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. 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:
Your Simple Guide to Afro Hair Care
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:
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 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.
- Type 4B 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
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 Dove Absolute Curls Leave-In Detangler.
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. Let’s start off with the washing routine. This is where you want to make sure you’re cleansing and moisturizing your hair. 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. TRESemmé Flawless Curls Shampoo and Conditioner is formulated for curly hair types. During the cleansing and conditioning steps, the formula nourishes and moisturizes your hair.
Another way you can get your mane feeling supple and moisturized is to use the co-washing method. This is popular with curly-haired ladies the world over and basically means washing your hair only with conditioner (hence the name). Alternatively, you can use ApotheCARE Essentials The Replenisher Cleansing Conditioner to wash your hair instead of using an actual conditioner.
Now that we knocked out the washing step, its time to head onto styling. Since you’re wearing your hair in its natural afro state, your focus will be 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.
For a picked out afro, you may want to use a styler that helps moisturize and detangle your hair before combing through. Suave Professionals Honey Infusion 10-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner can be used post wash and right before styling your hair. The formula helps soften, detangle, moisturize and also serves as a heat protectant—which is especially great if you’re blow-drying your hair to create your version of the perfect ‘fro. If needed, you can also use an oil after applying your leave-in conditioner to help lock in moisture.
Last, but certainly not least is hairspray. Yes, hairspray is your secret weapon! As natural hair tends to have a dry look when not moisturized, a shine spray can help add sheen to your afro. Finish your style with a hairspray like Catwalk by TIGI Camera Ready Shine Spray.
Afro hair care detangling and brushing
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.
So, if you’re sick and tired 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.
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 Dove Quench Absolute Intense Restoration Mask. This mask provides replenishment for naturally curly hair types.
Afro hair care 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.
Our fave protective styles to try:
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!
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!