How to Guide: Tips for Caring for Afro Hair

This will help prevent build-up of hair care products, which can be drying to the hair.

For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with Afro hair - mine as well as others - in all its incarnations.

By Funmi Fetto, Glamour

And I am not alone; a black woman that can't hold a (long) conversation about the intricacies and diversity of Afro hair is a rare breed. In the last three years, while my passion for 'Afro Hair chatter' hasn't waned, it has taken a different turn. This is because I stopped relaxing my hair and went 'natural'. Let me explain...

Relaxed hair is hair that has been chemically processed thereby becoming poker straight. 'Natural' afro hair is exactly that; hair in its natural afro state, hair remaining exactly as it grows out of the scalp and in the case of afro hair that means the opposite of straight. There's no doubt about it - relaxed hair has its benefits. Easier to manage, quicker to style and while relaxed hair is highly likely to go frizzy if caught in the rain without an umbrella, unlike natural hair, (mine included) at least it doesn't shrink when wet. And yet when I'm asked if I'd ever go back to relaxing my hair my answer is an unequivocal no.

[post_ads]Re-educating myself on natural hair has been a steep learning curve. From the products that work and those that definitely don't to combating dryness and dullness (particularly in winter) to deciphering my hair's personality/type - no two days are the same… It really is a whole new world. To say it was high maintenance - particularly at the beginning - would be an understatement. However, I love it and I love that there is a huge natural hair movement happening right now. A movement that sees the likes of Lineisy Montero, Janelle Monae, Solange Knowles, Shingai Shoniwa, Esperanza, Carlene Bailey Rae, Thandie Newton and Lupita Nyong'o all proudly embracing their natural textured hair.

For too long chemically straightened hair (or weaves to emulate this) have been seen as the only hair type socially acceptable for black women so this is inspiring to see. Personally, working with and accepting my hair - rather than constantly trying to mould it into something it's not - has been liberating. My hair has never been healthier, thicker, bouncier or more resilient. Still, it's not without its challenges.

[post_ads]Not many hair stylists work well with natural afro hair so I have had to step up my home care regime. Most products and techniques applied during my relaxed era are no longer applicable so I've had to re-learn what my hair likes. On my journey I discovered Living Proof products; the 'No Frizz' range and the Curl Conditioning Wash (I use it pre shampoo or on its own) are fantastic. A detangler is essential - afro curls can get knotted very easily - and O&M's Know Knott Conditioning Detangler is the best one I've come across so far. It smells great, detangles painlessly and leaves my hair super soft. While my hair is wet I moisturize with Kiehl's Magic Elixir and slick it in a bun using either Aunt Jackie's Don't Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Gel or Eco Styler's Olive Oil Gel. I find these discoveries really help manage my new hair texture.

Still, to maintain great hair - whether relaxed or natural, some things never change…
  • Condition Condition Condition. I cannot emphazise this enough. Hair not deeply and consistently conditioned will eventually break off. I love Malin and Goetz, Aveda, TGIN (Thank God I'm Natural), K√©rastase, Phyto, Pureology and Charlotte Mensah.
  • Sulfate free shampoos. While sulfate does cleanse well, it strips hair of essential oils, can be an irritant and leaves natural hair brittle. Philip Kingsley, Shea Moisture, Giovanni and OGX have sulfate free options worth a try.
  • A good trim always makes the hair look healthier.
  • Constant use of heat appliances is damaging. I actually now never blowdry my hair.
  • A wide tooth comb, paddle brush (Kent, Moroccan Oil and Aveda have great options) a tail comb and a silk scarf (try Silke Hair Wrap) to stop hair breakage while you sleep are essential additions to your 'hair care kit'
  • Never leave home without an umbrella.

See more at: Glamour


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Women's Magazine: How to Guide: Tips for Caring for Afro Hair
How to Guide: Tips for Caring for Afro Hair
This will help prevent build-up of hair care products, which can be drying to the hair.
Women's Magazine
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