Since I stopped relaxing my hair in 2009, I’ve read, watched, filmed and written hundreds of product reviews, maybe even thousands. And while hair products are fairly general in nature, the debate regarding the importance of following directions often comes up. Someone doesn’t like a product you love? They must have used it incorrectly. Your styler caused flakes? Maybe you mixed it with the wrong leave-in or used too much.
However, is it really that important to follow directions? After all, our hair is extremely diverse, so why would we all use a product in the same way? We have differing densities, textures, regimens and live in different climates, so can you actually apply a one-size-fits-all process to your products?
Before you think I’m hinting at giving you a pass to go buck wild with your new purchases, the directions are there for a reason. When companies develop new products, they undergo product trials to help ensure that the product is somewhat successful in its purpose and substantiate their product claims. So there is some idea of how the product is supposed to be used, and I do recommend that you follow that process as closely as your hair will allow, or at least test it out in that way first. And some treatments that are meant to have more of an effect on hair can yield dire consequences if you don’t follow the directions, like protein treatments or hair dyes.
Curl Junkie, shown above, is a great example of thorough directions that I follow to a T. I even tried to use Repair Me! one week apart because my hair felt so great, but it felt like I was getting too much protein and my hair felt a bit hard. However, when my conditioner bottle tells me to use a “quarter-size dollop” on my entire head, I can’t help but laugh.
Furthermore, if you understand ingredients and what their functions are (emollients, smoothing, coating, etc.), you may be able to repurpose a product to better suit your needs. There are several cosmetics databases online, like the Environmental Working Group, where you can look up ingredients. I’ve used rinse-out conditioners as leave-ins, leave-ins for twist creams, blow dry cream as a styler and the list goes on. Just pay attention to your hair to make sure it doesn’t feel as if your protein-moisture balance is off or you aren’t causing long-term damage or breakage.
Do you always follow directions when you use hair products?