrowed updos, or individual braids and twists.

6. Heat damage

There’s a reason many naturals stay away from excessive heat. Not only can it cause your texture to revert, the ‘hair-healing’ process can get expensive. If heat damage disproportionately affects one area of your hair — unless you’re super skilled at cutting — you will need to get a salon cut to get your hair evened out. And if you go the route of trying to rehabilitate your straight, limp strands, you’ll need to buy expensive protein and strengthening treatments, and increase your deep conditioning regimen. For the sake of your hair and your wallet, be CAREFUL with heat.

7. Overpriced natural hair events

I bet this one surprised you, huh? But the reality is that — as supportive and amazing as the natural hair community is, there are many people out to make a buck. Natural hair seminars, meetups and events have popped up all across the country, and while the vast, vast majority of them are amazing events that teach and inspire, some of them are poorly planned events with low turnouts and high entrance fees. If an event is charging a high price for entry, make sure that you know what you are getting. Check the background of speakers and seminar leaders to ensure that they are certified — by experience, or training — to give you hair advice.

Ladies, have you been guilty of any of these money-wasting mistakes? And how have you wasted money on your natural hair journey?

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misha
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misha

I am guilty of the bandwagon mistake…I never follow trends but when you have a new obsession its easy to be sold a dream. I have since regrouped and vowed to stick to my regimen and h ave even support planned out my styles weeks in advance. The hair show/meet-up scam is true especially since you need additional money to support the vendors. It’s sad because we are also trying to support black people

KWL0711
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KWL0711

Great article — very well written :-). Makes me feel good about the balance I’ve found in my hair regimen. Thanks!

B
Guest
B

A footnote to band wagon and product junkie is: BUYING ALL NATURAL PRODUCTS!
What amazes me the most is all the OVER PRICE natural hair care products!
Back in the day ladies had HUGE fro’s with just grease and water so why does everyone feel everything has to be mineral oil free, silicone free and paraben free when history tells us that isn’t the case.
If I don’t use a silicon product make hair will get knots.

ladyluo
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ladyluo

Could not agree more. The prices are getting ridiculous on these “all natural” products which in most cases cannot hold a candle to these other cheaper products that may not be all natural. Just because it is natural does not mean your hair will thrive.

Beth
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Beth

I agree! Some women do have genuine and justifiable reasons for seeking out (albeit expensive) all natural products, but I think that many new naturals automatically *assume* that you have to use all natural products, because info online tends to suggest or hint towards that. Which can lead to hard-earned money ill spent. I think naturals, especially new ones, should at least be *open* to cheaper, “not-so-natural” alternatives that may or may not leave them with the same, if not better, results. Herbal Essences and $2 Beauty Supply oils leave me with better results than from Miss Jessies or Jane… Read more »

Natalie
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Natalie

Natural is better simply because the chemicals in hair products are absorbed by our skin. 100 years ago cancer was a relativley rare disease now 1 in 3 of us will get it. This is due to changes to our diet and products we use which are laden with chemicals.

Just like with chemical based products trail and error is needed to find out which natural products work for you.

By all means use chemical based products but be aware that many of them have carcinogens. I believe in personal choice, this is just my opinion.

Irene
Guest

Natural products to do not have to be expensive anyway. I try to avoid silicones etc but I certainly don’t spend a lot of money on products. A big tub of shea butter (ordered on line for just a few pounds) lasts for months on end, you can buy most natural oils from the supermarket (a small bottle of olive oil doesn’t cost much) and water from the tap!lol. I’m not really into product brands although I will try them out once in a while. 100 per cent natural doesn’t necessarily have to equal expensive.

Likewaterforchocolate
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Likewaterforchocolate

This is very true Irene. There is a way to use natural products without spending an arm and a leg.When I went natural, the only bandwagon I jumped on was the Kinky Curly. at’s the most money I’ve spent on B&M products. Troling sites for product reviews can be the start down a slippery slope. Because all it takes is one reviewer to shout a products praises from the rooftops. I began doing more research on haircare products and there are products that are natural and healthy. I use cheapie cone-free conditioner for co-washes (Suave, V05). I use shea butter,… Read more »

deeflyy
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deeflyy

I think the holy grail entry was really key- especially since those examples are all of women with at minimum bi-racial heritage and 3c curls (for those who are into curl types!). natural hair is as varied as the women who sport it and its key to embrace your own hair’s type to really take advantage of what it can do. and if that type differs from what you admire, you can learn to love both instead of getting on the ‘wish i had her hair’ treadmill.

Trini
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Trini

I tried baking soda as a rinse once and that experience was enough to not pursue it again. And a high five to #4!

Nini
Guest

I agree with B on the pricing of natural hair care products, it can get a bit ridiculous. Since taking down my locs on March 30th I’ve been trying to find the best products for me turning to the online natural community has been a real eye opener. But I’ve also learned there is such a thing as too much advice/information which can lead to overloading yourself with products which I nearly did. In the end I found the best products for my hair and I keep everything to a bare minimum. I think we can all save ourselves more… Read more »

Kai
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Kai

Yeah I completely agree with all the above. I have spent a stupid amount of money on some natural products that did nothing for my hair. Now they are all sitting under the sink collecting dust. And let’s not even talk about the tangle teezer and the condition it left my hair!

merry
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merry

2. Jumping on bandwagons guilty as charged but i’m okay now. i used a denman and learned my lesson the hard way. it ruined my hair and i cut a few inches. but i feel like it’s back (nine months after cutting) and looking a lot healthier. it’s kinda weird that so many naturals use the denman to detangle their hair. it clearly says on their website that that is not its intended use; they are styling brushes. whatever… based on my experience with denman, i knew the tangle teezer would be wrong for me. i’ve always thought that huetiful… Read more »

Chanda
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Chanda

I have both the Tangle Teaser and denman brush, still use them but not for my original purpose for buying them but since they cost almost $10 a piece might as well make the most of it. Use the Tangle Teaser to distribute conditioner through my hair and the Denman brush to groom straight hairstyles.

