5 Reasons NOT to Throw Away Unused Natural Hair Products

January 8, 2015

5 Reasons Not to Throw Out Your Unused Products

The product junkie life is REAL. When I first went natural, I had no idea what to do with my hair or use in it. The products I was using for my straight hair weren’t working for my natural transitioning hairstyles. When I cut my straight ends off, some of the products I used while transitioning were not doing the same job for my fully natural hair. I also went through a “product turnover”: I stopped using products with sulfates, silicones, parabens, and a few other things. And being the product junkie I am, I never threw away any of the products that I still had with the wrong ingredients. Sometimes I’ll try a product, then not like it, never use it again, forget I bought it, six months later buy it again, and then find the OTHER bottle and freak out. I have so many products in my bathroom, but I still feel like I spend so much money every month just on products! My bathroom looks like the ethnic hair section at Wal-Mart. But I have learned that sometimes being a product junkie can have a few plus sides. I have finally figured out some ways to pull those old products out from the back of the shelf. Here are some reasons I have found to reuse your products and make use of those non-empties you still have from eight months ago.

(DISCLAIMER: I don’t condone using a product past its shelf life. If you want to use any of these tips on a product more than a year old, I suggest buying a new one or a smaller size just in case it doesn’t work for you.)

1:You can find a SINGLE purpose for each product or MULTIPLE purposes.

Some products aren’t meant to be a solution for all your hair problems. I had this problem with coconut oil which is NOT cheap, especially if you buy extra virgin coconut oil. I tried to use it as a sealant, but it would just sit on top of my hair. I was very upset because so many beauty gurus raved about it. It sat in the back of the closet for a while until I rediscovered it. I then tried using it in my deep conditioners. When I tell you it made a WORLD of a difference…. I never felt my hair so moisturized! Also, when I first bought it, my hair was at an uncomfortable length and I was too hesitant to try W&G hairstyles. But once it grew and I gained the courage to try a W&G, I used it on top of my leave-in and, with a combination of products, it really made the style pop. I also use it under gel on my edges. when doing puffs. So, I went from zero uses for it to three !

2: A certain product may only be a seasonal product or only used during certain types of weather.

A product that may work in the summer may leave your hair feeling lackluster in the fall. That summertime moisturizing schedule may leave your hair a little too wet too long in the winter. I like to use heavier products in the summertime for extended moisture and looser, more watery products that dry fast in the winter. This is mainly because I live in the very humid south, so moisture isn’t too much of a problem in the winter but damage is. For example, thicker leave-in conditioners are more suitable for the warmer weather for my hair. The same goes for Shea butter, which is my GO-TO for twist outs and braid outs. During the colder months, I use a mousse or looser butter to style my hair (ex: Cantu Shea butter twist and lock gel).

3: Some products can be used in ways other than their original form of use/intention.

When I first went natural, I bought almost the whole Shea Moisture line. I was most excited about trying their deep treatment masque. The masque didn’t work on my hair AT ALL. My hair felt hard and dry, mainly because it was too strong for me. I even tried it again a year later after buying my first one. I got the same result the second time. When I rediscovered it in my closet, I decided to try it as a styler (like Carmen of MyNaturalSistas), and it worked wonders! I normally use it in the fall. Another solution I found with a product-gone-wrong is with an all-natural volumizing conditioner I bought during my all-natural phase. And seeing that I already have very thick hair I had no business buying a VOLUMIZING conditioner. *shakes head* BUT I found out that the conditioner works great when trying to detangle my hair with brushes or combs (I mainly finger detangle). It is really good at separating the strands and helping the tools glide throughout my hair without snagging or pulling too hard. Another tip is for that moisturizing conditioner with all that slip that doesn’t leave your hair as moisturized as you’d like can be reused as a rinse-out co-wash conditioner or mixed with another moisturizing conditioner that actually works for more slip.

4: Different hairstyles require different types of products. 

That styling mousse you liked for your braided up do’s may not work for your flat twists. That gel that lays your ledges like GOD did it himself may make your twists a little too hard. A product that works for your twist outs may not work for your bantu knots. Using water-based products (contain water in first five ingredients, but usually first) on straightened or stretched natural hair can cause it to revert and shrink. Using heavy oils, like olive oil and castor oil, on straight hair can make it look stringy and weighed down. It’s best to stick with light sealants with straight hair. I use Carol’s Daughter shine pomade for moisture and shine with blow outs and straight styles. Using too many rinse-out products on dry natural hair can cause temporary moisture but not long-term. Rinse-out conditioners should not take the place of a leave-in. If they are purposeless, you can try to add them into a regimen or use it to enhance another product (add a little moisture from the rinse-out conditioner to a protein rinse-out conditioner).


Let’s face it. If you spend $19 on a moisturizing lotion and the fist time you used it, it didn’t work like you thought, TRY AGAIN. If it costs an arm and a leg and you took a chance at it, try to make it work. It may have a special purpose: it can probably be used in a combination of products, at least until you run out of it or find a solve-all, holy grail product. Also, the lesson from this is to not be fooled by a large price. The other, less expensive brand may work even better than you thought. Expensive products may not be worth the hype.

BONUS TIP: You can gift!

I am totally for the idea of making a hair care package of all your unused products for your mom who you inspired to go natural and has no idea what to do with her hair or your friend who doesn’t want to buy it but wants to try that $22 conditioner that you bought and don’t use. It’s perfect for the holidays and birthdays.

The best way to find out how to reuse your products, in my opinion, is looking on other hair blogs and YouTube videos, searching for ideas. You can also go to a retailers website and look up the product (depending on whether its an ACTUAL hair product, rather than a food product like coconut oil because we all know we use the same EVOO we use to cook in our hair). Sometimes there are some good tips and ideas in the comments.

Tell me what you guys think! Do you have products that you want to find a use and don’t want to throw away? Do you have any ideas to add to the list? I’d love hear what anyone has to add.

By J'Nai

Born & raised in New Orleans. Natural hair and beauty enthusiast. Part-time mixologist. Future Medical Professional.


  1. Reply


    I would add – Some products don’t play nice with each other. Eco-styler gel doesn’t mix with Tresseme Naturals Conditioner but used separately, they’re both good products.

    1. Reply


      That’s a good one! Thanks for the suggestion. Which one do you substitute for another product, the gel or the conditioner?

      1. Reply


        I sub the gel, I go through a ton of conditioner for wash a go’s

  2. Reply

    How to Use Shea Moisture Hair Masques | the natural and the city

    […] For tips on how to make use of those unused products collecting dust in your bathroom, click here. […]

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