Anyone that was born with, or has had to deal with Afro hair, knows how complex this texture of tresses is. With complexity sometimes comes frustration. Many Black women will spend the majority of their lives trying to figure out their hair. In the process of figuring it out, a lot of money will be spent. In fact, Black British women spend six times more on hair than their white counterparts, yet we only make up around 4% of the female population.
Granted Black women that are lucky enough to sport Afro hair are often more than happy and willing to invest on the creme de la creme of hair in order to keep their crown in tip top. However, the problem is that putting money on a product doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good for it.
Whether kinky, coily, wavy or straightened, naturally-textured, Afro hair has unique needs, requiring a bespoke regime to ensure optimum results and hair health. From masks that boost moisture levels, to creams that define curls, to detanglers that work on the most complex of knots, we called in the experts to recommend their all time favourite products that have been specifically formulated for textured hair.
To help define the best of the best for Afro hair, we asked an esteemed panel of hair experts for their picks, including Vernon François, global hairstylist and the visionary behind the hair of A-list clients including Lupita Nyong’o and Serena Williams. Vernon also founded his very own haircare brand, bringing red-carpet results to all, so he just gets it.
Fellow brand founder and stylist Charlotte Mensah is also here to help, sparing time from her back-to-back salon schedule to recommend her ultimate array of texture-enhancing, curl-nourishing products.
We’ve also asked Subrina Kidd, hair stylist at Hair By The Collective and an expert in styling and treating textured hair. She has over 20 years of experience under her belt, working on the most exclusive fashion shows as well as magazine editorial photoshoots.
Plus, Ateh Jewel brings her expertise as an award-winning beauty journalist, sharing her personal hair heroes. Another award-winning journalist and editor of Black Hair Magazine, Keysha Davis has also revealed her extensive knowledge to help us uncover the very best formulas to cater to the unique hair needs of textured hair.
Keep scrolling to discover the ultimate product guide to treating, styling and caring for textured and Afro hair with recommendations for co-washes, shampoos, conditioner, masks, leave-in conditioner, detanglers, oils, blow-dry protectors, hair butters, curl definers, the lot…
It’s the foundation to a comprehensive hair care regime, which can prep hair for any treatments that follow, so it’s important to choose a good shampoo. The best shampoos will provide a thorough cleanse of strands and scalps, without stripping the hair of essential moisture. Luckily, our panel of textured hair experts have whittled it down to fast track your search…
Subrina’s shampoo of choice is the Aveda Dry Remedy Shampoo, £24.50, Look Fantastic. “I love this shampoo because it is just so hydrating. It still cleanses thoroughly, but while moisturising,” says Subrina. Keysha recommends the Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Shampoo, £24, Net-A-Porter. “This rich, creamy cleanser leaves my thick, coily hair feeling smooth and nourished, priming it for styling,” While, Hairstylist Mimi Kone says: “I always go for Keracare Hydrating and Detangling shampoo because as soon as you apply it into the hair it instantly soften it and the hair feel less dry and more hydrated and moisture.”
Rich, moisture-restoring nourishment is the name of the game when it comes to choosing a conditioner for textured hair. Luckily, there’s a plethora of expert formulas, packed with natural oils and intelligent ingredients that promise in-shower results. Here are the experts’ favourites…
Ateh’s go-to? The Aveda Dry Remedy Conditioner, £27, Look Fantastic “This leaves hair feeling silky soft with Organic jojoba oil and makes your bathroom smells like a spa,” While Charlotte rightly picks her own product, the Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Conditioner, £24, Net-A-Porter, she carefully created to really cater and enrich curls and coils. “It’s a rich creamy formula that nourishes each strand by replenishing lost moisture. Plus, it replenishes and protects the hair from further damage from styling and heat tools,” she says. While Mimi says: “I love KeraCare Humecto Crème Conditioner 8oz, £8.45, Look Fantastic it has been my go to conditioner for my clients with Afro and curly hair who haven’t had any keratin.” For best results, leave the conditioner on hair for at least 10 minutes and watch it work its magic.
Keysha’s reccom is the Dizziak Deep Conditioner, £22, Cult Beauty. Aside from the impressive blend of Quinoa Protein, Babassu Oil, Inca Inchi, Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, it’s the heavenly smell that sets this conditioner apart; “the citrus scent of this enriched conditioner is just one of the reasons why I continually go back to it during wash day,” she says.
It’s the moisture, nourishment and the scent for me. This Maui Moisture Smooth & Revive+ Vanilla Bean Conditioner, £5.99, Boots has a supple blend of vanilla, cocoa and kukui nut oil. With aloe vera as its main ingredient it does an excellent job at taming dryness in Afro hair, making it way more manageable to detangle.
An essential in every textured hair regime, a hair mask is not only an intensive treatment to restore vital moisture but it can also provide a moment of much deserved pampering. From bounce-boosting treatments to oil-based creams, here’s our round up of the best masks for textured hair.
