The afro hairstyle is worn by people of African descent and it is known for its voluminous, thick and kinky texture. Natural hairs are afro textured hair that has not been exposed to or altered by heat, styling or chemical processes such as relaxing and texturizing. Natural hair has gained back popularity in African nations in recent times. For years, many African women looked to chemicals to straighten their hairs but these days, an increasing number of women are embracing their beautiful afro hair. Although, the natural hair trend has been revived and embraced again, donning and maintaining natural hairs can be a lot of work because of its unique characteristics that can present care and styling challenges.
Here’s everything you should know if you are planning to transition or are already rocking your afro hair in its full glory.
Understanding your hair type and hair needs.
You should know that natural hair is prone to drying out all the time and knotting which contributes to breakage. Natural hair also has a very slow growth rate than other hair types so, be kind and patient with your hair. Shrinkage is another thing you will have to deal with. If you can handle and deal with all these factors then you’re ready for the afro hair ride.
Natural hair comes in varieties so understanding your type will help you work out styling and care routines that work for you. There are 4 basic types of natural hair: straight (type 1), wavy (type 2), curly (type 3) and kinky (type 4) but the afro natural hair tends to be type 3 or 4. The type 4 hair is subcategorized into A (spiral curls), B (kinky curls and C (coiled curls). The number refers to hair types while the letter refers to hair texture. You should know the category your afro falls under by now.
Understanding your hair type is fundamental to identifying your hair needs. So, a type 4 hair is voluminous and wiry, very fragile and prone to breakage so heavy duty moisturizers and conditioners are what it needs. Type 3 hairs for instance, are springy and curly and can be fine so it requires moisturizing conditioners and treatments.
Understanding your hair type and needs handles most of the challenges faced in hair care because it dictates how often to clean your hair and what products and styles work for you.
Cleansing your hair
Natural hair is very fragile and prone to tangling and knotting. First step to cleaning your afro is by detangling. Washing your hair without detangling can damage your hair. You detangle by using a moisturizer and detangling comb to remove the knot and tangles. You can combine coconut or olive oil with water in a spray bottle and thoroughly wet your hair with it. Next, you work your fingers through your hair and work the knots apart. You can section your hair into manageable sections and detangle from the roots to the tips.
Avoiding a harsh shampoo is very vital to avoid dryness and breakage. Look out for sulfate-free shampoos. Last tip on cleansing your hair is to avoid over-washing your hair. Natural hair is naturally dry and washing it too frequently sucks out moisture from your hair leaving it even drier. You can wash once a week at most. After washing, squeeze dry with a soft piece of cloth or microfiber towel to take out excess water. Never rub dry as this roughens the hair cuticle and causes frizz and breakage.
Deep condition your hair weekly
Natural hair requires a lot of TLC and the best way to pamper it is to give it lots and lots of moisture. Saturate, hydrate and strengthen your hair with moisture weekly. To deep-condition, apply from roots to end and sit under a heating cap for at least 20 minutes. You can make your deep-conditioning masks at home with products from your kitchen such as avocado, honey, banana or even mayonnaise etc.
Leave-in moisturizers are necessary as well. Since natural hair requires moisture to keep it healthy, locking in moisture with your leave-ins is important. You may not necessarily have to spend a lot of money on moisturizers, you can use olive or coconut oil, Shea butter and cocoa butter are all excellent moisturizers that you can apply after washing and conditioning your hair.
Skip drying and heat styling your hair
Let your hair air dry instead of blow drying with a hair dryer. Curling irons, hot rollers and hair straighteners are hard on your hair as high heat is introduced to hair and it is usually accompanied with pulling with a brush which is unhealthy for your strands and not only does it damage your hair, it also messes with your afro hair texture . Avoid heat styling to avoid breakage.
You can straighten out your hair instead with rollers. Roller-setting your hair can help straighten and smoothen your hair with less heat than a curling iron or straightener. Always deep-condition and detangle before using rollers.
Consider protective styles
The aim of protective styles is to reduce hair manipulation and keep your hair in a particular state that won’t cause damage. Protective styles such as braids, twists, knots, faux locs etc. keeps the hair secured, cut down on styling and helps take pressure off fragile ends. Protective styles can be worn for weeks but always remember to deep condition and seal your hair after taking out a style.
Sleep in and on satin to keep tangles away
Wearing a satin bonnet, wrapping your hair in a silk scarf or sleeping on a smooth satin pillowcase is a great pampering for your hair as it will help keep your hair from tangling while you sleep.
Natural hair journey can be tasking and a bit demanding but it is beautiful and bold to unlock the powers of your natural texture. Your journey of self-discovery can be more revealing and affirming as you embrace your true self. I promise the process of taking care of your afros will be worth it- detangling, moisturizing and all. Tell me how it turned out in the comment section. Thank you.