There’s so much choice in the beauty world, it can get overwhelming, especially when it comes to Afro hair.
"Afro hair can be dryer than other hair types," explains trichologist Stephanie Sey on behalf of Nizoral. "The curl in the hair can make it difficult for natural oils to be distributed down the hair shaft. Afro hair is also a little more delicate, as the bend and twists in the hair strand can cause points of weakness, and these same bends and twists can also cause single-strand knots. Finally, a tight, curly texture means that it doesn’t reflect light in the same way as straighter textures, so the hair appears not to shine."
To combat this, you might want to make more effort to ensure your hair is properly nourished. You don’t have to pump your hair full of chemicals to keep it shiny and healthy; there are plenty of natural ingredients which will work wonders.
Many of these help all hair types, but they’re particularly well-suited to the needs of Afro hair, strengthening the strands whilst adding shine and moisture…
1. Coconut oil
There’s a scientific reason why coconut oil is well-loved: "Coconut oil has very small molecules which can penetrate deeper into the hair than other oils, so rather than acting merely on the surface, the effects of the oil are longer-lasting," explains Sey.
"Additionally, coconut oil is slightly positively charged. The reason this is important is because weathered and damaged hair is negatively charged, so these opposite charges result in the coconut oil being attracted to the hair, meaning that it will soften and protect it."
As an added bonus, you can easily buy coconut oil from the supermarket. Use it like you would a hair mask, and let your locks soak up the moisture.
Avocados aren’t only good on toast – they contain healthy fats and nutrients which can contribute to healthy hair. "The oil that is extracted from avocado is great for its moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties," says Sey.
The trichologist also adds: "It’s good at lubricating the hair strand, imparting shine and helping to preserve the ends of the hair."
Luckily, avocados can easily be made into a DIY mask at home if your hair is feeling lifeless and you’re noticing more split ends. Mash it up with some other nourishing ingredients – like coconut oil, olive oil or yoghurt – and apply to your locks after shampooing, as you would a normal mask. Just don’t forget to wash it off afterwards, and use any leftover avocado for breakfast the next morning.
3. Almond oil
Not only does almond oil smell delightful, but there are plenty of reasons it should be added to your hair care routine.
"It contains zinc and vitamin A, and is one of the best sources of vitamin E," says Sey. This is particularly important, because vitamin E is a natural antioxidant, so can combat free radicals (unstable molecules) and oxidative stress – which can "damage the cells in the hair follicles".
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is an excellent ingredient in all its forms – gel, hydrosol or juice, notes Sey. It is a humectant, which means it retains moisture, so is perfect for keeping hair moisturised.
If your head is feeling a bit tender from tight braids or chemical treatments, aloe vera is a great choice. "It is an anti-inflammatory, so is soothing to the scalp," explains Sey. "It also has a pH of about 5, which is excellent for scalp health, as well as smoothing the hair shaft."
5. Jojoba oil
I've stopped:— Amethyst 🍬 (@iammcosmetics) April 29, 2020
drying my hair with a towel; I only wrap it up with a cotton t-shirt
brushing it straight out of a wash PERIOD. until my hair’s completely dry
using "hair repair" serums; I hydrate with 100% natural jojoba oil
& MY HAIR IS AS LIVELY AS EVER!!! 😩
Fun fact: jojoba is pronounced ‘hohoba’. "It’s actually a wax, which is liquid at room temperature," says Sey, and it’s beneficial because "its composition is very similar to scalp sebum".
A lot of products can weigh down your hair and suck the life out of it, but this isn’t the case with jojoba oil – which Sey says "isn’t greasy and is really good at sealing moisture into the hair".
Either look for products containing jojoba, or buy the oil from a health store and use as a serum after you’ve washed your hair.