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Conditioners, Oils, Detanglers: When to Skimp and When to Splurge

• Apr 25, 2013

It’s no secret that haircare and money go hand-in-hand. By far one of the most lucrative businesses, companies with natural lines are cropping up all over the place. Hand-in-hand with the high output of some natural creams, jellies, custards, cowashes, and conditioners, is a high price tag. But is it always worth it to spend gobs of money on your products? Let’s examine where it may be beneficial to spend extra, or save money in your regimen.

Pre-Poos & Oils: SPEND

In this area, cutting corners isn’t always the best idea. When it comes to oils for your hair — whether it be for sealing, pre-pooing, or other treatments, the higher the quality, the better. And generally speaking, higher quality comes with a higher price tag. Spend the extra bucks for oils that are virgin, cold pressed, unrefined, and contain at least 99% of said oil (sometimes, companies may add Vitamin E [tocopherol acetate] to oils to preserve and improve shelf life…this is fine). Virgin and cold pressed oils are not subjected to the same heat extractions and chemical additives that reduce the vitamin, nutrient, and fatty acid content of the oils. For the best bargains on quality oils, click here.

Conditioners: SAVE

Most conditioners (with the exception of like, Shea Moisture) are based in the following ingredients:

  • Water: depending on the brand, 50 — 80% of your conditioner is water
  • Fatty Alcohols: Cetyl, Cetaryl, and Stearyl Alcohols are those creamy bases, commonly derived from palm or coconut oil that act as emulsifying agents (helping oil and water mix) and contribute to that velvety feel of conditioner.
  • Behentrimonium Chloride or Methylsulfate: Conditioning agent great for adding softness, and surfactant (provides mild cleansing).

These ingredients constitute a considerable bulk of most conditioners, ranging from Suave and Herbal Essences, to Carol’s Daughter and DevaCurl. We use SO much conditioner one a regular basis, why spend $20 a bottle, when you can spend $3 and achieve the same results? Click here to check out some cheap conditioner swaps.

Cowashes: SAVE

Before all these hair lines began rolling out cowashes and cleansing conditioner, what were you washing your hair with? Chances are, you cowashed regularly and occasionally used shampoo (or some super-power natural clarifying agent). It worked for you, or else you wouldn’t have done it that way for so long. Why spend the extra money now? Click here for my recommendations on super cheap and super effective conditioners for cowashing.

Shampoos: DRAW

Most shampoos (even some that claim to be “sulfate free”) contain sulfates. It may not be SLS, but there are tons of sulfates, ranging in harshness, that companies use in shampoos. If you’re just looking for a good ol’ fashioned sulfate scrubdown, don’t spend tons of money on a fancy shampoo. If you shampoo often (weekly) and need a particular cleansing agent that is present in a top shelf shampoo, go for it. For those of us who tow the mid line (shampooing monthly, or less frequently), a good shampoo can be purchased for $10 or less, and last a long time. For more info on shampoos arranged by sulfate harshness, check out Jc’s article on The Natural Haven Bloom.

Deep Conditioners: SPEND

A good quality deep conditioner can be the difference between dry brittle hair, and hair that stays moisturized all week long. In this department, there are different formulations for different hair types and needs. If there were one area to splurge in, this would be the one. Some deep conditioners are protein heavy, oil based, or contain penetrating conditioning ingredients. If your hair happens to perform best when deep conditioned regularly with a more expensive product, don’t deny your hair…unless you can find one that performs just as well for cheaper. Of all my hair products, my deep conditioners are the most expensive. Please note that expensive for me is $12 — $15 for at least 10oz of product.

Detanglers: SAVE

Fancy detanglers are easily one of the easiest money suckers for naturals. We want a product that is going to melt tangles, remove shed hairs, and cut the time we spend unraveling knots in half. I’m sure somewhere out there, this product exists. But for the most part, most detanglers are just super slippery agents that make the process more bearable. I don’t know about you all, but I am heavy-handed when it comes to detanglers. My hair needs to be saturated with product to get going. If this is how you detangle, it doesn’t make sense to spend tons of money on a small bottle of detangling product — especially if you’re prone to use 2/3 of that bottle in one session. Cut your costs by investing in detanglers that come in bigger bottles, or serve more than one purpose (like a conditioner).

Styling Products: SAVE

I have to constantly remind myself of this one. Every new styling product isn’t meant for me to rush out and buy. In fact, in my excitement about a week ago, I spent $20 on a 12oz bottle of curling gel. I stared at the bottle for two days before my good sense kicked in. Needless to say, I returned it without ever using it. Although the ingredient list looked good, and everyone raves about the line, I could see myself dousing my hair in the product, using half the bottle in one styling session, and being mad. A $20 gel habit is something I can’t afford. Chances are, you can find comparable styling products (butters, creams, gels, jellies, taffies, custards and more) to those high end lines for $7 — $9.…or make them yourself. If it’s a must-have product, or something that you have are just burning to try, keep your eyes peeled for sales. For example, I have been super curious about Nubian Heritage Indian Hemp & Tamanu Grow and Strengthen Edge Taming Taffy lately. But at $12 — $14 for a 6oz jar, I wasn’t willing to take the plunge. On Instagram I posted about CVS having a Shea Moisture & Nubian Heritage buy one get one half-off sale this week. Perfect timing to get 2 jars for $18. All products aren’t miracle workers, and don’t always live up to their claims. Keep that in mind when shopping!


