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Best Ingredients for Black Hair

Think: Natural

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You have to be your own hair care advocate when it comes to buying the best products for you. There's a lot of information out there on what's good and what's bad for black hair. What happens when you use a product with ingredients in it that the latest hair expert says is a no-no? What if it works for you? Remember that everything doesn't work for everybody. Your hair may love shampoo, 'cones and plenty of oil, so if it's thriving under that program, there's no need for you to not shampoo, avoid 'cones and oil! Still, look at the ingredients in every product you buy. These are some of the best for black hair.

1. Water

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Water is the ultimate moisturizer. Not only does it work on the outside of your body, it works from the inside, too. If this is the first ingredient listed on products, that's a good thing.

2. Coconut Oil

You'll find products that contain coconut oil, but if you can buy it pure and/or organic, you can use it straight from the jar. It's a wonderful emollient because unlike other oils, coconut oil actually penetrates the cortex instead of simply sitting on top of it and making it look all nice and shiny. It absorbs wonderfully and is multi-functional; use it on your skin and cook with it, too.

3. Shea Butter

Look for pure, unrefined shea butter that's pale yellow and smooth. Gritty, dark yellow, white or green shea butter is either too refined or even rotten. Again, look for a light yellow color and uniformity when buying shea butter. There's plenty of products that have jumped on the shea butter bandwagon, but if it's not one of the first five ingredients listed, it's probably not doing you much good. You can either buy a shea butter-based product, or better yet, use it straight from the jar. Pure shea butter can be firm, but it melts easily and absorbs into dry hair well.

4. Olive Oil

Another multi-tasker here, olive oil is great for hot oil treatments and for mixing with rinse-out conditioners. Use sparingly as this is a heavy oil and can weigh your hair down when used in large amounts.

5. Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is prized as a natural ingredient because its composition is similar to that of your scalp's natural oils. Use straight from the bottle, although it's not considered as effective a penetrator as coconut oil, or mix with conditioners and hair moisturizers.

6. Sodium Laureth Sulfate

For those of you out there who are already into reading ingredient labels, this one may throw you, especially if you avoid using sulfate-based shampoos. The vast majority of commercial shampoos contain either sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. The former, sodium lauryl, is drying and should be avoided. The latter, however, sodium laureth sulfate, is a suitable cleanser for black hair that won't overly dry it.

7. Avocado Oil

If you've ever used mashed avocado as a conditioning treatment, you're familiar with the moisturizing properties of this vegetable. The oil is good for use on dry hair.

8. Aloe Vera

Purported to prevent hair loss, aloe vera does more than soothe sunburn. A good aloe vera shampoo is said to restore the pH levels of the scalp.

9. Castor Oil

Good for cleansing the scalp, promoting thicker hair growth and removing toxins, use castor oil once to twice per week.

10. Cetyl or Cetearyl Alcohol

Don't let the alcohol scare you; this is nothing like SD-alcohol 40, which should be avoided. It's a non-greasy, non-sticky ingredient you'll often see used in conditioners, to make them thick and creamy, just what dry hair needs.
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