Shopping for hair products can be daunting. According to Refinery29.com, women with textured hair that can be described as curly, coily or coarse require a regimen of products to maintain their tresses’ health. However, when it comes to shopping for hair products in the real world, unless it’s clearly labeled by hair type, how do you know which products are right for you? Let’s consider a few factors. What criterion determines whether your hair is “fragile” or “damaged?” And if your hair is coarser than most locks, should you be using a conditioner or balm regularly? For that matter, what’s the difference between a conditioner and balm?
While Mintel.com reports the sales of chemical straighteners for Black women have declined by 26 percent, not many women with textured hair are aware that the majority of hair care products on the market can be used to resolve many of their hair issues—even if it’s not directly targeted to them. “Many products that are labeled by hair concerns can be used by women with textured hair,” says Matrix SoColor celebrity stylist, George Papanikolas. Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to textured hair, the rule of thumb is to use products that contain ingredients that benefit your coils even if it’s not necessarily labeled for curls.
Recently I sat down with Papanikolas to discuss an often ignored topic amidst the natural hair community: how to read labels on hair care products. Scroll down below for a detailed explanation into the all-encompassing world of haircare shopping. Trust me: You’ll never look at a bottle of conditioner the same again.
What does “damaged hair” mean?
Carla St. Louis: When you’re shopping for hair care products, in terms of labeling what does “damaged hair” imply and what type of ingredients can you expect to find in the bottle?
George Papanikolas: Most products that target damaged hair contain ingredients that repair, rebuild and moisturize hair. They tend to be treatment oriented, as they use proteins that strengthen the hair fibers, and essential oils and silicones to give them softness. It’s not recommended to use these masks and treatments on a daily basis as too much protein can actually make the hair more fragile. Instead use them once a week, and then use a moisturizing product the other days. I recommend Matrix Biolage FiberStrong Shampoo and Conditioner for damaged tresses. It’s designed to strengthen and condition your hair strands.
Hair needs vs. Hair type
CS: Let’s consider the fact that most women have multiple hair issues. For example, I have dry hair and porosity issues. How should you determine which products to buy based on your hair needs?
GP: Find your hair’s biggest issue. For example, with the popularity of highlights and heat styling, most women’s biggest hair issue is dry hair. Focus on products that are moisturizing, but that also focus them on additional problem areas. Another tip: If you have oily scalp and dry ends, then only apply the conditioner on the mid-lengths and ends. You natural oils will moisturize the root areas. You will also want to incorporate styling products that help protect your hair from heat like Matrix StyleLink Heat Buffer Thermal Styling Spray which also gives a smooth and shiny finish.
What does “fragile hair” mean?
CS: When you’re shopping for hair care products, in terms of labeling what does “fragile hair” imply and what type of ingredients can you expect to find in the bottle?
GP: Fragile hair tends to be fine and delicate. Ingredients within fragile-specific products need to hydrate your mane without weighing it down. If you have fragile hair I suggest using Matrix Oil Wonders as it strengthens your locks with a lightweight oil minus a greasy residue.
Wet hair & setting
CS: When a product needs to be applied on wet hair, what does that mean in terms of how it works?
GP: When you apply products on wet hair it usually serves as preparation for the styling you want. For example, heat protection, smoothing or volumizing are usually the end results you want from styling. If you have fragile hair, use Matrix StyleLink Heat Buffer Thermal Styling Spray on wet hair before styling. If you need extra volume, try Matrix StyleLink Volume Builder Volume Mousse mixed with Matrix StyleLink Volume Booster for maximum volume. If you need to speed up your blow-drying session and control frizz try the multi-tasking Matrix StyleLink Turbo Dryer Blow Dry Spray for a smooth finish. It actually cuts your blow dry time in half so it’s definitely a time saver for women on-the-go.
What does “processed hair” mean?
CS: When you’re shopping for hair care products, in terms of labeling what does “processed hair” imply and what type of ingredients can you expect to find in the bottle?
GP: Processed hair usually has been colored, permed, highlighted or relaxed. If your textured hair has undergone any of these services within the past six months, your hair requires extra gentle care so your color doesn’t fade or the texture service doesn’t get affected. I recommend Matrix Biolage COLORLAST Shampoo & Conditioner for textured hair that’s had any of the services mentioned above. The set is very mild and keeps the color vibrant as well as balances hydration.
Balm vs. conditioner
CS: What’s the difference between a balm and conditioner?
GP: A balm is usually a product you leave in your hair after you shampoo and condition. It can serve as a styling aid or form of protection against heat such as the Matrix StyleLink Smooth Setter Smoothing Cream, which gives your coils a smooth finish. A conditioner softens and detangles the hair, but is meant to be rinsed out never left in.