September 6th 2016
Not Fair: 20 ways to simplify your afro hair care regime
June 3rd 2015
Smart, multitasking hair care from the high street: fast track your styling routine with these expert hair tips and hard-working hair products
Minimal effort, maximum results: now that’s one hair care mantra we can live by.
In the past, finding the right afro hair products for natural hair, curly hairstyles, straight styles, short or long hair, has proven to be a hard task. However, times are changing and we’re thankfully in the midst of a pretty exciting time in the beauty industry where products for a wider range of ethnicities, skin tones and hair types are now increasingly more available. “You now no longer need to go into specific parts of London or specific shops to find the right products,” says renowned hair stylist Johnnie Sapong. “You can now go into a wide range of shops on the high street and find them.”
How do you ensure though, that you’re making the most of these new products in the least amount of time possible? We asked some of the hair industry’s best for their top tips when it comes to correct product selection and clever time-saving techniques to ensure your entire weekend isn’t taken up catering to your hair. “Get into good habits now and it’ll soon become routine,” says Johnnie. There’s no better time to start than now.
When it comes to afro hair care, one size doesn’t fit all. “It’s important to understand what your hair type is and its texture,” says Johnnie. “Sometimes there’s the misconception that all afro hair is brittle and quite fine, but there’s a varying scale of textures. I have four mixed race sons and all of them have different hair types - sometimes a combination of my wife’s and mine, my mum’s or my father-in-law’s. And that’s just in one family. It’s about making an assessment and making the right choices based on that.”
So with that in mind, here are 20 ways to give your hair care routine a smart and effective high street makeover and the tricks you can employ to tailor it to your particular needs.
1. Pop on a ‘pre-shampoo’
An easy yet effective way to kick off your hair care regime, this involves adding an intensive conditioning treatment pre-shampoo to ensure you get more bang for your buck in the hydration stakes. “A pre-shampoo treatment such as Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment, £34.50 is always good for afro hair – it is perfect for detangling and softening locks before you go in with a cleansing product,” explains Jennie Roberts, Ojon Treatment Technician.
2. Opt for stress-free shampoo techniques
Avoid tangles and styling stress by making sure you employ the right techniques. “Massage hair away from the face and avoid washing it upside down too as this is when the hair tends to tangle more,” recommends Johnnie.
Subrina Kidd, Aveda Textured Hair Specialist adds, “Gravity can help when washing tangle-prone textured hair, especially if it is long. So opt for a shower rather than a bath.”
3. Pick the right shampoo
Good hair starts with good foundations and choosing the right shampoo will ensure that the rest of your hair care regime follows suit. “Obtaining the right moisture in hair starts with choosing the right shampoo,” says Johnnie. “Try not to shampoo more than once a week. If you can leave it for two weeks, that’s even better due to retention of moisture. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t use styling or detangling products in between washes (I’ll come onto that later). It’s about maintaining the right levels of moisture in the hair.”
Bumble and bumble Creme de Coco Shampoo, from £5.50: “It just does what it says on the tin and has highly moisturising properties.”
Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Shampoo, £22: “This acts as a great sealant for the hair by helping to lock in moisture as well as add to it, due to its infusion of oils.”
Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Shampoo, £21: Just the antidote for damaged hair, this golden elixir is fortified with a wealth of nature’s goodies to help restore hair back to its former glory.
4. Co-wash and go
If come the middle of the week and you’d like a little pick-me-up, co-washing could prove to be the perfect solution. “A favourite mid-week refresher that I always recommend is a co-wash,” says Subrina. “For example, if you have coily hair and wash your hair once a week but mid-week may need a refresh without wanting to lose moisture, then Aveda Be Curly Co-wash, £17.50 (launching on the 2nd of July) is ideal as it helps to retain moisture but at the same time gently cleanses and refreshes the hair.”
5. Handle your hair less
For natural hair that doesn’t want to lose its ‘just washed’ bounce, resist the urge to meddle too much. “The mistake most people make is over-handling their hair when wet,” cautions Jennie Roberts. “Use your fingers like an afro comb and gently move roots for lift. All work on roots should be done from underneath hair so as not to disturb the top texture.”
