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Worst in Show: 14 Products That Left Our Natural Hair Feeling Terrible

Avatar • Jul 9, 2015

Figuring out what products work for you is something all naturals go through. And sometimes a product leaves your hair feeling so bad that it is forever seared in your memory as an ultimate fail. Our writers discuss their fail products and why they suspect they didn’t work. Keep in mind that this list is subjective and one woman’s fail is another woman’s holy grail. Be sure to hit us up in the comments with your thoughts on our list and your own fail products.

Christina

christinahair

My hair is all over the place. It’s technically type 3 something or the other, but to simplify, I label myself 3C when folks ask. I’ve got looser curls along the back half, and a tight, shrinkage-prone wave/curl hybrid in the front. My crown is a beast unto itself that refuses to be defined (in more ways than one). My hair is medium-high porosity (due to hair color), and about average in density and strand thickness. I haven’t encountered tooooo many products that I can’t make work, but there are a handful that I just absolutely cannot with. It’s nothing against the brand themselves — just that those particular products didn’t work out for me and my hair. They are:

Mixed Chicks Leave-In

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I still have nightmares about this one. I initially purchased the leave-in because I heard so much good about it, and saw one YouTuber in particular (MoKnowsHair) rave about it as her staple. I will never, ever, EVER put that stuff in my hair again. It might possibly go down as the worst product I’ve ever used. Every single quality I thought the Mixed Chicks Leave-In would have, it didn’t. I thought it would have slip — negative. Just barely enough to get the product through the hair. I thought it would be moisturizing (that random yellow color reminds me of egg yolks, which in my mind I equate to cholesterol, which therefore equates to softness) — it came up short. I thought it would at least abate some frizz — more disappointment. Any hold and definition the Leave-In provided was outshone by the awkward shrunkenness and itchy scalp I experienced in the day following. Not only did it aggravate my scalp psoriasis, but it caused my hair to be dry yet stringy and coated-feeling all at the same time. Read my horror story here.

Giovanni 2 Chic Blackberry & Coconut Milk Ultra-Repair Intensive Hair Mask

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I thought this would be a phenomenal product for my hair — it felt good in my hands, smelled great, and had awesome ingredients. But alas, it had NO slip whatsoever, which was disappointing. Prior to applying this mask, I had used a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo which left my hair feeling clean and not stripped. Get this: my hair felt worse after I rinsed out the Giovanni. How does a conditioner do the opposite of what it says it’s going to do? My experience was so bad, I never gave it a second try. Sometimes, no is just no. [video here]

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

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As a transitioner, I used to love mixing Curl Enhancing Smoothie with some aloe vera gel to moisturize and style my hair. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to use it on my hair since then. For some reason, after about a year into my transition, my hair started haaaaating Curl Enhancing Smoothie. It made my hair feel rough, tangled, and coated, and way greasy. I tried cutting it with aloe vera gel like old times, with zero luck.  I purchased a few more jars within the past 3 or so years, determined to make it work. This was primarily driven by seeing other naturals with dope hair and finding out their styler of choice was Curl Enhancing Smoothie. But no matter what I did, how I cut it, applied it, worked with it, the end result was always the same. In 2015, I’m committed to not buying another jar. I’m done forcing the issue. If you want to see how I got down with the Smoothie in my transitioning days, click here.

