20 Best Tips to care for your Afro Hair
When it comes to taking care of your afro hair, there is a variety of information mostly filled with a lot of misconceptions that can undermine your afro hair journey. For new naturals, figuring out what to do with their afros can be overwhelming and confusing.
For others, they could be experiencing stagnation in the growth of their natural hair and start believing the false narrative that natural hair does not grow long. Hair is supposed to grow unless you are suffering from a medical condition, taking medication that affects your hair’s health, or a damaged scalp. The structure of afro hair makes it prone to hair breakage and hair damage which can be detrimental in your afro hair journey. You want to focus on length retention which is achieved by maintaining a healthy afro hair care routine. We have compiled a detailed guideline on the best tips to take care of your afro hair.
Your hair cannot prosper without moisture no matter how good your hair routine is. The key to retaining hair length is moisturizing your hair. When your afro hair is hydrated it creates the quintessential setting for your hair to be healthy and strong. Every step in your afro hair care routine should revolve around adding and retaining moisture levels. Natural hair is naturally dry because of the oil sebum (our natural hair oil) taking a long time to travel down the curls to nourish the hair strands. When hair is dry it is brittle, tangles easily, weak and susceptible to breakage. When it is moisturized it is shiny, nourished, soft, and healthy.
Wash your hair regularly
Have you been avoiding shampoo because you are afraid it will strip your hair dry and cause breakage? Well, you have been doing a disservice to your afro hair. Cleaning your hair and scalp is one of the most important foundational steps in your afro hair care. Using shampoo is essential to get rid of product build-up, dirt, dandruff, environmental pollutants, and even dead skin cells. When your hair strands and scalp are clogged with impurities your hair is unable to receive nutrients. Hair is porous and the hair cuticle limits the amount of product that enters the hair. Styling dirty hair will leave you with underwhelming results. Use a well-formulated moisturizing shampoo once a week and a clarifying shampoo once a month. Clean hair will create a canvas for optimal moisture absorption which promotes healthy hair growth.
Pre shampoos help rehydrate dry hair, protect the hair cuticles from excessive dryness during the shampoo process, and get rid of shed hair that can potentially cause more breakage. You can use oils, conditioners, aloe vera, or store-bought pre-shampoos for this step.
Health of the scalp
A rookie mistake when it comes to afro hair care is focussing on taking care of the hair strands and neglecting the scalp. The scalp plays the most pivotal role in growing your afro hair. It contains follicles that have the active cells responsible for hair growth. Ensuring your scalp is healthy guarantees a thriving mane.
- The scalp is responsible for regulating sebum production and acts as a bridge to facilitate the distribution of nutrients through blood circulation. A clogged scalp can inhibit this necessary process therefore the importance of a clean scalp.
- Protect your scalp by avoiding using harsh products and harsh weather conditions like overexposure from the sun.
- Ensuring the scalp’s pH is balanced is crucial for creating an environment to optimize hair growth. Use apple cider vinegar to rinse monthly, or utilize acid-based products to bring the pH level down.
- Incorporate scalp massages weekly to guarantee a consistent flow of blood circulation to the scalp for the distribution of nutrients.
Establish a consistent afro hair care routine
Consistency is key! You know the saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is much easier to stay consistent if you plan. Afro hair requires extra TLC and you cannot succeed without making time to take care of it. Schedule a few hours once a week to wash, condition, and detangle your hair. It can be weekly or biweekly depending on your hair needs. Focus on a customized consistent afro hair care routine that keeps the hair healthy and hydrated throughout the week for length retention.
Afro hair needs a deep conditioner for it to retain length. Deep conditioners can penetrate the cuticle to hydrate hair, maintain, repair, improve the structure of the hair strands, and overall manageability of the hair. Deep conditioners should be used weekly or biweekly after washing the hair.
Your hair strands are made up of a protein known as keratin. Moisturizing hair without incorporating protein can lead to hygral fatigue which means the structure of the hair cuticles is damaged from the excess moisture. Loss of protein levels can lead to the hair losing its elasticity, your afro not having its healthy form, curls are limp, weak, and lifeless. Protein treatments are ideal to use monthly to strengthen, repair the bond structure of the hair cuticles, and rebuild the hair’s barrier.
Trim your hair
Even with the healthiest afro hair care routine, your hair experiencing damage is unavoidable. Wear and tear is naturally expected from styling hair, touching hair, friction, health issues, or climate. It is necessary to trim your hair. If you have an afro, single strand knots are inevitable and need to be trimmed off. Split ends are a culprit for causing major damage if not cut off immediately. Inspect your hair regularly on wash days or during styling to decide if you need a trim. Trimming should be on a need-to-be basis and not on a set timetable. You will not see hair growth if you trim your hair every 8 weeks!
A minimal nighttime afro hair care routine is important for your afro hair. Most hair damage happens at night where we spend a third of our time tossing and turning as we sleep. When asleep it is easy to cause friction, dryness, and major tangling.
- Cotton pillowcases absorb moisture from the hair and can leave the hair dry. Use a silk or satin pillowcase, scarf, or bonnet when you sleep at night. This will retain moisture, protect the hair, and preserve your hairstyle at night.
