Curly Girl Basics: The four ingredients I avoid

If you’re just getting started at the curly girl method, keeping track of everything to avoid is overwhelming, especially if you’ve got a tight budget. I know it was for me! Plenty of curly girls may end up spending more money than they want to or else they give up altogether.

Now, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I refer to the “curly girl method”, it’s the method outline in Lorraine Massey’s book The Curly Girl Handbook. Now, some parts of her method I think are a bit extreme (especially if you’re on a tight budget) like avoiding parabens and phthlatates. Now, if you want to avoid parabens and phthlatates, that is totally cool, but be aware that it could be expensive.

While there are some higher end products that I *love*, I firmly believe that you can find good quality products without having to choose between buying groceries or having good hair days.

These are the four ingredients I actively try to avoid while still finding affordable products:

Sulfates

If one of the first ingredients on that label is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, etc…put it back on the shelf NOW! Unfortunately most mainstream shampoos in drugstores will have sulfates. Why avoid sulfates? Well, curly girls already have naturally dry hair and these sulfates only make the problem worse. If you have an oily scalp, sulfates will strip too much oil away and cause your scalp to produce too much oil. Basically, you can’t win either way with sulfates.

So, how does a curly girl get her hair clean without sulfates? You have a few options. A popular one is forgoing shampoo altogether and using a silicone-free (more on that below) conditioner, also known as co-washing. A popular one is the Suave Essentials conditioner line (NOT the shampoos, they have sulfates). The bonus here is that Suave is cheap and available everywhere. There are also dedicated co-washes available, but they can be a little expensive (all for the “co-wash” marketing, really). But BE CAREFUL because some products marketed as co-washes in drugstores can contain silicones.

However, co-washing doesn’t really work for me, so I tend to spend just a little extra on sulfate-free shampoos. Yes, they exist, and yes, the right ones can get your hair clean. The ones I’ve been able to easily find and that aren’t too expensive are Shea Moisture, Maui MoistureKinky Curly, some products from the HASK line, Made Beautiful, Burts Bees, the Say Yes 2 line (most commonly found in Target).

Silicones

Is that Dimethicone up high in the ingredient list? Amodimethicone? Is it a really weird word that ends with -xane or -cone? Put it back. Unless it is accompanied by PEG because that means it’s water soluble.

Silicones are popular in hair products because initially, they are great at making the hair look shiny and feel silky. Key word: initially. Over time, using silicones can cause buildup (making you think you have dandruff) and weigh your hair down. The only way to get these silicones out is with a sulfate shampoo…thus perpetuating the sulfate-silicone cycle.

Drying Alcohols

Basically, these will dry your hair out and curly girls are already prone to dryness. Drying alcohols include: Alcohol Denat., Ethanol, Isopropyl alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, etc. Now, this doesn’t mean avoid ALL alcohols, just the drying ones. Wait, there’s more than one type of alcohol? Indeed there is! Fatty alcohols are the ones you WANT because they are moisturizing. Cetyl Alcohol, Ceateryl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Lauryl Alcohol, and Behenyl Alcohol

Mineral Oil


Now Mineral Oil is something I personally avoid because for *me* it doesn’t do anything good for my hair. It just sits on my hair and causes buildup. For others, this may not be the case. 

Takeaway


I know this all sounds confusing and overwhelming; believe me, I was where you are when I started the “curly girl” journey. I promise though, that it is all doable and it is totally worth it. My next post will be a more comprehensive list of curly girl friendly products.

YouTube Channel?!

I just posted my first YouTube video ever, so go check it out! Feel free to like and subscribe, and be nice if you decide to comment. I recorded it with my phone and I stutter a fair bit (ugh).

I’m still figuring out the whole video thing, so be patient with me ūüôā

Basically, I go through my current hair care routine, which I will provide a written description of below:

First off, I am attempting to follow the washing tips in Lorraine Massey’s “Curly Girl Handbook”, specifically for botticelli curls and wavy hair (my hair falls somwhere between).

When I get in the shower, I wet my hair with my back facing the shower water, head leaned back. I do cup my hair with my hands in order to not disrupt the curl/wave pattern. After my hair is sufficiently wet, I cup my left hand and apply a line of Shea Moisture African Black Soap shampoo to my finger tips. I take my other hand and massage my finger tips together, then proceed to massaging the shampoo into my scalp, starting at my temples and working my way through my hair. After massaging for a minute or two, I’ll finish off with my shampoo brush and rinse out.

Then I’ll condition with either Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter conditioner or the Sacha Imchi Deep Conditioner. I also detangle my hair with my fingers starting at the ends and working my way up, section by section. Then I leave the conditioner in for as long as possible and rinse out.

