This post was originally published on 29th March 2020. Due to its popularity, it was updated with the new tips on 16th June 2021.
One of the major misconceptions when it comes to afro hair is that it’s incredibly hard to look after. Men are the first to go straight to the barbershop as soon as they have an inch of growth but, in truth, managing Afro hair is pretty simple as long as you have a routine.
It’s not just about finding the right product. Maintaining strong and healthy hair - that looks good - has more to do with proper technique and the elimination of all the extra product that’s actually holding you back.
In this blog, we’re not going to talk about routine — well, not exactly — but rather our top 14 Afro hair care tips for men.
1. Don’t Wash Your Hair Every Day
Cut down the number of times you shampoo your afro hair to once a week, especially if you use sulphate-based shampoos. Sulphate-based shampoos are powerful cleaners but use harsh compounds that strip your hair of its natural oils (sebum), causing dryness and irritation.
If you wash your hair three, four or five times a week using these shampoos, you’ll damage and dry out your scalp, as well as reduce the overall strength of your hair.
2. Go Sulphate-free
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) can cause skin irritation especially for eczema sufferers. It is extremely drying on afro hair as it strips the hair of its natural oils.
We would recommend using sulphate-free shampoos. These shampoos use natural ingredients that clean your hair without stripping it of its oils. They strengthen your hair and support its growth, but more on that later!
(If you’re worried about the ingredients in your shampoo and need help understanding them when choosing products, check out this blog.)
3. Condition Your Hair
Keep your hair soft and ready for moisture by conditioning it with a silicone-free conditioner. Conditioners help you to detangle your hair so you can get it ready for the next step.
Our Swirl conditioner is free of silicones but high in slip. With coconut extract, aloe vera extract and avocado oil, it will help to keep your hair looking and feeling healthier. Smooth Swirl through your hair strands, leave on for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
4. Moisturise Your Hair Properly
Please, please, please moisture your hair — it’s essential for keeping it healthy, strong and (of course) hydrated. Moisturised hair will look shinier, feel better and grow stronger.
Afro hair is prone to breakage, so moisturising your hair after washing will help to lock in moisture and combat breakages. You can lock in moisture by layering products using the LOC method.
First, apply a water-based moisturising product. Second, seal in the moisture with an oil (water evaporates easily from the hair, so you need a thick oil to seal it in — think coconut or jojoba-based hair oils). Finally, layer on cream; moisturising cream or leave-in conditioner will work wonders for your hair.
P.S. A really good way to lock in moisture after washing is to braid or twist your hair before going to bed. By doing so, hair strands will be bound closer together and moisture will be able to flow freely up and down the hair shaft. Even better, put a silk headscarf/durag or bandana on for maximum protection.
5. Protect Your Hair From Harsh Conditions
Just as your skin dislikes harsh conditions, so do your hair and scalp. Harsh environmental conditions can slowly (but consistently) damage your hair. Rain? Displaces moisture and makes your hair frizzy. Heat? Dries out your scalp and increases the chance of breakages.
If you know it’s going to be ridiculously hot, rainy or snowy, and you want to keep your hair looking and feeling fabulous, protect it with a headscarf, hat or bandana.
6. Consider Using Protective Styles
Like you, your hair needs a break. If you’ve been rocking a cool style for a few months and not given your hair a rest — and by rest we mean using a protective style.
Protective styles (and low manipulation looks) are ideal for afro hair care; they don’t take too long, look great and help keep hair clean and moisturised for up to 6-8 weeks.
Cornrows, plaits & twists— these all keep knots, hands and tangles at bay as you don’t have to handle your hair much.
If you want to learn more about protective styling, you can check out our blog here.
7. Use Natural Products
Of all the things you can do to look after your hair, switching to natural products (particularly a sulphate-free shampoo) is one of the best.
Natural shampoos contain ingredients like jojoba oil, coconut oil, aloe vera and other ingredients that are gentle on the scalp, known to improve hair health and growth and remove build-up without stripping your hair of moisture.
Our Swish sulphate-free shampoo, for example, contains 97% natural ingredients, is gentle enough to use once a week and combines aloe vera with fruity essential oils to cleanse and soften dry, curly afro hair.
You can then use our silicone-free conditioner to ensure that your hair is prepared for hydration without the buildup heavy silicones. The silicones that give you slip in the short-term but weigh down your hair strands over time, leading to dull, hard-to-manage hair. Using natural oils which, again, use super ingredients like coconut and jojoba oil to lock in moisture, combat breakage and aid growth.
8. Have A Balanced, Nutritious Diet
What you eat can influence the health of your hair. Unprocessed foods full of healthy oils and fats, such as salmon, nuts, olives, vegetables, whole grains, avocados, provide the vitamins and nutrients your hair needs to stay healthy and strong.
Remember, you are what you eat!
9. Don't Forget Your Supplements
As well as eating a balanced diet, we also recommend making sure that you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Having a vitamin deficiency makes people more likely to experience hair loss and many other problems. Vitamin C ensures hair growth, renews tissues and helps your body to absorb iron (which transports oxygen to your hair follicles), Vitamin B is responsible for the overall health of your hair, and vitamin E stimulates circulation on the scalp.
10. Get Regular Trims
OK, we want to be clear that trimming or dusting your hair won't "make your hair grow" but it will make your hair instantly look and feel healthier, and keep your looking shaped and neat.
11. Cover Your Hair At Night
How do you go to bed? If you want to make sure your curly or afro hair is its best, you need to switch up your nighttime routine. Cotton is super absorbent and basically robs you of all the moisture that you’ve been working on locking into your hair. Protect your hair with a simple night routine and trade your cotton pillowcase for a satin or silk one or get yourself a durag.
12. Don't Neglect Your Scalp
We always stress the importance of a balanced hair care routine because it's crucial for a healthy scalp and in turn healthy hair growth. We like to think of our scalp as an extension of our face, which is why we recommend regularly and properly cleansing and moisturising your scalp.
To further protect your scalp you can rub it with oily products to compensate for the sebum lost while shampooing.
Soothe was designed to help ease the itchiness that may have been caused due by scalp build up. Its anti-inflammatory properties also work to combat dryness and promote healthy hair growth. Applying such an oil to your scalp immediately after washing and a couple of times throughout the week should do the trick.
13. Avoid Heat
Drying your hair should be done without blowdrying it to reduce heat damage and prevent breakage. Did you know you can still get heat damage from blow dryers? Instead use a microfibre towel turban to dry your hair or T-shirt, it'll absorb the excess water quickly.
14. Remember Your Facial Hair!
We know that beards still need some TLC and Soothe can be a quick and easy way to add shine, help soften and lock moisture into a beard, especially after a shower. So after using Soothe expect combs to just glide through beards!
And that’s it, those are our 14 afro hair care tips for men. More than anything, it’s all about developing a routine that’s simple and easily repeated. These tips should give you a good foundation — and an idea of what products you should be looking for. The rest is up to you!