Afro hair girls: it's time to get those locks in formation. Whether you have coiled, kinky or wavy afro hair, we've got the best shampoos, conditioners, treatments and styling agents to keep your curls looking and feeling their best. This is our edit of the very best afro hair products, alongside some great tips and tricks to help perfect your haircare routine.
Afro hair itself is a lot weaker than caucasian hair types due to the structure of the fibre being more porous, and so being more prone to damage. So, when you overexpose this kind of hair to ingredients like SLS, and heated styling tools, damage can occur a lot quicker and a lot more easily. We have put together our edit of the best tips, tricks and products to looking after afro hair and keeping it looking and feeling its healthiest.
Best shampoo for afro hair
When looking at shampoos for afro hair, it's important to look for nourishing formulas that replenish the oils in your hair. This will keep your curls looking and feeling super soft, healthy and shiny.
There are 3 rules you need to follow when shampooing your afro hair, and these are our best tips:
1. Pre-shampoo treatments
A pre-shampoo treatment is pretty self-explanatory, but the science behind it is fascinating. Not only does it help to shield afro hair against damaging ingredients (such as SLS, but more on those below), yet it also feeds your hair with moisture and prevents further water loss throughout your haircare routine.
Our favourites are the KeraCare Thermal Wonder Pre-Poo Treatment, which contains both moringa and marula oils to rejuvenate parched afro hair and leave it feeling super soft and ready for the other products in your routine.
Other great treatments include the Matrix Total Results Re-Bond Pre-Conditioner, which is great for damaged afro locks, and the Leonor Greyl L'Huile De Leonor Greyl, which contains UVA & UVB filters for hair that's about to be sun-drenched.
2. Stay away from SLS
We've all heard the hype around SLS and why we should be keeping our locks away from it, but for afo-haired girls this couldn't be more true. SLS-free haircare products are less damaging because they don't dry out the hair as much, causing less frizz and encouraging smoothness.
Try the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo for a great sulphate-free alternative. Packed with omega-rich oils, not only is the shampoo super moisturising, but it gently cleanses your locks to leave them free from impurities and full of bounce.
3. Co-washing (aka cleansing conditioner)
Cleansing conditioners are brilliant for afro hair as they tend to be thicker and more luxurious so give your hair much more hydration and moisture. In addition, because they're essentially a 2-in-1 product, it reduces the steps (and so possibility of damage and dehydration) in your haircare routine.
Our favourite formula is the Joico Curl Crème Wash Sulfate-Free Co+Wash, which is not only sulphate-free, but also contains a blend of natural oils and reconstructive proteins to nourish afro hair and curly locks and leave them soft, bouncy and full of life.
Best conditioner for afro hair
Afro hair needs a lot of hydration in order to keep curls looking shiny and feeling moisturised and protected. Look out for key ingredients such as natural oils like olive and coconut. Shea butter is also another great ingredient, and unlike finer hair types which would be weighed down under such a hydrating ingredient, coarser and more textured hair can really benefit from it.
Our favourite afro hair conditioner is undoubtedly the Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner, as it contains both natural and certified organic ingredients to nourish, whilst also being free from sulphates. In addition, it smells absolutely divine and leaves locks beautifully fragranced throughout the day.
If your hair is super dry, opt for a leave-in-conditioner, which acts as a lightweight mask without needing the time for a full hair mask. We recommend the KerCare Leave-In Conditioner, which has a super concentrated formula that has the power of 3 conditioners; perfect for very dehydrated curls.
Best hair masks for afro hair
Due to its weakened and more porous structure, afro hair needs a little more TLC and nourishment, and the best way to get that is through weekly hair masks. Relaxed curls especially can benefit from hair masks as it helps to avoid the hair shaft from splitting and causing long-term damage.
For a super moisturising hit, try the Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask, which has argan oil at its heart to offer intense contioning. It not only improves moisture levels within hair, it improves manageability, shine and texture.
Oils for Afro Hair
Whether you wear your hair naturally curly or are a self-proclaimed GHD addict, you need a product that will smooth the hair and fight frizz. Oils are perfect for this, and in addition, they're a great way of adding in extra moisture and keeping afro hair hydrated throughout the day. Opt for rich formulas that will define and add nourishment, rather than lighter-weight formulas, which are better suited to thinner hair.
1. Best tips for using oils in afro and coarse hair
- Work oils onto your fingertips and smooth throughout the hair to help warm them up. This will help them glide through your locks and will mean you don't apply too much product and leave curls looking greasy instead of shiny.
- Depending on your individual hair needs, you can use oils on top of or instead of a leave-in treatment. If you have super dehydrated are, use both, whereas if your locks feel moisturised, skip the leave-in conditioner and go straight for the oil.
- Healthy hair starts at the scalp, so investing in a hair oil can help condition the hair right from the roots and keeps your scalp healthy.
2. Best oils for using on afro hair types
One of our favourite hair oils is undoubtedly the Kérastase Elixir Ultime Hair Oil. Its blended with a blend of natural oils like argan and maize to not only nourish, but fight frizz and improve shine. Plus, its scent is divine and lasts on the hair all-day long.
If you prefer an overnight treatment, try the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Essence Absolue Overnight Serum. It contains the brand's hero camellia oil and leaves locks under control, super soft and ready for the day ahead.
Best styling products for afro hair
Styling is the finishing touch that keeps your hair looking smooth and glossy. Curly hair has a tendency to be not as shiny as straight hair because it can’t reflect the light as well, so extra products and moisture can keep curls well defined and glossy.
- Serums and Shine Sprays add gloss.
- Gels, mousses and cremes can add definition and fight frizz.
The L'Anza Healing Style Curl Define contains the brands unique keratin healing system that not only heals and protects against further damage, but also encourages a really glossy and healthy shine.
Don't forget the ultimate styling weapon though in your afro hair arsenal. The Tangle Teezer Thick & Curly Brush has been especially designed for use on curly and afro hair and helps to effortlessly glide through knots without hurting your hair or causing split ends and damage.