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How to be Natural on a Budget

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Alexis Gardner | agardner5@radford.edu

Are you a natural who is tired of spending all of your money or hair products? When I first started taking care of my natural hair and bought all the products I thought I needed; I spent more than $100.

Now I have a better understanding of the products I need while staying within a college-student budget. If you’re in the same boat, keep reading.

For price comparisons, I chose the lowest prices between Wal-Mart, Target, Sally Beauty Supply and Amazon. I also know that there are some shoppers who don’t care if a product is made of 100 percent natural ingredients, and then there are some who care a lot about the ingredients. So for each category, I’ve tried to include an option for each type.

*disclaimer: I am not a hair stylist or claim to be one. I am just sharing what has worked for me and what I’ve learned throughout my hair journey*

The first shampoo I tried was ‘Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Grow shampoo with peppermint and apple cider vinegar.’ Shea Moisture was one of the first brands to cater to the natural hair community, and all products are 100 percent natural. Their products are free of sulfates, parades, mineral oils, petrolatum, phthalates and propylene glycol – all things that are considered “bad” for natural hair and “shunned” in the natural hair community.

The bonus size 16.3 fluid ounce bottle costs $7.98. But, if you think that is expensive, let me add some perspective. I bought my first bottle at the end of January, and it lasted until mid-July, washing my hair once a week. I know some naturals wash their hair once a month, so this could last even longer. One of the best things about this product is that although the consistency is watery, a little goes a long way. You don’t need much at all.

‘Crème of Nature’s Argan Oil Moisture & Shine Shampoo’ is sulfate free but has other ingredients that some people with natural hair don’t like to use, like dimethicone. Natural hair YouTuber JourneyTo waist length has 347,000 subscribers and mentions this shampoo in her video, ‘My Favorite Natural Hair Products,’ which has 100,000 views. She said, “I love that this shampoo does an excellent job of cleaning my scalp and my hair without leaving my hair feeling like it’s stripped.” A 12-ounce bottle is $4.12 at Wal-Mart.

Using the conditioner that goes with the shampoo works better for my hair. So I use the 13 ounces ‘Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Grow conditioner,’ which is $8.97 at Wal-Mart. At Sally Beauty Supply the same size bottles cost $9.99, at Target it is $8.99, and on Amazon, it’s $8.97 but only as an add-on item.

Before using that, I tried the ‘Aussie Mega Moist conditioner’ which is $4.94 at Wal-Mart. It’s a huge bottle, and it has a lot of slip, which makes detangling easy. The ingredients aren’t 100 percent natural, but when I used it on my hair, it worked well.

I have tried a fair number of deep conditioners. Shea Moisture’s deep conditioners are a bit pricey, so they’re not for naturals on a budget. A 16-ounce container of ‘Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Monoi Natural Deep Conditioner is $8.49 at Sally Beauty Supply. The consistency is pretty thick, so not much is needed and it’ll last you at least a month.

I haven’t tried it, but the ‘Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioning Treatment’ is $2.97 at Wal-Mart. A lot of naturals on YouTube praise this deep conditioner because it’s quick, easy and gets the job done. YouTuber eVaniwithaV, who has 13,000 subscribers, has more than 63,000 views on her review of the deep conditioner. Her conclusion? “I was so shocked out of my mind at how amazing this was and how cheap it was. … As far as detangling and moisturizing, I thought this stuff was amazing.”

*Note: Target has deep conditioning packets ranging from $0.99 to $2.79. I have used the Shea Moisture deep conditioning packets, and I get two uses out of them*

For leave-in conditioners, some naturals like water mixed with aloe vera juice. I find Amazon is the best place to get aloe vera juice because in the stores it’s usually mixed with something else — not the aloe by itself. On Amazon, a 16-ounce bottle cost $8.25.

Another budget-friendly leave-in conditioner that has some natural ingredients, but not all, is ‘African Pride’s Shea Miracle Moisture Intense Leave-In Conditioner.’ At Wal-Mart, the 15-ounce jar costs $4.37.

A variety of oils work in natural hair. Some of the more popular oils are coconut, almond, jojoba, avocado, and olive. Most in the natural hair community know about coconut oil, which is my personal favorite. I like the Great Value brand from Wal-Mart that is virgin, unrefined and expeller pressed.

Another option is to buy extra virgin olive oil – yes, like the one used in cooking. Olive oil has great benefits for hair. According to Samantha Berley, a writer for the website blackgirllonghair.com, olive oil is a fantastic conditioner. “It’s also one of the top emollients that can penetrate the hair better than others, and its lightweight nature makes it great for moisturizing. Olive oil also contains anti-inflammatory properties that promote scalp health and prevent dandruff.”

A 17-ounce bottle of extra virgin olive oil from Wal-Mart costs $3.58.

Last in any natural hair woman’s routine comes sealing. If you don’t seal after moisturizing, the result is dry hair. There are many different ways to seal in moisture. Some like to use a heavy oil, some like using a thick cream and some have gone back using good old hair grease.

An all-natural heavy oil to seal in moisture is Jamaican black castor oil. According to naturallycurly.com, “It will moisturize, thicken, strengthen and rapidly increase hair growth. It increases blood flow to the scalp, supplying valuable nutrients to hair follicles. Jamaican Black Castor Oil will also prevent hair breakages, dandruff, eczema and dry, itchy scalp.” A four-ounce bottle of JBCO costs $6.99 at Sally Beauty Supply. It can also be used to oil your scalp, so it’s like a two-for-one deal.

I used to use JBCO or shea butter, but I have recently found that grease can also be used as a sealant. Once shunned in the natural hair community, many are now finding that just because the ingredients aren’t 100 percent natural doesn’t mean it is bad for your hair. You can find ‘Blue Magic Conditioner….Hair Dress “Anti- Breakage Formula”’ for $2.39 at Target.

See what may work for you. Be sure to read about protective styling for natural hair in my next article!