Afro hair is beautiful. It's remarkably diverse. And it requires work. Black hair is fragile and tends to be dry and brittle, prone to tangling and breakage. And it's worth everything you do to keep it looking fabulous. Caring for your afro style can be tricky, but we're here to help you maintain your 'fro like a boss, add shine and volume with the right hair care products, and keep your natural hair looking strong all year long.
Afro Hair and Black culture
Afro hair isn’t just hair. It’s a symbol of pride in one’s natural look, and not just a fashion choice but a look that is integral to the Black community and its roots. The afro is one of the few hairstyles in the world that was once instantly viewed as a political statement. A cornerstone of the Black is Beautiful Movement of the swinging '60s, it was a bold expression of Black culture, and a conscious move away from white beauty standards. In the '70s, it moved into the mainstream, with everyone from the Jackson 5 to Pam Grier putting their glorious 'fros squarely in the spotlight of pop culture. And yet, it remained a symbol of Black power, a state of mind as much as a style statement.
During the 1980s and '90s, the afro took a backseat to other popular looks like braids, cornrows, buzz cuts, finger waves, and more. It wasn't until the Natural Hair Movement was born that Black people brought the afro back into vogue. Today, it's all the rage among people of all hair types.
Afro Hair Care
There are many different types of afro-textured hair, ranging from curls, spirals, and everything in between. And the key to knowing how to care for yours is to know your curl pattern. You probably know all about type 4 hair, which breaks down into 4a, 4b, and 4c hair. This is a system of classification to describe curls, kinks, and coils. It's known as the Andre Walker Hair Typing System and is named after an industry icon (he was Oprah's hair stylist; nuff said).
Type 4a hair is defined by medium-sized, loosely packed curls. If you're rocking S-shaped spirals that are easy to detangle, you've got 4a hair. Moisture is key to keeping that 'fro in its beautiful natural state, and there's no better ally for it than Lu's Freedom Collection. Specifically designed for all curly hair types, Lu's Freedom Shampoo and Conditioner deliver game-changing hydration and definition, giving you voluminous hair that's moisturized and full of life. They're made with Moringa seed oil which, much like coconut oil and other natural oils, seals in moisture, stimulates hair growth, and promotes hair health while leaving your curls feeling silky smooth.
Women with type 4b hair have tighter, more densely packed curls, which bend in a zig-zag pattern. Because of its curl pattern, 4b curls are more prone to breakage. It also experiences more shrinkage than 4a hair. 4c hair, on the other hand, is all about coils, and is most commonly found in thick, voluminous afros. Coils and curls aren't the same. They're smaller and look more springy, and are so tightly wound that they can easily snap or break. Women with 4c coily hair know all about how difficult it can be to manage their 'fros. Fortunately, Lu's Rescue Collection can help keep your hair looking healthy and frizz-free, with natural ingredients like Shatavari. This medicinal plant is known for its restorative properties that strengthen and revive hair visibly and naturally. Rescue also works wonders for color-treated hair, helping to reverse the effects of chemical dyes and bringing your hair back to its natural glory.
For many Black women, natural hair extensions have become part of their afro hair care routine. Hair extensions come in a variety of textures and curl patterns, and are designed to blend seamlessly with your natural hair. They can be sewn on by a professional stylist, or you can opt for clip-in extensions, which are easier to use if you prefer a more get-up-and-go solution. It's one way to add instant volume to hair that's thinning, a common issue for millions of Black women.
Creating a hair care routine for your afro doesn't have to mean spending painstaking hours washing and styling your hair. With the right hair products, you can choose a simpler routine that fits your schedule. And that starts with your shampoo and conditioner. Lu gives you the benefit of gentle, natural ingredients that work on your hair constantly, helping it to shine, feel smooth, and look more defined. You'll also get the game-changing power of Impossible Keratin, a vegan keratin formulation that provides three times the elasticity and strength of normal keratin, which helps protect your curls and prevents breakage by temporarily stretching out your coils, making it easier to style your hair.