6. Use the best conditioners
“When it comes to picking a simple conditioner, the aim should be to provide lustre to the mid-lengths and protect the ends from the elements and from heating appliances,” explains Johnnie. “Depending on the thickness of the hair, apply a 10 pence amount to mid lengths and ends and work it in just by massaging it in slightly. Use a wide tooth comb, taking it to the ends and work through to detangle.”
Aveda Smooth Infusion Conditioner, £20.50: “The whole Smooth Infusion range is brilliant as it is so lightweight, but still has some guts! You get that moisture content, just without the heaviness.”
Bumble and bumble Creme de Coco Conditioner, from £6.50: a moisture-rich dry hair saviour that deeply conditions and de-frizzes in one fell swoop.
Ojon Rare Blend Moisture-rich Cleansing Conditioner, £18.50: A low lathering, sulfate-free shampoo that deeply cleanses gently and effectively.
Bumble and Bumble Quenching Conditioner, £25: “This is great if your hair is feeling particularly dehydrated,” says Johnnie.
7. Pimp your water
For a quick yet effective hydration hit, upgrade your water with a conditioning boost. “If you have a bigger curl and want to tame a bit of the frizz, I recommend filling a water spray bottle and adding some conditioner to it (putting in the same amount that you would use on the mid-lengths to ends) and spritzing it on,” suggests Johnnie. “It acts as a great inbetweener, detangler and revitaliser.
“In essence, you’re trying to give the hair a bit of extra love as well as prevent against heat damage and resultant breakage. You’re focusing on prevention rather than cure here.”
8. Wear bunches at bedtime
For a head start when you wake up, look to inject your bedtime beauty routine with some hairstyle preserving savvy. “To reduce shrinkage or wild-looking hair, section the hair before bed into bunches using cloth hairbands at the root, mid-length and the ends,” says Subrina.
9. Be clever with layering
Alternatively, do the twist instead for more coily hair types. “Afro hair comes in all styles and textures. For tightly coiled hair prone to shrinkage, twisting is a good way to achieve length and texture,” recommends Jennie Roberts.
“Experiment in layering hair with gels, conditioners and curling creams all at the same time until you find the right combination for your hair. There are various curling creams out there suitable for fine or coarse curls so try layering these with Ojon Rare Blend Deep Conditioner, £30, as a leave in conditioner – this technique works for me and my clients every time. It locks in moisture; hair remains supple and it is a really good weight for all curls.”
Jennie’s top tips for how to twist like a pro
- Take 1" to 2" sections of hair divided into two and twist hair together to make a long coil.
- Maintain tension so you elongate the twist as you go. Smaller coils will make the texture more defined, bigger coils make for a softer, bigger wave.
- Let hair dry thoroughly before untwisting. Be patient, this could take some time - but the result will last you for days.
- Pull out and you’re left with textured, natural hair which needs minimal styling.
10. Wear a T-Shirt...
“Use a cotton T-shirt in place of a towel,” recommends Jennie. “Wrap around hair and squeeze and blot - don't rub as this causes friction and can rip the hair.”
11. Sport a silk scarf
Prevent your pillowcase from getting in the way of a good hair day with the use of a tried and tested favourite - a silk or satin headscarf or bonnet. “The fabric is key in preserving the condition, as sleeping directly on a cotton pillowcase can result in absorption of the moisture from your hair - causing dryness and brittleness and breakage from the friction,” advises Subrina.
12. Banish flyaways on-the-go
To keep flyaways at bay and help maintain a healthy sheen when hair starts to dull, opt for a clever on-the-go multitasker to keep your style in check from day to night. “For keeping long or short hairstyles sleek, or even men’s styles, use Bumble and bumble Semisumo, £21.50, to keep away pesky flyways,” recommends Collette McGee, Bumble and bumble Live Educator. “Semisumo is a Beeswax based product which will tame hair with a high shine finish for luxurious and soft results.”
13. Pick the best hair treatments
Whether your hair is chemically processed, relaxed, straightened or just plain dry, deep conditioners that help put back what styling has taken out are a must for the long-term health of your hair. “Regular treatments are extremely important, particularly if you’ve used a chemical processor in the hair or regularly use tongs or straightening irons in order to keep the hair strengthened,” explains Johnnie.
