I can honestly say that I haven't used Cantu since I went natural back in 2016. It's not that I don't like the brand — let's be honest, Cantu is the holy grail brand that a lot of us probably started our natural hair journey with. It was and still is affordable, accessible, and effective haircare. I somewhat strayed away though because it's very easy to get caught up in trying different brands that some products honestly just get lost in the sea of haircare. Nevertheless, Cantu has dropped a few collections that I couldn't help but try. One of their most recent drops is the Jamaican Black Castor Oil line which works for all hair types but is made with 4C hair in mind.
What really piqued my interest in this drop is that Cantu partnered with Emmy award-winning hairstylist and entrepreneur, Angela Stevens. Angela has worked in the hair industry for over 16 years with a focus on healthy versatile haircare, hair education, and celebrity styling. She has worked with a variety of talents like Rita Ora, Elaine Welteroth, and brands like Mielle Organics, Girl + Hair, and now Cantu.
I always appreciate when brands consult or partner with hairstylists because it provides an extra layer of trust to me. It shows that the line was put together with haircare in mind and is working to solve haircare problems that many of us face at home.
About The Jamaican Black Castor Oil
As I mentioned earlier, the JBCO collection is made with 4C Kings and Queens in mind. While I don't have 4C hair, I think this collection also works if you have very dense and dry hair. The line features five styling products: a detangling primer, a curl stretch paste, a taming gel, a styling gel, and finishing spray. Each product is made with Jamaican Black Castor Oil, so it has a heavier consistency than most to provide hydration and moisture retention.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Detangling Primer
The primer is the first step of styling, it acts as a leave-in conditioner to help detangle, soften, and smooth your hair before you start your twist/braid-out or wash n' go style. I personally prefer lighter consistency leave-in conditioners because my hair absorbs it better. This was just as easy to detangle my hair because it has a heavy slip that helps your fingers easily glide down your strands.
You can feel a difference in your hair as soon as you apply it and I noticed that I didn't have to use as much as I usually do. I'm pretty generous with leave-in primers and conditioners but I didn't have to apply too much of this. It provides enough slip and moisture that a little goes a long way with this product.
If you try it, I recommend paying attention to your hair and how it feels. You'll know when you've used enough and it's important to keep in mind that the products are heavy and this is just the first layer so you don't want to use too much.
JBCO Curl Stretch Paste
This product is mainly for styling braid-outs, twist-outs, and rod sets. It's a pomade-like paste that elongates, stretches, and defines your hair. When I used this to style my twist-out, the paste felt really sticky. I wasn't a fan of how it felt on my hands but I loved how it felt on my hair. When I applied it, it moisturized, defined, and added hold to my curls.
In my opinion, the curl paste is moisturizing enough that depending on your hair needs and density, you can probably skip the primer or leave-in. This would be a great one product styler if you wanted to use less products. This is a one and done product for me, meaning, it does everything you need it to.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Taming Gel
This is another product that felt sticky on my hands but amazing on my hair, but that's common with most gels. I think the JBCO is perfect for laying edges, slicked-back styles, flat twists, and especially wash n' go's. I used this mostly for styling my wash n' go styles because it adds moisture, a long-lasting hold, and tames frizz and flyaways. My wash n' go lasted five days before I had to refresh it which is surprising because traveling dries my hair out quicker than usual, plus wash n' go's are already a drying style so I was impressed by the longevity I had with this product.
One thing to keep in mind is, you don't need a lot. When I first tried it, I wasn't sure how much hold I was going to get so I packed it on and I noticed I had a lot of flakes and it stuck to my clothes and everything. I recommend applying it in small sections on detangled hair so you can see how much you really need and make sure that your strands are completely coated with the gel. If I would have started in smaller sections, I would have made sure that my hair was properly coated and I wouldn't have to go back and add more.
Cantu Jamaican Black Castor Oil Finishing Spray
This finishing spray does exactly what it claims, it basically just adds the finishing touches to your styles. I used it on both my twist-out and wash n' go once my hair was completely dry to help seal in moisture and add shine. I would recommend using this after your hair is dry regardless of the style because I really believed it helped make both my styles last as long as it did.
I actually really appreciate the oil being in a spray bottle because it helped me use the right amount of oil. Again...she's thick! I didn't use more than three sprays for my hair, but I think that varies depending on your hair needs.
My Overall Review of Cantu's JBCO Collection
Overall, I loved the collection and I would actually recommend getting all four products. I do think that this collection caters to curls and coils that struggle with getting moisture in and are more dense. I would not recommend it for those who have extremely thin or less dense hair because the line might be too heavy for your hair. The thing about castor oil is that it can be good and bad if not used correctly. What I mean is, it can clog your hair follicles if you use too much and because it's heavy and thick, it doesn't take much to do that. This line is also made with other heavy ingredients like shea and cocoa butter. So, if your hair is thicker it can take the heaviness, you just have to use the right amount.
Courtesy of Krissy Lewis
I think the line offers a variety for each styling need. I don't think you need to use every product in one styling session and I wouldn't recommend it if you have my hair type (4A/4B) because it would be way too much. I can't speak too much for what would be enough for 4C hair, but I recommend just trying it out until you find out what combo works best for you. However, based on my experience with the product and Angela Stevens' recommendations, here's a product combo for different natural hair styles:
- JBCO Detangling Primer and Taming Gel: wash n' go's, edges, slicked-back styles, flat twists, and up-dos. Add finishing oil to seal.
- JBCO Curl Stretch Paste and Finishing Oil: twist-out, braid-out, and rod sets.
You are not limited to this though, natural hair is not a one routine fits all so you have to find out what works best for you.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis/xoNecole
Freelance writer, content creator, and traveler. She enjoys the beauty of simplicity, a peaceful life, and a big curly fro. Connect with Krissy on social media @iamkrissylewis or check out her blog at www.krissylewis.com.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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