BeholdALady
Guest

I am a recovering Product Junkie! I try to get ahold of myself, but sometimes my curiousity gets the best of me. Luckily, one thing I’ve learned to become very familiar with that as helped me not burn holes in my pockets is RETURN POLICIES. Most of my hair products come from Sally’s (equipment, protein treatments, etc.) and Target (Shea Moisture, Aussie Moist, etc.) — and both of those stores have dope return policies. You can return anything to Sally’s or Target for a full refund as long as you have the original packaging and receipt. Even if you don’t… Read more »

Vanessa M.
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Vanessa M.

I can agree to that! I love Target’s return policy as well as Sally’s. And a new store, Ulta has a good return policy as well.

merry
Guest
merry

in my experience, at target, you can get a full refund without a receipt if you present the debit or credit card you used to purchase the item.

they can bring it right up. i’ve lost a receipt a couple of times and always got my credited to the card.

lisa
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lisa

i get my hair trimmed at the salon every 3 months and that works fine for me!

suzie
Guest
suzie

Thank you, you allowed me to be better informed about my natural haircare journey

Vanessa M.
Guest
Vanessa M.

Hi! My Name is Vanessa and I’m a recovering Product Junkie!…lol. Seriously though, I fell victim to buying different products based on whatever look I was trying to achieve. I was convinced that I wasn’t a junkie because ALL my products were under $10…($9.99)…crazy I know haha. I also thought I wasn’t a junkie because if I didn’t like something, I knew every store’s return policy and was able to take things back for a refund or exchage (which usually resulted in an exchange for another product).… I was such a junkie then. Now, I have made a vow to… Read more »

Ang
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Ang

#4 & #7 Whoa! Those can set you back a pretty penny. I am glad I didn’t fall prey to them.

Richelle
Guest
Richelle

Great advice!

SophieAnn
Guest
SophieAnn

I think I’m guilty of becoming a product junkie :- I think I’m just trying different things to see what works with my hair the best..

Gina G
Guest
Gina G

I tend to make everything. If it’s in the shops I can probably find
ingredience to make it. I make my own shampoo, hair cream and
hair gel. All these products work for me and I know what’s in them.

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

Guilty as charged of : 1. Becoming a product junkie — when I first discovered the YouTube natural hair scene I went crazy buying products, fortunately I live in the UK and was not prepared to pay shipping and custom fees for all the fabulous US products. However, I have the Kinky Kurly duo which I have never used and shampoo bars from Chargrin Valley which I use once every 3 months, henna, brahmi and other Indian herbs, bottles and bottles of hair oils, butters, conditioners and hair accessories, very expensive mistakes. I can’t wait for Goody to sell their… Read more »

lizz
Guest
lizz

Hey, I’m in the UK too and I’ve just fallen prey to pjism lol. I bought the chargrin valley shampoo bar… Well three actually- the babassu one, the ayrvidic one and the conditioning bar. How did the bars work for you especially because it’s hard water here? Thanks 🙂

Goldeelocks1908
Guest

These are pretty accurate! It took me forever to stop being a product junkie! As much as it pains me to keep using kinky curly as it is costly… it is consistent for me every single time.

Bridget
Guest
Bridget

Guilty of jumping on the bandwagon, heat damage-more than once, and being a product junkie; I had to stop it;all these habits can make you go broke.

surVIVEr28
Guest
surVIVEr28

OMG! You ladies are AWESOME. Thanks for the heads up about the return policy at Target. And I agree with you on the price of the natural hair products. I am buying a house and I’ve had to downsize my products (Kinky Curly is wonderful, but I just can’t do it right now.)So of course after researching what other curlies are doing to save $$$, I picked up some Cantu Shea Butter Leave-IN (only because I am out of leave in)and I can’t wait to try it. I wanted something as close as Knot Today, but not as expensive. On… Read more »

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Shay
Guest
Shay

1. Becoming a product junkie – I am a product junkie, the window shopping variety that is. I’m always looking for a better product than the last. But with my collection at the largest (3 shampoos, 3 rinse out conditioners and this is what I’m looking for the better of mostly) I don’t need to buy anything else at the moment or change anything. When it’s all finished then I can move on to the next thing. So my plan is to rotate the shampoos and use the conditioners in protein treatments and even pre-poos to just get them gone.… Read more »

janice boben
Guest
janice boben

HOW DO U GO FROM PERM TO NATURAL SAFELY WITHOUT HAIR FALLING OUT LAST PERM WAS 4 WEEKS AGO BUT I WANT TO GO NATURAL

Toni
Guest
Toni


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyc3eMx97hY

These two women have great feedback from their own transitioning experience. The videos might be a few years old, but they still apply. I wish that I’d had these resources when I went natural 12 years ago.

Maxine Black
Guest
hair steamer
Guest

good article from leila…

Ste PHa Nie J.
Guest
Ste PHa Nie J.

Guilty #1 I have been natural for years but in 2011 I really got to reading up on natural hair and became a product junkie and # jumping on the bandwagon buying a huetiful hair steamer.

Eventually I realized I had to find what works for me.

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

I love this site!!

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