Alright! I kicked off this week with the makeup edition of this post, now on to the brilliant bargain beauty buys for my afrobellas — natural hair needs love too! And it ain’t always affordable to find the products your hair needs.

When it comes to products that rock for natural bellas, there’s high end — Miss Jessie’s, Curls, Oyin, Carol’s Daughter, Devacurl — and the affordable end. That would be the stand-bys you find in the quote-unquote ethnic section of your drugstore or Target, where typically a jar of Blue Magic and a box of S-Curl can be found.

The good news is, you can find products that work great for afro-textured hair in your neighborhood stores. The bad news is, sometimes those products are laden with bad-for-you additives to make those products affordable. Mineral oil, sodium laureth sulfate, parabens.

But if you live near a Trader Joe’s, consider yourself lucky. Not only can you expect great food and friendly service, but their Balanced Moisturizing Nourish Spa Conditioner is just beyond. And it’s super affordable!

If you don’t believe me, check out Makeup Alley. It is a rare and beautiful thing to find a conditioner with such healthy hair ingredients available at such an affordable price. It costs less than $3, and fab beauty blogger Clumps of Mascara rhapsodizes in her details of the ingredients:

“Ingredients: Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic Valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba…..and it goes on and on listing organic EVERYTHING. No wonder my hair loved this. No wonder I didn’t get that limp and stiff feeling I get from a lot of other conditions. No wonder my hair soaked in the moisture.”

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa conditioner (NOT to be mixed up with the citrus scented one, although it’s aight), is insanely wonderful.

Bellas who’d say they need a little more moisture than this conditioner offers, I recommend adding a teaspoon of coconut or olive oil to the bottle. Then you can use it as a great co-wash or a treatment, leave it in for 5-10 minutes and rinse. Let me know how that works out for ya. And if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s (like me), fret not – these products are totally on Ebay!

One of my Twitter friends recently mentioned their love of bioInfusion Olive Oil Moisturizing Hair Lotion — I can’t give you a personal review yet, but it costs $7.99, and has some great reviews on the Walgreens website. I’m gonna have to stop by Walgreens, y’all.

One drugstore line I can tell you all about is Cantu. This shea butter based line of hair products is available at, and every item costs less than $10. I can’t say I’ve tried everything, but my hair really loved the Grow Strong Strengthening Treatment, and the shea butter leave in conditioning repair cream. It really did keep my hair soft and moisturized and fluffy all day long. Note to self, buy more Cantu.

I know many bellas who still swear by Queen Helene’s cholesterol products, I’ve definitely had that big ol’ tub in my life throughout the years. It never did me wrong, whether I was relaxed or natural.

Another such product line is African Pride. I said a while back I can’t honestly say that their “Magical Gro” made my hair grow at all, but they’ve got some new formulations that I actually like. For some mysterious reason aren’t even featured on their official website, Amazon’s got it on lock, apparently — new
African Pride Herbal Healing Shampoo
is good stuff. And I’m diggin’ the Leave-In Conditioner!

They claim it noticeably reduces breakage, improves manageability and heals damaged, distraught hair. I haven’t been using it long enough to notice healing, but I do love how moist it leaves my hair when I use it fresh out of the shower. This leave in makes my hair super shiny and soft to the touch. I like it, I really do.

All natural ingredient watching bellas I will be straight with you — yes, this is a product with parabens, petrolatum, and cones in it (they come way, way down the ingredient list). I am by no means an obsessive ingredient watcher, I think as Afrobella it’s my job to try everything (except straightening products and harsh texture altering chemicals, obvs). If you’re a bella on a budget wondering if this new reformulated African Pride Herbal Healing stuff is the biz or not, here’s your chance!

Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to give African Pride a try. I’ll close these comments next Wednesday morning, and choose TEN lucky winners to get a set of shampoo and leave in conditioner of their own, courtesy of African Pride.

I love a Friday giveaway! Happy weekend, bellas, and good luck!!

