Afros are growing in popularity as more women become 'naturalistas'. As much as going natural will be one of the best decisions you can make for the health of your hair, it can also be overwhelming. Don't stress ladies, we've got some great tips to make it easier
When most of us think of natural hair, we immediately think shrinkage, dryness and blank frustrating stares into the mirror as we try to figure out what to do with our 'fro today.
But having natural hair doesn't need to be high maintenance or complicated if you take care of it correctly with a proper hair-care regimen.
1) What does natural hair need? Moisture
Believe it or not ladies, water is not the enemy - your natural hair needs moisture to thrive.
It's not water that damages your hair when you wash it - that's caused by washing it too often and using the wrong products. It's not advisable to wash your hair every day as this will strip away the natural oils and nutrients. Ideally wash your hair weekly using a sulphate-free shampoo. The second-best option after a weekly wash is to treat your hair daily with a water-based moisturiser and a light hair oil or food.
Don't underestimate the power of regular conditioning. Not only does it make your hair soft and manageable, it also strengthens it.
There are three types of conditioners:
Instant Conditioners are rinse-out conditioners that are applied after you've shampooed your hair. Many are suitable for daily use and they moisturise the hair.
Leave-in conditioners can be applied after hair has been shampooed, but can also be used alone. They don't need to be rinsed out. They are absorbed into the hair and repair split ends, detangle hair and protect it when heat is applied during styling.
Mizani educator, Kabelo Molefe says deep conditioners are intensive treatments designed to penetrate the hair to restore the balance of protein and moisture.
TIP: You should deep condition your hair at least once a month to keep it healthy. Your hair deserves the extra pampering.
Air drying your natural hair is the least-damaging way to dry it. Although using heat has its perks, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Hair that is regularly exposed to heat is prone to breakage, thinning and dryness.
After washing your hair, let it air dry for about 10 minutes before applying products as some products hold in the moisture, which increases your drying time. Instead of using a towel to dry your hair, rather use an old 100%-cotton T-shirt to soak up the excess water. Cotton is soft and won't cause as much friction and damage as a towel will. Then we suggest doing thick plaits (amaphondo) or twisting the hair and letting it dry on its own.
2) Ingredients/products to avoid:
TIP: If you have to use heat on your hair, apply a heat protection serum while your hair is wet.
Sulphates: Found in some shampoos, sulphates remove grease, dirt and oily build-up. However, sulphates are harsh on the hair as they remove natural oil, leaving hair dry and more prone to breakage. When choosing a shampoo, opt for one that's sulphate-free.
Mineral oils/Petroleum: Found in hair oils, hair food and conditioners, mineral oils seal moisture into the hair and also give curls definition. The downfall is that they can accumulate on the hair and scalp, thereby attracting and holding dirt and residue. When this happens the hair follicles (pores) get clogged up, which slows down the rate at which your hair grows.
3) Healthy hair helpers:
TIP: Rather use products with a base of natural oils such as Amla oil, caster oil, carrot oil or olive oil.
Aunt Jackie's Moisturising & Softening Conditioner, R69,95, is specifically formulated for natural hair. It deep conditions and moisturises hair, leaving your 'fro hydrated and softer. Available from Clicks.
T444Z, R350, is a scalp-based stimulant that conditions and nourishes the scalp. It encourages thickness, volume and growth with ingredients such as castor oil, shea butter and Rosemary. Available from www.t444z.com
Amla Legend 1001 Oils Cream, R39,95 is an overnight cream that nourishes and softens hair. It contains Amla fruit and coconut oil which promote healthy strong hair. Available from Clicks/Dis Chem.
Twisted Sista Curl Activator, R89,95, is also specifically for natural hair and is designed to revive and give your afro the perfect curl definition. Available from Clicks.
Sources: Estetica, Black Beauty, MyFro&I
Curl Care by Dr Miracle's Rehydrating Shampoo, R74,99, gently cleanses hair without stripping it of its natural oils. It's sulphate-free and leaves your afro nourished.