Going natural 2.5 years ago was one of the best decisions I made for my hair, my lifestyle, and my wallet. Now don’t get me wrong. I find that taking care of my natural hair is not always easy, particularly as it grows longer. But over the years, I’ve settled into a routine that works for me and gives me great results almost every time. One of my concerns initially was the cost of managing my curls. Over the past 2.5 years, in caring for my curly hair, I’ve found simple, inexpensive ways to maintain, healthy, beautiful curls that don’t hold me hostage to a lifestyle I cannot maintain.
Begin with an expert: One of the smartest things I ever did a few months after my big chop was to get a consultation from a natural hair stylist. I had been natural my entire childhood and adolescence but it had been a few years since I had a full head of natural curls. So I sought out professional advice. My stylist was amazing, and I left her salon with an arsenal of information about my hair type, the ingredients I should stay away from and what I should invest in. And best of all, the consultation was free.
Start at the bottom: There are some expensive products for curly hair out there. And many women prefer these products. But I find that an expensive product isn’t always the best product for my hair. Many drug store brands cost much less and work just as well, if not better. I decided that I wanted to work my way up and try some of the cheaper products first which often worked quite well. I currently use the Kera Care hydrating detangling shampoo ($21 for the 32oz bottle which lasts about 8 months) and the moisturizing conditioner for color treated hair (~ $12 for a 8 oz bottle, but a little goes a long way).
DIY at home: There are numerous hair products that I use straight from my kitchen. To seal the moisture in my hair, I have used every natural oil out there. I’ve recently fallen in love with coconut oil which I purchase at my local international market (around $5.99 for a 32 oz bottle). It’s a much lighter oil, spells like a pina colada and does a great job at keeping my curls bouncy and soft. Olive oil is another great option for natural hair. Although the price for a bottle of olive oil can range significantly, you will get some mileage out of it if you also use it for cooking.
Keep it simple: In order to cut down on the cost, I keep my hair routine super simple. I have managed to cut down my product list to 4 essential tools; Water, oil, shampoo and conditioner. I buy my oil, shampoo and conditioner in bulk which ends up lasting forever and allows me to save some time and money.
My regimen: I shampoo every other week and co-wash once a week with my conditioner, finger detangle in the shower and will usually dry it with a white t-shirt. Once my hair is damp, I’ll split it into 6 sections, add my coconut oil, paying close attention to my ends and braid up the sections, spraying water on any dry sections. This process usually takes about an hour. Every other day, depending on how I want to wear my hair the next day, I will braid or twist my hair into smaller sections (about 8-10), making sure to spray with water to make my hair more manageable. I simply cover up with a satin scarf for bed and take the braids/twists out in the morning right before I head out the door.
It’s important to remember that everyone has a different curl pattern and hair texture. What may work for me, may not work for anyone else. But the key is to find a budget-friendly routine that works for you, your hair, and your lifestyle. These simple tools help me stay money conscious and maintain my fabulous hair at the same time.
Frugalistas: What simple and budget-friendly things can you do to make handling your curls more financially manageable?