Every hair type has its own unique qualities and, subsequently, its own set of needs to keep it looking and feeling fabulous. Afro hair is, perhaps, the most demanding hair type when it comes to maintaining a healthy appearance and condition, but the end results can be spectacular and worth all the effort.
The hair landscape of Britain has changed dramatically in the past few decades, with a growing number of women of Afro Caribbean heritage living across the UK. And with inter-racial relationships now far more commonplace, types of curly hair are more varied than simply Caucasian or Afro.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of curly hair, ranging from naturally loose curls, usually found on women of European heritage, through to extremely curly or kinky hair, featuring very tight coils. This extremely curly, or kinky hair is generally found on women of Afro Caribbean heritage, and, along with its unique appearance and structure, it comes with a range of haircare needs.
Afro hair, despite having the appearance of being thicker and more robust, is actually quite fine and porous in texture, making it fragile and more prone to damage than other hair types.
This tendency for breakage is one of the attributes that misleads many people to believe that Afro hair actually grows slower than other hair types. In fact, Afro hair is growing at the same speed, but often breakage means it doesn’t reach its full growth potential - usually because it has not received the proper care.
The tight curl, caused by the zig-zag shape of the individual hair strands, also means Afro hair, in its natural state, grows closer to the head, curling in on itself rather than growing downwards, creating the perception of a slower growth rate.
Afro hair can also be prone to dullness and excessive dryness because the zig-zag shape of the hair strands makes it difficult for natural oils to spread evenly throughout the hair. This again requires the use of special products and treatments to ensure its healthy growth and appearance.
Afro hair requires a combination of treatments to maintain the moisture content and strength as it tends to be drier and weaker than its European counterpart.Kim Johnson - Hype Coiffure
“Afro hair requires a combination of treatments to maintain the moisture content and strength as it tends to be drier and weaker than its European counterpart,” confirms Kim Johnson of award-winning specialist Afro hair salon Hype Coiffure. “We offer a range of moisturising and protein treatments both in-salon and for clients to take home, such as KeraStraight Moisture Mask and Protein Mask. We also recommend our clients stick to a simple homecare plan, such as regular use of Moisture Enhance or Volume Enhance Shampoos and Conditioners, or for extra protection, KS Style Rescue Crème or Moisture Mist, depending on the specific needs of the client.”
Because of its unique nature, Afro hair also needs extra protection when using heated tools, such as straighteners and hairdryers. Says Kim: “Because of the hectic lifestyle that modern women lead, we find that their hair is now in contact with so many potentially harmful elements, including the frequent use of heated tools, which have the tendency to cause hair to be dry and brittle. We recommend using heat-protective products and treatments such as KS Style Heat Protective spray, Moisture Mist or Rescue Crème.”
Afro hair also has its own set of needs when it comes to colour, making it even more essential that women with Afro hair use a professional salon when colouring their hair.
“Afro hair shades tend to be darker, so to achieve certain colours pre-lighteners need to be used, which can alter the condition of the hair,” says Kim. “Using a bonding system such as INNOluxe will help to maintain the integrity of the hair during the colouring process. I would recommend that the client uses Moisture Enhance Shampoo and Conditioner to maintain their coloured hair, with visits to the salon for an INNOluxe treatment periodically.”
When healthy, Afro hair looks and feels beautiful, but it does require that extra commitment to reach its full gorgeous potential. No-one knows more about how to care for your hair than a professional stylist, so ask your hairdresser about how you can ensure your hair achieves its ultimate health and beauty.