We talked last week about TWAs and how you should care for them. There, you’ll find that there are little differences when it comes to caring for the hair in general, whether it be in a short, cropped afro or large, voluminous fro. Here we’ll discuss tips and tricks to achieve and take care of an afro, whether it be on the smaller or larger side.
How to achieve an afro
There are a few ways you can go about achieving this look. The main focus is that you moisturize the hair without defining your curls. This means that those with naturally less defined curls will have an easier time doing so. Conversely, those with more defined curls may have trouble getting the separation that allows for the volume of a traditional afro.
1. Wash your hair with moisturizing products: you want your hair to be as moisturized as possible, as you will only be using 1-2 products at most once it’s time to style. You want your shampoo to be cleansing without stripping your hair’s natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle. We offer a sulfate free Hydrating Shampoo that is a perfect mix of cleaning and nourishing!
When it comes to your conditioner, you can either choose to go for a rinse out, a deep conditioner, or both! If you’re only using a rinse out, you want to make sure it’s very hydrating, especially if you find that your shampoo is a little drying. The rinse out conditioner will help to restore any moisture lost. Rinse out conditioners with butters or oils are good because they have just the right amount to lock in the hydration you’re getting from the water and the moisture you’re getting from the conditioner’s ingredients without completely sealing out any moisture you’ll get from the products you’ll apply after washing.
If you’re doing a deep conditioner after you rinse out, you can be a little more lenient when it comes to your rinse out, but the more moisture the better! Skipping out on better shampoos and conditioners can be made up for with a good deep conditioner, but keep in mind you want to give your hair as much quality nourishment and moisture as you can. So whether you decide to follow your rinse up with a deep conditioner or just skip to deep conditioning after shampooing, you want to make sure your deep conditioning treatment is packed with moisture and nutrients. This will not only help your hair retain moisture better after washing, but it will also prepare the hair to be picked and manipulated later while lessening the chances of you experiencing breakage and dryness. Our Ice Cream Treatment Deep Conditioners are loaded with nutrients and moisturizing ingredients that leave your hair soft and hydrated. The Hydrating Ice Cream Treatment would be a perfect option to ensure maximum hydration before going into styling your fro!
2. Moisturize your hair: after you’ve washed and maybe (hopefully) deep conditioned, you have a couple options to choose from. Some naturals like for their hair to air dry before applying their moisturizer or leave-in while others will choose to apply product while their hair is still wet. If your hair is low porosity or prone to being dry, we would recommend applying your moisturizer/leave-in while your hair is still wet. Applying product to hair while it is wet or damp not only allows for the product to take to the hair better, but also keeps your hair more moisturized as you’re working with water and your moisturizing product. It is also important to note that with some products, the absence of water in their application can lead to flaking and dryness, especially if the product has a good amount of butter and oils.
Whether you apply your moisturizer after your hair is dry or while it is wet, the drying process is something to take into consideration. Would you prefer to pick your afro as little as possible? If so, you want to make sure your hair is as stretched as possible while it’s drying. This means you won’t have to work as much to get the volume picking results in. If you don’t mind picking your hair after, you can let your hair dry without being stretched, as the shrinkage that occurs can be picked out later. Keep in mind that your afro will be a little tighter on unstretched hair, as picking will help to volumize the fro, but will not completely stretch the hair after it’s dried and in its natural state.
Stretching your hair during the drying process can look like putting it in puffs, twists, or simply wrapping bands around sections made in your hair. Keep in mind that the more defined your stretching method makes the hair, the more picking you’ll have to do if you want your fro to stand tall and hold its shape. For example, twisting your hair will result in more defined sections than puffs or banding.
3. Shape your afro: after your hair has dried and you’ve applied your moisturizer, it’s now time to form your fro! Using a hair pick will make this process easier. You’ll be able to pull your hair from the root, removing any tangles that may be there while also stretching the roots that may or may not be tight. This will allow you to volumize your hair while also reducing the possibility of knots. If you want to keep your ends more defined than your roots, you won’t have to worry about picking down your strands; just focus on your roots! If you want all of your curls to have the same definition, you want to either pick your whole head (starting at the roots) or don’t pick at all.
You can also stretch the hair without a pick by simply pulling your hair away from the scalp. This is a better option for those who want a more defined fro. Just keep in mind that when it comes to afros, the more definition means less volume. This is because the more defined your hair is, the more your curls are clumped together, meaning your curls have more weight than they would if they were separated. This makes it hard for the strands to stand upwards and away from the scalp. This up and out effect is what gives afros their classic look.
