Whether in braids, puffs, locs or twist-outs, Afro hair is incredibly versatile. But its unique structure also makes it far more prone to dryness, breakage and dullness than other hair types, meaning that caring for it can be difficult. The key to making even the most tightly coiled hair more manageable, I’ve found, is patience, TLC and the right products…
BEST FOR CLEANSING: Vernon François Pure-Fro Shampoo
According to hairstylist Vernon François, kinky and coily hair textures tend to be dry “because natural oil produced at the scalp has an indirect journey to the ends”. Pure-Fro Shampoo is free from drying sulfates and contains Kalahari melon oil, which is rich in fatty acids. It’s a winning formula that leaves my hair feeling thoroughly cleansed without being stripped of moisture.
BEST FOR STRENGTHENING: Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme
Described as a ‘conditioning pre-shampoo treatment’, this intensive version of Philip Kingsley’s cult product is specifically formulated for Afro hair and enriched with castor seed oil, which is ideal for coarse and porous textures. For especially dry hair like mine, I find it works best overnight: I apply it in sections from mid-lengths to ends, throw on my Shhhowercap and then rinse out in the morning before shampooing. The result: hair is noticeably softer and feels moisturized, but not greasy.
BEST FOR MINIMIZING BREAKAGE: Silke London Hair Wrap
“The bends and irregularities in Afro hair fibers makes it much more fragile than other hair types, and consequently more prone to damage and breakage,” says Glenn Lyons, senior trichologist at Philip Kingsley. Late-night tossing and turning can often contribute to breakage, so before bed I tuck my hair into this 100% silk turban, which also helps retain moisture and minimize frizz.
BEST FOR CONDITIONING: Philip Kingsley Moisture Extreme Conditioner
The right conditioner is vital for maintaining healthy Afro hair. Moisture Extreme Conditioner is reassuringly thick, contains a blend of four conditioning oils, and is infused with proteins and vitamins to ensure hair feels truly nourished. After shampooing, I work this through the lengths and then leave on for around five minutes before rinsing.
BEST FOR REPLENISHING MOISTURE: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Crème
This curl cream is free from the sulfates and silicones that can dry out and weigh down hair, and its amino acid and avocado oil formula helps get rid of frizz and restore moisture. Applied to damp hair as a leave-in conditioner, it helps define and nourish curls and ensures a smoother result when blow-drying. I like to apply a small amount to my hair after misting on a moisture spray to keep it extra hydrated.
BEST FOR DETANGLING: Buly 1803 Afro Comb
“Because Afro-Caribbean hair is extremely curly, it tangles easily,” explains trichologist Anabel Kingsley. “However, trying to detangle it can worsen breakage, so be as gentle as possible.” She recommends applying a detangling spray before working from the ends to the roots with a wide-tooth comb. Buly 1803’s Afro comb can cope with even very coarse hair and makes the detangling process practically pain-free.
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