This step is touchy. We’re talking about shampooing , conditioning, moisterising and prote ting our hair from the elements. There is no the holy grail of Afro haircare when it comes to products so let’s look at how to ensure what you do use works for your individual hair.
Shampoo: The ability of shampoo to cleanse lies in its surfactants (the cleansers that remove dirt, dust or that boost foaming and thicken shampoos etc). The most common surfactants are sulphates. They are in most shampoos, tooth pastes and dishwashing liquid. However they do not support healthy afro hair as they tend to strip the hair of its natural oils in the process of removing product build up and dirt.
In order to thrive, hair requires a clean scalp and the removal of dirt and product build-up. Cleansing afro hair every 7-10 days can be very beneficial but if using a shampoo with sulphates, it becomes trickier to achieve the moisture levels you require. Tip: Use a sulphate-free shampoo or a mousturising shampoo for your washday. Black Soap or an olive oil based soap are also good substitutes for afro hair.
Conditioners: These are water-based and so are paramount to healthy afro hair; they play a big part in restoring moisture to hair after shampooing. They also improve the hairs’s manageability. They work by adhering to the cuticle, strengthening and softening each strand and maintaining our hair’s protein and moisture balance. There are instant, rinse-out, leave-in and deep conditioners available on the market so assess how your hair responds to what you choose. If your hair feels soft and your curls are well defined when you apply your conditioner, your hair may just be letting you know it enjoys that particular conditioner. Tip: Using heat with deep conditioners ensures the best moisture penetration and cuticle adhesion of protein molecules.
Moisturiser: The lack of suffucient levels of moisture retention is one of the main reasons afro hair breaks. A good moisturizer must contain water as its main ingredient. However water evaporates quickly from our hair so in order to hold on to that water more is needed. Moisturizers also contain humectants emollients and other products to help and support the role of water. Spray based mousturizers are ideal for braided styles and for people with fine hair while creams are best for thicker hair. Tip: To select the best cream moisturizer ensure Water is the first ingredient listed. Remember: Oils are not moisturizers!!! Petroleum, lanolin and mineral oils deposit heavy films on the hair preventing any water from entering the hair shaft.
If your hair is in a weave or braids it will still benefit from regular washing and moisturising. Wearing a silk or satin bonnet at night and under your turbans/wraps/hats will stop moisture being sucked out of your strands by materials like cotton and wool. It also reduces friction between your hair fibres and the accessories you are wearing. The best time to moisturise your hair is after rinsing out conditioner, before styling and always before wearing your bonnet or tying up your hair at night.
Protecting your hair from the sun, and the cold is also vital; the elements will cause moisture loss leaving our hair dry. If swimming, dampen your hair first. Damp hair will not absorb as much chlorinated water as dry hair.
These are basic care and maintance tips. A lot more could be said but for simplicity we will stop here. We want to hear your own tips so please share.
Our hair inspiration for this week goes to young actress Amandla Stenderg. It takes courage for someone so young to embrace her natural fro?
Until step five, Happy Hair Loving.
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Afrotility is the founder of blieq.com , her focus is on natural hair care and styling. She is Passionate about afro hair in all its different degrees of curliness, and believes that “understanding your hair is the key to enjoying it and loving every single curly strand”. She also insists that “no styling without consultation” should be the new standard.
Editor: Ama Badu (Senior Online Editor)