Nene’s Secret C.C. Curly & Cute Curl Creme

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Sigh. For me, this product was a classic case of great ingredients, poor performance. I really wanted to like this product. I really did. I turned a blind eye to the Luster’s Pink Lotion-esque color scheme, the confusing acronyms, and the obvious fake curly wig on the box, and the name dropping in “My True Story” (why is Jay-Z’s name on the side of a hair product box?) — all because I really believed in the ingredients. I really did. I first used the curl creme to moisturize/refresh a wash and go, applying a little bit to each section. The next morning I woke up with buildup‑y flakes all over. I just chalked it up to not meshing with the other products in my hair at the time. The next time, I decided to go clean slate and try the creme on my damp, freshly washed hair per the instructions. That’s when things really went downhill. Although incredibly thick, rich, and creamy feeling, my hair did not soak it all in like it typically does moisturizers and defining cremes. It just sat. And tangled my hair. And sat. And made my hair mushy. After applying the curl creme to my entire head (I should have left well enough alone, and stopped after the first section gave me pause), I realized the creme just wasn’t going to mesh with my hair. I tried to brush it into a ponytail, and all that did was make things worse. Even though I had just washed my hair, I had to hop back in the shower and wash it all over again — with shampoo to make sure I got it all out. Even under the water, it made my hair feel tangled and rough. Brave enough to read the review?  Click here.

Portia

Portia Cole Natural Hair Twist Out on Wet Hair After Pregnancy and After Texture Change

My hair tends to be on the dry side and it also has high porosity. When my hair finally absorbs moisture, it holds it; but when that moisture leaves, it leaves behind a parched and tangled mess. I wouldn’t describe my hair as fine or coarse, it sort of falls somewhere in the middle. It’s very springy and tends to love products with weight like puddings and gels. However, for every one product my hair loves, there are three products that my absolutely hated and left it feeling awful. Take a look at my not so favorite list!

African Pride Shea Butter Miracle Moisture Intense Bouncy Curls Pudding

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The name of this product is very deceiving. With words like shea butter and moisture intense, you’d think that your hair would be in moisture heaven after using it. This was not the case for me. This product left my hair feeling extremely dry and brittle. It even looked dull and flaky, but when I touched it it was greasy. I used this product twice before calling it quits. I thought if I tweaked the way I was using it, then that would make a difference…it didn’t. The pudding also had a greasy texture to it, which is why it probably didn’t work well for me. Greasy products tend to just sit on top of my hair never really giving me the extra moisture that my hair desperately needs. African Pride has never worked for my hair. I guess I was hoping that their natural hair care line would be different.

Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curling Gel Soufflé

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I’m a huge fan of Shea Moisture. I currently use their Curl Enhancing Smoothie and their Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque. However, my hair absolutely hated the curling gel they make. It left my hair feeling crunchy and kind of sticky. I don’t even know how a product can leave your hair sticky, but that’s how it felt after it dried (which took forever by the way). It was also very tangled. When I tried unraveling my twists, I had difficulty. My hair also appeared limp and lifeless. It just sat on top of my hair and didn’t work into it. I didn’t need to try this more than once to know that it would never work in my hair.

Eco Custard Original

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Because I’m such a fan of Eco Styler’s Olive Oil gel I thought that I would give the Eco Custard a try. After all, it was clearly targeted to women with curls and natural hair. Not only did my hair not like the product, it was too light for it. My hair needs something with weight to it. I had to apply way too much of the custard in order for it to really work into my hair. The jar isn’t that big, so having to apply that much product was not appealing to me. The custard didn’t do anything special to my hair. I think the shea butter that I applied with it did most of the work. I also didn’t care for the strong perfume smell of the custard. I find that unnatural smelling products usually have a whole bunch of things in it that aren’t the best for my hair. I used this twice before I threw in the towel.

Pure Canola Oil

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I will try almost any natural, pure or raw oil on my hair because it loves hot oil treatments. I decided to try canola oil because I read great reviews from other naturals. People claim that it eliminates frizz and reduces breakage. It’s even in a few of the hair products that I’ve loved over the years. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I used this oil as a hot oil treatment and rinsed as usual. Sadly, the oil didn’t rinse well. I was actually blow drying my hair and I felt the canola oil just sitting on top of my hair. After I blow dried, my hair felt very dry, but was extremely greasy. It was so greasy that the oil was creeping down my forehead. Thinking I used too much the first time, I tried using less the second time. However, my results were still the same. My hair was a mess for two weeks because it was too oily. If my hair can’t handle canola oil as a hot oil treatment, it definitely can’t handle it as an oil that I use while I’m styling my hair. It apparently works fine for my hair when it’s mixed in other hair products, but not on its own. I was one and done with canola oil.

