How to properly care for curly/kinky African hair

Properly caring for your crown helps one learn to embrace it and their identity better

A girl showing off her kinky African mane
Image: Courtesy; HANNIE PETRA

African kinky hair is a beautiful crown of natural curls that exudes strength, resilience, and versatility.

Whether you've recently embraced your natural hair or have been rocking your curls for years, caring for curly African hair is essential to keep it healthy, vibrant, and full of life.

Forget the stereotypes linked to kinky hair whether 4c or 3b here are some tried and tested tips to help you maintain your curly tresses without much hustle, thus unlocking the full potential of your main

1) Embrace the Moisture

One of the fundamental aspects of caring for African hair is maintaining its moisture levels.

Curly hair tends to be dry due to its natural structure, which makes it difficult for sebum (natural oil produced by the scalp) to travel down the hair shaft.

To combat dryness, use sulfate-free shampoos and co-wash (washing with conditioner) your hair regularly. Deep conditioning treatments once a week can provide a powerful moisture boost and help your curls stay soft and manageable.

2) Gentle Detangling

Curly African hair easily tangles, leading to breakage and unnecessary stress on the strands.

When detangling your hair, opt for a wide-toothed comb or your fingers instead of a brush to avoid causing damage. Start from the ends and work your way up to the roots, being patient and gentle with your curls. Consider applying a leave-in conditioner or detangler to make the process easier and minimize breakage.

3) Protective Styling

Protective hairstyles not only protect your hair from external elements but also reduce manipulation and breakage.

Braids, twists, bantu knots, and updos are great options to consider. However, ensure you don't leave protective styles in for too long, as they can lead to matting and tangling if not cared for properly.

A young girl with freshly done natural hair twist outs posing for a photo
Image: Courtesy; HANNIE PETRA

4) Regular Trims

Trimming is crucial for curly hair, as it helps get rid of split ends and prevents further damage. Regularly schedule haircuts every 8-12 weeks, even if you're trying to grow your hair out.

5) Night time Routine

To maintain your curls' integrity overnight, invest in a satin or silk pillowcase or wear a satin/silk bonnet to bed.

These materials create less friction than cotton, reducing frizz and breakage while you sleep. 

6) Embrace the Shrinkage

African kinky hair is known for its impressive shrinkage, where curls can appear much shorter than they really are when stretched out.

Embrace this natural phenomenon, as it signifies the health and vitality of your curls.

Image: Courtesy; HANNIE PETRA

7) Avoid Heat Styling

Heat isn't your hair's friend!

Limit your use of heat tools like flat irons and curling wands, as excessive heat can lead to dryness and damage.

Instead, explore heat-free styling methods such as twist-outs, or flexi rod sets if you desire length. These techniques can give you a variety of stunning looks while preserving the health of your curls.

Caring for African hair is an art that involves patience, love, and dedication. With the right approach, your hair will radiate its full potential becoming a true representation of your beauty and heritage.

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