Hair Regimen On A Budget (With Products and Cost)

What’s your hair budget? Will it preclude you from having the healthy hair that you want? I hope not. There are times in our lives when we have to cut back on our spending, whether for one thing or the other but we still need to look good. You should not let your hair suffer because you are on a budget. You can budget smart and achieve your hair goals.

Your hair can flourish and grow on just five or less products. The key to having really lovely hair whether it is short or long involves little to no spending at all. As I’ve said before, the hair grows unless you have some disease or deficiency that prevents growth.

The onus is on us to handle it right and encourage the growth. We have a responsibility to keep it clean, which means we should use cleaning agents which are not laden with chemicals, we also have a responsibility to condition it, thus keeping the layers on the hair shaft all locked down tight and we have a responsibility to keep it moisturized so that it does not break since it is prone to dryness. The education about our type of hair is also free courtesy of numerous black hair sites and forums. So, how much are you really spending on your hair and are you seeing the returns?


Might be your hair is extra dry or just needs a little oomph and you need to pre-poo, you can do this twice per month, using stuff in your kitchen like eggs, molasses, yogurt, milk, carrot, beet, banana, papaya, olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil. If you have these things you can whip up a pre-shampoo treatment with little to no extra expense, just pick up a little extra of whatever ingredient you will be getting at the end of the week when you are grocery shopping. Check out some of the hair recipes on this site and other black hair sites that you can try at no extra cost to you.


After pre-pooing, you will need to wash your hair. Washing hair at least once per week is a good practice; a clean scalp leaves a healthy canvas for hair to grow. You can buy baking soda and wash your hair every week; an 8 oz. box is roughly $0.44 at Wal-Mart or you can buy a sulfate free, pH balanced and mostly chemical free shampoo.  Here are some options:

Note: If you can’t find any of these shampoos in your locale, you can purchase them online or check your local hair store for shampoos that do not contain harsh chemicals.

The average price for shampoo for the year is $40. However, Dr. Bonner’s Castile soap can significantly lower that cost.


After a chemical free shampoo, a deep conditioner is really all you will need to complete your washday. You can make your own deep conditioner with items like yogurt, coconut cream, banana, Shea butter and a host of other ingredients; believe it or not, doing it yourself is a really good option to the store bought conditioners. However, if you are not a do-it yourself-er, or you don’t have the time or the energy to concoct your own creations, you can try the following options. I have divided them into silicone free and conditioners containing silicone.

Silicone Free Conditioners

Light Silicone Conditioners

Good Silicone Conditioners

Note: It can cost you on average $120 for deep conditioner per year.


You can definitely make your own moisturizer, buy a bottle of vegetable glycerin and add an appropriate essential oil (a 10 ml bottle is just under $4), some aloe vera (you can plant it or buy it), carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, castor, olive or almond) and water and you are done. There are some moisturizer hair recipes here. The average cost for a Now Vegetable Glycerine (16 fl oz) is $10.00, it can last all year.

Note: Average cost for your moisturizer for the year should be around $20.


The cost of relaxers varies and the type of relaxers that you use may vary also. I would not recommend any other relaxer but Affirm. That’s what has worked for me through the years. I know that there are other relaxers that may be better, but I stick to what works for me.

If you really want to lower your hair care budget, you can try stretching the time between each relax to may be three or four times a year. I am now down to two times for the year because the longer I stretch the easier it is for me to do so. Besides, some of the products listed above are great for hair texture and makes stretching a breeze.

Note: Average cost for a relaxer $50. If you do your hair four times for the year- $200.

Essential Oils and Carrier Oils

You might not need more than three essential oils on hand, for the entire year, find three of your favorites and stock up for the year. Check out this list of essential oils here and choose the ones that you think would be best for your hair. On average a 4 ounce bottle of essential oil can cost $13.

The following are my eight oil staples, mostly because I make my own body wash, shampoos and skin lotions:

  1. Lavender Oil
  2. Rosemary Oil
  3. Jojoba Oil
  4. Vitamin E Oil
  5. Virgin Coconut Oil
  6. Jamaican Black Castor Oil
  7. Avocado Oil
  8. Peppermint Oil

Carrier Oils are very versatile, you can use them to do your pre-poo treatments, seal in the moisture in your hair or add them to shampoos and conditioners for an extra boost. It is something that you don’t want to be out of. An average bottle of organic, extra virgin carrier oil is $10 and you may only need to replenish your stock three times a year.

