I love snow. I actually really miss it, living where I live in the land of the humid! But as much as I love the sight of white rolling hills and the feel of crisp winter air; I have no desire to see white rolls of crisp product falling from my hair! Not even a little bit.
You wake up and drag yourself out of bed to begin your day. It’s winter, and there’s a chill in the air so you turn up the heat. Your morning routine usually starts off slow; but you make it through your shower routine, get dressed, and put on your makeup. Now for the hair – your wash day was yesterday and you found a new product to try for today’s twist out. You take off your satin cap and begin to untwist.
All of a sudden you are taken to a vast place where only white can be seen for miles; flakes fall down on you like a blizzard and form snowballs on your shoulders. You shiver, thinking it must be this winter weather; until you come back to realize that you are still standing in your bathroom and the flakes are not snow. They are… well… flakes falling from your hair! What the snowballs?! You can’t believe this! A perfectly good style ruined by flaking. And not dandruff, either… flaking from the products you used in your hair. You don’t have time for this! What’s a natural to do?
How many times has product flaking happened to you? There is nothing more infuriating than spending lots of time on your natural hair style, only to discover that you are left with flakes and buildup when you’re done. And if you’re like me, wash day means that I don’t plan on having another for at least a week or two. Well, this happened to me quite recently – over the Christmas break as a matter of fact; and I originally named this post
Walking in a Winter Wonderland: Product Flaking in Natural Hair
but since I’m all late with the holiday posts, I have renamed it. I also did some research to figure out how to prevent future flaking outbreaks from happening again!
How to Prevent Product Flaking in Natural Hair
In the past I tried the Curling Cream from Cantu’s Natural line and actually liked it. I never purchased it again, only because I am addicted to the Shea Moisture and Curls lines. But I was wandering around Walmart one evening and saw that Cantu had a leave-in and a curling custard. My product junkyism kicked in and I grabbed and purchased them before I had time to talk myself out of it. My rationale? Well I’m staying with my mom for Christmas and I didn’t bring my trusty hair products; I need to buy this so I can twist my hair.
And I did… cowash, condition, and then applied the leave-in and then the curling custard on my damp hair, twisted, covered, and went to bed. I kept it under wraps the next day since we weren’t going anywhere. The next evening, however, I went to take my hair down so I could stretch out the twist out for my New Year’s date with my boyfriend. As I untwisted, I notice some flaking. My attention was divided between him and the television, so I didn’t notice now much flaking until I was completely done and covered in white. Covered. From my shoulders to my pants, and the whole couch around me. Co-vered.
I. Was. Livid.
I had planned the hairstyle down to the hour before we left for our date and I didn’t allow time for a redo! This made me so angry, he even asked me if I was okay when I went back to my bathroom to inspect the damage and got too quiet for his comfort. Actually, looking back, I think he thought I had just cut it all off since I’m always threatening to chop again. LOL I needed evidence so when I contacted the company I could show them the pictures, and he helped me take pictures of my fingers, the comb, my clothes, and the couch (and even him!).
Even thinking about it now bring steam to my ears! ::breathe in::breathe out::
So how could I have prevented this from happening? After thinking about some of my past flaking mishaps and how I got to that point, I came up with
Seven Reasons for Product Flaking in Natural Hair
You’re using too much product.
I know I say this all the time: ‘I have to use more product because my hair is so thick!’ But that is not always the case. Most times, a little goes a long way, and we only need to use a little bit to get the results we want. Too much gel or curling cream on one section can keep the hair from absorbing the product and then it has no where to go. So when it dries, it falls because there is nothing holding it on the strands!
You’re using too many products.
When I try a new product from a new line, I like to use all the products that come in that line to achieve the style I want. For example, instead of just trying III Sisters of Natural Hair Lengthening Creme, I also purchased the Shampoo, Deep Conditioner, Leave-In Conditioner, and Gel, going all product turbo! So when I finally got to the Lengthening Creme and then went to apply the gel over it, I got a sticky, tacky mess.
So my last mistake was thinking, ‘oh, well, I’ll just finish this and then let my hair dry… maybe it’ll go away when it dries.’ No. It didn’t. Keep it simple – just use one styling product. There is no need to pile product upon product, even if it is made by the same company. Unless the label specifically tells you to mix and match, don’t.
You’re mixing product lines.
Most times you can use a shampoo from Shea Moisture, a conditioner from TresEmme, and a Gel from EcoStyler. In fact, I have done this. But sometimes one product brand shouldn’t be mixed with another product brand because if you use the leave-in from one company underneath the gel from another and then a moisturizer from yet another, you may have a white fuzzy mess to clean up. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the product of one company refuses to work with products from another. Especially the expensive ones that want you to buy a whole line of $25.00 each jars and bottles. Uh, not happening! If I have just one product that won’t play nice with the others, I put it in time out.
You’re not rinsing completely.
Dear curly girls, not every conditioner on the shelves is made to leave in. Unless it says so, you probably shouldn’t. On the same hand, if you have not completely rinsed out your shampoo and conditioner, and then you pile product on top of that, you may experience slight flaking from the leftover suds. Make sure you are rinsing your hair completely before moving on to the styling phase of your routine.
You’re mixing product with oil.
The night I did my fourth big chop, I was so excited to try EcoStyler so that my short cropped curls would be popping the next day for work. I did a protein treatment, moisturizing deep conditioner, and then a regular conditioner. Then I applied coconut oil to my curlies and Eco Styler on top of that. Oh, the flaking! So much white on so little hair! And I was so baffled, I recorded a video so I could test the possible reasons why. Not all oils mix with gels… or creams… or curling products. Especially heavier oils, or moisturizing oils like coconut. If you must use an oil, try jojoba – it is the closest to our own natural scalp sebum so there shouldn’t be any issues.
You’re mixing product with butter.
The statement above applies here – Shea butter, mango butter, etc. may be too thick and may not mix well with gels and other stylers. In fact, because Shea butter sits on top of my hair I will not even look at it when I want to rock a wash & go. Twists? Sure.
You’re using a styling product on dry hair.
If the label says to use on wet or damp hair, use it on wet. or. damp. hair. Sometimes we get lazy and don’t want to wash our hair, but want a wash & go look from dry hair. No bueno. First of all, you shouldn’t apply gel to dry hair, and second of all, the company generally knows best how to use their products. After all, they are the ones who created and tested it, right? Plus, you never know what can be on your hair from a previous style that may cause the product to flake. Read your labels.
Be Aware of the Products You’re Using and How You’re Using Them.
I found a video on YouTube by The Creative Lady showing how to test products in your hand before applying them to your hair. Makes perfect sense! Watch it here.
And of course if you’re in a hurry and taking down twists or knots for work that result in flaking, slick it back in a bun without manipulating it to much, and rock a bun. No one should be close enough to you to notice a little flaking. No, seriously, from an HR standpoint, NO ONE in your workplace should be that close to you! LOL
Oh, and P.S.: I had to cut some stuff out the next morning, but I was able to wash, condition, and blow my hair out for the new year. I wore it in a bun that night to stretch it out and the blow out is still going strong 15 days later!