You may have heard me say before that I am a minimalist, that I don't like using a lot of products. I think this just comes from my childhood. My mom never used hair products on us as kids and I don't remember seeing her use a lot of hair products on herself. She also didn't wear a lot of makeup and to this day, I don't wear any!
As a teenager whenever I would get my hair cut the stylist would comment on how beautifully healthy my hair was. I never had split ends. I always attributed it to the fact that I rarely used hair products OR heat to style my hair. One time in high school I attempted to get a perm, this ended up going very badly and caused quite a bit of damage to my hair in the process! So in order to return to my super healthy hair status, I have continued to be a minimalist when it comes to heat and products for myself. I do use them, but not every day, and not in large amounts.
I also suffered from horrible acne as a teenager and no matter what kind of makeup I tried, it always made my skin break out 3x worse! I would love to have hid my zitty face behind a pretty makeup mask, but it just wasn't going to work. So I was forced to accept myself exactly the way God made me. I embraced my skin and tried to step out in confidence every day au-natural! Things haven't changed since then. I still suffer from acne breakouts with rare occurrences of a clear looking complexion, and I still don't wear makeup except for when going to a wedding or special occasion. Then I slap on a bit of mascara because it is the only makeup I own! There is actually a lot of freedom that comes from not having to worry about people seeing you "without my makeup on!"
So that is me. I am so used to this minimalist approach, it makes me cringe to goop anything on MY hair or skin. I find it just as difficult to goop stuff onto my kids! Being prone to having an oily scalp myself, it took me awhile to get used to the idea of SPRAYING OIL ON my girls hair! DAILY! But I have obviously come to understand that they have very different hair and skincare needs than I do, so I have adjusted. And yet, I still balk at the idea of owning and using 20 different kinds of products on them to keep their hair healthy. I like to try to keep things simple!
So let's talk about GEL. When I first started doing cornrows on my girls I was following all the recommendations from the mom's on the yahoo group. They suggested using gel for styling, so I used it. I really liked using Jamaican Mango and Lime (JML) Locking Gel because it felt light and non sticky and it smelled yummy. I was using other JML products at that time too. (Steph used to sell them at Snapaholics until they changed their ingredients and added a bunch of yucky stuff!) Eventually I got sick of using the JML gel because I felt like it caused a lot of gunky buildup around the base of her braids. Which led to a lot of difficult detangling and removal of product when we took her style out. Which did not seem healthy for her hair - especially around her delicate hair line.
So, I decided to see what would happen if I went without it. I found out that if I wasn't using gel I definitely need to be sure the hair was VERY wet when styling or it would look really messy - even right after I finished styling! It turned out, using just water, or water and coconut oil, seemed to be a good option. Her hair looked great when I was done styling it, and I didn't have to deal with the gunky buildup when I took the style out. And I remember thinking at the time, that the braids stayed looking nice just as long.
But somewhere along the line I started to notice a difference. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention before, maybe something changed, I don't know. But now when I style V's hair without gel her braids seem to get fuzzy very quickly. I like to leave her styles in for 3 to 4 weeks, and they have only been looking nice for a week or less! Not good!
So I have now tried the Taliah Waajid (TW) Lock It Up gel when cornrowing a few times and I have been very pleased with the results. I don't feel like I get as much yucky buildup with the TW gel and I get a lot more longevity with my styles. This is a good option and I will probably continue to use the TW gel in the future, but that isn't stopping me from doing a little more experimenting...
(This post is being edited to note that this TW gel is NOT an ALL NATURAL product. It contains Carbomer 940 and a few other things that may be questionable. I am still comfortable using this on my daughter, but if you want a 100% natural product, than this may not be the right choice for you.)
So, I am looking forward to trying the Tate's gel on V this weekend when we put in a new style. I will keep you updated as to how I think it works!
Do you have a gel that you have used and love? Something with natural ingredients that still does a good job?