What areas in your regimen do you skimp and splurge on?

For more from Christina check out her blog, The Mane Objective. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

About Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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32 Comments on "Conditioners, Oils, Detanglers: When to Skimp and When to Splurge"

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I save on shampoos and conditioners; whereas, I will spend on deep conditioners and styling creams. For my shampoos and conditioners, I head over to Trader Joe’s. But, my deep conditioner comes from Jessicurl and my styling products come from Qhemet Biologics and Oyin Handmade.


Every product I use, such as shampoo/cleanser, conditioners, hair masks/deep conditioners, treatments, leave in/moisturizers, butters/oil/stylers are all under $11. The highest I’ll go is $13. Yes I am a little cheap person


I totally agree but I guess I am even cheaper because my limit is $10. However I am able to find some good finds at Walgreens & Ulta (shampoo, conditioners and styling products BOGO) and Puritan Pride all of their carrier oils are BOGO FREE!!!


BOGO sales are the best. I always miss them when I don’t have much money lol

This is an interesting and innovative article, but as always, I think this all depends on each person’s hair regimen. Clearly if you don’t like shampoo, you won’t spend much on it. However, a good, clarifying, chelating shampoo is part of my regimen and I have yet to find an inexpensive shampoo that fulfills my needs in this department. That being said, I’d actually say that pre-poo oils are where one can save. Buy store brands if possible and I’ve found my hair sees no difference between extra virgin organic coconut oil vs. the refined version (e.g., Vatika oil is… Read more »

I think that it really does depend on your hair but, this was an interesting article because I do the opposite, I will save on shampoo but splurge on conditioners because I use them for co-washing, pre-poos sometimes…

Styling products I also splurge on because that’s what helps to keep my hair moisturized throughout the week for example I haven’t found a store brand daily moisturizer that actually moisturizes my dense dry hair. So, I usually purchase from Darcy’s Botanicals or KBB to help aid me there.…

Good article.


The only things I splurge on are leave in conditioner (Qhemet Biologics) and Oyin Handmade’s Burnt Sugar Pomade (I love this stuff! Love it!).

I save on pre-poos because I haven’t noticed a difference between organic vs. not organic and cheap oils tend to do better for me. I’m currently using one of those 8 in 1 oils from the BBS and my hair is LOVING IT almost as much if not more than my organic coconut oil which costs way more. Same with styling products and shampoo/conditioner, if the cheap stuff works, why should I spend more?

nappy headed black girl

I will only (possibly lol) splurge on oils and leave-ins. I don’t use a lot of products so my main concern is keeping in moisture.

No products treat my hair better than Nubian Heritage and Shea Moisture. Per ounce, the products are somewhat expensive; but, my afro hair is chronically dry, so I will spend. It’s difficult to find NH in my metro area and I’ve have driven 26 miles to the hood to stock up when it’s on sale. It has to be be least 25% off, but preferably buy one get one free or at a tremendous savings. I’ve used (and will use again) cheapies like Tresemme Naturals and stuff that is not entirely natural like Giovanni, but I’ll never splurge on Aubrey… Read more »

I only splurge on oils, pomades and my leave-in conditioner. Paul Mitchell’s “The Conditioner” works well to keep my hair moisturized.

Thick Nigerian Hair
I guess I spend more money on styling products and conditioners. My hair is extra dry, prone to breakage, prefers to tangle, has high shrinkage, and has A LOT of inertia. Because of that, serious detangling sessions occur only when I have conditioner in as a detangler (cheap), as a DC (moderate-expensive), and as a leave-in (any price). My styling products have to help me attain the style, moisturize, and seal so those tend to be pricey. I used to splurge on oils but I can’t justify it anymore. My styling products have water and oils in them so what… Read more »
I finally brought some shampoos and conditioner’s from Trader Joe’s and will try those soon. For me, it is about the same price range for almost everything except As I Am’s Buttercream (and the oils I use are expensive cold press and unrefined etc…I need some EVCO too) item $20+ at Sally’s–wasn’t impressed!:/ I will try it again on wet then dry hair and as a summer light cream and see if I have a change of mind on it but so far no go so I put it away:/ Hey guys, What is the deally-O on Qhemet Biologics? Besides… Read more »

I absolutely love two of Qhemet’s products: Burdock Root Hair Cream and Amla & Olive Oil Hair Cream. I use these two, along with coconut oil or avocado oil, when I employ the LOC method. By doing so, I only have to moisturize and seal my hair every 2 days, instead of daily like I used to.

However, the products are pricey (%16 for 8 oz.). But, a little goes a long way.

