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What’s in a label? The curly girl knows

Women with textured hair look closely at the label before buying haircare products. What exactly are they looking for?

Published On: 03/22/19

Joy Marmorstein is a typical textured-hair woman — a label-reader.

Before buying a new haircare product, she takes a close look at each ingredient. Like most curly girls, she knows what they do. She is likely to purchase products based on which ingredients they contain — and which ones they don’t.

According to TextureTrends Consumer Insights Report 2018, only 17 percent of textured-hair consumers say they don’t look for any specific ingredients in their products

“I look particularly for ingredients that moisturize, strengthen and define my curls,” says Marmorstein, who has Type 3B hair on the curl chart.

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So, are ingredients really that important to consider when you’re buying haircare products? About 54 percent of straight-haired consumers think so. When you compare that with the 77 percent of textured-hair women who agree, it’s clear that ingredients are more influential for wavy, curly and coily-haired consumers.

According to TextureTrends Consumer Insights Report 2018, the five most sought-after ingredients by textured-hair consumers are argan oil, shea butter, aloe vera, coconut oil and monoi oil.

Don't get the facts twisted!

It is not unusual to see a textured-hair woman standing in a store, phone in hand, researching the ingredients on a label. Sound familiar? With all the nuances you learn about different ingredients — the various proteins, alcohols, silicones and the effect they have on different hair types — you might as well start a new career in chemistry.

For that reason, there’s no one playbook that appeals to all curly girls. Each consumer knows what works for her hair, and for every textured-hair woman that seeks out a particular ingredient, there’s another one who avoids it at all costs.

According to TextureTrends Consumer Insights Report 2018, the five ingredients textured-haired women avoid the most are sodium lauryl/sodium laureth sulfate, isopropyl alcohol, parabens, artificial colors and silicones. – TextureTrends Consumer Insights Report 2018

Shea butter, for example, ranks as the second most sought-after ingredient in Naturally Curly’s 2018 Texture Trends Consumer Insights Report. Even so, textured-hair consumer Chrissy Richardson avoids all products with coconut oil, glycerin and shea butter because they tend to be too heavy for her fine, tight coils. And curly girl Lindsay Wilson avoids products with short-chain alcohols, because she knows their molecular structure tends to dry out her hair, while long-chain fatty alcohols keep it hydrated.

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Still, when it comes to the benefits and drawbacks of various natural and synthetic ingredients, misinformation abounds. Many consumers avoid all products containing alcohols, not realizing that some alcohols actually moisturize the hair. Others look for natural ingredients, including natural oils, despite the fact that some dry out the hair by creating a barrier that locks out moisture.

According to TextureTrends Consumer Insights Report 2018, while coconut oil appears among the top five most sought-after ingredients by textured-hair consumers, it also appears on the list of ingredients most avoided.

The next step in your textured hair education

Great intel is essential for textured-hair consumers. Knowing what’s in your products is half the battle — you’ll also want to know why they’re there, how they affect the product’s performance and how that whole cocktail gets along with your hair.

If we’re making it sound like you’ll never find the be-all, end-all of textured hair products, don’t worry! You’ll just have to look for brands that clearly highlight the ingredients they include (and those they exclude).

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To illustrate what that brand might look like, let’s check out six formulations made specifically for textured hair.

Skip the ‘poo Co Wash - This sassy co-wash gently cleanses, conditions and detangles hair to save time without stripping your hair’s natural oils. A sulfate alternative adds natural cleansing power to the mix.

Wake Up Curls Deep Conditioning Mask - Rise and shine, curls! This mask hydrates, smooths and detangles textured hair with natural keratin protein and a silicone alternative.

Style-Locked Setting Spray - Embrace your locks with a setting mist that reduces frizz, defines curls and conditions with ingredients derived from castor oil and other natural sources.

Conditioned + Defined Curl Cream - Let your curly hair fly free! This lightweight solution adds soft definition to your curls and fights frizz, while mango wax and shea butter help make it manageable.

Hot in Hair Thermal + Color Protection Spray -It’s gettin’ hot in here, so protect your locks from heat styling tools, UV rays and pollution with a spray made from moringa and a vegan microprotein.

(S)layed Edge Gel - It’s time to slay, queen. Tame your edges and lock them down with a heavy-duty pomade that offers low flaking and maximum hold.

Loving the #CurlyLife
Take heart, curly girls: great textured haircare options are out there. You just have to know what to look for!

About the Author

Michelle Breyer is the co founder of NaturallyCurly, the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Created in 1998, NaturallyCurly offers strategic consulting services, commerce opportunities, data insights and marketing programs to empower brand and retail partners to engage with the textured-hair consumer.

Related reading

Targeting Texture: Adapted Combing Test to Assess Curly Hair Product Efficacy

Monique Shauntá Wilburn, Ph.D., and Joel Basilan, BASF Corporation, Tarrytown, NY, USA

Cosmetics and Toiletries, Jan 29, 2020

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