- Similar to the last point, if your hair is more dense and thick, it will be heavier and more inclined to fall downwards instead of stand upwards. This means that depending on your hair, you may benefit from using volumizing products to help achieve the classic afro look. Volumizing products help lift and hold the hair where it would fall otherwise. As curly and coily hair naturally grows upwards, you may find you don’t need anything volumizing. However, if you have different textures on your head or know your hair falls downwards, it might help keep your fro full and light!
- Get any moisture you can! As said before, you want to focus on moisture above all. When your hair is separated and picked out, it is more prone to dryness as each individual strand is more exposed to the air than it would be if it were in twists, braids, or even a puff. The more collected your hair is, the less air it’s being exposed to, meaning the less moisture it’ll lose. Along with moisture, one way to reduce this is to use a sealant on top of your moisturizer. Our Hydrating Oil Blend is a perfect sealer, as it is lightweight and able to mitigate any moisture being lost due to your environment.
Caring for your Afro: 4 Hacks
1. Those with dense strands: if your hair is dense and will have trouble standing up and out from your scalp, let your hair dry in a position that has your hair pulled up and out. This can look like a high puff that sits taut (but not too tight) on the top of your head. This will not only help stretch your roots upwards, but it’ll help train your hair to stand upwards as it dries. If you don’t want your roots to be stretched, you can use clips to clip the ends of your hair in the opposite direction that they would naturally fall. So in the back of your head you’d want to clip your ends upwards. On the sides you’ll want to clip the ends towards the center of your head. Lastly, in the front you want to clip your ends towards the center/back of your head.
2. Those looking to pick the length of your hair: if you want to fluff all of your strands, you’ll want to start picking from your ends to your root. Picking from the root helps with volume, however it doesn’t help detangle the hair since you’re starting at the top. Detangling your hair from the ends will reduce breakage and will also allow you to control just how much definition you’re picking out. You can also choose to use a brush instead! This will give you a fluffy look that shows off how versatile curls really are. Detangling brushes are the best option when it comes to taking a brush to coily hair.
3. Protect your ends: since the ends are the oldest, most weak part of the hair, they are prone to be more dry than the hair closer to your scalp. In order to prevent them from breaking, you can twist or braid the ends of your hair to reduce the chances of breakage. You may also want to apply more moisturizer or leave-in conditioner if they are feeling especially dry. Doing this before going out or wearing your fro like their in the house (or wherever you see fit) can help to keep your ends protected. You don’t have to worry so much about the hair closer to your roots, as your scalp produces oils that keep this hair lubricated. If you are experiencing dryness along the upper parts of your strands, you can use more moisturizer/leave-in in these areas as well.
4. Refresh your fro throughout the week: even if you duly moisturized your hair upon styling your afro, it still will most likely need to be refreshed between your wash days. A good way to do this is with a moisturizing spritz! A simple mix of the moisturizer or leave-in of your choice with water will go a long way. This will not only rehydrate your hair, but also supply it with moisture from the product. You can use just water, just keep in mind it is more quick to evaporate when not paired with products with humectants, butters, and oils. Some natural’s also like to mix their sealants into their hydrating spritz, that part is up to you. You want to use as little oil as possible, as it will create a barrier for more moisture to get into your hair when you go to spritz again. If your moisturizer or leave-in has a good amount of butters/oils in it, you may want to skip the sealant all together.
- Collect your afro before going to bed. Depending on how large your afro is, a bonnet or scarf may not even fit over your hair. Either way, you don’t want to go to bed with your afro loose under a covering. You want to separate it in sections to ensure your strands won’t wrap around each other during the night. You can also just throw it in a pineapple puff if you wish to spend as little time as possible. The one thing you don’t want is a fro full of tangles! Searching through your fro to pick out tangles and knots is tedious and more often than not will result in more tangles. One thing you need to watch out for with having an afro is that the hair has the opportunity to become matted and tangled. Tying your hair up before bed is a quick and easy way to make it so this doesn’t happen.
- Don’t be afraid to trim. If you see your ends have knots or your fro isn’t shaped the way you’d like, go ahead and trim as you see fit. It will not only keep your hair healthy, but also will allow you to customize your afro and form it in a way that is unique to you!
- If you don’t want your fro to be the classic up and out look, you can simply skip hack #1 and just focus on moisturizing and picking your hair out. Keep in mind the less picking and volume you have, the more your fro will resemble a wash and go.