Expert advice on how to maintain a healthy afro

Expert advice: How to maintain a healthy afro

Lucy Okpoko, a Hair Consultant and co-founder of Ruutos Hair, shares tips to help you maintain your natural hair with ease. She also looks at what you need to avoid when dealing with an afro.

A girl with afro natural hair
A girl with afro natural hair /iStock

September 15 marks World Afro Day. 

Afro hair is described as the natural hair texture of certain populations of the African diaspora.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talk around the importance of embracing natural hair instead of using chemicals to straighten it. 

The natural hair movement is gaining momentum with celebrities such as Lupita Nyong'o, Pearl Thusi, and Zahara loving their natural hair. 

One of the misconceptions about having natural hair is that it is hard to maintain. 

READ: Tips to take care of your hair extensions or weaves

Lucy Okpoko, a hair consultant, formulation chemist, and hair designer artist at popular hair salon Ruutos, says natural hair is easy to maintain as long as you know what is required. 

“Maintaining natural hair is very easy," says Lucy. 

She adds that what is important is to not only learn how to handle it, but to give it time to grow and thrive. 

“Patience is the number one thing that you need to learn with natural hair." 

She warns that using certain chemicals on the hair to straighten it can cause damage to your scalp. 

"Growing your own natural hair saves you from damaged scalp, chemical scalp trauma," she says. 

"Chemicals have serious bad effects on our scalp, they have bad effect on our hair. Growing your hair naturally will save you from scalp damage caused by chemicals," she adds. 

READ: Why hair treatment is important

The number one tip for maintaining your natural afro is to hydrate your hair. 

"All your need is hydration. Your hair needs water. Your hair loves hydration. If you hydrate your hair properly, the right way, the right steps, your hair will be happy," says the expert. 

She also warns against combing your hair everyday and says it is not necessary.

One of the biggest concerns that causes a lot of damage to natural hair is using the wrong chemicals.  

"Ditch your shea water and your coconut oils, those things when you apply them on your head, it makes your hair hard. That is why many people are saying their hair is hard. Hair foods are being slowly being faced out, but right now we are having a problem with shea butters, raw coconut oil, raw caster oil. Those things are making the hair hard," says Lucy. 

She adds that people need to wash their hair regularly and not leave hairstyles on for too long. 

"Avoid staying with your hair for up four weeks without washing it. It makes your hair hard, it will make your hair dry, it will make your scalp itchy," says the Ruutos co-founder. 

She also warns against twisting your hair before you sleep 

Lastly, Lucy warns against going to get your hair done to people who have not studied natural hair and understand the science of natural hair. This can lead to more damage than good. 

READ: What the doctors say about dyeing your baby’s hair

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Image courtesy of iStock/ @DMEPhotography

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