“This Product Doesn’t Work!” FiveThings to Consider When A Natural Hair Product Does Not Work on Your Hair

April 24, 2017

You’ve heard about this natural hair product everywhere and the anticipation is more than you can bear.  When you finally get your hands on the product and use it…

When That Natural Hair Product Doesn’t Work

…it isn’t up to your expectations.  In fact, it doesn’t do, at all, what it and others say it will do.  Your hair doesn’t turn out like that other natural you saw on YouTube.  And you used it exactly like her!  You try it again and it still doesn’t work.  So, you get mad and decide that it isn’t you – it’s the product – and you get rid of it.

Oh I know, I’ve been there.  A new product that doesn’t work is a bummer.  Worse yet, an old trusty product-friend that stops working the way you expect is heart-breaking.  Like your BFF took your friendship bracelet and gave it to someone else.  #betrayal

Oh, so you and your best friend didn’t have friendship bracelets?  And I suppose you don’t use Lisa Frank school supplies, either.  #whatever #oldschool #friendshipbraceletsarestillcool

So what is wrong with the products and why do we continue to waste our money on natural hair products that don’t work?

Well wait a minute: Have you considered that it might not be the product, at all?

Why That Product May Not Work on Your Natural Hair

There are many factors that can affect how a product works on your natural hair.  Being aware of them will make it easier to either give a product another chance, know better how to use it, or to not pick it up in the first place.

Have You Considered Your Hair Type or Texture?

No, not your curl type, but your true hair type.  Knowing your hair’s texture, porosity, and density is key to caring for your natural hair and choosing the products that will be best for your hair’s health and growth.  Perhaps you aren’t using the proper products for your hair type.

Do You Have Chemical Treatments In Your Natural Hair?

You may no longer have a relaxer, but what are some other chemicals on your strands that may affect how a product works?  Do you have color?  What about a texturizer?  Have you used henna?  Although this contains no chemicals, the ingredients of one treatment may interfere with those of another.  Even straightened hair can react differently to some products.

Was your hair clean when you tried the product?  Often a product can react to residuals of another if we don’t begin on freshly washed or cleansed hair.

How is Your Hair’s Health?

If your hair is terribly damaged, there can be a change in how a product will work.  I’m not saying that natural hair products should only work for perfectly pristine strands; but I am saying to consider this when you’re changing up your product line.  If a product is not a repairing product, then the expected outcome may be intended for healthy natural hair rather than damaged strands.

It’s like color.  The examples they show in the store and on the box are results on previously lightened hair (in most cases… like 99% most…); so if your hair is jet black, that sapphire blue color you want will probably look more like a blue-black if you don’t use the chemical bleach to lift the color and the cuticle.

On the other hand, you may need some of the benefits that protein can provide.  Or moisture.  Or both.  But if your natural hair is terribly dry, a product may not be absorbed into your strands the same way.  This also applies if your natural strands are protein-deficient.

So consider your hair’s health and then approach your new hair product with that in mind.  You may have to do an extra step or two to ensure the results you want.

How Are You Using the Product?

Right.  Some of us have so many steps to our routine that we don’t really know how a product truly works because there are so many other products going on before and after.  #youaredoingthemost

I always try my new products on freshly washed hair and then build up from there.  In fact, I try to keep my natural hair routine simple because ‘ain’t nobody got time’…

If I’m trying a new gel, I won’t know how it’ll react to certain oils and butters; so I’ll begin with a good cleansing, and then add a deep conditioner, rinse, and try the gel on just my wet freshly-washed hair.  After I’ve determined whether this works or not, I will add a liquid leave in (I have low porosity hair, so liquid is best); and then after that works, maybe I’ll try coconut or castor oil.  This way, if the gel works with the first step, the second step, but not the third step then I know I need to drop the oil or butter.

How’s the Weather?

Or rather, what is your environment?

When we went to St. Croix to visit family, we stayed with my aunt, who had a cistern for water.  Cisterns hold rain water that is dispersed through the rain gutters into built-in open and waterproof foundations to store water.  This is what we used to shower and wash our faces.  The island was hot, but breezy and without humidity.  I wore my natural hair in a puff or twists the entire time; but I could not believe how incredibly soft my hair was.  Despite the heat.  My conditioner had a completely different effect on my strands in that environment than it does in this humid, sticky, semi-hard-water environment where we live.  I like my conditioner here; but I loved my conditioner there.  #rainwaterforthewin

A natural hair product company will probably not put “best if used in dry weather and higher altitudes” on their labels.  But you should be aware that if your product has glycerin on the label, and you live in especially humid heat; it will not work the same as someone who uses the same product in dryer, cooler heat.  Your favorite YouTuber may live in England, and you in Florida.  How her product works when she steps outside will not be the same as how that product works in your natural hair’s environment.

*Bonus – The Flaking

So this came to me as I was typing; it’s something that I have written about before because it infuriates me to no end.  Flaking.  Another common way to determine whether or not a product will work.  If you’ve never had flaking, your day will come; and it will be just as disheartening to you as it is to the rest of us.  The mixing of products is the biggest cause of flaking.  Why?  Because the ingredients or consistency of some products are just not supposed to be mixed with others.  A good indication of whether or not a product will flake in your hair, is to take a dab of each product and rub them together on the back of your hand.  If it forms little balls or white flaky things, then those products cannot be mixed and you should put one of them down immediately.

Give Your Natural Hair Product Another Chance

I have been of the school of thought that if something doesn’t work for you the first time, then move on and try something else.

#foolmeonce and all…

I am so guilty of wanting to toss a product without considering why it may not have worked.  I hate the thought of spending my money needlessly, and when something doesn’t work,… well, I am not a happy natural.

I know you know what I’m talking about, church… Like a bad relationship.  Bah-byeeeee!  And Amen.

But, sometimes it’s better to look at something again.  So I wanted to share some of the possible reasons for you to consider as well.  I’m sure I didn’t cover all the possibilities, but this should be most of them.  If you find your natural hair in any of these situations, then maybe the product is worth trying again.

What are some reasons a product did not work on your natural hair?

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