Finding products for natural 4C hair is a common challenge depending on where you live. When I was in the US, buying products to keep natural hair healthy has become easier in recent years. Online as well as brick and mortar beauty supply stores fill gaps left by pharmacy hair aisles in barren areas. In Thailand, hair products cater to straighter hair textures, and that makes it incredibly difficult to find hair products if your hair is curly.
A quick note about shopping in Thailand: In my experience, finding a lot of common things around town looks more like a scavenger hunt. It can be such a waste of time looking for items that would otherwise be easy to find at home. This makes online shops preferable, but requires significant advanced planning – IMO. Buying products for hair textures in the 4 A-C range is the most extreme of these scavenger hunts that is only for the most committed DIY stylist. Any shampoo or conditioner will not be sufficient to properly maintain healthy curls. You also have to almost be a chemist to buy an unknown brand off the shelf to make sure you don’t buy something with harmful ingredients. Also, good luck finding moisturizer.
Getting the good stuff in Thailand
There were a few different ways to get hair products that aren’t carried in Thailand. I went into detail about the methods I have tried in a previous post. None of these options were particularly convenient or cheap, but it was manageable. The most difficult part was knowing how much customs would charge to release the items once it arrived. Traveling stylists Natural Hair World Tour also came to Bangkok offering consultations with products and hair supplies before the pandemic hit. I could also count on friends and acquaintances who could bring products on their travels through Thailand.
After my purchases from Los Angeles just before the lockdowns began last year, I found that COVID severely limited my options for reordering. With a dangerously low supply fresh in my mind, it felt like a perfect opportunity to pinpoint the sites that check all the boxes for quality, cost and international availability. Finding and making purchases from independent websites that also delivered internationally was a challenge. I have been making a concerted effort to avoid Amazon when I can, but it is not always possible. Shipping costs and timeframes have also been difficult variables to nail down.
Here’s my latest experience ordering hair products, what I was able to buy and what I learned. I hope to share updates as I find new sites and better shipping options.
Shop Beauty Depot
Shop Beauty Depot has many well-known hair products from brands like Cantu, Aunt Jackie’s, the Curls brand, and so on. They also carry hair for braiding and weaves as well as supplies. Like most websites, there is a disclaimer warning customers about potential delays to orders due to COVID. There is a page that addresses international shipping, but it isn’t clear about shipping to Asia. I also did not get a response to an email I sent to clarify. Still, I ordered these to replenish my stock:
- Curls: Creamy Curl Cleanser,
- TXTR by Cantu: Apple Cider Vinegar + Tea Tree Soothing Shampoo, and
- Cantu: Coconut Curling Cream.
Shipping costs to our US mailbox and then to Thailand via their shipping service totaled over $200 USD, which is obviously NOT sustainable.
NaturallyCurly has a great variety of top-rated products like tgin and DevaCurl. I recently went to look around, while writing this post and simultaneously trying to replenish my supply. Orders are temporarily halted due to COVID according to a message at the top of the page. When they are accepting orders it is only for domestic shipping.
The upside to this site is that shipping to Thailand is cheap, relatively fast and simple. On iHerb, I can find jojoba and argan oils as well as Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner. There are some other shampoos and conditioners that I’m not so familiar with. My next move will be to check ingredients on some of them to see if they are worth checking out.
This UK-based beauty shop has a few different online stores around the world, including one in Singapore. I was really excited to find Look Fantastic. It has a great variety of products and it seemed that I would get an order faster than a site based in the US. In February I ordered the Pantene Gold Series Moisture Boost shampoo, Mielle Organics Rosemary Mint Hair Masque and Honey & Ginger Edge Gel. As of the date that this is being posted I have still not received the order. While I have received many updates, I don’t know why my order has been held up this long.
I am working on a new order to replace my moisturizer and get some more shampoo/co-wash. I’ll update on how that goes and if I uncover any dazzling new finds.