Whether you’re new to afro hair care or you’ve just established a routine, it’s always good to build up your afro hair knowledge to achieve the best results. Afro hair care can seem like a minefield. With its own terminology and different naturalists preaching different methods, it’s best to focus on how your hair feels, looks and reacts to find the best practices for you.
With this in mind, we’ve debunked the world of afro hair care to bring you 20 of the best tips and advice to get your curls looking amazing. Read on for all you need to know.
Having trouble cleansing your curls? A clean and healthy scalp is an important part of any afro hair care routine, so if things aren’t working for you currently it’s probably time to give something new a go.
1. Invest in a scalp massager
Although it may feel good itching your scalp as you shampoo, your nails can easily damage your scalp and cause irritation. Instead, try investing in a scalp massager that will loosen product build-up but protect your skin at the same time – this is also a great way of stimulating growth! Even if your scalp looks dandruff-free, oil and dirt can clog up your scalp below the surface so cleansing your scalp thoroughly is key.
2. Pre-poo your hair for more hydration
Some shampoos can be a little stripping for afro hair so pre-pooing will protect your curls from drying out. You can purchase pre-poo hair products or make your own very easily either using an oil or leave-in conditioner. The idea is that your hair will retain a lot more moisture after shampooing so your curls are easier to detangle, softer, shinier and your scalp does not feel dry. Depending on how dry your hair is feeling, you can pre-poo overnight or a few hours before you wash it so experiment both ways and see what has the best effect.
3. Try co-washing instead of shampooing for extra moisture
Shampooing might not be for you and that’s okay! Try using a co-wash instead if you need extra hydration, as this involves using conditioner only to cleanse and moisturise your hair on wash day. Those with 4C hair often use co-washing, but anyone suffering from dryness can benefit. The great thing is, you’ll achieve lovely clean hair without that stripping or squeaky clean feeling which can do more harm than good.
4. Wrap wet afro hair in a t-shirt or microfibre towel
Regular towels can cause additional frizz and prevent your curl pattern from coming to life. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated towel for your hair that works with your hair rather than causing friction. Simply use an old cotton t-shirt to gently squeeze any excess water from your hair. Alternatively, a microfiber towel will absorb moisture, prevent static build-up and smooth your curls so they form nicely.
5. Use warm water to shampoo and cold water to rinse
You may not realise, but water temperature is a simple solution to thoroughly cleansing your hair and preventing frizz. When you are cleansing your scalp, using warm water will open your hair’s cuticle so the shampoo penetrates your scalp further – this will help to properly cleanse your scalp. Once you have rinsed out your shampoo and applied your conditioner, cold water can then be used to rinse out the conditioner and close the cuticle. The cold temperature will reduce frizz and keep your curls feeling silky soft.
A good styling regime will set you up for a week of defined curls that are easy to maintain. Whether you have corkscrew ringlets or tight coils, there are plenty of things that you can do to up your styling game!
6. Switch up your styling technique
Even though it’s important to persevere with styling techniques, it’s just as important to switch it up! Why not try a new styling technique? The LOC method, for example, is a great way of adding more moisture to your hair, using a Denman brush can help define your curls and plopping can prevent frizz. Don’t write off a styling technique before you’ve given it a try because it could be the change you need to make your curls pop!
7. Don’t restrict yourself too much when it comes to new products
When it comes to choosing new products whether it’s a shampoo or styling cream, be open to all brands. Try not to restrict yourself too much as you could be missing out on the perfect product for you. Instead, be mindful of ingredients that may not be specialised for curly hair but also take note of how your hair looks and feels. Just because one product doesn’t work for someone else doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, so always remember that your natural hair journey is personal to you.
8.Remember less can sometimes be more
Another way of improving your styling routine is by going back to basics. With all of the hundreds of products available, you may end up with a routine that takes ages to do and weighs down your hair. Give a simpler routine a go. How about using a leave-in spray, cream and a gel to create defined yet weightless curls? Don’t go overboard with your routine as afro hair can look just as good using just a few high-quality products.
9. Swap hairbands for scrunchies and scarfs
Trading in your hairbands for soft scrunchies can make a big difference to your hair. Whereas hair bands can get tangled in afro hair and unintentionally pull strands out, scrunchies and scarves are a lot softer so you won’t experience that added tension. Scarves can be used to tie up your hair in many styles, plus they’re a stylish fashion accessory. Scrunchies can also be used to loosely tie your hair up in a pineapple style at night so you don’t have a large kink running through your hair the next day.