- If you wear your hair out all day, put in large twists, braids, or a bun to keep the curls stretched and tangle-free when you sleep.
Detangling hair is imperative for your hair’s manageability. Hair naturally sheds 50-100 strands a day. You need to get rid of them to prevent them from intertwining with your curls. Section hair into manageable parts and use the right products and techniques to detangle hair.
Protective and low-maintenance styling
Natural hair is fragile so the less time you spend touching it the better for its overall health. Sometimes your hair needs a break from you! The over manipulation, excess touching, and tension will weaken the hair’s structure and cause breakage. Low maintenance styles are great to keep your ends tucked away until your next wash day. Protective styles such as box braids, passion twists, or wigs give your hair a much-needed break to rejuvenate and retain length.
As we stated earlier, sebum takes a longer time to travel down afro hair, therefore, you need to incorporate oils in your afro hair care routine to lubricate, protect, and seal in the moisture. Different oils have different amazing properties that will strengthen and promote hair growth. Find what oils work best for your hair’s needs.
With so many tools and products marketed today, it can be difficult to know what you need to aid in your afro hair care. 3 key tools every afro curly girl needs in their hair care routine are :
- A wide-tooth comb- for detangling, spreading the product and creating clean parts to avoid breakage.
- Sectioning clips – to section your thick afro hair to ease your wash day and detangling process whilst minimizing breakage.
- Microfiber towel- hair is most fragile when wet. A microfiber towel is gentle when trying to get rid of excess moisture and protect your hair as it dries.
Avoid heat damage
Your afro hair is prone to breakage and heat in excess can easily damage your hair. Avoid heat as much as possible for the health of your hair. Excess heat can leave your hair dry, brittle, and weak. Heat damage will leave your hair structure damaged, losing elasticity and your kinks and coils will be destroyed. Heat damage is irreversible and you will be forced to cut off your hair. Replace your heat styling tools for alternate tools such as Flexi rods, perm rods, or use the banding technique with satin scrunchies to stretch your curls. If you must use heat, use a heat protectant that acts as a barrier to protect the hair strands.
Knowing your hair porosity
One of the biggest misconceptions in afro hair care is relying on your curl type to formulate your afro hair care routine. Hair porosity is one of the main characteristics of your hair’s structure and dictates your hair’s ability to absorb moisture. All afro hair is different. It will absorb moisture differently and why porosity rules in determining the best products and techniques suited for your hair for optimum moisture retention. Knowing whether your hair is low, medium or high porosity will guide you in being aware of key issues concerning your hair, help improve, and maintain the overall health of your hair.
Stop trying out every trend
With the availability of viral trends on social media, it is very easy to get caught with curiosity. Maybe you have found yourself boiling rice or blending tomatoes to add to your deep conditioner because everyone on YouTube swears it will grow your hair to waist length! The natural movement is currently very popular and a lucrative business so everyone qualified or not is giving information on afro hair care. If you are easily influenced into hoping on any hair trends, this can compromise your afro hair. Focus on a healthy afro care routine and prioritize using products and techniques that maintain the health of your afro hair.
Be gentle with your hair
Natural hair is fragile and prone to breakage if you are not gentle with it. Afro hair easily tangles, requires time and effort when detangling or washing it. Being gentle requires setting time to do your hair. Do not handle your hair if you are in a hurry or in a bad mood. There is a likelihood you will be rough and cause breakage. Sectioning off your hair is key to ascertain you are careful when handling your curls.
Take care of your body
Having a great afro hair care routine can be slightly ineffective if you are not living a healthy lifestyle. Excess shedding or hair thinning can happen if you are unwell or have a bad diet. When blood circulates it distributes nutrients, the hair is the last place to receive nutrients making the health of your hair a great indication of your overall wellness. Drinking lots of water, exercising, and eating healthy nutritious meals will have a significant positive effect on the health of your hair. Taking care of your body is taking care of your hair.
Patience is underrated when it comes to afro hair care routine. Hair does not grow overnight! There are hundreds of YouTube videos giving impractical advice on how to grow 4 inches of hair overnight. Having patience will stop you from applying garlic and onion juice to your hair! The rate at which hair grows is ultimately determined by your genetics. Focus on mastering a healthy afro hair routine that will retain length and promote hair growth.
Love your afro hair
A very important tip in your hair journey is focussing on your own hair. It is important to embrace your afro hair as it is. Comparison is the thief of joy and wondering why someone can grow 11 inches of hair in 6 months will do you no good. We are all unique and genetics determines a lot in the outcome of our hair journey from the hair’s length to its thickness. You can deter your hair journey by observing others’ hair and finding yourself imitating other people’s afro hair routine hoping for the same results. Learn your hair and don’t rob yourself from enjoying your natural hair journey. Embrace your afro! Have a healthy consistent routine that works for your hair and makes your afro hair thrive.
You are now well informed on how to properly take care of your afro hair. No matter where you are on your afro hair journey, these 20 tips will guide you to having healthy and gorgeous afro hair.