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?