Here are some telltale signs that your afro-textured hair needs a little extra TLC:
- Rough and dry hair with split ends
- More tangles than usual
- Lack of spring
- Thicker hair at the root and thin hair at the ends
- Dull hair that has lost its shine
- Excessive frizz
If you recognize any of these issues with your afro, it’s time to switch up your routine. First, don’t overwash your hair. Washing your hair is important to remove grime, product buildup, and sweat effectively, but doing it too often can remove too much natural hair oil and can leave your 'fro looking dry and more prone to frizz. Aim to wash your hair once a week, or even try alternating your hair care routine with a leave-in conditioner. When you do, take the time to apply shampoo and conditioner with warm water, and wash it out with cold water. Hot water opens cuticles up, which can be good for allowing shampoo and conditioner to do their job. Reducing the heat, like they do at the salon, closes up the cuticle and retains moisture.
Pre-Poo Like a Pro
If you haven't tried them yet, there are two techniques that can help afro hairstyles go from surviving to thriving. Pre-pooing is when you apply something to your hair before you shampoo to create a protective layer before the shampoo process. It can also help strengthen the hair shaft, prevent hair breakage and rebuild damaged hair follicles. Mix yourself up a batch of homemade avocado oil pre-poo, warm it up, apply it to your hair, and wrap your head with a warm towel for 20 minutes before you hop in the shower and begin your normal routine. All you need is:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp each of avocado oil
A few drops of your favorite essential oil
You can add pre-poo to your hair care routine as often as you like to bring extra moisture back to your hair and provide a protective layer to retain as much natural oil as possible.
Sometimes you may want to skip the shampoo altogether and reach straight for the conditioner. This is known as co-washing, or "no poo," and can be great for people with very curly hair, afros, or dry hair. If you want to give it a try, select a sulfate-free conditioner like any of Lu’s conditioners, and use it as you would a shampoo. Be sure to spend longer washing it out before moving to the next step of your hair care routine. Co-washing is a gentler way to remove dirt from the scalp, but it can also add more hydration to your hair than shampoo, leading to better moisture retention and fewer broken hairs.
Love it With a Leave-In Cream
A leave-in cream can protect your natural afro hair from damage, lock in moisture, and keep it looking strong and gorgeous. This post-shower treatment might quickly become one of the most important parts of your daily afro hair care regimen. The Free To Be Styling Cream defines curls and waves, prevents frizz, and helps create a defragmented look, all while nourishing your hair.
Protective Styles Are Your Friend
Protective styles are a must for keeping curls and kinks safe in harsh weather conditions, everyday wear and tear, and breakage. Some styles that will protect your precious afro are box braids that go all the way down to the end of the hair and are left to hang loose; French braids that divide the hair into two sections and braid from the temple back to the end of each strand; and cornrows for something closer to the scalp. Protective styles can be good for six to eight weeks. When you undo it, make sure to let your hair breathe if you plan on going for another protective style.
Trim It to Win It
Make sure your hair stays in shape by regularly trimming your afro. Not only will this lead to less tangles that you have to spend time sorting out, but your hair will look on point for longer and have less frizz. Don’t worry, introducing a trim every 8-12 weeks will add texture and volume, and won’t even touch the length.
From friction on your pillow rubbing your hair up the wrong way to the weight of your own head damaging the hair follicles, it’s not hard to see why falling asleep can cause people with afros to have nightmares. But a few simple tips will help you sleep like a baby. The first of these is to dry your hair properly. Wet hair can lead to bacteria forming, fungal infections and even dandruff. Leaving it wet and in a heap on your head can also lead to a musty smell in the morning, and no one wants to wake up to that. The easiest remedy for this is switching your shower time to the morning, but a microfiber towel will also do a good job at drying hair safely before bed. Limiting the amount of friction our hair has can also prevent a bad afro hair day. Try a silk pillowcase at night, or a silk head scarf wrapped around your afro to avoid excessive friction.
Black hair tends to be curly or frizzy, and grows almost parallel to the scalp. Its natural texture lends itself to beautiful, bountiful afros. But this style can be a good look for many people, even women with straight hair (this video shows you how). From its popularity during the Natural Hair Movement, the afro has come a long way. Keep it going, and keep it healthy, with these afro hair care tips.