“The Big Hair Deep Conditioning Clay Mask, £20, Big Hair is a great home-care Treatment/Mask. The Moroccan Rhasssoul Clay helps reduces dryness while removing toxins and product build up. Leaves hair soft and moisturised.” says Subrina.
“I’m a huge fan of Bouclème and love the Bouclème Intensive Moisture Treatment, £29, Look Fantastic. It’s great for leaving my 4C coils bouncy and moisturised with softening marula oil. I put it on before hitting the steam room for a deep treatment,” says Ateh.
Containing pure Shea Butter, Cantu Shea Butter Deep Treatment Hair Masque, £7.99, Superdrug penetrates deep into the hair shaft to repair damaged and chemically treated hair, making it one of Mimi’s go-tos.
This Osmo Intensive Deep Repair Mask, £9.49, Amazon is very effective in restoring curls, by nourishing and moisturising the hair scalp to tip. Works best by applying it to partially dried hair from the scalp down the hair shaft, wrapped with a hair cap or cling film (adding heat is a bonus) and left for 10 minutes for maximum results.
Anyone with curls can understand that the struggle is real when it comes to de-tangling, but there’s no denying that a good comb-out results in beautifully separated and defined curls and hair that gleams with health. These tried-and-tested detangling products help to make the process a little more manageable (and a little less painful!).
“This The Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush, £12.99, Naturalistic Products is easily adaptable on all hair types! Kinky Curly, Curly, Wavy, Straight. For best results use the brush during conditioning treatments,” says Subrina.
“This Charlotte Mensah Paddle Brush, £22, Net-A-Porter has been a game changer. I used to spend hours detangling both my twin girls hair, now it’s done in 10 minutes with no fuss and yelps,” says Ateh.
This brush makes wash days something curly haired curls should look forward to! With extremely flexible teeth, as the name suggests this is the ultimate detangling brush that will reduce tension on your tresses and protect it from intense shedding. It glides through the knots more smoothly that other brushes making the process pain free and saving you a whole lot of time.
5. Leave-In Conditioners
If your hair is prone to dryness, it can cause it to look brittle and dull as well as compromising your curls. A good leave-in conditioner acts as an extra layer of protection to help to safeguard against dryness, providing a dose of lasting nourishment that keeps hair hydrated until your next wash. Our expert panel reveals their favourites…
“This non-sticky, non-heavy, day-to-day Vernon François Leave-In Conditioner, £14.17, Net-A-Porter defines kinks, curls, coils and waves without weighing them down. With African tulip tree extract, and amino acids to help build strength within the strands for a vibrant and nourished finish,” says Vernon.
“This Bouclème Curl Cream, £19, Look Fantastic is my standard go to! It’s lightweight truly suitable for a wide range of textures and curl patterns ranging from Coily- Kinky, Curly to Wavy. I love the smell is not imposing. It’s light and fresh. I love that you don’t need to habitually reapply you can alternate every few days. Love it for a wash and go, finger coiling or twist out with a little oil. I love that it contains Shea Butter but is so lightweight,” says Subrina.
Hair stylists Mimi Kone and Charlotte Mensah both rely on this Keracare Natural Textures Leave In Conditioner, £5.74, Sephora to provide lasting moisture to hair thanks to a blend of Ayurvedic botanicals that nourish hair while still wet, while Argan oil promotes optimum hair health; “Keracare leave in conditioner really helps to nourish and condition, leaving hair moisturised,” says Charlotte.
“This Cantu Coil Calm Detangler, £7.49, Superdrug is perfect for keeping my hair hydrated and tangle free in-between wash days. It’s light, effective and works well when cocktailing with other products from the brand,” says Keysha.
Co-washes not only save time in the shower, but also offer a gentler way to wash hair and safeguard against the dryness that can occur with stripping shampoos. GLAMOUR finds out which ones the experts recommend.
“I’m not a huge fan of co-washes as I always prefer to have a sudsy, squeaky clean wash, but this As I Am Dry and Itchy Scalp Care Olive and Tea Tree Oil Co-Wash 454g, £13.45, Look Fantastic comes pretty close to a traditional shampoo. The peppermint and tea tree oil ingredients provide the scalp with a cool, nourishing cleanse,” says Keysha.
“The Bb.Curl Custom Conditioner, £28.50, Liberty is laced with Brazilian oils to help curls looking juicy. You can use it as a cowash or as a leave in treatment and is totally customisable,” says Ateh.
“This Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner, £11.99, Superdrug is sulfate-free and blended with agave and shea, this deeply moisturises and detangle curls,” says Charlotte.
“The Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Comp Conditioning Co Wash, £6.99, Sephora gently removes impurities and product build up, while infusing vital moisture. It’s the best,” says Mimi.
Finding the perfect oil for your hair is no mean feat. Too thick and it becomes greasy, but too lightweight and it doesn’t offer enough moisture. Luckily, we’ve called in the experts to recommend their favourites to aid your search.
This ORS Olive Oil Sheen Spray, £4.86, Look Fantastic is an African mum bathroom cabinet staple, and that’s because it does what it says on the can. It gives the hair glossy sheen so it’s perfect for styling, whether you have your hair up in a bun, loose or you can spritz it over your weeks old box braids to restore that week-one shine.