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Davina says:
October 24, 2008, 12:35 pm
I would love to try this as I am always on the lookout for budget friendly hair products.
KindredSmile says:
October 24, 2008, 12:37 pm
I would love to try these products because this is something that I actually have access to that is within my budget, so if it works, I'd surely buy it again and again.
Brandi says:
October 24, 2008, 12:52 pm
Oh Bella you are always right on time. I'm headed to Trader Joe's tomorrow and I'm soooo buying that conditioner! I've been using SunSilk Hydra hair creme which makes my hair so happy but I would like to try that Olive Oil hair lotion. I took back Carol Daughter's Hair Milk with the quickness. It smelled like lemon Pledge. I just couldn't get past the smell so it could have been the best thing ever but my poor nose couldn't handle it. I hope some of your readers can recommend some hair lotions that aren't greasy or with a light smell.
BK says:
October 24, 2008, 1:05 pm
Wow.. CANTU is the best.. especially for bellas making the transition...even with short hair.. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Cantu shea butter leave in conditioning repair cream.. When I ran out of my Curly Meringue this was a great fill in and now I only use the curly meringue if I want a more defined curl LOL.. As for the African pride products.. I would like to try the leave in conditioner.. my fro can always use a lil more shine.. and anything that makes it still "soft to touch" is alright in my book.. bad ingredients or not!!! LOL
DblDee says:
October 24, 2008, 1:51 pm
Some other low budget products that I like: -IC Fantasia Olive Moisturizing Shine Serum: $7 its really lite and smells soooo good use on dry/damp hair -Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Replenishing Pak: $1.30 moisturize, & rebuild damaged hair. Hair is supple and detangled.
Ailysa says:
October 24, 2008, 2:00 pm
I would like to try African Pride products because I'm curious if these products are as moisturizing as there braid spray and I'm looking for a cheap leave in.
Nikki says:
October 24, 2008, 2:02 pm
I love the Trader Joe's Nourish line. The shampoo is my favorite shampoo, managing to actually clean unlike many other natural poos or no-poos but still not totally kill my hair. The conditioner is great, too. And at a great price. Yep, high on my list. If only I could find a detangler half as good somewhere.
Laquita says:
October 24, 2008, 2:02 pm
Yay! Glad I took a break from working to catch this :o) I also like the Cantu Leave-In Conditioning Repair Cream. My step daughter has SUPER-thick hair and it works wonders when it comes to detangling. (She is actually my guinea pig, for lack of a better phrase - for testing all products, accessories included) if it works on her thick hair w/o feeling crunchy, dry or breaking in two, it will truly work for mine. So, I would love to get my hands on those African Pride products and put them to the ultimate test :o)
Shell says:
October 24, 2008, 2:03 pm
I love Cantu shea butter leave in conditioner and good old Queen Helene!! Those two are staples to me.
TJ says:
October 24, 2008, 2:25 pm
Love these bargain beauty posts!
Eileen says:
October 24, 2008, 2:29 pm
Another good drug store buy I love is from Neutrogena. It is great for us bellas with only slightly coarse hair (some of us interracial ladies)that gets dried out. I use the Triple Moisture Recovery Mask as my conditioner when I wash my hair (which is only a couple times a week) on my hair and scalp and it is amazing! I am definitely going to check out the Trader Joe's product ASAP!
Get Togetha says:
October 24, 2008, 2:37 pm
I'm on that Trader's Joe's Conditioner. And thanks for the Olive Oil tip.
puff says:
October 24, 2008, 3:06 pm
i'm definitely going to try out trader joe's conditioner, although the nearest one to me in NYC always has the most insane lines :s my current drugstore fav is organix's coconut milk line... their instant repair mixed with a little oil leaves my hair deeply conditioned and soft.
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
October 24, 2008, 3:37 pm
I would love to give African Pride a try ,because i've been using Pantene Hydrating Curls shampoo/conditioner ,and even though it does the trick it also irritates my neck,ears,and face when i use it.The ingredients are to strong for my skin so i would love to try something mild that i can use when all of my Carol's Daughter is gone.
Tester70 says:
October 24, 2008, 3:52 pm
I have been using Cantu leave in conditioner for over a year now. I put it on right out of the shower or wet my hair with hot water; comb through and dress with LIV creme hair dress. It defines my curls all over. When it's wet it looks goopy but the dry results are fab. I do that on Sunday and I can either rewet and go on Tuesday. OR just finger fluff it as the days go by. Twitter Twitter