Next up: squish to condish. This method is hard to really explain, so bear with me. I lean forward and let the shower stream over my hair. I apply at least a palmful of Yes To Coconuts and Argan Oil conditioner, until my hair feels like seaweed. I then cup my hands and let the shower water pool in them, and gently squish the water into my hair. I keep squishing/conditioning until I feel satsified. For more info, check out other squish to condish videos on YouTube or similar blog posts.

When I get out of the shower, I squeeze the excess water out of my hair with my Deva towel or a t-shirt and proceed to styling.

I take my Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner and gently rake it through my hair (yes, I use A LOT of conditioner, my hair is freakishly dry) and then take a couple of pumps of the Deva Curl Styling Cream and rake that through too, making sure that my hair is clumping nicely. Then I wet my hands and scrunch and squeeze some La Bella hair gel.

After I do all of this, I clip my hair section by section with hot roller clips to the top of my scalp, to encourage volume. I then let it air dry for…however much time I can before it’s time for bed (I wash my hair at night). If my hair is still pretty wet, I’ll diffuse for a few minutes and then put it up in a satin cap. Usually this means good curls in the morning.

So….that’s my routine! I hope you enjoy my video and I hope to make more videos soon.

Products used:

Shampoo: Shea Moisture African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo
Conditioner: Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner or Sacha Ichii Deep Conditioner
Squish to Condish: Yes To Coconuts and Argan
Leave-in: Garnier Whole Blends Olive Oil Leave-in Conditioner
Cream: Deva Curl Styling Cream
Gel: La Bella Max Hold

Once again, I am not being compensated in any way for these products. I purchased them with my own money.

Short hair don’t care

I decided it was time to go short.

The way my hairdresser did it

Actually, I don’t think I decided until I was in the stylist’s chair. For a while, I was contemplating growing my hair out for….reasons. But recently, my toddler has taken to pulling my hair every chance she gets, and she is talented enough to be able to pull hair out of a ponytail.

Plus, I was getting fairy knots. What’s a fairy knot? Basically it’s when a single strand of hair has a knot on it, and nothing will get it out except cutting it off, which I leave to the professionals. I don’t trust myself with scissors and hair. It’s true–when my husband and I were newlyweds, I tried to cut his hair, because his mother cut his hair (as well as his dad’s and brothers’) to save money. Believe me, I tried valiantly and swore much because my husband has THICK, WIRY hair. It’s horrible. Finally, he just started going to Great Clips and never looked back. Me NOT cutting his hair saved our marriage, no joke.

When my stylist (Deva Certified, might I add) asked me what I wanted, I found myself telling her that I wanted my hair to be chin length, with some layers of course. Was I seriously doing this? Yup, I was. She did a dry cut first (as a good curly hair stylist does), washed my hair with the Deva Curl Decadence line (note, I am going to try out that conditioner because it was so moisturizing, and my hair looooves moisture). Then she smoothed in some of the Deva styling cream and scrunched in some Deva Ultra Defining gel. After that, I sat under a dryer for a little while and then she dried my hair some more with a diffuser.

The final results? Success! Even my stylist was telling me how super cute I looked. I never thought I could pull of a curly bob, but here I was, with a curly bob and I was loving it. I thought I looked like a cute young mom.

So now, I’m figuring out how to wash and style these short curls, but I’m still loving it. It’s so much easier to achieve second and third-day hair because my hair isn’t weighed down by length. Detangling is also less time-consuming.

After I styled it

My current routine while I’m figuring out the short hair:

Shampoo: Cantu Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo (purchased for $5.99 for 13.5 ounces at my local grocery store). I also use a shampoo brush to really massage it in.

Rinse-out/deep conditioner: SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner (purchased for about $10.99 for 13 oz. again from my local grocer). This is also when I detangle with my shower comb. Then I leave it in for 3-5 minutes while I do other shower stuff.

Squish to Condish: Say Yes To Coconuts and Argan Oil from Target ($7.99 for 12 oz.). I flip my hair upside down (with SheaMoisture conditioner still in), letting the water run over my hair. I rake a palmful of this conditioner through my hair until it feels like seaweed, fill my cupped hands with water, and gently squish it into my hair. I do this and apply more conditioner as needed until I’m satisfied (that’s the best way I can describe it).

Here’s a couple of videos that taught me about Squish to Condish

And then I squish the excess water out with a t-shirt or my DevaCurl microfiber towel when I hop out of the shower, and proceed to styling.

Leave-in Conditioner: Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive leave-in conditioner. I got it for less than six dollars for 10.2 ounces. I rake this through, just enough to detangle any missed areas. I focus on the back of my hair because it tends to be the driest.

