The afro. The ultimate black hairstyle, effortlessly cool and always in style, over the years it’s become a legendary symbol in its own right, an iconic representation of afro-identity and ethnic power (let’s ignore its white counterpart, the Jewfro, for the time being). Due to the afro’s continued relevance and cultural ubiquity it’s become a monolith in our culture, as much a political statement as it is a simple hairstyle.

But taking proper care of an afro is no mean feat- it’s a difficult enough decision just to go natural, let alone continue to nurture and care for your hair so it fulfils its true potential. It may not always be an easy task, but if you want your hair to look its best you’re going to have to invest some serious time & effort in order to get it right.

In this guide, we’ll run through some easy, basic tips that will help you unleash your own hidden ‘fro, and provide you with a few pointers to help you style and nurture it. Warning: may cause sporadic bouts of Afrocentricity.

Taking Care of Curly Afro Hair

Kinky hair, also known as afro-textured or “nappy” hair, is the most common type of curly hair. It is also the one that requires the most maintenance, requiring specific grooming and preparation to work properly. This type of hair is most commonly (though not exclusively) found on people of African Descent, and is the type of hair most associated with the afro-look.

Kinky hair is typically the most difficult type of hair to maintain- Each hair strand grows with an irregular surface and low tactility, which in turn makes them hard to style and easy to break. So if you’ve got naturally kinky hair, try and do a little planning before deciding how you want to proceed.


Hair Cutting Tips

Volume isn’t an issue when dealing with curly afro hair, so when you do go to cut your hair try and avoid styles that are either too geometrically balanced or have too many straight lines: these can easily grow out of proportion and give you a ‘mushroom’ or ‘pyramid’ looking cut if you don’t watch out.

If you want to lay down the groundwork for a traditional afro cut, first start by trimming all of your hair to the same medium length, between 2-6 inches depending on the length of your hair and how big you want your ‘fro to be. As your hair grows out, keep on top of it with regular trims to make sure that everything stays the same length and retains that all-important round, spherical look that’s so essential to the afro style.

A common variation in the afro-look is when the hair is deliberately kept at a cropped level, usually no more than 1-2 inches. This is known as the TWA- the ‘Teeny Weeny Afro’. A TWA  typically occurs when growing an afro from a clipped length; the kinky hair can start to take on a circular shape from as little as the ½ inch mark, and as it continues to grow in length, will sprout into a solid foundation for a traditional afro to emerge from.


Styling Curly Afro Hair

The biggest issue with kinky hair is that it becomes incredibly dry very quickly, and requires near-constant moisturisation to avoid frizzing and keep the hair at its best. As such, you should try and condition your hair every time you wash it, which depending on the length and volume should be practically every day of the week.

In general, good hairstyling products to use on the afro include styling creams, natural oils and a variety of conditioners (which ones are dependent on your shampoo use). Natural oils should be used to coat your hair from the mid-length to the tip of the lock. They should be applied when the kinky hair has been dried to a damp state – for optimal results proceed to apply the products then allow the hair to dry on its own.

Although you can use a hair dryer to speed up this process it is advised that you avoid doing this if possible- the hot air from the blow dryer can quite quickly suck out all of the moisture you’ve just applied and leave your hair dry and frizzy, bringing you all the way back to square one.

To use a hair conditioner, first coat your hair with the product by spreading some in your fingers and rubbing it in your hair, again from around the mid-length to the tip (Make sure it never goes down to the root though- you want that to stay dry and strong so that it can support the rest of your hair).


You can also apply a rinse-out conditioner to your hair whether you’ve shampooed or not, the choice is up to you. Whilst ideally you should know your own hair cleaning schedule and frequency, to maintain its optimal look you should be washing your hair at least 3x a week (Rule of thumb: wash it one day for each inch of its length).

Whilst you can structure your conditioning days whenever you want, remember that you must condition your hair every time it gets shampooed in order for it to maintain its moisture.

As you can see, the real difficulty with this hairstyle is not the act of growing it and puffing it out, but the near-constant retouching and maintenance required to keep on top of it and have it looking its best.

To help retouch your locks and perfect your puff, invest in a good quality afro-comb and use it regularly to untangle and retouch the kinks and knots that may form in your hair.

Never try and use anything but a proper wide-toothed afro comb or your fingers to style your hair- Other brushes and combs are too fine to be effective, can ruin the natural curl of your hair and cause many more problems than they solve. Just stay away from them. Similarly, you should only ever attempt this process when your hair is damp, and never when it is fully dried. Apply the styling products when your hair is damp, and then touch up your hair and do the relevant styling and maintenance.

Style your curls carefully with your afro-comb and try not to pull too hard- kinky afro hairs are brittle and will break easily when pulled!

afroselfie           Andre_C


Because curly afro hair is the most fragile of all hair types, it’s care must be optimized to achieve the best results. If you’re looking to style this kind of hair make sure you follow the rules- it may seem like a big commitment at first but with a bit of routine and repetition you’ll have the process down in no time.

It’s not difficult to cultivate and maintain a rockin’ fro- and if you can muster up enough discipline to get it done right, who knows what else you could accomplish now that you have an awesome haircut?

Love Afro Cosmetics is one of Europe’s oldest and well-established retailers for Afro-based hair and beauty products. Their most popular store is located in London W3, with similar branches located throughout Europe.