GloLady says:
October 24, 2008, 6:50 pm
Bella, fab post. It was loaded with hair moisturizing wonderfulness! This is also an--SOS-- a hair SOS! Bella, I would love to try these products because 1)I currently reside in the middle of practically nowhere!sob. Wyoming. Yes, sounds crazy. But my husband took this position for his job. We do have a Walmart and a Walgreens,but let me tell ya it has nothing on the places that I'm use to going to. The isles have little to nothing of ethnic products. Believe me, I get on the Walmart 800 number and put in my request a little at a time. I wear it out! 2)I want try it and if I like it I want to request it so other women of color here can have great options for their hair too. I'm on a mission to keep putting in request to get those store isles fully stocked with good product not just a relaxer here and there. The Kmart here has no ethnic products whatsoever. So no new arrivals in this town have to endure the incovenience of not finding what she needs it readily. Sorry so long, peace and blessings. Wow,just had an ah-ha moment.
Shanessence says:
October 24, 2008, 7:59 pm
Hi Bella! I'd like to give African Pride a try because I used to use these products back when my mom used to press 'n' curl my hair. Now that I'm a married lady and all-natural, I'd like to see how this 'stand-by' product works for my hair now. I haven't been able to find a shampoo that is perfect for my hair. I'm still on the search and would like to give this a try!
Allison says:
October 24, 2008, 8:03 pm
I love the bioInfusion hair lotion! My hair is super dry and it gets it back to feeling healthy.
coco_fiere says:
October 24, 2008, 9:02 pm
I love Cantu's leave in cream! I stumbled on it in Target about 6 months ago and haven't looked back. I usually stick my head under the spray during my shower and co-wash (Herbal Essences, Garnier, or Ellin Lavar)2x/wk. I also shampoo with regular shampoo every 10 days or so but I always use the leave-in to style my hair. It helps me slick my hair n2 a sleek, curly bun and defines my curls while maintaining softness & shine when I wear it loose. Plus, you only need a little dab so it lasts a loooong time. I find that if I comb or brush it into my hair, a layer at a time, it detangles perfectly and doesn't weigh my hair down.
InstantVintage says:
October 24, 2008, 9:29 pm
LOVE the TJ conditioner. Great quality for the cost.
Sabrina97 says:
October 24, 2008, 9:57 pm
I've used the bioInfusion deep conditioner and I liked well enough. I've not tried any of the other ones. I wish there was a Trader Joe's around...waah!
pepperatstate says:
October 24, 2008, 11:26 pm
I to LOVE Trader Joe's norish spa shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo doesn't have any sulfates and I even use the conditioner as a leave in along with a little spectrum brand coconut oil and my hair is super moisturized and really soft. It also makes my curls pop. I tried the Cantu and it worked better for me when I still had my relaxed ends. Now my hair doesn't like the residue it leaves behind. I still use it as a deep conditioner but probably won't buy it again. Another thing that I find my hair really likes is good old fashioned olive oil. I don't use it as often now because it's sort of expensive but my hair likes it :-)
T.T. says:
October 25, 2008, 2:04 am
Bella! I would like to give African Pride a try because your description is shouting, "T.T. this is for you!" *hope the HTML code works :) [i]Bella: They claim it noticeably reduces breakage, improves manageability and heals damaged, distraught hair. [/i] T.T.: Texas weather has done a beat down on my hair this year. I am sure that winter won't be any better!! My hair is gasping for breath unless I load it down with product!! [i]Bella: I haven’t been using it long enough to notice healing, but I do love how moist it leaves my hair when I use it fresh out of the shower. This leave in makes my hair super shiny and soft to the touch. I like it, I really do. [/i] T.T.: my hair needs moisture, especially on the sides. your hair is always so cute, throw some of that cuteness to texas!!
trinigul says:
October 25, 2008, 2:07 am
Cantu Leaven-in Conditioner lover checking in. I get it for $4.49 at a BSS near my job in NYC. Every 2 weeks I pick up 2 containers so I won't hip the owners to the fact that they've got the best deal in town. You'd think I'd have a stock pile of them. Nope. Been passing them out to other Bellas who love it now 2. Don't think I'll be ordering during the Miss Jessie's Christmas special this year.
Baby Haiti Girl says:
October 25, 2008, 2:16 am
I would definitely like to try the listed African Pride products, for a believe for what it stands for overall.. I love the simplicity of the concentration to leave your hair naturally healthy and manageable! A bonus that it’s affordable too!