Tori

Tori Twist Out Natural Hair Type 4

My hair would be considered Type 4, a mixture of Type 4a, b, and c throughout my entire head. It is coarse and dense with thick strands. I don’t consider myself a product junkie (anymore) but I do like trying out new products to see how they work for my hair.

These are just a few, but there are several other products that I have tried that didn’t work for my hair. I have realized that with the majority of the products that didn’t work, the common denominator was either too much glycerin or too much protein. While these two ingredients are great for the hair, when used in excess my hair becomes dry and brittle. Not every hair product will work the same for everyone, even if two people have the same hair type.

Coconut Oil

natural hair coconut oil

Coconut oil can be a great conditioner and moisturizer for the hair. Unfortunately for me, when I used coconut oil my hair felt brittle. It is said that coconut oil penetrates the hair and helps with protein retention and the excess protein may be what causes brittleness. So, after using this oil for several years, I finally realized that it didn’t quite work for me the way I had hoped and began using other natural oils for my hair.

Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioning Cream

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In the beginning of my hair journey, I heard so many naturals rave about how amazing their hair felt after using this Cantu Leave-in. One of those naturals was my very own sister, so I thought I would give it a try. After using it several times, I was disappointed when my hair didn’t feel as amazing as everyone else described. Initial application of the product onto wet/damp hair felt okay, but after a few hours my hair still felt dry and brittle.

Kinky Curly Curling Custard

kinky curly curling custard

My hair is coily and kinky, but somehow I felt the need to try a ‘curling’ custard. I tried other products from the Kinky-Curly line that worked for my hair type so I thought maybe this one would work too. Well, it didn’t. For me the product did not work at all for obvious reasons- my hair is not and never will be curly regardless of the products I use.

Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-in Conditioner

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Again, after hearing great things about this product, I purchased the Karen’s Body Beautiful Leave-in. I used it until the bottle was almost completely empty and after each use the results were the same. My hair felt great after the initial application, but a few hours later, it was back to feeling dry.

Geniece

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November of this year will mark eleven years since my big chop. If there’s one thing I’ve nailed by now it’s the ability to spot a product that will not work for my hair. You see, I know my hair pretty well. It’s dense with medium width strands (i.e. medium coarseness) with low-medium porosity (different sections of my hair respond differently to moisture retention). I have pretty tightly coiled hair and experience shrinkage of about 50%-75% depending on the section of my hair. If you care for the hair typing system then I would fall between the 4a-4b range. All this to say that products that do not help in the retention of moisture will likely NOT work for my hair. The products I describe below are not products I used once and tossed. I used at least half of the product before coming to the conclusion they just didn’t work for me.

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

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I know this is favorite among many naturals but when I tried the product, shortly after I found it at a local Walgreens a few years ago, it really did little in the way of adding moisture to my hair. Moreover, it left white, flaky residue and did not work well with other products, such as gel. Now, it didn’t harm my hair in any way but my prone-to-dryness hair laughed in its face and didn’t respond to it at all. That said, I’ve had much better success with other products in the Shea Moisture product line, namely the sulfate free shampoos.

Cantu Shea Butter Leave In

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When I first applied Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie to my hair it reminded me of this product. It consistency is similar to other products that work for my hair but it just didn’t meet expectations. My hair felt fine upon immediate application but it felt dry and a bit crunchy by the end of the day. It almost felt like moisture was leaving my hair. Another aspect of this product that I didn’t care for was the smell. Now what I smelled upon opening the jar is fine but it had a strange after smell. I’m not particularly sensitive to smells but it bothered me each time I used the product.

Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter

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This is one of those products that I felt could easily be replaced with a much cheaper, equally effective natural product, namely shea butter. So, it wasn’t that the product was objectively terrible it was just a letdown. It’s a pretty dense product and not one that I would say is designed to add moisture. It’s more geared towards sealing after you’ve already used a water based product. I was able to use almost all of the product mainly because I was in my protective styling challenge phase and wore medium twists almost constantly (this was around 2011). It worked fine as a twisting butter but, again, I could have achieved the same outcome with unrefined shea butter.

Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifer

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Hair moisturizers in liquid form are hit or miss for me. This was my first time trying a liquid moisturizer and I was so disappointed that it took me years before I tried one again (from Oyin Handmade and Beautiful Curls) which, incidentally, worked pretty well for my hair. The Protective Mist Bodifer is somewhat thick. It’s definitely a liquid but not exactly watery. I figured this would be a good thing  because it meant, or so I thought, that the product was full of ingredients that would moisturize my hair. I found, however, that upon using the product my hair still needed a moisturizing base before sealing. I was able to salvage the product by mixing it with whole leaf aloe vera juice and using it as a leave in. But I don’t expect to have to add ingredients  when I purchase a product in order for it to be usable on my hair.

What products are on your ‘worst offender’ list? What have your experiences been with the products we mentioned here?

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Tabatha
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Tabatha

Oh thank heavens that Shea Moisture is on your list. I thought that I was the only person that was having issues with that line. I would see all the YTubers just raving about it and I seriously thought that the problem was with me. It’s a relief to see a lot of the popular brands on here. This year has been trial and error on products for me. The New Black and Lovely line to elongate and define your hair was a BUST! So is the Jane Carter line thank goodness that I have learned to save the receipts,… Read more »

Janel21
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Janel21

A lot Cantu products have canola oil as one of the first ingredients.

googleygirl
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googleygirl

I am not surprised to see Kinky Curly so many times on this list. I started with their products back in 2006 when they first came out and I was not happy then. I really don’t understand how they’re still in business. Also, I was wondering what type of style the author was trying to achieve using these products. A twist out? Wash & go? Braids? Banded? Shea Moisture products work well in my daughter’s hair when I am two-strand twisting it. And some other products works well with just wash & go. So that detail is necessary in determining… Read more »

roo08
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roo08

their in business because of their custard! non-black (mostly white) curly haired women love that stuff.

Kylana
Guest
Kylana

Thanks for sharing your experiences. This post is a good reminder that what works for one person may not work for someone else. I’m a 4b/4c, and love the results that I get with Kinly-Curly Curling Custard. Not only does it work well for me, but I always get positive comments when I use it.

Mahogany
Guest
Mahogany

I have the same hair texture and it works for me as well

LBell
Guest
LBell

Me three…aside from the fact that it takes forever to dry, I really love KCCC.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about Shea Moisture being on this list. I’ve heard far more bad than good reviews about the Curling Gel Souffle so I’m not even going to try it, but the Curl Enhancing Smoothie is fantastic plus it’s one of the few leave-ins that plays well with KCCC.

jwelch1394
Guest
jwelch1394

i love the SM curl enhancing smoothie it really makes my curls pop and then i apply the mixed chicks leave in over it i get a flawless wash and go every time

Bahagyrl
Guest
Bahagyrl

I’m not surprised at any on the list because people have to remember that what works for some may not work for others simple as that. You give it a go and move on!

Lexie
Guest
Lexie

So happy to see this article. I’m white so I’ve always depended on the advice of others for what products to use on my daughter’s 4a hair. I love the Shea Moisture conditioners so I tried the Curling Gel Soufflé but did not get good results. Same with the Kinky Curly Curling Custard.
Because my daughter is biracial, everyone is always recommending Mixed Chicks which has never given any good results on her hair. Just because the brand name describes her, doesn’t mean it will automatically work!

Cheri
Guest
Cheri

I’ve been using the Shea Moisture line for a while and since it wasn’t making my hair feel too terrible I thought it was working just fine. That is until I used my husband’s conditioner in the shower and got far more slippage and softness than I was getting with the Shea Moisture Conditioners. Their curl souffle and creams do nothing for my hair either. I still love their body products but I think I’m going to stop using their hair products. Taliah Waajids products just left my hair greasy so I stopped using those as well.

roo08
Guest
roo08

lol what conditioner does your husband use?