10. Keep your hair moisturised throughout the week
Dry curls can become frizzy and limp. So, after your washday, it’s important to keep your afro hair well moisturised throughout the week to maintain definition and hydration. Using a water spray bottle is one of the simplest yet most effective ways of refreshing your curls and super easy to do in the morning. In the winter, especially when the weather is windy and wet, your curls will appreciate the extra moisture.
What you put in your afro hair is just as important as your styling technique. Create a high-quality selection of products and your curls will thank you later!
11. Enhance your hair masks with natural ingredients
Did you know that you can easily make any hair mask suit your needs? A great way of enhancing hair masks is to add natural ingredients such as oils and honey. Choose ingredients that match your needs, for example, aloe vera oil for dry scalp or castor oil for hydration, mix it into your hair mask and leave in on for at least an hour. A top tip is to add all of your ingredients into a small bowl and place it in a larger bowl of hot water – heating up your mask can help it penetrate deeper into your hair shaft for softer, healthier curls.
12. Revive your curls with treatments
Afro hair that is looking lacklustre can be improved with treatments. Depending on your hair care routine and the condition of your curls, adding treatments at least once a month can revive your hair from the inside out. Olaplex and protein-based treatments are especially great for heat-damaged hair. Plus, taking care of your hair’s health will help it repair and change the way hair products react with your curls so your washdays are improved.
13. Invest in good hair tools as well as products
The way your hair turns out has a lot to do with the techniques and tools you use as well as the products. Everyone with curly hair should have a good stash of tools including a comb, paddle brush, Denman brush, afro comb and soft-bristled brush. A combination of good products and tools will make your afro hair defined and frizz-free.
14. Improve your shampoo by adding oils
You can add oils to your shampoo as a monthly treatment or an addition to your weekly washdays. When your scalp feels like it needs a boost, add a small amount of oil into a bowl, pour in some shampoo and mix. Itchy scalps are not fun, but natural oils can relieve sensitive scalps and keep it hydrated for longer. Always test the mixture beforehand to see if they mix well before adding oil directly to your shampoo bottle.
15. Remember heavier products create more definition and lightweight products create volume
Different products, especially creams, will create different effects on your curls. Thicker products tend to help with definition but they can also weigh down your hair particularly if it’s thinner. On the other hand, lightweight products such as serums and mousse can be better for volume. Think about the type of results you are trying to achieve and this will help you pick out the right styling products.
Tips for protecting your curls
Afro hair is delicate and needs a lot of TLC. Protect your curls and you’ll see a difference in definition, scalp health, hydration and much more.
16. Protect your hair at night
One important step you could be missing out on is protecting your hair at night. Think about how much you move around as you sleep – not only can this cause frizz but laying directly on cotton bedsheets can draw moisture from your hair. Investing in a satin scarf, bonnet or pillowcase is one of the best purchases you can make. This easy step will preserve your curls so you have less work in the morning and your hair stays looking its best.
17. Don’t neglect your scalp and ends
The reason why curly hair often has dry ends is that natural oils have a more difficult time travelling down spiralling or zig-zag shaped hair strands than straight hair. Because of this, you mustn’t neglect your ends when it comes to moisturising. Apply oils to your scalps and ends to keep the entire lengths of your hair nourished or it will look frizzy. Get in the habit of oiling your ends before you go to sleep so they’re lovely and soft in the morning and easier to detangle.
18. Rock protective styles more often
Who said you wash to wear your hair out every time you wash it? With busy schedules and 9-5 jobs, it can be hard to find the time to wash, style, dry your hair and maintain it that way all week. Instead, protective styles such as braids and twists will shield your hair from the elements and lock in moisture. Looser protective styles are also ideal for preventing hair loss and relieving tension on your scalp. Check out our latest blog post on the top protective styles here!
19. Use a heat protector to avoid damage
You’d be surprised how many naturalistas forget about using any form of heat protector. If you use a diffuser to dry your hair, although this won’t damage your hair in the same way of blow-drying and straightening your curls it will still have some effect. Remember to apply a lightweight thermal oil or spray before your styling products so your afro hair will stay in good condition.
Afro hair care doesn’t need to be hard as long as you make the effort to learn about your hair’s needs. Don’t be afraid to switch things up, as you could be missing out on an amazing hair hack that will make your curls look and feel amazing!
Don’t forget to stay updated with our blog page for all of the latest afro hair care tips and tricks.