Vicky says:
October 25, 2008, 9:26 am
Can you get cantu hair products in sallys in the uk? Anyone know? or can you order it online to the uk?
Heidi says:
October 25, 2008, 10:58 am
Trader Joe's just began making a new shampoo/conditioner set(I have never seen it there before so I'm assuming it's new) called Tingle. It has eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and spearmint. I've tried Nourish and it's great but I like Tingle even more!
Brandiss says:
October 25, 2008, 11:21 am
Hi Bella! Thanks for the good info. I would really love to give the African Pride products a try so that I can regain my confidence in store bought products. I don't think I have been using the right things lately. If it's as good as you say it is, then I'm all for it! My dry hair needs a picker upper and hopefully African Pride will do me justice. Thanks again :)
Laila says:
October 25, 2008, 2:06 pm
Organics by Africa's best is a great range! No mineral oil or petroli whatever lol! Seriously everyone should check it out. The kids range is even better. They have a shea butter moisture shampoo with no SLS. I bought it for 99p! Can't beat the price
Tanya says:
October 25, 2008, 4:29 pm
TJ's Nourish Spa Conditioner: I agree; this is the first hair product I bought from them and I love it. I've had it less than a month and I'm at half the bottle now. That's one thing I don't mind buying frequently. Only thing is. . .it probably costs me more to drive to TJ's than the product itself! *L*
Kweenie says:
October 25, 2008, 5:46 pm
You all have peaked my interest about Trader Joe's. I went ahead and ordered the conditioner out of curiosity. Am keeping my fingers crossed that it's the miracle moisture-provider that I've been looking for.
Krystal says:
October 25, 2008, 7:45 pm
Thanks for the great tips. I'd used Cantu when I first transitioned, and moved on to other products (more like, my mom jacked my Cantu products, lol). Maybe I should revisit. I live in Trader Joes, so I will definitely try out the Conditioner. Also, I'd love to try African Pride. I'm a hair product junkie and am always looking for better products to add to my system.
swissmiss261 says:
October 26, 2008, 10:00 am
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE CANTU LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER(S)!!!! I usually get my Cantu products from Wal-Mart. Check out the black beauty section in your Wal-Mart. It's usually on the top shelf. I have been to several Wal-Mart's in different states and have found Cantu stocked. It's much cheaper there.
Jamaicanista says:
October 26, 2008, 10:18 am
African Pride is the reeeeaaal deal for "ethnic hair". From high school dayz yo
LBellatrix says:
October 26, 2008, 10:51 am
As a co-wash, Nourish Spa was so-so for me. I wish I'd seen your tip about adding oil before I sold my two bottles. :( I have been a Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut co-washer for years but as soon as I finish up this bottle I'm going to get the big bottle of Herbal Essences Hello Hydration. I LOVE it both for its moisturizing properties and its scent! I've heard a lot of good things about Cantu but I still have about 5/6 of a pound of unrefined shea butter I have to work through. And I guess I'm in the minority of women for whom Queen Helene products have never done anything. As for African Pride...I remember the controversy that took place when they first came on the scene and even though it's been over 20 years I still can't bring myself to buy their products. But hey...if they work for others...
Laila says:
October 26, 2008, 4:26 pm
LBellatrix what happened with African pride years ago?
Curlychronicles says:
October 26, 2008, 5:29 pm
Thanks for the review, I'll definitely be trying this Trader Joe's conditioner. I do most of my shopping there so I'll add that to my little list :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the BioInfusion Detangling Conditioner, it's amazing for my hair..probably one of the best ones I've used..combing out the hair was never so easy :)
Margaret Cooley says:
October 27, 2008, 8:03 am
I'd like to try the African Pride products because I'm always looking for reasonable hair products for my daughter to use. She's 13 and after a disasterous perm experience has made the decision to stay natural. It's amazing how different products give such different results. we're still looking for the truth that's reasonably priced! btw - I'm so happy I found your site. It's inspiring and it helps me to inspire my girl in a world of perm and weave ;-) marg
Janay says:
October 27, 2008, 9:20 am
First let me say, I LOVE UR BLOG!! It is very informative, helpful and funny! Keep up the good work! I wanted to know if you ever decided to retire your Denman brush? I use it on my daughters hair & am now wondering if I am doing more harm then good.