Cream: I use DevaCurl Styling Cream. A bit of a splurge, but a little goes a long way. I rake some of this through my hair. After applying the cream, I make sure to “clump” the hair, and then I twist individual curls to promote definition.

Gel: LaBella Maximum Hold Gel. I think I got this for less than two bucks for a decent sized bottle. I flip my head upside down and scrunch a bunch in.

When I’m done, I use my trusty t-shirt or Deva towel to absorb the extra moisture, and then I either plop my hair on a t-shirt or I clip my hair up on the top of my scalp (to lift the roots for a little volume). After an hour or two, I diffuse.

That my friends, is my current wash-and-go routine. I hope it wasn’t too complicated. I do not profit in any way from these links–they are merely to make it easier for you to find them. Enjoy!

New blog name, new year, new start

Yes, I have changed my site name AGAIN. While “Curly Junkie on a Budget” had a ring to it, it didn’t feel right to me. Plus, it was a little too close to the product brand “Curl Junkie” and I wanted to prevent confusion.

There is also the fact that I am a mom. Being a mom is a pretty big part of my identity right now. I have two beautiful little girls who bring joy and chaos to my life. I want to be an example to them of self-acceptance and self-restraint (especially when it comes to spending money). They are a big part of my budgeting.

Also, if my girls end up with curly hair like their mama, I hope that I can help them manage it so they don’t have the hair trauma I had when I was a teenager.

So, my final blog name is….Curly Mama on a Budget. I think it suits the purpose of this blog well.

One of my top resolutions this year is to be more careful with money, and rather than just saying “I’ll stick to a budget” and not going further than that, I am actually doing more. I have been doing calculations based on my husband’s salary and reading up on what percentage of income should go towards things like groceries, bills, gas, etc. and formulating budgets based on that. I also have an account with mint.com that will help me keep track of my spending and budget.

I am also going to be more mindful of what I purchase, and keep better track of what I already have so I don’t go out and buy something that I already have. In short, I want to reduce my tendencies towards being a product junkie (oh yeah, I think that’s another reason for me changing this page’s title).

So…stay tuned for more…as often as I can get around to posting.

Review: Eden BodyWorks Co-wash

Co-washing is a big thing in the curly world. Basically what it means is cleansing your hair with a light conditioner as opposed to traditional shampoos. The idea behind this is that curly hair is dry by nature and co-washing helps keep the curly hair moisturized. There are many dedicated co-washes on the market, but many curlies choose to use silicone-free drugstore conditioners such as Suave Naturals or V05. Both are very friendly on the wallet, though admittedly, I have yet to try them myself.

Lately, I’ve been trying out Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Cleansing Co-wash. I purchased it at my local Sally Beauty Supply for $8.49. It comes in a 16 oz. jar, so cost per ounce comes out to 53 cents per ounce, which is quite reasonable.¬†
I really wanted to like this co-wash, but despite my best efforts….it didn’t really work for me. The first few times I used it, I just slathered it on because of how much hair I have. When I did that, I got a bit of buildup and it was hard to rinse it out completely. Plus, it didn’t exactly play well with my styling products.¬†
Next, I tried only using a little bit because I read reviews online that said a little goes a long way. Again, I ended up using more than planned because thick hair. 
So, I tried cutting my other shower products to a minimum. First, not using a deep conditioner and just using my GVP rinse-out conditioner. Nope. Then I tried using deep conditioner after co-washing instead of a rinse-out. That worked a little better, but I still got buildup and itching. 
Oh yeah, the itching. Normally I only start having an itchy scalp right around my normally scheduled wash days, but I would itch immediately after my hair dried using this co-wash ūüė¶
I am also not a fan of the co-wash in a jar concept–it’s unwieldy in the shower.

However, I will say that the slip this co-wash gives is phenomenal. 

After trying Garnier Pure Clean as a co-wash and using a dedicated co-wash like Eden Bodyworks…I’m starting to think that my hair just doesn’t like co-washing. My hair is naturally really dry and seriously DRINKS up moisture, but I guess it just needs more lather than a co-wash can provide.¬†
So, if you don’t have problems with buildup and itching like I do, this may work. Maybe this co-wash would work for tighter, kinkier hair than mine (I have 2C/3A curls) Maybe I’ll try another co-wash someday, but for now, I’ll seek out a good sulfate-free/silicone-free shampoo.

Eden Bodyworks Coconut Shea Co-wash Pros:

Great slip
Inoffensive smell
Great value price per ounce

Cons:
Buildup
Itching
Awkward jar situation
Not so great for my 2C/3A curls

Just a reminder, I am not being compensated in any way for this review. I purchased the product myself.

