My Favorite Non-Mainstream Hair Product Lines (Right Now)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Since going natural, I can definitely say that I have gone off the beaten path to explore product lines that are not considered to be "mainstream". And by "mainstream", I am referring to product lines that are typically mass-produced and readily available on-the-ground at popular and accessible brick and mortar stores and beauty supply shops such as the grocery store, Walmart, Target, Sally's, Sephora or Ulta.

Thanks to YouTube and popular natural hair blogs like Curly Nikki and Naturally Curly, I have discovered a world of "not-so-mainstream" hair care lines. And the more discriminating I became with product ingredients and product formulations, the more drawn I was to many of these not-so-mainstream hair product lines. I've found that many of these hair care lines tend to use all natural or mostly natural ingredients in their most superior form, and they also tend to have really great formulations (with the best and highest quality ingredients closest to the top of the ingredients list). As a result, these products can be a little pricier than their mainstream counterparts - but I am quite alright with paying more for higher quality ingredients that my hair loves. After trying out a variety of these product lines, I quickly realized 2 things:

  1. I am addicted to conditioner :)
  2. Two brands in particular consistently stand-out as my absolute favorites at this point in my natural hair journey: Oyin Handmade and Curl Junkie. 
Not only do both of these brands use mostly natural ingredients, but most of the products in both brands smell absolutely yummy. However, what I appreciate most about both Oyin and Curl Junkie (other than the fact that they make my hair feel awesome) is that many of their best products are multipurpose and I can use them in a variety of ways if I choose (i.e. more bang for my buck). I don't necessarily love every single product in these lines, but each brand has various products that I have come to consider to be standouts for my hair.

OYIN HANDMADE - Standout Products (For my hair)
I can get Oyin products online, and luckily because of where I live I can also get it on-the-ground with a quick drive to their Baltimore flagship store.

Honey Hemp Conditioner: My. First. Love. This conditioner literally had me hooked from my very first use. It is thick and has lots of slip for easy detangling. Because if the ingredients, I can use this as a wash-out/co-wash conditioner, leave-in conditioner, or I can even deep condition with it. Any time I use this conditioner as a leave-in I just know I am going to have a decent hair day. It smells like orange popsicle.

Hair Dew: I use this is a light-weight moisturizer / refresher, but I love this most as a leave-in conditioner. I also love the fact that the top four ingredients in this product is purified water, castor oil, olive oil and organic aloe vera gel. The smell had to grow on me though. Its not a bad smell, just one I wasn't used to in a hair product - it smells like caramel cookie dough (same as the burnt sugar pomade). Now I love the smell!

Honorable Mention: Burnt Sugar Pomade - I am not a big fan of pomades in general but I like this one because I can use it on both my hair and body. Even though it looks waxy in the jar, it emulsifies into an oil and is great for sealing in moisture. Its consistency is very similar to another pomade I really like - Jane Carter Solution Nourish & Shine. However, the Nourish & Shine smells more citrus-y while the Burnt Sugar Pomade smells like cookie dough. 

CURL JUNKIE  - Standout Products (For my hair) I order Curl Junkie products from the Curl Junkie website or from CurlMart.

Curls In A Bottle: My. Other. First. Love. This is one product that makes me get a little nervous when I am starting to run low. I like to use it as a finishing gel and I love the fact that it is water-based and has lightweight conditioning properties. Whether I put a ton of styling products or nothing but conditioner on my hair that day, I always finish off with Curls in a Bottle because it reduces frizz, lightly conditions my hair, adds shine, has a light hold, takes the "crunch" out of other gels that I may use under it, and it smells great. Need I say more? :)

Curl Rehab:
As the name suggests, this conditioner is literally like "rehab" for my curls. I also love this conditioner because it is so multipurpose, and it does not contain any humectants (such as glycerin) so I can use it year-round in any dew point. I use it as a deep conditioner when I need to get my hair "back to normal" after another product (or the messes it up or encourages it to act bratty. But I also love using this as a rinse-out conditioner as well as a leave-in. It is very moisturizing and on my hair, a little bit goes a long way. Anytime I do a henna gloss or Rhassoul clay treatments, I like to follow up with this as a deep conditioner because it is sooooo moisturizing. And the smell is amazing....strawberry ice cream! Yum :)

Smoothing Lotion: Once I figured out the best way to use this product on my hair, I fell in love with it! This is supposed to primarily be a leave-in conditioner, but because it contains glycerin pretty high up on the ingredients list I had a hard time using it as a leave-in conditioner in the schizophrenic climate I live in. I prefer to use it as a wash-out conditioner and a detangler because it has a TON of slip. At first I had a big problem with washing out conditioner that cost $20 a bottle, but what I quickly realized with this product is that a little bit goes a looooooong way, and my hair literally feels like butter when I use even a tiny bit. With my cheaper grocery store conditioners (which I still love to use on occasion) I usually have to use a ton in a given detangling session to get the kind of slip I need to detangle my crazy hair - and in the end my hair doesn't feel as moisturized. So basically I would end up repurchasing the cheaper conditioner more often in the same time period than my $20 bottle. I use this quite often just to help me finger-detangle my hair in the shower when I co-wash.

Hibiscus & Banana Deep Fix: This is another one of my favorite deep conditioners. Like the Curl Rehab it is also extremely moisturizing, but its consistency is a little bit heavier than the Curl Rehab. When I do use a low-sulfate shampoo to cleanse any buildup on my hair, I love to follow with this deep conditioner to help restore the moisture in my hair if it feels stripped. Sometimes if my hair is feeling extra dry and I'm either too busy or too lazy to deep condition (who am I kidding, that's most of the I will slap some of this on my hair (wet, damp or dry) and just deep condition under a plastic cap overnight. I typically don't like to steam with this conditioner though because my hair tends to get too moisturized (i.e., limp and/or poofy).

Honorable Mentions: 
Curl Queen: This is another glycerin-free conditioning gel that looks similar to Curls in a Bottle but is much thicker in consistency and has a medium hold. I really like it because it does a really great job at minimizing frizz and it "clumps" my curls and coils a little better than Curls in a Bottle. I also love the fact that it feels great going in my hair and doesn't feel sticky or tacky like most gels. But with this gel I have to be careful not to use too much because if I do it wont fully absorb into my hair and when my hair dries it can leave a white flaky residue on the sections where I used way too much.

Beauticurls Argan & Olive Oil Conditioner: This conditioner feels very similar to the Smoothing Lotion, except not as much slip and not as moisturizing (to me). Even though this is billed as a wash-out conditioner, I love using this as a leave-in.

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  1. I agree with you on Oyin Handmade's Honey Hemp Conditioner. That stuff is truly wonderful.

  2. Hey JazzWife! My apologies - for some strange reason, I wasn't getting comment notifications so I'm just now seeing your comment. Honey Hemp is my boo! It was one of the first conditioners I used after I big-chopped and I still love it! :)


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