Night Time Hair

Its important how you treat your hair at night, you need to invest in a silk or satin hair cap to sleep in, it should not absorb the moisture from your hair. My friend who is going super cheap, uses a plastic bag on her pillow, she swears by it says its better than any material! However, if you are desirous of getting a good satin cap or sleep cap, the average cost is $6. They last long, buy two or three in case you need back up.

Satin Cap– $6

So let’s recap, a typical hair regimen consists of:

Pre-poo– cost to you might be negligible if you use your kitchen products. If using your carrier oils, can cost you up to $30 for the year.

Shampoo– cost varies; the cheapest option is using baking soda or Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap added with your essential oils. My secret is to look at the ingredients on the high priced shampoo bottles and add the relevant essential oils to my Castile soap, works the same way for me. Average- $40 for the year.

Conditioner– cost and types vary but if you are very generous with your conditioner or your hair is pretty long, it can cost you an average of $120 for the year for conditioner.

Moisturizer– make your own, it’s too cheap and easy to do, for you to be running from it, even if you are not a do-it-yourself kind of person. The store bought products use the same basic ingredients with loads of fillers.  Average cost for the year, $20.

Relaxer– averaging at $200 for the year.

Other Stuff– Carrier oils, essential oils and satin caps can cost you on average $70 for the year.

Am I leaving anything out?

Can’t think of anything… assuming that you are not going to the stylist for any other treatment, your relaxed hair should cost you a grand total of….$480 for the year. That’s $40 per month. Can you go lower than this?

I hope this helps with your hair budget and gives you an idea of the products that are out there and the cost of the products.


  • Renee said:

    What about using silk sheets and pillowcases instead of using caps?

  • Hanna said:

    I recently started using Desert Essence shampoos and conditioners. I love it :).
    I tried the Jamaican castor oil shampoo. Loved that as well.
    And finally the Shae Moisture Line. Love it.
    Depending on mostly my mood, I alternate, or make my own from your recipes.
    I love your site 🙂
    You should have a section where your readers can show before and after pictures. Or just show off how wonderful their hair is now after reading your website.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hey Hanna, thanks for the suggestion. I am going to change up the website a bit in the coming months and incorporate that section.

  • Nisha said:

    Hi Brenda, first I would like to thank you for the information you have provided. Secondly, I need help…I wear my hair in a very short hair style & I noticed they my hair is not as thick as it once was (I started relaxing my hair about 4yrs ago when I decided to go super short). After reading your site I’m sure it’s because I perm often about every 5wks because of my style. After reading your site, I’ve decided to cut back on the perm & now I need to get the thickness that I once had. Here’s what I am thinking 1)weekly hot oil treatment with olive & caster oil (2) I wash my hair weekly but I need to switch my shampoo to one that you suggested or use baking soda (3) weekly yogurt deep condition (4) olive oil for moisture. I think I’m on the right track…what’s your opinion? Also, is it okay to use these same steps after a fresh relaxer.

    Thank you in advance for responding.

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Nisha,

      You are welcome. Sounds like you are on the right track. I would just add that two weeks before a relaxer do a protein treatment and the week after a relaxer do a protein treatment (deep condition with protein or an egg added to your regular conditioner).

  • frederique said:

    Hi Brenda, do you think that a 100% homemade conditionner is as efficient as a commercial one (motions CPR for ex)?

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Frederique,
      Yes 100% homemade is as efficient as the commercial ones. In my opinion even more so because they don’t have the fillers and other stuff. Its just to get the right ingredients that can give your hair the slip it needs to de-tangle easily after a homemade application. I am forever trying to experiment in the kitchen to come up with something. When I find it, I will share it.

  • Marsha said:

    Hi, my question relates to the use or protein treatments and peppermint oil. I use this combination weekly along with castor oil hot oil treatment, but my hair is still shedding. What do you suggest??

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      My first suggestion is to stop using protein every week, cut out the pre-poo with protein and just do your hot oil treatment. Maybe your hair is over-proteinized, that can cause shedding too.

  • genet said:

    I have had relaxed hair for over 8 years. My immediate problem is extreme shedding (like my hair is not attached to my scalp or its looking for a tiny reason to come off) products I use right now are ;crème of nature shampoo, crème of nature conditioner , organic root stimulator daily moisturizer ,coconut oil, lorrie deep condition-has some garlic in it.
    I have decided against any heat use, so I just let my hair air dry. Please help, my hair has no volume.

