The old adage goes that you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince. In my experience, becoming a product junkie where you end up with shelves full of hair products is a reality when you are starting out and do not know what really works. There are some people who buy new products because they want to and they like trying things. If you are in that group, this article is not really for you. If you are buying many products in order to find what works for you, then this is a guide that you can use so that you can narrow down your likes and dislikes:
1. Take a snapshot of the ingredient label
We are living in a digital world and I know some of us are just too lazy to write down ingredients. Why not try the product and then take a snap shot of the ingredients label and file it under good or bad based on your experience? You can then use those images the next time you are shopping to compare to the next product you want to buy. Remember, that what counts the most are the first five ingredients after water, so there is no real need to scrutinize the whole list unless you are avoiding specific ingredients intentionally.
2. Good or bad, nothing in between.
In reality, there are some products which are not terrible but are not fantastic either. My advice is that if it does not make your hair feel lush and beautiful, file it under bad. There is no need to repurchase something mediocre. Just let it go, there are plenty more products out there to try!
3. Set a time limit — Use it in 6 months or throw/gift/exchange
If you want clutter free shelves then adopt a use or throw policy. If you still have a bottle of conditioner that is barely used 6 months after you bought it, the truth is that you do not like it. Many naturals could easily use up a bottle of conditioner within 4–6 washes. A really good leave in will have a major dent in the jar within a month and a good shampoo may take possibly 6 months to get to half full. After the six month mark, if you still have a nearly full product, throw it out, use it to shave your legs, give it to another natural to try, put it up for exchange at a hair meet-up but more importantly, just get it off your shelf!
4. Do not try to fix or mix
If you have a conditioner that requires a simple fix to make it effective (e.g oil to give it slip or honey to increase moisture) it is sort of acceptable, especially if it was cheap. However, if you have spent $10 or more on the product, then you shouldn’t really consider looking for a fix. If you need to mix two different conditioners, be mindful that it will be really hard to know which ingredients are actually working for you. The bottom line is if the product works well with your hair then you will know. Trust your hair and your method.
5. Buy one product from a brand at a time — pick the dry hair (leave-in) product
This particular tip is specifically for hair conditioners because these products within a brand will generally be mixed from the same base. The base will then be tweaked with additional ingredients to create the variations e.g conditioner for dry hair, for colour protection, for shiny hair etc. As a default, the leave-in conditioner tends to be a flagship product. There is a lot of effort put into creating or giving the illusion in some cases of moisture and softness. You do not need to buy several products within a brand line. Just pick up the leave-in conditioner and try it first.