Can a Naturalista Find a Sweet Spot with...Suave? Our Writer Tries Out the Old-School Brand's New Product Range

Illustration for article titled Can a Naturalista Find a Sweet Spot with...Suave? Our Writer Tries Out the Old-School Brand's New Product Range
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I’m a lazy natural.

I’m two years into my second big chop, and a year into growing it out—and admittedly, that Caesar life was sweet. But it’s hard to be lazy when you have kinky 4c hair like mine, since it’s so dry. The first time I went natural was back in 2001, when natural hair message boards were poppin’ and everyone shoved coconut oil down your throat as the end-all-be-all. In other words, there weren’t many products that really worked for my hair. Many of the products I tried were even more drying and contained ingredients that weren’t ideal, like sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil—things that were clogging and potentially toxic.


Plus, based on the advertising and formulations, it seemed the products were geared more toward naturals with straighter hair textures and that needed less moisture. I ultimately ended up loc’ing my hair that first time around; partially out of frustration, but also because I really like locs. And for over 10 years, I got spoiled, because locs don’t need all the lotions, potions, and masks that afros need in order to retain moisture. You just oil them, occasionally deep condition if you want to, and go.

Then my locs got heavy, I eventually tired of them, and decided to big chop again. So, here I am with a TWA (teeny-weeny afro), relearning how to maintain my hair. However, this time, there are a lot more products on the market to choose from that are actually effective—not to mention mainstream brands are starting to be more in tune with inclusive advertising and formulas.

Enter, Suave Professionals. It’s an old-school brand we’re all familiar with, mainly due to its ubiquitousness in any health and beauty aisle in America. That said, it’s a brand that was never on my radar for products I’d pick up for natural hair maintenance. But there has been a shift in the matrix, because now Suave Professionals has a range of products specifically created for natural hair.


You heard correctly.

Take a look at this classic Suave commercial first, though.


Or this one:

Or this one:

Betamax King/YouTube

The conversation has clearly changed. As people are awakening to diversity and realizing there is no one set concept of beauty, that concept is finally becoming standard at major beauty brands seeking to reflect consumer needs.

One coveted group of consumers is women with natural hair, who need and want products that are affordable, hydrating, and protective of various hair types. Suave Professionals for Natural Hair is a six-product line (shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, shine and define cream, detangling spray and shine serum gel) infused with coconut oil and shea that promises to do that. It’s also important to note that two of the talents behind the formulation of the line are celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen and Erica Douglas, aka “Sister Scientist,” who are part of Unilever’s (Suave’s parent company) creation team for products specifically formulated for textured hair.

“I’ve been with Unilever for a little over 10 years, and I’m still to this day very impressed at how they innovate,” Stephen told The Glow Up, adding that Unilever’s latest actions with regard to creating products for natural hair care have solidified the brand’s commitment to creating quality and accessible products for textured hair types.


Let’s get back to the products—which I got to try out, courtesy of Unilever. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m starting over with my Afro, and I’m learning new things about my hair that I didn’t know when I first went natural (like the fact that my hair is low porosity). Part of that learning process includes discovering new products again, which can be daunting. It gets expensive, and you may find yourself using something once and never again. To that point, based on experience, Suave Professionals is an attractive option to consider when looking for easily obtainable, affordable products for your hair; each product is sulfate-, paraben-, and dye-free, and moisture-rich.


“Suave Professionals for natural hair range was formulated and created to make sure there were accessible options for these newer naturalistas that are coming into this brand new lifestyle,” says Douglas. “At the core of any haircare range you know there has to be great shampoo and conditioner. If it’s not clean and if it ain’t conditioned, you have nothing to work with.”

I tried the entire line, starting with the shampoo and conditioner, then moving on to the detangling spray, curl defining cream, leave-in conditioner, and shine serum gel. The shampoo really seemed to deep clean my hair and the conditioner complemented that. Once my hair was washed and conditioned, it felt soft and nourished. I went on to use the detangler, which I didn’t love. It didn’t have as much slip as I’d like, leading me to think it would be better for someone with less kinky hair.


I had a similar response to the curl defining cream; perhaps I used it incorrectly, maybe I didn’t wait long enough for it to dry, but it just didn’t seem to define my hair, as promised. But once I realized that the curl defining cream might not work, I moved on to Plan B. I topped my hair with the leave-in conditioner and then Bantu-knotted it with the shine serum gel and was happy with those results.


The verdict? Overall, I like the line. The products smell delightful and all of the items, except for the curl defining cream, did what the labels said they would. After drying, my hair was hydrated, soft, shiny, and flourished even as I went out in the brutal NYC cold without a hat. (Fun Fact: I never really wear hats, only ear muffs when it’s cold.) Bonus points: the moisture lasted long enough that I went through the next day without having to reapply anything. And while I didn’t have success with it, I think the curl defining cream would work on someone with less tangled curls (perhaps 4a, 4B, 3C, etc), which speaks to the point that the line is designed to have something for everyone.

According to Sister Scientist, who is a self-proclaimed “lazy natural,” just like myself, the leave-in conditioner is designed to become a staple product. It’s formulated to seal moisture into your cuticles and work well at any point in the life cycle of your hair, whether it’s damaged or dry—I can totally see that,after my experience. The leave-in would work really well alone or for anyone who is a fan of the LOC method. I have found much success with the latter method but find that I don’t need to do it when I use this conditioner.


Based on that, I’d give this line an A. Again, there’s something in it for every type of hair. Everyone could benefit from the shampoo and conditioner, as well as the leave-in conditioner (which you can use more or less of, depending on your hydration needs). I also really like the define and shine serum gel because it works well for locking in hydration and setting twists, braids and Bantu knots. The other products in the range really depend on your hair and your personal needs, but at $5.00 a pop, can you really go wrong? You’ve got options that were designed and tested with love by people who live the lifestyle! Go forth and flourish—with moisturized edges!

Toddler mom. Brooklynite. Beauty and pop culture obsessive. Wanderluster. Send help...and wine, lots of wine.



I think the suave conditioners are good and an ingredient in your deep condition and a co wash, but that’s it.

As a 4c girl myself who is constantly battling dryness and tangles, I def have tried everything on the market, but the only brand that hasn’t let me down in Taliah Waajid. Everything they make is amazing. Everything. And it works really well.