There is nothing worse than running your fingers through your natural afro hair and feeling as though you’re running them through a bale of hay. Afro hair should be soft and luxuriant, but when it comes to afro hair it’s not always that easy.
So, what can you do to achieve supple, silky coil and curls? We went on the hunt for some top tips to help you achieve enviably soft afro curls and coils that have strength and stretch. Warning! Some of the natural hair treatments sound good enough to eat too, though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it!
The combination of ingredients in this treatment draws moisture from the air and into your hair, which makes it softer and easier to manage.
All you have to do is combine a 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses, 1/4 cup of oil, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and, wait for it… 3 jars of banana baby food (seriously, we are not making this up!). It’s a good idea to use baby food as opposed to just pureeing bananas, as they are more difficult to wash out and you don’t want to end up smelling like a fruit salad for days!
Mix all the ingredients together and apply to damp hair in sections using an applicator brush. Make sure you don’t comb it through though, the mixture is very gloopy so you don’t want to damage your hair.
Once you’ve applied the treatment all over, pop on a shower cap and leave it anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. Rinse thoroughly before washing and conditioning your hair as normal to ensure that you’ve got it all out.
Leftovers will refrigerate until next time, providing nobody eats it! Let Cassandre Beccai show you how to do it.
The Cherry Lola Treatment is the brainwave of blogger Cherry Lola, who worked out that the solution for damaged hair – which is simply protein – is to put the protein back in! And it definitely delivers softer and more manageable hair.
The ingredients are simple. Just grab 2 cups of organic plain yoghurt, 10 tbsp of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (which can generally be found in health food stores, or online if you’re reading from the UK) and 2 ½ -3 tbsp of baking soda.
Once the ingredients are all mixed together and have been left to become foamy, apply it to clean hair in sections. After 20 to 40 minutes, rinse your hair and then wash it to make sure all the mixture has gone.
If you want to avoid protein overload, you can use less amino acids and/or leave the mixture on your hair for less time.
Henna is known for softening hair and giving it a fantastic shine. You’ll need 4 green tea bags, 2 tbsp of honey and a 150-200g jar of henna, depending on your hair length. You’ll also want plastic gloves, a plastic cap, a plastic bowl and spoon (and maybe newspaper for the bathroom floor if it’s your first time!).
Heat up two cups of water until they are almost (but not quite) boiling. Pour the water into the jug and add the tea bags and let them steep for a while. Once the tea is starting to cool, put the henna powder into a bowl and slowly pour on the warm tea (take the bags out though!) until you achieve the consistency of mashed potato.
Wash and condition your hair and detangle it using your fingers (this is less harsh than a comb), then wring it out until it is damp, but not soaking wet.
Add the honey to the henna/tea and mix until you get the consistency of a thick pudding.
Then part your hair into two sections, pick a side, start at the back and clip the rest of the hair out of the way. Smoosh (I love that word!) the henna throughout your hair but try not to manipulate it too much. Work from back to front until all hair is covered and then repeat the process on the other side. You can store leftovers in the freezer!
Fold your hair up and put on a sexy plastic cap - you could even go to sleep with it still on! Cotton balls can be used under the edges of the plastic cap to catch any drips and prevent you from staining your pillow!
When you’re ready, fill the sink or bathtub with warm water and dunk your head for several minutes, gently using your fingers to loosen the paste. Once almost all of the henna is out, apply a conditioner (a cheap one is recommended as you may go through the entire bottle!) and hop into the shower to finish off. Keep rinsing and conditioning until it’s all gone.
Once your hair is henna free, apply a deep conditioning treatment, then style as normal and enjoy your new soft, fabulous head of curls. Watch the fabulous Craving Yellow show you her henna treatment tips.
Santana Maria offers a tutorial on the coconut milk treatment, which is known to be very effective at softening afro hair.
You will need a can of coconut milk, 2 tbsp of honey, 2 tbsp of oil (any oil will do but opt for coconut if you want to stay with the theme!), 4 tbsp plain organic yoghurt, the juice of a lime and cornflour to thicken the mixture.
Mix everything in a bowl except for the cornflour: add this half a teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Once again, apply in sections to washed hair. Leave the mixture on for 30 minutes before washing out with sulphate free shampoo and conditioner.
The Conditioning Treatment
This sounds all too simple but it works as conditioners are made to coat hair with softening ingredients. If you have braids or twists in your hair, make sure you unravel them as you need to make sure the conditioner comes into contact with each strand of hair. You can rebraid or retwist your hair once the conditioner has been applied if you want to control shrinkage.
You can make a conditioning treatment more effective if you heat the conditioner first (using a water bath) and wrap your head in a towel to keep the heat in after the application. Heat increases the amount of conditioner that deposits on the surface of your hair, which means you’ll get even more softness!
Keep the conditioner on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing.
Of course, there are various methods and tutorials on these treatments out there and they all may differ slightly in their ingredients and processes. But in each instance, there is the outcome we want to achieve: soft, beautiful afro curls that feel luxurious to the touch and will make you feel like a million dollars.
Do you have a favourite method for softening natural hair? Let us know in the comments below!
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