It is easy to collect hair products. You are in the drugstore, salon or a beauty supply store like Curl Warehouse and there they are! Maybe it’s that one you've always wanted to try or it is on sale…. or you just can’t find the right product for your hair so you keep trying something different. I did at one point use the same product(s) for two years solid. They worked well and I did not have the time to experiment and didn’t actually want to. But a lot of us (me included) sooner or later have a good stash of products either in the shower or under the sink.
Here are my 7 ideas on what to do with products that you don't like or that you feel don't work well with your hair:
1. Ensure that your products are fresh and stay fresh.
Most products come with a “good for 12 months after opening” symbol. So if you have or plan to have more than a few products on the go, just mark the date you opened it with sharpie so you can keep track.
If you are buying outside of an authorized seller i.e. Winners/Marshalls or Amazon, it is possible the product has been opened in the past. This isn’t saying do not buy from here just know that the manufacturer likely won’t guarantee products that aren’t from their direct retailers.
Now I will admit I have pushed a product past the year mark and I rely on my nose to do that sniff check to see how it is doing. This is important for all products, and even more so with many of the organic and natural brands that we have come to love. They tend to have little or no preservatives so the shelf life is shorter. Ecoslay, for example, does recommend cool and dry storage but if you are in a warmer humid climate, keeping their products in the fridge is going to be your best bet. A few retailers now even carry these cute little fridges that you can store your products and make up right in your bathroom.
These are products that are applied to your scalp/skin so the freshness is important for your safety.
This freshness ties directly into my next point….
2. Put it to the side and try again later.
I have at times tried something and decided that it wasn’t working. Then I pick it up a few weeks or months later to try again and it works. Maybe it was my hair or the weather or whatever... but now it works much better. It is okay to put it to the side and try again. As above just don’t keep the product forever as it won't maintain freshness for more than about a year once opened.
3. Use it for something not hair related.
Depending on the cost and how much is left, you can use the product up to shave your legs if you're not going to use it on your hair. Or maybe that shampoo can now be diluted and used as a general household cleaner. It could also be a hand soap, or to clean your make up brushes. Conditioners are nice for shaving as the glide is better than soap/shampoo. Stylers like gels or foams are harder to find uses for but you might be able to think of something!
4. Sell or Trade it.
There are a few buy, sell and trade groups out there where you can get rid of (and gain more!) products. It is a way to keep your costs down. Remember if the person you are selling to isn’t able to pick it up you need to ensure secure shipping (no leaks/freezing) and account for the costs. One such FB group is called “Canadian Curly Girl Buy/Sell/Trade”. Just search for it and request to join.
5. Give products to a friend or family member.
People that you know well will happily accept these products because most of them are not inexpensive. If they are used, a fellow curly family or friend may be happy to take a product off your hands to try on their own hair. If the bottles are all full and unopened then you can gift it to someone else.
6. Donate to a charitable organization.
During these times of the pandemic many places have stopped accepting opened hygienic items. Double check the charity you want to donate it to first before showing up. Some are still taking the donation and stockpiling them for the near future, both opened and unopened.
7. Try a new technique.
Keep practicing your techniques and try to use the same products for a few washes. Even if you are not completely sold on that product why not practice your techniques? If you are still learning how to care for your curly hair, it's a great idea to use up what you have before trying something new, so you can be sure that it is the product and not your application that is the issue.
If it still doesn’t work for you, change one product at a time and see if you can figure out which one is the culprit. This might mean you are taking a month to determine if the product is right if you only wash every few days. I know that sounds like forever but I can guarantee you one wash is not an indicator of failure.
Our hair is sensitive. If you try new products and styling techniques each washday, it becomes next to impossible to figure out a reliable routine.
Last but not least this takes time. If you are still under the 6 month mark of trying the Curly Girl Method / Curly Hair Method, then you are still new at this. I can honestly say that after years I can always find something different to tweak each week. The differences in routines appear to be endless and only limited to your imagination. Depending on the level of damage from heat tools, chemical treatments etc. you are looking at a longer journey. Patience might be your biggest challenge at the end of the day, not which product to use. Be kind to yourself and your hair.