Becky: You will remember Aina from when she joined us a few weeks back to talk you through some gorgeous wedding hairstyle ideas for Black brides. Today we welcome Aina back as she shares ten tips for afro hair care on the run-up to your wedding day... And beyond. Aina is a hair and make-up artist who also runs the Aina.M Academy where she teaches afro hair education. Enabling fellow hairstylists to open their services up wider to the Black community. If you're a hairstylist and would like to learn more about afro hair care and styling, make sure you check out the academy. Over to Aina.
Let me share some tips with you to get your curls and coils popping so your new vision can become your reality.
It can be daunting if you have natural hair and you are thinking about actually inviting it to your wedding day. It's a huge deal right? I'm sure when you were a little girl you most likely imagined yourself with flowing straight hair as you glide down the aisle but as you are starting to embrace your natural hair (whoop whoop) you may have started to picture yourself a little differently, which is amazing.
There is no time like the present so let’s get into it and start putting together realistic steps you can personally put in place leading up to your wedding day to get your fro looking healthy, shiny, and luxurious.
Afro hair care tips for your wedding
1. Take time to get to know your hair.
First of all, put some time aside to get to know your hair. If you are not familiar with your hair then you are not going to know what it needs and what products you are going to need to reach your hair goals. So make a date with your tresses and your mirror and get investigating.
Take a moment and ask yourself:
Is my hair dry?
Does it need a trim?
What is your hair type or curl pattern?
What is the health of my scalp like?
What do i want to achieve...is it length, volume etc?
And from all the things you have discovered, you can come up with a hair routine that is perfect for your hair. Once you have a routine in place and you see something that is not working, change it and if you see your hair flourishing obviously stick with it but no one is going to know your hair like you do.
2. Find the right shampoo
The job of shampoo is to clean your hair and scalp so try and find one that puts the hydration and moisture back into your curls, coils, and kinks. Washing your hair too often can strip your natural oils which defeats one of the main objectives of maintaining good afro haircare, which is to lock in the moisture. Put time and effort into finding a great shampoo that will do the things you need it to do for you.
I know this can be a costly journey but when you find the right shampoo combination it’s everything so don’t give up as the wrong shampoo can do anything from drying out your hair, leaving it more tangled brittle, and hard to manage and no one wants this, so pay attention to how your hair feels after you have washed it and take action.
3. Wash day
Wash day is a must. Your hair needs a whole day of loving and romancing. Wash day is a super important part of your wedding day hair routine as this is going to lead to healthy hair and yes it is called a wash DAY for a reason, as that is how long it can take, depending on how dense or kinky your hair is. Don’t try and fight it, it is what it so embrace your wash day. Time is necessary as you need to be oh so gentle with your crown so make and take time.
Your wash day can look like:
- Planning your wash day
- Detangling before you even start shampooing
- Shampooing in sections
- Detailing and add deep conditioner in sessions
- Use a heat cap for the conditioner to penetrate
- Rinse deep conditioner
- Take out excess water using a microfiber towel and air dry
- Moisturize or use the Loc method - whatever takes your fancy to get that moisture locked in
- Style or depending on how long it takes, you may be putting that silk bonnet to get ready for bed.
4. Deep conditioning
Listen up brides, this step is not to be missed. You will see a major difference in how your hair looks and feels when detangling. Trust me, you really will. This part of afro hair care is often skipped, because we don’t have time, and then a basic conditioner is used and then we call it a day. There is nothing wrong with this if you are pushed for time but a deep conditioner is a game-changer. It will really nourish your hair and you can even go that step further and use a heat or steam cap to really penetrate the product into your hair. I do this and it is worth the time. So once again look at what your hair needs, is it brittle? Is it damaged? and then find a deep conditioner to help fix these issues. After a deep condition hair will look shinner, healthier, and feel softer I personally leave my deep conditioner on throughout the night and wash it out the next day but anything from 5-30 mins upward and 2/4 times a month is also sufficient.
5. Get a trim
I used to avoid trimming my hair because I would always feel like I'd just been robbed after requesting a trim and received a cut that would bring water to my eyes. Having this experience time after time I stopped going for a trim but in the long run, I realised I was doing more damage than good hanging on to my split ends. Afro/curly hair should receive a trim every 8 - 12 weeks or when needed to remove any damage and split ends. This frequency will encourage healthy hair growth.
6. Nighttime routine
This is the part I struggled with when finding my routine. When it is later in the day I am oh so tired and the last thing I want to be doing is detangling, moisturising and braiding my hair but I started to see the benefits of my hair being easier to style in the morning and it looks and feels healthier. Braiding your hair before bed helps to seal the moisture in during the night. Also sleeping on a silk/satin pillow or with a silk bonnet stops moisture from becoming lost and creating friction which causes frizz and breakage. It takes effort, yes I agree but the benefits outweigh the task of spending 30 minutes or so at the end of your day. Let's make the nighttime routine a thing and put one in place as part of our afro hair care routine.
7. Cleanse your scalp
We tend to forget to give our scalp some TLC. Loving on your scalp is important to create a healthy environment for your hair to grow. If you think about it, it is like a plant. You need to water it and look after the soil that it is growing out from. If you have a healthy scalp it will promote healthy hair growth.
If you are actively trying to create a healthy scalp you can add certain food to your diet to promote a healthy scalp and hair growth. Such as fruit, veg and healthy fats.
When our scalps are neglected this can lead to an itchy scalp due to product build-up. When washing your hair spend a bit of time on your scalp by massaging the shampoo in a circular motion. It's also a good idea to gently exfoliate the scalp. This can be done with a scalp brush which will help remove the dead skin cells and promote healthy follicles.
8. Protective hairstyles
This is a great way to give your crown (and your hands) a much-needed break from your hair regime and daily manipulation of your hair. A protective style is supposed to protect your hair while allowing your ends to be tucked away for a bit. The purpose of a protective style is to protect your hairline and roots from harsh pulling and tugging. Pick your style wisely as not all protective styles actually protect your tresses.
9. Find a great oil
When using an oil on your hair the focus should be applying it on the end at least once a week. As we produce natural sebum that lubricates the hair strands that are closest to our scalp we do not need to over oil our scalp.
If you find your hair to be a bit drier than normal you may need to increase how many times you do this process and incorporate the oil not just at your ends but add the oil from your roots to your ends every few days.
There are so many oils you can incorporate into afro hair care and experiment with to find what your hair likes. Keep an eye on how your hair reacts with your oil. Coconut oil feels like it drys out my hair so I try and avoid it but it may be amazing on your hair, so find what suits you.
There are a number of different oils you can try with great benefits you just have to find what works for you:
- Almond oil - soften and strengthen your hair - scalp treatment
- Rosehip oil - promoting overall growth
- Sunflower seed oil - calm dandruff and relieve an itchy scalp
- Avocado oil - strengthen the hair shaft and help prevent breakage
- Coconut oil - strengthen hair and nourish the scalp
- Castor oil - promote hair growth
- Argan oil - help your hair maintain moisture
Love the journey
I think this is the most important tip, to love the journey. You personally loving your hair will make all the difference in how you feel about your hair and how you see yourself and this feeling will continue regardless of how other people perceive you and your hair. So along with the hair journey, work on the self-love journey, it will go hand in hand.
It's not called a natural hair journey for nothing, so regardless of where you are in your personal journey, it is never too late to start loving the fro, nourishing and nurturing it for your big day. You can start to implement any of these steps within the year leading up to your special day for you to see a positive difference in growth, strength and health. So get planning and put your hair routine in place for you to feel proud of your hair sitting with you at the head table on your wedding day.