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A guide to loving your Afro

28 February 2014, 13:23Thembakuye Madlala

Abuja - Disclaimer: I’m not a hair-expert nor am I a hairdresser. I’m just a girl who has an afro and want to share some tips that I have collected along the way.

#1 Hair Oil vs Hair Moisturizer:

When afro hair is not nourished enough it starts to break and it becomes very dry. This can be a total nightmare, especially if you have to go somewhere. A product that I have stocked up on is coconut oil. It magically softens your hair, allowing the comb to flow effortlessly through your afro.

Apply a generous amount on your hair the night before and then section your hair into four Bantu knots (or however many you can manage). In the morning simply undo the knots and enjoy styling your soft afro. Now I’m not discrediting  moisturizers but I’ve noticed these products just don’t do enough for my hair.

#2 Hair-drying vs Air-drying:

Back in the day, before the introduction of fancy hair equipment, our grandmothers and their grandmothers relied on nature to dry their wet hair. Nowadays, people have just become obsessed with blow-drying hair as if there’s no other alternative. Beware: Your hair-dryer does not love your afro.  A study done by R.Crawford and  C.R Robbins found that “ Hair dried with heat and equilibrated at room temperature at a moderate relative humidity will have a lower moisture content than room temperature dried hair.” So if you want to retain the moisture in your hair you will have to air-dry it.

 After washing your hair simply apply an oil of your choice on the roots and the shaft and then section it into Bantu knots or twists. This process will take longer than using the blow-dryer but your hair will keep its moisture and your curls won’t be damaged.

#3 Deep Conditioning vs Shampoo:

Any black African girl can tell you that our hair does not get along with water. Its kryptonite to our hair, it destroys it and makes it look UGLY. The times when you do decide to wash your hair be sure to take it easy on the shampoo especially if you plan on conditioning your hair afterwards.

The repeated applying and rinsing process when using shampoo can strip your hair of its moisture. Instead, opt for a leave-in conditioner. Wash your hair ( don’t use shampoo, if you must then apply a small amount) once and then apply the leave-in conditioner. Run a comb through your hair and enjoy moistened hair that hasn’t been damaged by the dry-wash cycle.

#4 Braiding vs Weaves:

Either way you can’t go wrong. Both these hairstyles protect your hair from harsh elements such as air pollution and wind. But try to keep your braids big, you don’t want them to be small because this can end up eating away on your hairline. Ask your stylist to be soft on your hair when doing the braids. If the braids are too tight they can break your hair and irritate your scalp. Tight hair braids can cause traction alopecia.

The American Academy of Dermatology states that “Hairstyles that constantly pull on the scalp cause this type of hair loss".  So steer away from tight braids and weaves that require tight-pulling unless you don’t mind spending thousands of Rands on hair transplant surgery.

#5 Growing your ‘fro:

Growing an Afro takes a whole lot of time and a whole lot more patience. To keep it as natural as possible, keep it away from chemical products and heat. Use natural oils such as coconut oil, jojaba oil and castor oil ( for conditioning your hair). Also, eat healthy foods and stock up on the protein and water. Before you know it you’ll be rocking a beautiful, bouncy Afro.

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- Women24


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