Misadventures of a Natural Diva: The Search For The Perfect Co-Wash Companion

So I think I told you my co-wash conditioner, Everyday Shea, which I had picked up just on random at Whole Foods, is running low. The bottle is about $10 but you get a good amount (32 fl oz's to be exact).

Despite this, the thrift in me set out on a quest to find the perfect replacement for a little less dough. My plan was to start with the names I've heard thrown around natural blog sites and youtube like: Suave Naturals or Suave Humectant (Suave in general), Aussie Moist, Herbal Essence Totally Twisted, Tresemme Curl Moisture, Creme of Nature and quite a few others.

I went to Wal-Mart today...... But you know what? before I go any further, let me tell you what I really like about the Everyday Shea conditioner, that I was looking for, emulated in another, hopefully cheaper brand:

  • Everyday Shea has only 12 ingredients, and I'm including the last ones on the list, that we usually don't pay attention to, like the citric acids and potassium sorbates which usually come last (or should) in a good conditioner (they are preservatives). In a world where the average salon-quality conditioner boasts some 15-20 ingredients, most of which sound like farsi to me when I try to pronounce them, this was somewhat comforting.

  • It's marketed as gentle enough for everyday use.  This is important to me because I co-wash at least every couple days and I don't want a conditioner that has so many claims ('heat control' 'damage control' etc.) that it adds stuff to my hair I don't want or need.  This usually comes in the form of buildup.  I also didn't want a clarifying conditioner which is what many of the daily use conditioners I found at Wal-Mart, touted.  I get that caucasian hair may tend toward oiliness and so a daily clarifying conditioner may be just the trick but my hair, and most naturals tend toward dryness. I want a conditioner that 'won't add no'n, won't take no'n' (except dirt and dead skin).

  • Shea leaf extract and shea butter are the first two ingredients - before cetyl alcohol (which is not bad by the way but alot of more commercial brands rely heavily on it). You will often notice cetyl alcohol is the third, if not the second ingredient on most conditioner ingredients lists.

So I knew my standards were high but I was full of hope on my little adventure.  I first looked at the Suave Naturals. And all this time I thought the word 'Naturals' in Suave Naturals referred to it's target consumer demographic - as in black Naturals (I mean we are an up-and-coming force, to be reckoned with when it comes to appealing to our hair needs).  I actually thought Suave Naturals offered special ingredients for the unique needs of natural black hair. I mean the way some naturals have gone on about it - calling it out from other Suave products like the word 'Natural'  is significant *rolling eyes.*

Anyway, I should have known better.  The word 'Natural' in Suave Naturals just refers to the fact that is has a 'natural' scent, usually a fruit or a flower scent.  That's it.  It doesn't even necessarily mean there are no synthetic fragrances used to get that scent (which by the way wouldn't be bad in of itself, it would just be  misleading since synthetic is not natural).
Once I learned this, I thought, ok Suave Naturals isn't specially targeted to the black naturals demographic  so I might as well get anything with good ingredients.
The problem wasn't finding good ingredients. It was finding ingredients that even made it possible to determine what the heck it is (and as a former health major who took organic and biochemistry and amazingly remember alot this was fairly unusual for me).  I know well enough, for example, that ingredients ending in -ol, are alcohols, and those ending in -al are aldehydes etc.

Already discouraged, I sauntered over to the Tresemme Curl Moisture, Aussie Moist, and Herbal Essence Totally Twisted product shelves and, I think, came closest to buying the Totally Twisted.
I couldn't pronounce most of the ingredients, had no idea what they were, and like the others, there were about 20 of them each but it seemed most dedicated to curly hair issues.  Then I saw Organix Coconut Milk Conditioner. I read the ingredients list, and was sold.  I mean the relief at seeing some familiar ingredients like coconut oil included, even if they were some of the last on the list.
I picked up the bottle (about 20 fl oz) before a second look at the cost (around $10) stopped me.  If it's the same cost as the Everyday Shea (with less ounces), why bother?  Why don't I just buy the product I know?

 Needless to say, I left Wal-Mart, empty-handed. I will continue my search for a great, cheaper alternative to Everyday Shea, but I'm realizing the cost really isn't that bad for the amount you get at least compared to Organix.  For now, I'll make my way back to Whole Foods for my trusty co-wash companion....and maybe apologize to her for trying to step out.  :)