“Hands down at the moment my favourite is the Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Oil, £31, John Lewis. It’s lightweight, absorbent and moisturising,” recommends Subrina.
“Packed with naturally-sourced Manketti nuts to deliver moisture without weighing the hair down, this Charlotte Mensah Manketti Hair Oil, £48, Net-A-Porter instantly improves shine and combats frizz,” says Charlotte.
“I love the fact that this Moroccanoil Treatment, £32.85, Moroccanoil is a classic hair staple and is so light in consistency, pure and multi-purpose. I use it as a heat protector, to seal my hair, and as a hot oil treatment,” says Keysha.
8. Hair Butters
To deeply nourish dry or coarse hair, there’s nothing better than a hair butter. Here, we asked our panel of experts for their top picks.
“The Camille Rose Naturals Curlaide Moisture Butter 240ml, £12.50, Look Fantastic is a great moisturiser to inject my hair with nourishment when it’s feeling a little dry and unloved. It’s blended with quality natural ingredients including shea moisture, coconut oil and castor oil, which results in a rich buttery textured cream that exudes quality,” says Keysha.
“This SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie, £12.99, Boots is perfect for looser thirsty curls and helps to keep them hydrated with Coconut and Neem oils,” says Ateh.
“This Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Enhancing Butter 12oz, £12.99, Superdrug shields hair from everyday wear and tear and boost the hair natural shine thanks to a blend of seven essential oils, including jojoba, soybean and sweet almond,” says Charlotte.
“This Keracare Natural Textures Butter Cream 227g, £10.70, Look Fantastic contains Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Amla & Shikakai (Ayurvedic) Botanicals, Argan and Abyssinian Oils to hydrate and keep hair healthy,” says Mimi.
9. Curl Definer
Whether you’re looking to wash and go, twist and define, or up the shine factor, these expert approved defining products offer the perfect solution to all your curl woes.
“This rich and smooth Styling Cream is excellent for helping to shape protective styles like twists as well as emphasising the natural curls and kinks of all hair types. It distributes easily and evenly without any stickiness, stiffness or flaking. Texture-loving ingredients are blended into a pure water base, including coconut oil to smooth, shea butter for softness, witch hazel water for shine, argan oil with vitamin E to deliver moisture and nourishment, and olive oil for a beautiful silky feel,” says Vernon.
“It gives maximum definition and shine, which is both lightweight and tangible. My tip if you want to switch it up for a straight look is to do a wrap set (it’s a more sustainable way of protecting your hair from heat damage or tension),” says Subrina.
“Great for a wash and go and Twistout/ Braidout or Bantu set. It is super lightweight with a natural shine. While it is great for fine to medium hair textures, I have also used it on thicker textures which are coily and kinky for a great twistout. The beauty of this product it’s not greasy and your hair so tangible” says Subrina. “Love it!”
“I love this product because it Intensifies curls, tames frizz and increase shine,” says Charlotte.
“This is a gel-based curl definer that’s extremely light in formula and gives my 4c type coils a more elongated curl definition than normal. It smells amazing, and with active ingredients of linseed extract, virgin coconut oil and aloe vera, leaves your curls soft and crunch-free too,” says Keysha.
10. Blow Drying Protectant
A good protecting hair product can not only safeguard against heat damage from your heat styling tools, but it also helps to lock in moisture and protect from environmental aggressors and UV rays. We’ve asked the experts to recommend their go-tos.
“On the rare occasions I blow-dry or heat style my hair, KeraCare’s Silken Seal can always be relied upon to adequately protect my strands while also emitting a healthy shine,” says Keysha.
Boasting a pro-keratin formula, this spray helps to strengthen hair as well as protect; “it’s a great multitasker. It really helps to improve shine as well and protecting against heat damage,” says Ateh.
“This product provides three layers of protection – against UV rays, up to 400 degree heat, and against dryness, providing an instant hydration boost for dry hair,” says Charlotte.
“I love the luxury lightweight mist. It protects, softens and it leaves the hair with body and a gorgeous natural shine. I’ve been using it religiously for 4yrs! Don’t get me started on the smell! Just divine,” says Subrina.
11. Hair Gels & Edge Control
The wand of this edge control makes for a great applicator, which means you can style your baby hairs quickly. It uses that very efficient got2b glue formula strong enough to hold down wigs in place come rain or shine.
The perfect gel is best used with wet hair to slick down buns or define curls. Ideal as it dries with no white cast, so you can apply the product generously.
All the extra hold without looking like a burnt crisp. With this gel, a little goes a long way, and it can slick back the coiliest of curls in an instant, once mixed with wet hair.
This gel carries multi-functions prioritising stronghold to control baby hairs, leaving you with a glossy and smooth finish. It is also formulated with rosemary, mint, and biotin which promotes hair growth. A win-win.
For more from Glamour UK Beauty Writer Shei Mamona, follow her on Instagram @sheimamona
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