From our own experience and by interviewing experts in the natural hair community, we have come up with these 14 afro hair care tips to help you grow a beautiful afro. Before you get start, remember to check out our list of our favourite products for natural afro hair.
1. Keep it moisturised
Dry hair is the cause of most hair problems. It can be frustrating when it seems like our hair absorbs anything we put in within 5 minutes. We can be chasing defined curls and just end up with frizz that we dread combing later on. Your main focus should be finding ways to keep moisture in your hair which include oils, conditioners and good practices. We go over some of the ways in other tips.
2. Try oil
Coconut oil and Castor oil can be great if they work for you. Everyone is different but some people live by one of these or even both. They are great for locking in moisture after washing and conditioning. If you don’t already, give one a try and see if it works for you. You can even use your favourite leave in conditioner afterwards depending on how moisturised your hair is feeling. Read our interviews with Blessed and Manna for more on this.
3. Protective styling
We all know natural hair is beautiful and we can be tempted to wear it out all the time. Depending on your climate and how well you look after your hair, this could be a bad thing. We recommend finding protective styles that look good so can be worn out and do the job. Protective styles make sure your hair isn’t easily damaged by extreme temperatures which can cause loss of moisture and breakage. They also can make it easier to wrap up and wear a hat if it gets cold or rains. A benefit of some protective styles is that they can lock in the moisture so when you take them out you feel beautiful silky hair. Leah spoke about her hairstyles in her interview.
4. Deep condition
Deep conditioning is key to replace any lost nutrients from our hair. Many people use home made products for this and base them around a main protein ingredient. Hair is absorbent and after a wash with no product applied yet is the perfect time for a deep condition because there is nothing sealing/ blocking the absorption of nutrients. Tyler loves doing this
5. Go homemade
As we touched on above, some people use home made products and we love this. Shop bought products contain natural products but also can have manmade chemicals that keep the ingredients from separating and to make them look pretty so we buy them. With homemade products we can rest assured that there is nothing but whatever we choose to include. It can be daunting but it is a good opportunity to experiment and find out what your hair likes. A quick google search should bring up some recipes. Some popular ingredients we have come across include coconut oi, jojoba oil, raw shea butter, aloe vera gel and raw egg (yes egg) just to name a few. Speak to your grandma or aunty, you never know, there might already be a recipe in the family. Celai detailed her homemade hair tea, which she made with her mother, when we interviewed her.
6. Don’t wash your hair too frequently
You should be washing your hair roughly once a week at the most. Moisture is key for our hair to grow and a high volume wash routine can leave our hair dry and without protection which will ultimately lead to damage and breakage. Many people wash once a week and others wash once every two weeks. Tyler and Sharna talk about this. Find what works for you.
7. Cut of split/ dead ends
While it can be tempting to hold onto all of your hair and wait for it to grow. Not getting rid of split and damaged ends can be stunting your hair growth. As new hair grows from the roots, the rate of breakage from the ends can match it. This makes it look like your hair has stopped growing. Many people are surprised that when they clean up their hair routine, their hair grows past what they thought for possible for their head. Don’t be afraid, just cut off split and damaged ends. Many people are fans of this technique, Sharna, Tyler & Manna feel passionately about this one.
8. Apply product to freshly washed hair
As soon as you have washed your hair and dried it enough to stop the drips, apply product. The job of a good product is to seal in the moisture. If you are applying product to dry hair, it can appear moisturised because of the shine but you can actually be sealing dry hair which can cause damage in the long run. Try castor oil or a leave in conditioner.
9. Apply product before applying heat
Following on from above, it can be tempting to blow dry your hair straight after a wash just to get rid of the excess water but this is a quick way to damage your hair. The ends of your hair are more susceptible to damage simply because it is older and this is the first part that will dry. While you wait for your scalp areas to dry you will continually damage the middle and ends. To be safe, towel dry delicately to stop drips then apply product and blow dry if you have to. Don’t use the hottest temperature. Blessed uses pink hair lotion.
10. Wrap up your hair
Wrapping up your hair overnight is a must. The pillow covers will drain the moisture from your hair. Get a silk head wrap of some sort. Some people can be irritated by sleeping with something on their head so a silk pillow case is an alternative. Ebonie lives by this one.
11. Use different products for your hair and scalp
Hair products are great for protecting your hair and encouraging growth but can be bad for your scalp. Your hair and scalp should be treated differently. Your scalp wants to be able to breathe, it can get irritated if the pores get blocked which can cause your head to itch and even cause spots. Some of us are more sensitive to others. A healthy scalp can encourage hair, it shouldn’t be dry. Blessed talks about this in her interview, she uses pink hair lotion for her hair and pure coconut oil for her scalp.
12. Look after your edges
For some of us, edges can be really frustrating while for others their edge hair seems as strong as the rest of the head. Edges can be easy to damage because they are right on the hair line and are the first line of defence. When you style your hair make sure you don’t neglect your edges. You can use styling gel or moisturise slightly more frequently than the rest of your hair. Leah uses Eco-styler gel.
13. Careful combing
Make sure your hair has lots of moisture when you come it. It is far easier to detangle moisturised hair and minimise self inflicted breakage. When your hair is dry, you could be used to combing as fast as possible whilst grabbing hold of the roots to minimise pain. The truth is, hair doesn’t have to be painful to come. Sometime being wet is all that is needed but if you have extra tight curls try a detangler. Try a big tooth comb too.
14. Take action and do what feels right for you
The advice in this article is no secret. You would probably have heard of many of these tips at some point. The key is to take action, don’t’ be afraid to try out some of what you have read here. It can be hard to break habits but that is exactly what you will need to do to grow your hair. To make it easy, take the tip that stood out most to you and try it first. Also, there is lots of advice all over the internet. It is easy to get lost however, everyone is different and what works for someone else might not work for you. Ultimately, you have to experiment, don’t be afraid to fail and do what works for you.
15. (BONUS) – Look at your diet
It still surprises us how many people neglect their diet. Many benefits come from a healthy balanced diet, not just beautiful hair. This is a good place to start, the problem is that it can often be the most difficult thing to implement because our diets are a big part of us. Try to be honest with yourself and cut out anything that might be harming your health. Do research and find products that can help you. One thing we are big fans of is reducing your intake of dairy or cutting it completely if you can.
Like these tips? Let us know. Share your journey with us, if not with us then share them with your community.
What are your thoughts on this article? Do you have anything to add to the list? Are you planning to try any of these tips out or has some of them already worked for you? We have great article that lists of our favourite afro hair products, check it out.