Elaina
Guest
Elaina

Exactly roo. On the real Cheri, what conditioner does your husband use? I’d like to know the answer to that one as well.

Guest
Guest
Guest

After wasting much money on these natural products, Im done with it because I get better results with the Isoplus grease on my damp hair after shampooing and I use a little and if I use a tiny bit of gel, its labella sport gel. I will not ever buy another one of these products, had to go way back to what works.

Kylana
Guest
Kylana

My friend gave up on the natural products and went back to old school Blue Magic. She loves it. Her net motto is ‘Back to Basics’ — all of the stuff we grew up on! lol

Corelle Perry
Guest
Corelle Perry

I heard awesome reviews about Shea Moisture for hair. I tried both the Shea Butter lines and coconut hibiscus line. They literally dried and fried my hair. I tried Wen 613 and it did nothing for my hair. It still needed added moisture to seal, so it was meh! I’m so glad y’all did an article for products that were a total fail! It is a learning curve determining which products will work for your hair…

Alicia
Guest
Alicia

I make my own hair products at home with natural oils. The only thing I buy from the store is deep conditioner (Because making my own is messy in my opinion) and hair gel. I save way more money that way because once I make a batch of the Shea butter I use on my hair it lasts for 6 months or more. I got the recipe from Naptural and then I just used the oils and essential oils that I liked and works great for my hair type.

MalikaiDragonSlayer
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MalikaiDragonSlayer

The smell of Cantu Shea Butter leave in makes me feel ill for some reason so I’m with ya, Geneice! Also it made my hair crazy dry. The Curling Gel Souffle worked for med but it didn’t do anything that i couldn’t have done with a cheaper product so I have no wish to buy it again.

kxlot79
Guest
kxlot79

My biggest product fail was Living Proof:Curls. I really wanted to like this line. I bought the trial pack from Ulta. I was super excited about it. And I figured a worst case scenario was a little dryness. My hair stays in very good condition, so imagine my absolute horror to discover that my 80% de-tangled hair (2 day old twist out) completely shrunk my MBL hair to lengths I haven’t seen since my SL days! And the tangles! Lord the tangles! Took me TWO full weeks to get to about 60% de-tangled and 6 weeks to nurse my hair… Read more »

Dee
Guest
Dee

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie is one of my staple products.

I tried pure shea butter and I even tried whipping it with a bit of oils added. Either way, it dries my hair up like crazy, even when I would spray my hair with water before putting it in my hair.

I tried using Eden Bodyworks Curl Defining Creme and my hair hated it so much.

naturalhijabi
Guest
naturalhijabi

I’s so glad to read this article. I was really REALLY trying to love coconut oil..its cheap and readily available, for my skin great, but for my hair…DISASTER! I’m finaly accepting that it just doesnt work for me. The weird thing too is that protein treatments seem to be great for my hair, but coconut oil…dry, brittle n greasy. So, Ive finally accepted that, but now what…? I need to nurse my hair back to health bc I was trying everything..overnight prepoo…FAIL.…naptural’s 25 minute cowash with coconut prepoo detangling…FAIL…n the feel of my hair now is just..ugh! Do i just… Read more »

Aliyah Morrison
Guest
Aliyah Morrison

I actually like the cantu shea butter products but I might go back to using kinky curly . Anyway the shea moisture african pride and beautiful textures was HORRIBLE on my hair ! My hair felt dry , brittle , and was a tangled mess after I used those products !

Guest
Guest
Guest

It is amazing that there are so many products and potions on the market just to make money. I was doing way too much and an older lady told me that and I just went back to using a little pomade for styling. I really believe Some of us are trying to make our hair look like someone else’s hair.

