By Geniece of Beautifully Made
In another post I refuted the myth that maintaining natural hair has to be costly. In fact, I even suggested that one could meet their natural hair needs (emphasis on “needs”) for $100 yearly. In the comments section of that post someone asked me to explain how $100 could meet yearly hair expenses. Here are my tips for being natural on a budget.
When I went natural in 2004 one of the immediate advantages I appreciated was that I was no longer had to rely on a hair salon or my mom to relax my hair. Being natural gave me the freedom to take care of my hair and by extension to save money in the future. Imagine my surprise when I realized how costly some natural products are. They were twice, sometimes three times the cost of products at the beauty supply store that I used on my relaxed hair. As a result my early natural days consisted of shea butter (the fake kind from 125th street in Harlem) and black gel. When I grew serious about caring for my hair I knew I would have to revamp my products but I was still not willing to spend an arm and a leg. In the past three years I’ve learned what ingredients work for my hair and the products that work best for me. Doing so has not only made my regimen easier but has made a $100 a year hair budget feasible. Here’s how you too can build a budget friendly product list.
First a disclaimer: If you love salon brand products and each of you shampoos cost $40 this budget won’t
work for you. Now that we have that clear, here we go.
Shampoo and Conditioners: $36–40 yearly
I do not spend a lot of money on shampoos or conditioners. In fact, I have not been convinced that there is a reason to. I like Trader Joe’s products which run me about $4 per bottle. Through trial and error I found that diluting my shampoo allows me to be clean my scalp without build up. Two parts shampoo and one part water in a color applicator bottle works quite well. I also wash my hair every 2 weeks because I found that weekly washing was unnecessary manipulation. However, if your hair needs to be washed by all means WASH IT! Diluted shampoo and washing every 14 days allows one bottle of shampoo to last quite a while. Three bottles a year is enough for my hair. I use more conditioner
because I don’t dilute it and I’m heavy handed with conditioners. Still, conditioners like the Suave Professionals line and Trader Joes Nourish Spa are affordable. Five to six bottles a year at most is enough for me. Keep in mind that I have almost waist length hair so I’m using quite a bit of conditioner. I will say that I usually detangle before washing and dampen my hair before applying the conditioner to help it spread. If you wash weekly, you should be able to manage on one bottle of conditioner a month (if your hair is my length). Of course, hair density, thickness and length will influence how much conditioner you have to use.
Leave In: $30 yearly
I’m a huge fan of whole leaf aloe vera gel/juice. Adding one of 2 table spoons to 2 or 3 table spoons of my favorite water based moisturizer or leave in will not only leave my hair super soft but will stretch that product like nobody’s business. An 8 oz. product has lasted me 5–6 months doing this method and that’s when I used to wash my hair weekly. I like Giovanni’s Direct Leave in and Kinky Curly as leave ins. A large bottle of Giovanni’s Direct from TJ Max will run you about $13 and would last me about 9 months doing this method. Aloe vera ranges in price but you can get a 16 oz. bottle for 6–8 dollars.
I don’t spend much money on hair butters or hair oils. A bottle of coconut oil, olive oil, safflower oil or amla oil will work just fine for me. I use amla oil as part of my pre-poo and one of the other three oils on my ends during the week. One bottle will last me at least 4 months. Coconut oil is the most expensive, costing between 7–10 bucks a bottle. Still, it’s a bargain. As for moisturizers, I actually like using my wash day leave in as needed throughout the week. I may buy a 16 oz. jar of a product like Bee Mine’s Moisturizer or Curly Butter. To be honest such products last me over a year. Yes more than a year! I just find that the home made leave in works so well in the winter and summer that I tend to use other products when I’m traveling. I don’t use butters too often because I find that they can be a bit heavy. Because I wash biweekly I prefer using an oil over a butter. Still, I keep unrefined shea butter on standby, which I buy in bulk for a reasonable price.
There are other products that I may use but not consistently or often. Deep conditioners and heat protectants, for example. Often I will deep condition with my regular conditioner under a dryer and heat protectants can last me years because I use heat infrequently. I would venture to guess that I spend no more than $15 on such products in year.
Sales, In Store Alternatives and Reading Recommendations
A word to the wise: Know when there are sales on your favorite products and try to only buy during that time. During Christmas and New Years there are good sales on quite a number of natural hair products that only sell online. I usually wait until such times so that the shipping cost will be canceled out by the discounts. If you can find products that work for you hair that sell in stores that’s even better because you don’t have to worry about shipping costs. I would also recommend reading recommendations on products before doling out the cash. Everyone’s hair is different but a product with consistently poor reviews in one that may not be worth your money.
Well, there you have it! Of course, I like experimenting here and there but I’m pretty convinced that there is no magic product that is worth a ridiculous amount of money. You may not be able to use the above budget but let is serve as inspiration to reduce the products you purchase if you find that product junkism is a problem you want to tackle head on. One hundred dollars may seem like a small budget but once you get the hang of things you might surprise yourself and spend even less.
Ladies, how much money per year do you spend on products? Do you think you could spend just $100?
For more of Geniece’s haircare advice check out her YouTube channel: Beautifully Made.