Review: co-washing with garnier fructis pure clean

 Co-washing: cleansing with a lightweight conditioner as opposed to using traditional shampoo or sulfate and silicone-free shampoo. 
Lots of curlies swear by this, since many of us (including myself)¬†have notoriously dry hair and need all the conditioning we can get. There are lots of dedicated co-washes on the market, but many prefer to¬†buy¬†silicone-free conditioners like Suave Naturals or V05 (cheap and widely available in most drugstores). I haven’t tried the Suave or V05 conditioners¬†myself yet, but I have been trying out Garnier Fructis’s Pure Clean conditioner as a co-wash for the last month.
I found it on a 2-for-$5¬†sale at my local grocery store recently, so I bought one to try out because why not? I’m all about trying inexpensive stuff (hence my blog). I paid $2.50 for a 13 oz. bottle which is approximately 20¬†cents per ounce (sa-weet!). It normall sells for about $4, which is 30 cents an ounce and still cheap.
The Pure Clean line from Garnier Fructis is supposed to be 92% biodegradeable and free of silicones, parabens, and dyes. The shampoo does have sulfates, however, so only use this as a clarifier. The line also has¬†gel and a finishing paste, which are both curly girl friendly (I haven’t tried these yet either…in good time).
I have a few rules for my cleansing products:
–must clean and moisturize
–no build-up
–I cannot have an itchy scalp after only a day or two (I am prone to this)
–Must allow me to maintain curls up to 2-3 days with my other products
I decided to try the Garnier Pure Clean out as a co-wash. My normal hair-wash routine is co-wash (or curly girl friendly shampoo, I haven’t decided which I prefer yet), rinse-out conditioner, and deep conditioner.¬†
To test how moisturizing the Garnier Pure Clean was, I first used it and then my rinse-out conditioner (I am not brave enough to use co-wash and co-wash alone yet). It wasn’t especially moisturizing this way–I had to use a lot more leave-in and my Curl Keeper than I normally would before I could style. Normally, when I do my wash/rinse out conditioner/deep conditioner routine in addition to my styling products (leave-in conditioner, cream, gel, etc.), I can get about 2-3 days out of my curls. Doing the co-wash and rinse-out conditioner without deep conditioning…I only got 1-2 days.¬†
So the next wash day, I used the Pure Clean with my other shower and styling products. I had good hair days….except for one thing.
My scalp started itching and flaking. Build up. Maybe I wasn’t massaging it in vigorously enough?
So, the next time, I tried massaging it in more vigorously, and still, my scalp started itching and flaking.
Maybe I had some leftover previous product in my hair? Let’s clarify! So, I clarified with Eden Bodyworks Peppermint and Tea Tree shampoo, which is AMAZING stuff. Bingo…or so it seemed. I had no itching or flaking whatsoever. So, I decided to try co-washing with the Pure Clean one more time to see if clarifying did the trick.
Alas, it did not. 
My scalp started itching on day 2 and hasn’t stopped since, and I’m going to clarify again and try a different co-wash I have in the wings.¬†
But one really big pro though: the SLIP! I was able to detangle a good bit with my fingers while co-washing. Maybe I’ll try this out as a rinse-out conditioner (focusing on mid-shaft to ends).
So, I will give this product 3 out of 5 stars. Good price, great slip, but not so great at cleansing. Plus, I wasn’t a big fan of the smell (some people might not mind it, and it doesn’t linger).

Sally Beauty Supply Haul

Sally¬†Beauty Supply was¬†having a “Buy 2 get 1 free” sale on several brands, and since I was running low on a few things, I decided to take advantage of this, since one of my goals is finding good products for good prices.
My haul:
Generic Value Products (GVP) Conditioning Balm: $6.59
‚Äč‚Äč
Beyond The Zone (BTZ) Noodle Head Curl Glaze: $6.99
‚Äč‚Äč

BTZ 3-in-1 The Scruncher Spray: $3.19
‚Äč‚Äč

BTZ Noodle Head Leave-in Conditioner: $7.29
‚Äč‚Äč

The “B2G1” deal applied to the BTZ products.
The GVP Conditioning Balm is pretty popular among the curly YouTubers, especially the ones who have about the same hair type as me (2C/3A). GVP is basically Sally’s store brand (I call it a salon version of Suave products) and the conditioning balm is supposed to be an inexpensive¬†duplicate of Biolage’s conditioning balm (which I’ve never used)¬†
The Beyond The Zone brand also seems to be exclusive to Sally’s as well. It has a moderate following among curlies, and I’m excited to try them out.
All images in this post came from Sally Beauty Supply’s website.