“They particularly tackle regrowth where there are two different textures at play (frizzy roots and straight ends for example), which is particularly sensitive to breakage. Reactions to a relaxer can include the scalp and hair becoming much drier and can often lead to the appearance of ‘dandruff.’ More often than not though it isn’t dandruff and is actually dryness of the scalp - much like if the skin was exposed to too much sun and needed more moisturiser.
“Once the state of the hair has been changed, maintenance becomes key. It can be really good to introduce a multi-purpose conditioner here to replenish it as well as oil treatments too.”
Bumble and bumble Quenching Complex, £25.50: “This is a really good intensive treatment in my opinion and great to give some oomph back into both chemically treated and natural hair.”
Ojon Rare Blend Oil Total Hair Therapy, £30: “Its infusion of oils is able to penetrate the hair shaft better than just one oil could. It doesn’t sit on top.”
Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Treatment Masque, £29: Deeply nourishing and supremely quenching, this mask acts as a treat and a treatment in equal doses.
14. Go full steam
“If you’re time poor, a perfect way to deeply condition the hair is to shampoo it, put a treatment on, a shower cap and towel on top and then sit in a steam room and relax,” recommends Johnnie. “It beats having to use a hood dryer in a salon.”
15. Choose a straight hair multitasker
“A lot of textured hair clients like to wear their hair straight, but are trying to move away from chemical relaxers,” says Subrina. “It is possible to achieve sleeker looks with product technology. Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, £21.50, actually progressively loosens curls and has a unique cumulative effect – so something like this is an absolute revelation for textured hair!” Non-sticky and refreshingly hydrating too, it’ll make going straight less of the faff it once was, should you wish to change up your style.
16. Massage your way to a better head of hair
Great for circulation and stimulation, taking 5 minutes for a quick scalp massage when you’re in front of the TV acts as a fast way to better hair health. “You’re not trying to buff it vigorously, but are aiming instead, for a soft but firm massage - get your hands in there and feel your scalp moving rather than just moving your fingers around,” says Johnnie. “You’re looking to cleanse and invigorate the scalp as that’s where it all starts. If the condition of the scalp is healthy, it permeates to the rest of the hair.”
17. Invest in the right tools
When it comes to the contents of your tool kit, which gadgets are worth investing in? “For natural afro hair, invest in a wide tooth comb for when it’s wet so you’re not pulling or tugging on it,” recommends Johnnie. “You don’t really want to brush it. Even for relaxed and smooth hair types, I still use one as I don’t want to draw it out from the root.
"Secondly, you want a good afro comb and thirdly a round soft bristle brush for blowdrying and smoothing out hair if you want a straight look. Bristles are softer in texture (whether they are bore or nylon bristles) and ideal for the motion of stretching and redirecting the hair shaft to get that smooth look.”
And the best hairdryers? “I use Parlux hairdryers, from £54.95 due to their range of speeds and settings which can be adjusted depending on how time sensitive you are,” says Johnnie. “I also like the Babyliss Pro range too.”
18. Be smart about distribution of product
When it comes to application, a less is more approach is often best. “One of the biggest things that the Bumble and bumble team took away from working with a textured hair expert in the New York Bb Salon was the application of thermal protectants before blow-drying,” says Collette McGee. “We found the Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil, £31, and De-frizz, £22.50 were best.
“When applying, use little and often instead of applying product all in one go to ensure that the hair is constantly protected from the heat. Separate the hair into four sections and work one section at a time. Loosely rope-braid the sections you’re not working on to start to stretch out the hair,” she advises.
19. Opt for heat protection multitaskers
Streamline your hair care regime with a clever dose of multitasking heat protection know-how. “Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo, £23, and Conditioner, £25 are free of sulfates and contain built in heat protection to the highest standard so they won’t allow the hair to overheat,” says Collette.
20. Don a diffuser
Short on time but don’t want to singe your hair within an inch of its life? Use the attachments on your hairdryer to maximum effect. “Using a diffuser on your hand held hairdryer is a great way to speed up the drying process without causing heat damage,” recommends Subrina Kidd. “The diffuser releases the heat with minimal air-flow, allowing the hair to dry in its natural pattern. It’s almost similar to air-drying the hair in a warm room.”
To see these tips in action, along with the best techniques for getting the most out of your hair care regime with a wide range of Estée Lauder products, check out our afro hair care video with Johnnie Sapong below.
Written in partnership with Estée Lauder Companies.