Hi there!! I have nerver used Quemet products but I own 3 Aunt Jackie products. The shampoo is very thick and lathers well although it is sulfate free. It leaves my hair feeling very soft, shiny and clean. No dryness whatsoever!!!(even without a prepoo). The deep conditioner is my fave from the brand. It smells super sweet distributes very well on the hair. A little also goes a long way.I leave it for 10 minutes w/ aplastic cap on, and after rinsing my 4b hair is so soft that I want to cry lol. And the softness lasts me thru… Read more »

After loving how my hair felt after using a couple of Garnier Fructis conditioners as deep conditioners, the only thing I will splurge on is leave-in conditioner because my hair is very dry. I only use good quality oils and thankfully there are various places online that you can get very good prices on cold pressed extra virgin oils.


I don’t use much products ans wait till I finish usually before tryng a new brand or re buying it.

-buy a travel size clarifying shampoo.
-use a cheapie co-wash but more on my hair mask
-Use olive oil as my staple oil n add castor oil if I have it.
-To seal my hair Anita Grant Cafe Latte is my most pricey product but is worth it.

If I do try a new thing I buy a sample before getting the full size where possible.

Helpful article. 🙂


wow everything you listed sounded really inexpensive then u came out of nowhere with that anita grant product, i buy pricey everything (its a real vice) but even i cant mess with her products due to price.

Im very curious to know what u like about the cafe latte.


The only thing I splurge on these days is a styling product: Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Gelly. It smoothes and has great hold, give amazing shine, and is non-drying; in fact it actually helps to keeps my hair moisturized. Nothing else I’ve tried even comes close to this product, so I will stay paying good money for it. But everything else I get pretty cheap, and I think my hair is doing okay.


yes i think i’ll have to splurge on a styling product too since i’m super protein sensitive.


i deep condition with clays (rhassoul)

Tiff Dizzle
I splurge on deep conditioners. I have cheap and semi expensive shampoos and reg conditioners which I wont splurge on again. Oil I don’t use on my hair really beside castor or olive and those being cold pressed are not expensive to me. Im just now learning how to style my natural hair so finding the right products will prob having me spending my money on that. I recently purchased this curl pudding from naturally silk elements and its so bad im so mad I spent my money on but I also don’t like wasting so I will cont to… Read more »
the thing is that I will usually go for a product that has at least two uses. I will buy a conditionner that I can use for cowash AND for DC. Or a conditionner that I can use as a DC AND as a leave-in. I don’t feel the need to to clutter my bathroom cabinet with hundreds of bottles. I also make sure that my leave-in is the product that has the most natural & beneficial ingredients. My reasonning is that it’s the product that will stay on my hair for the most amount of time so it has… Read more »

[…] Conditioners, Oils, Detanglers: When to Skimp and When to Splurge … […]

As a natural of a year and 7 months, I have been mostly on the splurge side. What can I say? My mom says I have expensive taste, and I do. lol ;0) When I first decided to go natural I spent over $100 on Bee Mine products, found that they did not work for me and ended up passing them along to my little sis. I tried super expensive conditioners by Jesse Curl, less expensive ones, and everything in between. Ultimately, I have found that for my hair less is more. I use moderately priced products such as Bobeam… Read more »

I SAVE on my pre-poo (aloe vera gel) and oils (castor and coconut) ’cause I search for the lowest price and buy in bulk.

I SAVE money on conditioners or co-washes ’cause I don’t use them.

I’m willing to SPEND for shampoo and deep conditioner but since Shea Moisture hair care products are frequently on sale I SAVE.

I SAVE on detanglers (DIY Water/Glycerin Spritz) and styling product (Eco Styler Krystal Styling Gel; DIY Flaxseed Gel).

I say save in all catagories. See no sense in buying expensive anything for hair care products that will literally go down the drain. If u learn how to make certain products like butters n moisturizers at home u can save loads of money. I make my own shea moisture like hair smoothie. The 10 it cost for that one jar I could buy a few simple raw ingredients n have enough to make several jars with varying formulas. I still use commercial products but knw how to read ingredients to know most are pretty much the same in different… Read more »
I try to save where I can on all these and what I think I spent the most on was my DC which was Aubrey O-honeysuckle conditioner which was around £15–16 and was in my product junkie days and really wasn’t the best for me anyway. I have found I compare size to price (amongst other factors) on whether I decide to splurge. No matter how wonderful something is you need to be a decent size/amount plus a handful of awesomeness for me to think of splurging more than £10 on any DC or moisturiser (won’t even consider this for… Read more »
cynthia J

I would say underneath my sink i have over $75 worth of hair products.. and to be honest when they all run out I am only repurchasing the thing i can afford this time. Which means a simple regimen for me.. I love my coconut oil, castor oil, and shea moisture leave in… I cant do without those.
As for a cowash and deep conditioner, i wouldn’t mind trying something else, even though my deep conditioning (organic something) does fine.
so.… great post as usual.


I splurge on leave in conditioner(Giovanni), save on shampoo(don’t use it more then once a month), save on cowash conditioners, and splurge and save on deep conditioners. As for oils I use the same oils that I cook with(coconut and olive), and castor oil I buy from CVS. I buy Vatika when I can get to the Ethnic market, which is not often, but it’s very affordable.


I do spend with the hair treatment because I know I only use it once in a week. But I also find shampoos and conditioner in one brand, because I have been believing they should come together, which should not be the issue. Great tips.

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