zoe says:
October 27, 2008, 10:21 am
i'd love to give these african pride products a try because i cut my hair roughly 2+ years ago, and it still hasn't grown back. i definitely believe that this is due to excessive breakage. i have been searching like a mad woman for products that will nourish my hair and prevent breakage (or at least reduce my breakage to a minimum), and i haven't been that successful. all black women have struggled with their hair at one point and time, but we all deserve to find something that will work. i'd love to experiment with these products and start on the road to restoring my hair to it's great glory of 2+ years ago--and if you like it, it must be good! thanks for all the tips afrobella.
Tami says:
October 27, 2008, 2:58 pm
I swear by Trader Joe's Nourish Spa conditioner. I added a little jojoba oil, and use it as a leave-in. It makes my curls pop, and keeps my hair soft and moisturized all day. I'm going to give my mom a bottle because she has no idea what to use on her hair.
flygyrl72 says:
October 27, 2008, 6:27 pm
Cantu is one of my stand-bys! I use the Grow Strong daily, to soften the fro, & alternate w/ the leave-in conditioner, every other day. Although I'm a 4b w/ big nappy fro, I find it too heavy for my hair when it's wet, it makes my hair too slippery to twist properly (not that I'm the most coordinated person anyways), have to use it very sparingly while the hair's wet. But, I use it a lot on my dry hair, to soften, moisturize, etc. & it's great. My other fave drugstore brand is Organic Root Stimulator's Olive Oil Hair Lotion & their Hair Mayonnaise, can't beat their Mayonnaise...
Film make up says:
October 31, 2008, 8:08 am
Yes it’s really good news for us and thanks for your useful tips
Tricia says:
November 2, 2008, 11:23 am
The Cantu shea butter leave-in conditioner is that stuff! Love it! I know they say that there's no such thing as the perfect product but for me, it truly is! It works best for my curls when my hair is wet - defines the curls, moisturizes them and keeps the frizzies down on the humid days (and I have like 3 different curl patterns in my head - works for all three!) I will definitely check out the Trader Joe's conditioner - I love trying new products and it is a couple of dollars less than the Cantu leave in so its worth a try. I also recommend Organics, by Africas Best products - I have stood by the Stimulating Therapy Shampoo and Hair Mayonnaise for ages, relaxed and natural - both really great conditioning products and very very inexpensive!
Victoria says:
December 2, 2008, 3:36 am
Run, don't walk, to your nearest Trader Joe's and get the Nourish shampoo and conditioner. It works as well as the 'old-school' shampoos (with all the sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate and all that other jazz that one finds only in a grad-school level chemistry class), but the price is wonderful and I love that it has all those organic herbs and extracts in it.
VJ says:
November 21, 2009, 10:54 pm
Just wanted to say, the Trader Joe's Nourish Spa conditioner has nearly the EXACT same ingredients as Giovanni Smooth as Silk Deeper Moisture Conditioner. Giovanni ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water) With *Rosemarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Valencia Orange) Extract, *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Extract, *Cymbopogon Schoeanthus (Lemongrass) Extract, *Ginko Biloba Extract, *Echinacea Angustifolia Extract, *Salix Alba (Willow Bark), *Macrocystis Pyrifera (Sea Kelp) Extract, *Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Leaf Extract, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, *Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Extract, *Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Centrimonium Bromide, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance With Essential Oils. Nourish Spa Ingredients: Purified water, organic rosemary oil, organic valencia orange citrus, organic mango, organic lemongrass, organic ginko biloba, organic echinacea, organic willow bark, organic sea kelp, organic chamomile flower, organic textured soy protein, organic lavender, organic grapefruit citrus, Tocopherol (Vit E), Acetamide MEA, Cetyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, propylparaben, botanical fragrance Note that the TJ's brand adds parabens, but they're way at the end of the list. Also note that Giovanni, at 8.99 is $1.06/oz, whilr Nourish Spa at $2.99 is only $0.18/oz!! Yeah, I know which one I'll be using from here on out... V
A.G. says:
March 22, 2010, 9:43 pm
Need to take the proper multivitamin, healthy diet, and essential oils when you don't have the genetics to grow long hair. Black people need to stop buying the commercial growth grease and lotions. IT DOESN'T WORK. says:
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