I have tried many products on my natural short curly afro. Though upon initial application of products my damp hair would feel great (almost too great!), once my hair was dry, I was left in a panic – with thirsty, unmanageable hair to boot! Eventually I figured it out, and took control of my mane – surprising myself along the way as I sorted out fact from fiction for my hair care needs. The following is a list of basic principles in maximising short curly a.f.r.o. hair (Again, I am not a hair stylist, I am just an individual who through much trial and error – and subsequent enquiry – have reconciled the needs of my short curly a.f.r.o. textured hair):
- A – acknowledge (and accept) your natural hair!
- F – get frequent haircuts – flattering to your face structure.
- R – use real products on your hair and scalp – paying attention to hair nourishment. (Use products that do not build-up and are non-stripping)
- O- use products that have an optimal pH range to maximise your curly afro hair.
Acknowledge (and accept) your Natural Hair
This first principle of acceptance in essence comes after the below principles are addressed. Why? In order to accept (acknowledge) your true hair texture, you must give the hair a chance, and simply let it be. This means – frequent cuts; the use of real/simple natural products that nourish the hair (without product buildup or stripping the hair); the use of products in an optimal pH range.
Frequent Hair Cuts
How often one decides on trims is completely individual. For me, given I like minimum upkeep (yet I wish to avoid obvious bald spots; something very easy to get with fine, ultra kinky hair like I have!), I usually get a trim – flattering to the shape of my face – monthly. (For you it may be more often or even less so – your hair, your choice!). Regardless of your hair cutting routine, make sure you go to someone who knows curly hair (yes!), but specifically, knows natural afro textured hair. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have gone to expensive salons – with initial consultations in tow – only to come out of the visit thoroughly pissed (and I don’t mean drunk!) If I have a consultation a day prior to my salon visit, my “salon-treated hair” should not be looking anything less than pampered. (Heck, I can accomplish a disjointed do myself; I should not have to pay for it!)
Bottom line – Do not assume that a salon – however reputable it may be and/or claim to know your hair type – will actually understand your hair. [There is nothing worse than being wet down for a cut (which in retrospect, your hair should be dried prior to cutting; your curl pattern is realised when wet curly hair is allowed to dry), only to have your stylist kiss their teeth with annoyance and say – “wha kinda hair is this?” Been there, done that – no t-shirt needed!]
Real Products on Hair and Scalp
The use of real products is pretty simple, at least when you understand what real is. For me, I stay away from anything that I cannot readily – in some form or another – prepare myself (for you it may be something else – your hair, your choice!). Anything I put on my hair has to have a fundamental purpose, with the end game always being healthy hair, with minimal product buildup. Gone are the days when I would use this styler gel or that must have fancy butter – products that in my opinion (due to product buildup), my hair and scalp cannot manage on a long-term basis.
Bottom line – Keep it simple and think hair and scalp nourishment when selecting products (Read the labels and be an informed consumer!). Your aim should be healthy hair; not just healthy looking hair!
Optimal pH Range Products
I know, you are probably thinking -“I need to know science to have healthy hair?” Ah – yeah! (Just jokes!) In essence, having your best, curly do yet is about basic science (operative here, basic!) pH is a measurement of the concentration of hydronium ions (or hydrogen ions) in water. Things that are acidic have a pH between 0-7; things that are basic have a pH between 7-14. A pH of 7 is deemed to be neutral – i.e. tap water. Hair, in our case, curly afro hair, tends to love an environment in a pH range of 4.5-5.5. (Apple cider vinegar and aloe vera are must haves for any curly afro do!)
Bottom line – Use real products with a pH range of 4.5-5.5