Brands: Creme of Nature, Motions, At One With Nature, African Pride, Elasta QP, Soft & Beautiful, Luster's, Infusium 23, Organic Root Stimulator, Nexxus, Proclaim, Doo Gro, Ultra Sheen, TCB, All Ways Natural, Dark and Lovely.
as a general rule of thumb, shampoos for black hair should have a pearly sheen to them. look for the word "moisturizing" in the name of the product, or somewhere on the bottle for both shampoo and conditioner. i would assume that the majority of folks have either relaxed or pressed (straightened with a hotcomb) hair, so oil is a necessity. i'm pretty sure that it's illegal to mail aerosol cans, so i'd suggest the big mama of hair moisturizer: Luster's Pink Oil Moisturizer. if you buy a big bottle and some of those empty travel sized bottles, it can be rationed out. other hair dressings that are inexpensive and can be shared are: Blue Magic Hair and Scalp Conditioner, VO5, Ultra Sheen Conditioner and Hairdress. also, there will be some people who need curl activator. Right On and Care Free Curl are the brands most drug stores carry. people with braids need braid sheen spray. African Pride and African Royale are two good ones. people with natural hair (like mine) can use the suggested hairdresses, but i personally like using shea butter on my hair (it makes it MUCH easier to comb). i'd also recommend anything with carrot oil or olive oil for natural hair. people with locs need wax. look for products with "lock and twist" in the name.
combs, brushes, afropicks, barrettes, ponytail holders like these, and black rubber bands and doo rags are critical, too. get wide toothed combs. African-American hair is more fragile than Asian or Caucasian, especially if it's chemically relaxed. The Cricket Ultra Clean is by far the best comb i have ever used on my thick, dense hair. it detangles in minutes and is seamless, so it doesn't cause split ends. and if hair is matted, it's perfect. if you're just shopping at the local drug store, look for those wide toothed combs that are triple dipped on the ends, like this one. Ace hard rubber combs are good for relaxed/pressed hair. get durable afro picks like this one, as little plastic ones will snap easily. look for bristle brushes. vented brushes are no good for our hair.
Brands: Triple Lanolin, Black Opal, Ambi, Neutrogena, Nivea, Keri.
generally speaking, black skin needs moisture regardless of the skin type (oily, dry, combination, normal). Nivea and Keri are popular because they both have oil in them, which prevents extreme dryness. but i'm thinking that you don't want to get anything too heavy, seeing as showers are probably a rare commodity. i would recommend anything with aloe vera, cocoa butter, olive oil or shea butter. essentially, we can use anything you use. one thing, though. African-American men get razor bumps, which are essentially ingrown hairs. Magic Shaving Powder helps prevent razor bumps, so i would include a can along with shaving cream.
Brands: Posner, Black Opal, Milani, Iman, Flori Roberts.
there are others particularly formulated for African-American skin tones, but again, generally speaking, we can wear what you wear. just use your discretion. pale pink lipstick probably isn't going to look good on dark skin. stick with plums, browns, reds, and bronzes. eyeshadows can be bright or muted, but again, stay away from pale pallettes.
okay, i hope this helps.
i'll post more as i think of it.
Here are the links that have been deleted by my copying and pasting:
Sally Beauty Shop: http://www.sallybeauty.com/
Doo Rags: http://www.ebonyline.com/formen.htm
Cricket Ultra Clean Comb: http://www.sallybeauty.com/shop/1810/35
Another Comb: http://www.sallybeauty.com/shop/1810/18
Hair Pick: http://www.ebonyline.com/pik542s.ht
Bristle Brush: http://www.ebonyline.com/wavebrushes.ht
THESE ARE NOT THE RIGHT BRUSHES TO SEND: http://www.sallybeauty.com/shop/1710/33
Triple Lanolin Lotion: http://www.spiralhaircase.com/triplelan
Magic Shaving Powder: http://www.hairstylebox.com/mshr0003.ht
Luster's Pink Oil Moisturizer: http://www.sallybeauty.com/shop/1258/59
Thank you kickasphalt for taking the time to compile this.