Friday, April 5, 2013

Calming the Product Junkie Part 2: Test Products Intelligently to Find the Best Products For Your Hair

Last week, I talked about how getting to know your hair at more than a superficial level is critical to being able to make informed decisions about what products to buy for your hair.  This week, I'm going to get a little science on you and talk about how to test out products once you've bought them.

She might be changing too many things in this experiment.
But at least her curls look fab!
1) Change one thing at a time
This is experimenting 101!  If you change more than one thing about your hair routine in one go, you won't know which product to praise for the good results and blame for the bad results.  For example, if I normally use Product A, but today I switch it up and use my new Product B and Product C because I just got them and I'm so excited to use them, and I get the best hair day ever, I won't know whether Product B or Product C is at work.  This isn't to say that it isn't possible that both products working together made that great hair day.  But I could very easily get trapped into thinking, "If I want great hair, I must use Product B and Product C."  But what if Product B is the one that is actually making your hair look great and Product C is just sitting there?  You're spending money repurchasing Product C when it isn't really necessary.

There are lots of variations on this story.  What if you change your conditioner and a product? You love the way the conditioner feels on your hair, but you don't like the results.  You're probably going to blame the product, rather than the conditioner.  But it could very well be the conditioner that gave you the bad results!  That's going to make you spend more money on products when the real culprit is the one in your shower.

The moral of the story: even when you really want to try a bunch of new products you just bought, slow down! Keep everything you're already doing the same, and just change one piece of the puzzle.

2) Give products more than one use before you decide how you feel about them
Every curly girl knows that our hair can sometimes act like a natural barometer, letting us know when it's more humid today than yesterday.  Knowing that the weather can affect your hair, why would you only give a product one use before putting it in your "Never Use Again" bin?

Our hair is susceptible to so many different things.  Weather, hormones, products, and even activity level can totally change how your hair looks on a given day.  Since the goal with trying new products is to get the variables in play down to just one (the new product itself), you should give products more than one use before you decide you don't like them.

That being said, I know it's hard when you suspect that a certain product is to blame for your bad hair day to put it on again.  It feels like you're giving in to having another bad day.  But I think you'll be surprised that the results will often be different.  Even if the results aren't different, take note of what your weather was like that day, and try the product again on a day with different conditions.  Hate a product in July? Stash it until December when it's drier.

3) Be realistic about what a given product can do
The idea of the Holy Grail Product is a fun one.  Just keep searching, you'll find that one product that makes your hair perfect every day, they say.

Here's a loving reality check.  Remember how I just said that there are a ton of variables affecting how your hair looks on any given day?  Now, just tackling it from common sense, do you think that there is really going to be just one thing that can handle all of those variables, year round?

Sometimes, there is.  I can pretty much count on my Suave Captivating Curls mousse year round if I know what to layer it with, for instance.  But more often than not, you need to learn to adjust what you're using to the conditions presented on a given day.  I add gel when it's super humid.  It's a must.  Otherwise, my fabulous mousse won't give me the same results I get in December.

This isn't meant to be a downer.  This is meant to be an eye opener.  When we pin our hopes and dreams of perfect hair on one bottle, we're not giving that product a fair evaluation.  If you can give a product a fair evaluation, you're more likely to make a realistic judgment about whether it's something that you can make work for you, even if you don't end up repurchasing it.  The goal is to use products you buy, not just try them once and then go buy more!


Laura said...

Hi Laura! I think this is a great article and your going CG guide has helped me a lot. I'm writing a series on going CG as well (but then in Dutch, because we don't know much about the CG method in Europe) and I use your website as a reference. I will conclude my series with an article that lists all the useful links, including your guide.

What I want to say about this particular article is that, although you mention that you should continue doing what you already did, it might be good to point out that it is crucial not to change your technique when introducing a new product. I know that is already implied, but perhaps people will overlook this because the article focuses on products rather than technique. Other than that, I think this is indeed very useful to avoid being or becoming a PJ :-)

Laura said...

Send me a link when you're done! I'd love to see it, even if I can't read it!

Laura said...

I will definitely do so! I'll send you links when I've written and published all the articles :-) So far I get a lot of positive reactions and someone even told me she immediately got rid of sulfates and cones (and got her roommate to join!). It's amazing to see how powerful writing and the web can be. Keep you posted!