Camille
Guest
Camille

I second the Mixed Chicks Leave In, Sheamoisture Cull Souffle, and Coconut Oil. The first 2 are just sticky. I tried them both multiple times and multiple ways. Coconut oil made my hair hard and less curly. I was SO excited about it. I have met so many naturals with beautiful hair who swear by it. I do like it as an ingredient in hair products though. The Sheamoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie isn’t one of my favorites (just a little heavy), but I can see it being someone’s miracle product. It made my hair soft and gave me lasting twist… Read more »

Elaina
Guest
Elaina

I’ve been reading a lot about the of negative effects of coconut oil on the natural hair of some women. I don’t know about others, but I swear by the stuff. I turned this cheapie conditioner that I like, into a deep conditioner that I love by adding coconut oil. It also does wonders to protect my hair from breakage when I manipulate my hair.

Camille
Guest
Camille

It took a few weeks, but I would just cowash and use light stylers. It didn’t go away immediately but coconut oil made my hair dry, brittle, and greasy also. It also made my curls less defined. It took about a month for people to stop asking if I was doing something to my hair lol. I hadn’t even been using it that long or that heavily either. Make sure none of your products have it in the main ingredients while your hair detoxes,too.

roo08
Guest
roo08

OMG Tori you hair is just like mine. My hair H.A.T.E.S. Coconut Oil and hated everything your hair rejected in the name of Jesus also. I’m guessing you are protein sensitive too? Ok I’m now off to read your other posts to see what you use.

Great post!

FreeTea
Guest
FreeTea

SM Curl Smoothie, SM JBCO line, Cantu products, KK line, and Eden Bodyworks: they all make my hair hate life.

But I am starting to learn that my low-po hair doesn’t need a ton of products anyway. I stick to Giovanni Direct and SM raw Shea detangler for moisturizing and jojoba oil for sealing. That’s it.

Tina
Guest
Tina

I have 4a hair all around. The entire Kinky-Curly line left my hair dry and thirsty. The Shea Moisture JBCO is just bad all around for my hair. It either left my hair greasy and/or tangled. Karen’s Ambrosia leave-in was just too light and I would have to be heavy handed with this products. Some products with the best reviews? I feel like their creators and people who are paid to try them give faulty reviews 🙁

Elaina
Guest
Elaina

Worst in show for me was SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque. It left my hair feeling dry and tangled, not at all how I expect my hair to feel after rinsing out a deep conditioner (which is moisturized and detangled). The worst thing about it was this product had no slip whatsoever. And I wasn’t even about to try to make this product work for my hair after it bombed the first time, I used it that one time and gave away the remainder.

Amber
Guest
Amber

I would have to disagree with the coconut oil. I buy the unrefined extra virgin organic coconut oil from my local Trader Joes and have been using it for years. I use to the flat iron and as soon as I apply it, its like water to my hair. It defines my girls, moisturizes my hair and leave a endless shine to my hair.

I love curl enhancing smoothie although I haven’t used it in a while, its great for twisting. Just use little as possible.

Naturally Zee
Guest
Naturally Zee

I just want to know what products you use because it looks like u don’t like anything lol! Majority of the items you posted are my staples & I have the same texture hair!

AKP
Guest
AKP

I think this one depends on the grade of hair. I have fine hair and cannot use oil after washing. I use it as a pre-poo only and love how shiny my hair looks after and it minimizes frizz. My daughter has coarse hair and it works great on hers as a pre-poo also but since her hair is relaxed I dont apply it to her hair after it’s washed.

AKP
Guest
AKP

I can’t use any of their conditioners. The one conditioner I swear by is JOICO. Huge bottle for $15.99 at Marshalls.

AKP
Guest
AKP

I have only used it as a pre-poo. Never after I wash my hair. I swear by setting lotion when I wanna give my hair the curly/natural look.

AKP
Guest
AKP

Who sells Blue Magic? I have looked around but can’t find it.

TLoury
Guest
TLoury

My hair has never liked any of the Shea Moisture products. I tried adding other products to it, but no success.

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