How Much I Spent On Hair Products I’ll Never Use Again

My bathroom cabinet is a cemetery

Good Hair

My bathroom cabinet is a cemetery for curly hair products that are one-quarter empty, often less. I bought these gels and creams and mousses because I thought they’d work, because something had to, because they looked promising or because I was desperate. And because you can’t tell if something will work until you try it.

Unfortunately, the cost of trying can be about $12 a bottle. It’s kind of a Catch-22: I buy cheaper stuff because I don’t want to have wasted money if it doesn’t work out, but then maybe it doesn’t work out because I bought the cheaper stuff.

Wouldn’t it be great if a start up offered to send you little samples and then, if you liked how the sample worked, the full bottle? I’d buy a subscription to that. But we don’t live in Heaven yet.

Let’s take a tour of the cemetery, shall we?

What was this supposed to do, exactly? Make me look like I had showered when I hadn’t? There’s so much hope in every spray bottle that one spritz will take my slept-on curls and make them look like Keri Russell’s. That’s not going to happen.

Who doesn’t want frizz-free curls? Also mousse is delicious. Sadly this was also a total wash. It made my hair crispy like toast rather than smooth like a delicious-looking dessert. Why did I go for this? Because I am a chump, and the packaging speaks to chumps: the back of the bottle tells a story about a woman from Sierra Leone and how your purchase helps “disadvantaged women.” It claims to be “made in the USA” from “ethically traded ingredients sustainably produced.”

I guess what I’m saying is, make my curly hair products from blood diamonds, as long as they work.

Yes, I made the same mistake twice. But look at all those keywords: Shea! Moisture! Curl! Shine! The small print is even more boastful: Silk protein! Neem oil! I don’t know what these things are but they sound effective. How could they fail me? (They failed me.)

$3 for a hair product? Possibly I should have seen this disaster coming.

  • Curls Unleashed Leave-In Conditioner, $12 (at my local drugstore)

This container is a relic from that dark period in my life when someone smart advised me to skip the cream-gels, anti-frizz mousses, and refresher sprays and instead go with a good leave-in conditioner, but I didn’t know which one to try. There’s a fun looking lady with curly hair on the front and text on the back that reads, “Distributed by Namaste Laboratories, UK.”

This is the only one of the bunch that I can use, semi-successfully, every once in a while. It doesn’t make my hair look better, exactly, but it makes it look as though I tried, and sometimes that’s all a person can ask.

BTW, I did finally find a leave-in conditioner for curly hair that works great: Mixed Chicks, $20. Does the fact that it’s twice as expensive as everything else I tried tell me anything? No, why, should it?

my hair in January

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.