Product or Process?

March 13, 2019

Which of these makes the biggest impact on your natural hairstyle?


I am a born-again natural hair product junkie… a reformed collector of conditioners, shampoos, creams, and gels. And since finding my staple product and strict wash & go routine, I’m starting to wonder if it has ever been the product or the actual process that has given me the results I have either loved or hated.

For the entire summer I have worn a wash & go. And I finally perfected the style enough to where I have loved rocking it, and have been able to wear it for days at a time. I always wash and style in the shower, and then apply my gel while still in the shower with my strands soaked and dripping. I get better slip, better coverage, and no drippage when I get out to lightly shingle for more definition. Plus, I found that this has actually drastically decreased the styling time and given me more wear from one style. Shaking it throughout the day while it’s still wet gives me the shape and clumped curls that I love so much. Needless to say, my hair has thrived and my wash & gos are now my favorite style.

So this question popped into my head when the hubs and I were discussing my last wash and go and the results that I raved about. It was a Saturday and I washed before going to church. We’re driving and he looks over and reminds me, “don’t forget to do your shake thing.”

LOL!  He’s learning!

So I did – shook my hair while in the car. He then complimented me on how nice my hair turned out and how much it’s grown, and I thanked him, glanced in the mirror, and wondered aloud if it actually looked the same as the last wash & go with a different product.  He agreed that while wet, it actually looked the same as it always does.

Product or Process?

See, our curl pattern never changes…right? Our curls are what they are, and a curling/styling product just enhances what we already have, naturally.  So – freshly done – wouldn’t every wash & go look about the same? Same curl, same shape, etc.? And when you have a consistent process – the same way you apply the curling product each and every time you do your hair – then your strands will lay the same, etc. (for the most part).  When I was shingling my semi-wet / damp / almost dry hair with curling product, it never turned out right.  I spent years hating, rather detesting, wash & gos and wouldn’t even touch the style for a year or so.  But as I learned more about my natural hair, that I have low-porosity hair, I know that, for my hair, soaking wet and dripping is the only way to apply my product – no matter which product it is.  This would mean that the primary indication of a successful wash & go, or rather a keeper-worthy product, would actually be how the hair looks the day after, or after every strand has dried.  Right?  And an even better indicator would be day-two-or-three hair and how well the product holds up through day 4 or even 5.

This was especially evident to me after using a super inexpensive gel instead of the more expensive stuff I’d been using before.  It’s a more generic product, albeit pretty popular in the natural hair community, that costa me a fraction of the more popular natural curling products, and last me three times as long.  After stepping out of the shower this morning, all clean and curled, I shook my hair out and noticed that it looked exactly the same as after I’d used one of those pricier products.  In fact, 9 hours later, this wash & go looks fantastic!  Granted, I will really know in about 36 hours (omg) after my strands have completely dried and been stretched a bit; but for starters, it is looking just as good as the other stuff.  So my second thought begs the question…

Product or Price?

Natural Hair Product A costs $20.00; and promises to give shiny, elongated, defined, bouncy curls (::epic side eye::). Natural Hair Product B costs $4.49; and simply promises definition, body, shine, and no flaking. Product A comes in a 16 oz jar; while product B comes in an 32 oz. jar.  Product A has lots of ingredients, some I don’t really need for a simple wash & go; and product B has like 4.  Standing in the store, trying to decide which product to pick up, natural hair products all look the same after a while.  They all promise the same things, all claim to have natural ingredients, and they all cater to natural tresses.  The one biggest difference is usually the price; and one would think that the higher the price…the better the product.  Right?  But are you paying for the product or the name?

What makes one natural hair product pricier than the other?  And what makes people purchase products that will cost them nearly $20, even sometimes $30 or more coins?  For many, I believe that it’s the name. Or how popular it is. Brand recognition and product persuasion is a powerful thing and many times we see natural hair products being used on YouTube, on television commercials, or in magazines; and we just have to try it – whether it is because this well-known person claims to use it, or because it is new to the market.  So we identify a product on the shelves that we’ve seen somewhere before and just have to try – we pay the cost and get it home to try it out.  Sometimes it does what it promises – what we expect; and other times we toss it in the products basket under the sink and forget about it – moving on to the next-new product that promises the next-best-thing.

On the other hand, can a product that costs as little as $5 work?  We often think, ‘Well, it costs significantly less, so it probably doesn’t do the job of the name brands that are much more expensive.’  And if they do work just as well as the expensive brands, why are we even still considering those prices?

So do we consider the product or the price when we’re purchasing products?  What is in the product?  How long will the style last?  How is the product made?  Does the product do what it promises?  Or are we considering price – the more it costs, the better it will work?  And this brings on my third question…

Process or Price?

Which is most important when considering your natural hair product purchase?  Do you consider that your process, your consistent application of products in a certain order or consistency, will determine how your style turns out?  Or do you use price as a heavier weight in your decision to purchase a natural hair product?

If we are to follow the theory (for instance, for a wash & go) that any natural hair product you use can give you similar results as long as your routine or regimen remains consistent, then it really doesn’t matter how much the product costs.  It really doesn’t matter whether you pick up Miss Jessie’s or Eco Styler… Kinky Curly or Suave… Shea Moisture or Mixed Chicks.  You can use any group of products and your natural curls will turn out the same.  Process will determine the immediate result…

But what about the long-lasting result?  Does price determine how long the product will allow the style to last?  Or does process?  Again, I vote for process.  See, it shouldn’t matter how much a natural hair product costs, or the name you find on the outside of the container (unless a product is truly b-a-d – and I have tried truly horrific products that even my trusty process couldn’t combat!). Your hair pattern, porosity, and other such particulars will determine how any curling styler works on your hair.  And yes, I will agree that the product can affect your results, as well – especially the formulation of ingredients, too much of, or the lack of certain ingredients can determine how your curls will react even with a perfect process.  It may turn out that a product has a better result on your strands and costs much, much less than another that does not.  Or vice versa.  However, I cannot get behind the theory that price has much to do with any of it.

What do you think? Product? Process? Price? Does it matter?

(originally posted September 11, 2014. Ask Me About My Hair Blog. All Rights Reserved.)

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