  • Darlaine said:

    Hi thank you so much for this site. I was looking for alot of answers and I found them. Tks again. What do you think of Treseme ultra moisturizer shampoo and conditioner? And what do you think about co-washing? Should I do it every week ?

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Darlaine,
      I have used Tresemme in the past, the conditioner gives good slip, I have co-washed with it in the past too. I am now using Organic Shampoos without sodium laureth sulphates and all the other stuff in them. I am of two minds about co-washing, I like it, it works for me when my hair is not dirty just needs a rinse. When my hair is dirty though, I either use organic soap, apple cider vinegar or baking soda to lift the dirty from my scalp. Hope this helps, I am going to put up a guide to co-washing hair soon.

  • Michelle Hirsch said:

    My question is with co-washing should you use apple cider vinegar before or after? & what are the best co-washing ingredients to use?

  • Stela said:

    Would you mind telling me what Affirm do you use on your hair? The normal one or the one for sensitive scalp? And do you do it yourself or in a salon? Cheers!

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Stela,
      I go to a salon. I tried doing my hair once, bought myself a kit and got so nervous I barely processed my hair. So now, I go to the hairdresser to relax. I use Affirm Normal No-Lye (that’s the one they have to mix).

  • Kiara said:

    Hi for the hair washing regime on relaxed hair for you wash it once a week or is that just for natural hair? And also would olive oil shampoos be good in substitution of those shampoos?
    p.s your blog is super helpful

    • Brenda Barrett said:

      Hi Kiara,
      I am happy to be of help. The suggestion is to use sulphate free shampoos. Shampoos with sulphates are strong degreasers, they strip hair. So, if the olive oil shampoo you speak of is a mild shampoo (without these strong chemicals to strip the hair shaft), of course it can be used.

  • rissy said:

    Im 18yrs old ive only had relaxed hair for about 4 months but its extremely dry ,You mentioned using kitchen products as pre shampooing like bananas, milk etc will i hve to combine them or use individually?…do i hve to follow a recipe or can they b used alone?

  • Eggie said:

    Hi Brenda,

    Love your site, it has been very helpful.My issue is:
    How is carrier oil applied to the hair? My hair tends to come out(shed)or break when i put olive or coconut oil in it. I do it on dry hair and my hair is relaxed.

  • Ewurabena said:

    Hi, just read your hair regimen, my hair is relaxed as well and I use Affirm….its soo gud girl never regretted.i permed my hair 2yrs ago and am bra strap lenght.

    what am realizing is as my hair gets longer it gets thinner at the ends even though its healthy and I do my trims.What would u advice please

    • Brenda Barrett said:


      I had the same problem too! But whenever I stick to my weekly hot oil treatments, sometimes adding molasses or an egg. My hair seems to do fine and doesn’t look thin at the ends. Whenever I slack off it shows. Hope this helps.

  • shana said:

    Hello Brenda!

    I received a relaxer this pass may after 5yrs of natural hair, and immediately my scalp became scratchy and flaky.I have started using sulfate free products just a week ago, my question is how do i know which conditioner is best for me silicone, light silicone or silicone free.THe relaxer my stylist used was design essentials w/olive oil so should I start using affirm relaxer and if so does it need to be for sensitive scalp? Also how do I do a deep conditioner and how often?

  • Mary said:

    Great post. Thanks for the tips and suggestions. Have a nice day!

  • Jody said:

    Hi Brenda!
    I’m seventeen years old and I’m in love with ur blog! I have relaxed hair but it’s thin and uneven. I was wondering if u could give a homemade recipe to grow thicker hair.hope to hear from u. Thanks in advance!

  • Angela said:

    I just relaxed my hair three days ago. It feel moist and is moist. Does not look damage at all but I’m not sure if I over processed it or not. How do I know if I did? I didn’t do a protein treatment but I did do a deep Conditioner and a leave in conditioner. I moisturize my hair ever night before bed and do a scalp massage. Any ideas on what to do, what to use? Should I use a leave in and deep conditioner.

  • Blessing Gbesse said:

    how many times do u iol your hair in a week bcuz i oil my hair everyday but people say that oil blocks hairgrowth.

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