If you’re a new natural after doing the big chop and now have a new afro to flaunt, you’re probably wondering what the best way to care for your hair is. On the other hand, you could be already sporting your natural ‘fro but are looking for a way to fine-tune your current afro hair care regimen. No matter which of these scenarios you fall under, we are here to help you with an effective and efficient afro hair care routine.
Your Simple Guide to Afro Hair Care
With the help of Elena Diaz, Global Hairstylist for All Things Hair, read on as we explain what you should be using on your hair and why styling afro hair shouldn’t be as stressful a process as it might seem:
Consider Your Hair Type
Now, before we get down to the basics of caring for your precious natural strands, it’s important to figure out which curl pattern you have. Ranging from slight waves to super kinky locks, the spectrum of natural afro hair is vast. Take a look at the above chart to determine which curl type you have.
Curl Type Key Points
Learn more about each specific curly hair type below.
Type 2 Hair
- Type 2A is the least curly. It is quite fine with light, S-shaped waves that don’t have a lot of definition.
- Type 2B has a more prominent S-shape than type 2A and has a tendency to be slightly frizzy.
- Type 2C is the thickest of all the type 2 hair types. It is coarse with a pronounced S-shape and can be susceptible to frizz—usually requiring more styling products than the others.
Type 3 Hair
- Type 3A has a clear S-shape with a bit more spring to it. It is also prone to frizz and loss of definition.
- Type 3B is slightly smaller and more spiraled. It can also lack a bit of shine because of the tighter curl pattern (which can affect the distribution of natural oils along the hair shaft).
- Type 3C is the coarsest of all the type 3s and has a lot of volume. You can easily identify it by its corkscrew curls, which are about the width of a pencil.
Type 4 Hair
- Type 4A hair should resemble tight coils that still have an S-shape to them and has a somewhat visible curl pattern.
- 4B hair has a less noticeable curl pattern. The strands have more of a Z-shape and can shrink substantially.
- Type 4C is very similar to 4B, but the strands have much tighter kinks with a less visible curl pattern. Because of the very dense Z-shape, its biggest problem is retaining moisture. So handle and treat it with extra TLC.
Afro Hair Care Wash Routine
Not sure how to care for your afro hair? Check out this wash and care routine, which is a great place to start when achieving healthy hair.
Whether you’re rocking a baby afro or a big afro, the way in which you care for your hair on a day-to-day basis should not feel like a chore. As long as you employ the right hair care methods and products into your regimen, you are set.
1. Shampoo and Conditioner
Some women tend to experience afro hair texture that feels dry or hard to comb through after cleansing with shampoo. If this is your problem too, consider switching to a shampoo that provides your hair with a gentle cleanse while retaining moisture in your hair. SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner. We love this set because it uses coconut and shea oils with coconut milk and Acacia Senega to rehydrate strands, enhance softness, and reduce frizz.
Another way you can get your mane feeling supple and moisturized is to use the co-washing method. This is popular with many curly-haired ladies. The method basically means washing your hair only with conditioner (hence the name). For co-washing, we love Love Beauty and Planet Purposeful Hydration Shea Butter & Sandalwood Gentle Cleansing Conditioner. This is a great option because it gently clenases your scalp while delivering major moisture to your strands.
2. Continue With a Detangler
Considering which hair type you have and your current hair needs, your afro hair care routine will change. Natural hair types tend to be more prone to becoming dry, so washing with a moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner is a must. According to Elena, “You can section hair into manageable sections and then wash these sections separately. This helps to ensure that you eliminate product build-up more effectively and should also help with the detangling process.” To help detangle hair after washing, use a leave-in spray, like Suave Professionals Cream Detangle Spray.
4. Use a Leave-In Conditioner
For a picked-out afro, you may want to use a leave-in conditioner that provides extra moisturization. This is especially important to ensure your hair doesn’t become too dry between wash days. Nexxus Curl Define Daily Leave-In Moisturizer can be used post-wash and right before styling your hair. This is one of our favorites because the formula uses a ProteinFusion blend, enriched with silk protein and marula oil, which helps replenish and lock-in moisture while controling frizz. If needed, you can also use oil after applying your leave-in conditioner to help lock in moisture.
5. Style With Gel
Now that we knocked out the washing and moisturizing steps, it’s time to head onto styling. Since you’re wearing your hair in its natural afro state, your last step focuses on how you want it to look on you. Do you prefer a curly afro? A picked-out afro? A short shrunken afro or a stretched afro? There’s a different product to use based on your style preference. If you rather wear a curly afro, you can use a gel, like TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel to shape and mold your curls.
Additional Afro Hair Care Tips
From brushing to hairstyling ideas, check out more hair care tips for afro hair.
1. Brushing and Detangling
You probably don’t need us to tell you that natural hair is prone to breakage. And there is no other time when this is more likely to happen than when you’re brushing and detangling your strands.
If you’re sick and tired of dealing with this, put down that ordinary brush and switch it out for a natural bristle brush or a wide-toothed comb. Why you ask? Because using natural bristle brushes, like a boar-bristled brush—and the same for wide-toothed combs—causes less friction, which can then help undo stubborn knots and limit the small everyday damages usually caused by brushing.
“Be gentle and patient with detangling,” cautions Elena, “Start off by finger detangling section by section, working your way up from the ends to the roots.” She then suggests following up and repeating the process with a wide-toothed comb, as well as utilizing conditioners or moisturizers with lots of slip to help the process.
2. Hair Treatments
Natural afro hair often needs a little extra TLC, being prone to dryness and breakage. You can wash, condition, prep, and carefully brush all day, but sometimes there just seems to be something missing. In these times, you could benefit from an extra helping hand—and by this, we mean a deep conditioning treatment. Add a deep conditioner into your afro hair care routine, these treatments come chock full of moisturizing and nourishing benefits that deliver moisture and nourishment where your curls need it most.
When your mane is feeling dry and less than silky, allow yourself some alone time with Suave Professionals for Natural Hair Anti-Breakage Mask. This mask provides replenishment for naturally curly hair types.
3. Afro Hair Protective/Low Manipulation Hairstyles
With the constant changes in climate, you may feel that your natural stands could do with a break. In these times, turn to protective hairstyles to offer some much-needed respite.
4. Silk Scarf or Bonnet
Another way to help tame hair that is tangle and frizz-prone is to wrap your hair in a silk scarf, bonnet, or sleep on a pillowcase made from silk or satin. These are less absorbent than cotton and won’t sap moisture from your strands. Which we know, it’s the stuff of nightmares!
5. Get Regular Haircuts
While many of us like to grow our hair out to great lengths, regular trims are still necessary to get rid of any split ends and damaged bits of hair. It may be a little time-consuming (not to mention pricey), but it is an important step when it comes to looking after your mane.
Really trying to grow out your hair but still want to ensure your strands are in good shape? Then try the dusting technique, which works by your hairstylist trimming just the very ends of the hair, meaning you won’t have to sacrifice length!
And there you go, your full afro hair care guide. Remember, not all curly hair types are the same and your individual needs will constantly change, so adapt and never get caught with a bad hair day again!