Everything an Expert Wants You to Know About Looking After Afro Hair at Home

Trying to keep on top of any kind of normal beauty routine right now is more or less impossible. Nail bars have shut shop, who knows when spa breaks will be a feasible weekend option again, and hair salons far and wide are still, sadly, very much closed. And as more and more people seek ways to care for (and dare I say it, even cut) their hair at home, we’re of the belief that there’s no reason any of us should come out of this social-distancing period with our hair looking any worse than it did when we entered it. You’ve just got to have the knowledge. 

Multi-award-winning Afro hairstylist, Charlotte Mensah says, "Looking after your hair during quarantine is part of the building blocks of your psychological well-being. It’s a good time to embrace your hair and find out what makes it happy.” So without regular salon trips, how do you go about looking after your natural hair at home? Mensah advises giving it a bit of a break. "It’s time to focus on hair health by changing your hair and scalp routine. Since you’re staying at home, there’s more time now than ever to deeply condition the hair.” Keen to know Mensah’s top tips? Keep scrolling.

Think Moisture


(Image credit: @AYSHA.SOW)

The key to looking after Afro hair, advises Mensah, is to always think about moisture. "During this time, use moisturising conditioner and masks to strengthen the hair shaft and lock in moisture regularly. You can also use oils, creams and butters, as most Afro hair soaks up moisture like a sponge,” she says.

It’s worth reaching for such things post-wash. "Use deep conditioners followed by oils on wet (but towel-dried) hair, focusing on the mid-lengths and ends, which tend to get drier than the rest of the hair,” says Mensah.

Shop Moisturising Treatments

Wash Rarely


(Image credit: @SYMPHANISOTO)

The biggest hair mistake people make when caring for their natural hair at home according to Mensah? Overwashing. "Washing the hair too often and with piping hot water will dry out the hair and strip it of essential moisture,” she says. Instead, she advises washing your hair once a week with warm water to seal the cuticle layers.

The way in which you wash your hair makes a difference too. "Make sure you shampoo with a moisturising product that has extra emollient. Also, regular conditioning treatments help to maintain the lustre and moisture of both the hair shaft and scalp,” she recommends.

Shop Moisturising Wash Products

Work Overnight


(Image credit: @CHAMPAGNEMANI)

Another top tip from Mensah is to utilise the evenings as much as possible. "Conditioning hair overnight can treat many hair issues. It can moisturise dry strands, add a glossy shine and help repair and protect from damage,” she says. 

For the ultimate conditioning treatment, Mensah recommends applying nourishing oils the night before you shampoo. "Leaving it in overnight maximises the penetration of moisture, allowing the hair to retain elasticity and strength. Apply to either wet or dry hair. Once the oil is distributed throughout the hair, wrap it in a silk scarf.” 

And on that note, you should be utilising silk wherever possible. "Sleeping on cotton pillowcases draws all the moisture out of the hair and causes breakage. Instead, wrap the hair in a silk scarf or sleep on a silk pillowcase to promote healthier hair,” she says.

Shop Silk Pillowcases

Want to Let It Grow?


(Image credit: @AUDE_JULIE)

Without regular salon trips, now could be the time to let your natural hair grow. If this is something you like the sound of, Mensah advises looking beyond just your haircare routine. "Hair growth is greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. In order to assure good quality blood to the hair, you must supply your body with the proper nutrients, so a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables is a must, as is hydration.”

And although healthy hair growth starts with your lifestyle, there are some other measures that can be taken to ensure optimal growth. "Hair should be air-dried or blow-dried with a diffuser to maintain its most natural state. Avoid heat styling completely. To lock in moisture, keep the hair in loose braids or twist and wrap it in a silk scarf,” says Mensah.

Next up, I tried all of the trending beauty products on TikTok, and I have some thoughts.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.