By Terez Howard

Natural hair is not all created equally.  Some hair types might respond well to certain products, while others do not work at all.  Still other naturals find they are allergic to certain products. It’s best to become familiar with natural hair ingredients that YOUR natural hair will love.

Some natural hair ingredients to look for include apple cider vinegar, shea butter, organic soybean oil, essential oil and jojoba oil.  Natural hair care product ingredients are listed in the order of their concentration.  That means that the ingredient with the highest concentration level is first, usually the top half containing more than 1 percent.  The ingredients on the lower half of a product label contain less than 1 percent.

Shown below are 11 natural hair ingredients that might prove beneficial in your natural hair care arsenal and why you should use them.

1. Water

Simple H2O is a natural hair diva’s best friend.  Water is the best type of moisturizer for natural hair.  Its benefits include the price (It costs about $0.01 on average per 5 gallons) and its availability (Just turn on your spigot).

However, water can be detrimental if you have hard water.  A simple water test can determine this.  If you do have hard water, you can install a water softener in your home, or do the more economical version (what I did!) and install a water purifier on your shower head.

2. Avocado

Yes, it tastes good to your natural hair, too.  This natural hair ingredient, rich in polyunsaturated fat and protein, rejuvenates the hair.  It makes the hair soft and increases elasticity, thus reducing breakage.  Avocado actually works well as a moisturizing conditioner or hair mask.

3. Honey

Sweetness for your natural hair!  First off, honey contains natural humectant (helps retain moisture) properties, giving naturals soft and shiny hair.  Honey also contains anti-irritant properties, so it will reduce an itchy scalp.  It even contains antioxidants.  This sweet hair food also contains no preservatives or additives, a wonderful product if you are sticking to a pure natural hair care routine.

Feel free to add honey to rinses, conditioners and pomades to reap its benefits.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has many uses, from soothing sunburn to calming an upset stomach.  It also works as a conditioner, cleansing agent and germ killer for your natural hair.  Mildly acidic hair, 4.5 to 5.5 pH, is close to apple cider vinegar’s 2.9 pH.  According to apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com, an apple cider vinegar rinse can help to balance your hair’s pH and get rid of product build-up.

Mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water can make a finishing rinse to a freshly-cleaned head of natural hair. These two natural hair ingredients combine to leave the hair cleansed. Don’t mind the smell. It dissipates after a couple minutes, especially if you add other products, such as moisturizer, to your hair after you wash.

5. Aloe Vera

Called a miracle plant, aloe vera can work wonders for your hair.  Natural hair ingredients, including enzymes, amino acids, proteins and other vitamins, act as a highly moisturizing agent for your hair.  Thanks to aloe vera’s saponin, your hair can experience deep cleansing.  Aloe vera can heal dry or damaged hair and acts as an oxygenator (by holding oxygen to the strands).

Aloe vera comes from the aloe vera leaf and can be combined with other ingredients to form natural hair gel, oil or juice.

6. Shea Butter

Shea butter is rich in vitamins A and E and demonstrates anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.  It protects the hair from both free radical as well as environmental damage.  It contains moisturizing properties and a high percentage of healing properties.  That is why shea butter has been known to restructure dry hair.

Shea butter protects strands from root to tip from weather conditions and brittleness.  It absorbs quickly to the scalp without clogging the pores, making a wonderful moisturizer to natural hair and a dry scalp.

7. Organic Soybean Oil

Organic soybean oil is a type of vegetable protein which coats damaged hair and split ends.  It creates a protective layer on the hair shaft (the outer part of hair) and seals in moisture.

8. Essential Oils

These natural oils come from plants or parts of them.  They include, but are limited to, rosemary, lavender, basil and tea tree.  These natural hair ingredients are essential for hair growth.  They can soothe itching, dandruff, flakes and naturally cleanse the hair.

9. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil promotes natural hair growth, regrowth in areas where hair might not be growing and shine.  Gently massaging it on your scalp also helps to rid dandruff.  Use it on damaged hair and allow its essential proteins to nourish your natural hair.  Naturals notice visibly stronger and softer hair after using coconut oil.

10. Jojoba Oil

Native Americans have been using pure jojoba oil for centuries.  They realized its cosmetic and medical qualities way back.  Jojoba oil is unique because it is very similar to sebum, the oil that the scalp produces naturally.  If your scalp produces too much sebum, jojoba oil can be used to dissolve it, thus cleansing the scalp.  Jojoba oil, which comes from the jojoba tree’s seeds, can be easily absorbed in the scalp and moisturizes at the same time.

Jojoba oil even promotes hair cell growth and is an antibacterial agent.  It softens and conditions natural hair.

11. Olive Oil

Olive oil, similar to the first of our natural hair ingredients, is cheap and widely available.  It smoothes, softens, penetrates the hair shaft, nourishes, conditions and improves the hair’s elasticity.  I call it the cure-all for natural hair.  If you don’t use too much, then it will not make your hair greasy or oily.  For medium length natural hair, I would recommend not using more than a tablespoon.

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