This Shit Rules: Damage Control

“This Shit Rules” is a beauty column where staff people list the items they can’t live without – the makeup, beauty products, and other shit we use every morning, before we go to bed, or in the car on the way to work.

Once every few years, I get tired of dealing with my curls. A little blow-out can give me a break from the fussing and futzing with out-of-place corkscrews or lopsided bed-head. So I took a little trip to my local Dominican salon to get a wash n’ blow. Now, I’m normally very, very, very particular about what I put in my hair, but I’ve had my hair blown out at this Dominican salon before, and I figured one little shampoo and condition with Suave or whatever they use couldn’t hurt. Whoo boy was I wrong. When the lady was done wrapping up my newly straightened locks I could not believe how incredibly straight she got it to look. Nobody has ever gotten my hair to be so damn straight and silky. It wasn’t until all of my hair was falling out in the shower a week later that I realized something had gone horribly awry.

A hairstylist friend informed me that they must have put a keratin treatment in the conditioner, which, when used with heat, bonds to the hair and basically murders it. Looks great straight, looks like straw when you wash it out. I was mortified. I immediately ran to Ricky’s to stock up on every organic deep conditioning treatment they had on the shelves. In the name of protecting your hair from damage and your pockets from the exorbitant sums of cash I spent trying to find the perfect product, here are the four that actually worked. All of the products listed here are free from parabens and sulfates, which are apparently very bad for curly hair or at least my stylist says so and that’s good enough for me.

Carol’s Daughter Monoi Oil Repairing Conditioner

I really couldn’t tell you what monoi oil is, but I like to imagine it is suckled from the nipples of woodland nymphs, because more than anything else I used, this conditioner got my hair feeling better than normal right quick. They also make a deep conditioner and a leave-in solution, but given how effective just this one product is, and the steep cost, I’d say skip the other stuff. And? It smells like dewdrops and rainbows.

image via "a href="">Curlmart

image via Curlmart

(8.5 fl oz.) $22.00 on Amazon

DevaCurl Heaven in Hair

I never realized how much this shit rules until I really needed it. If you’re dealing with really terrible damage and need some extra help taming your rats nest, I wholeheartedly endorse this product. All of the Deva products are high quality, but they are also mega expensive (as are most products marketed toward curly-haired and “ethnic” women, but that’s another article for another time). Get a small 8oz. tub for occasional emergencies and try not to break it out unless you really need it.

image via Ulta

image via Ulta

(8 fl oz.) $15.94 on Amazon

Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

Once you’re out of the shower and you’ve glooped your hair full of enough moisturizers to re-hydrate the state of California, you can squeeze the water out of your hair and run some of this stuff through it. Of all the leave-ins in all the land, this is the least “crunchy,” meaning that when your hair dries it won’t feel like it’s encased in a layer of ice. The coconut hibiscus smell is a little too saccharine for my taste but it doesn’t stop me from using this product every. single. day.

image via Amazon

image via Amazon

(12oz.) $16.09 on Amazon

Carol’s Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey

This one isn’t for everybody. It smells so amazing you might be tempted to dump the whole canister on your head but BEWARE! It scoops out like a pomade, but then sort of melts onto your hair as it dries. It is very very oily. I recommend it only to smooth frizz and add a little extra shine on days when your hair is feeling extra dry or damaged. Try to keep it away from your hairline. Also you may find yourself trailed by a rabble of bees. This has literally happened to me a lot of times and I honestly don’t know what to do about it.

image via Amazon

image via Amazon

(8 oz.) $19.50 on Amazon

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Hannah Hodson

Hannah Hodson is a 22-year old Brooklyn-bred writer and actor. She graduated Hampshire College with a very valuable BA in Theatre and Black Studies. She currently resides in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where she admires the view while writing poetry about gentrification, climate change, race, class and other heavy stuff, but tries to keep a positive outlook on it all. She recently met Abbi and Ilana from Broad City (IRL), and has photos to prove it. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, for her thoughts on Beyonce.

Hannah has written 36 articles for us.


  1. I’m in a bit of a hair quandary. See, ever since I read about baking-soda/vinegar here on Autostraddle, I’ve done that and it is perfect. BS+V once, maybe twice a week, plus just a touch of plain coconut oil, and I’m golden. But I’m getting packed now for about 4 weeks on the road (bracketed by long international plane travel), and the soda/vinegar thing just isn’t seeming practical. It’s just, I love how smooth and clean and non-itchy my head has been, and it seems like any ‘regular’ shampoo I try (that is compact enough to travel with) leaves me with stiff, crunchy hair and itchy scalp. At this point I’m kind of at a loss.

    Oh, and I have 6 days to get this sorted before we leave. Not that I’m panicking or something (I am!).

    • I just got back from a couple months of travel – used this the whole time & it did a great job with wavy, tends-towards-oily hair.

      Also, I’m allergic to bees, so I specifically asked for something that doesn’t have a floral smell, and this doesn’t. I also bought a coconut conditioner bar, but my hair looked & felt great whether or not I bothered w that step.,en_CA,pd.html#start=9

    • You could try buying some apple cider vinegar powder- that way you’d just be traveling with powders, not liquids and you could add water later

    • The baking soda is mostly for the extra scrub/grit factor. You could go with just a small bottle of vinegar for your trip and do just fine for a month.

    • I second the lush shampoo bars, great for travelling, I use mine all over so saves on shower products too.

    • Can I tell you guys a secret? I wash my hair with soap and I have been for 6 years. I started washing my hair with soap when i went traveling one time, and haven’t stopped since. Not just any soap, but fancy soap. The oily kind with natural ingredients and that you find in organic food stores.

      All hairs different, but I recommend trying it to see if it works. My hair freaks out when I use shampoo and conditioner, but I like the way soap keeps the curl, and doesn’t strip all the oils.

      (I suspect that shampoo and conditioner is a con)

    • Thanks for all the responses! I’m going to give one of the Lush bars a try. And +1 on the Travel Kit TSR. That would rock!

  2. Oh man did I need this! I’m also coming off of a hair damage mishap that ruined, I dunno, about 2 years of hard earned growth on my kinky curly hair (long story short- my new couch is made out of wool! I didn’t know that! I like to take couch naps! Wool dries hair. Dry hair breaks. Sad for all around).

    Anyway, I’m in the process of regrowing and hair moisture is essential to that. Plus, I’m a product junkie and always on the look out for new suggestions. Thanks!

    • Wow what a phenomenon! How did you figure out that’s what was happening? What did you use to fix it?

  3. Monoi is coconut oil, and often comes scented with tiare (gardenia). Polynesians (particularly Tahitians) have been using it for hair and skin care for centuries. Good stuff.

  4. I fried the bejesus out of my hair back in January bleaching it with way too harsh of a developer and am currently trying to rebuild it. I def recommend Ion Moisturizing Treatment (as far as I can tell this is a salon brand and can only be bought at Sally Beauty), $10/12 oz. bottle. I also started taking Nature Made Biotin vitamins.

  5. I have very curly, moderately thick hair (Caucasian), and Shea Moisture products are the shit for me. Highly recommend them!

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