Ethnic hair, or ‘afro-textured hair’, as it is sometimes called, refers to the natural texture of some population groups of the human race – mainly in Africa, and to a lesser extent in Southeast Asia. Ethnic hair appears very dense, largely due to the oval-shape of the follicles the hair stems from.
Ethnic hair does not grow evenly. This can be challenging – especially when it comes to managing it. For example, it is not uncommon for afro-textured hair to grow ‘looser’ at the back, and ‘tighter’ at the front.
Fortunately, there are many products on the market today that are just right for all of the kinks, coils, and curls of ethnic hair. Let’s look at 10 of them:
A rejuvenating scalp massager
Scalp massagers work to stimulate blood circulation, a phenomenon that channels more nutrients to the roots of the hairs. The powerful, regenerating effects of blood have long been documented. For example, Platelet Rich Plasma therapy harnesses the power of the platelet-cells to stimulate hair volume and growth. A scalp massager will help keep ethnic hair in great condition. Because the bristle-heads are so soft, these massagers roll over the scalp without tugging at the follicles – even dense, helix-shaped ethnic hair.
A wide-tooth comb
We’ve already spoken about hair density. A wide-toothed comb is a no-brainer. It makes de-tangling and combing much easier, and prevents hair breakages, frays, and split-ends. A smaller comb can be nightmarish for ethnic hair; we’d prefer natural finger-detangling over that.
Detangling creams work by essentially “pushing down” the hair fibers, and smoothing out their helix-shapes. A good detangling cream is essential groundwork before brushing. There are different types of detangling creams depending on the hair density, and some of them feel oil-free.
Hair can frizz when it gets dry. Frizzing is also a consequence of ethnic hair’s faster growth cycles than Asian or Caucasian hair styles. Frizzing may or may not be desirable. If it’s not desirable, then locking in the hair’s moisture is the key to keeping it frizz-free. There are many gels and oils on the shelves today that deliver and retain hydration, working to tame frizz and prevent flaking of the scalp.
An oil-shine spray
Oil-shine sprays enable that glossy, healthy looking look that everyone with a hair follicle on their head craves. But there are different types of oil-shine sprays for different hair. Ethnic hair, as we have well established by now, require sprays for the driest hair types. In this case, an oil sheen spray. Ethnic hair can take heavier oils without the strands looking too weighed down. A sheen can also texture ethnic hair, defining the curls and elongating them.
A miracle of contemporary hair-care technology, good correcting milk can bring ethnic hair back to life – especially hair that’s been zapped with heat exhaustion or by chemical processing. Correcting ‘milks’ shore up a ‘thermal protector’ that makes use of resins and deep-sea minerals to control frizz and even restore curl memory. Milks can even be used to sculpt new curls into the desired pattern.
‘Deep cleaning’ shampoo
Ethnic hair requires a shampoo that sinks right down to the roots, clearing away unwanted residue and dirt and nourishing at the same time. So keep an eye out for deeply nourishing shampoos free of sulphates. Sulphates strip away many of the vital nutrients and oils that keep ethnic hair radiant and healthy. A deep cleaning shampoo leaves no fragment of the hair untouched; this leads us naturally to our next recommendation…
Overnight scalp ‘elixirs’
Talking about a deep clean to lock in moisture, the beauty of most scalp elixirs is they do their work overnight. Scalp elixirs purify and energize the scalp, delivering the vitamins necessary to strengthen the hair – vitamins including biotin and folic acid. A good elixir also doubles-up in the fact that it adds volume to thinning hair, so cosmetically at least, it can make hair look and feel significantly better.
The unsung hero of essential hair products; pre-shampoo treatments use a variety of oils to rejuvenate parched ethnic hair, giving it a super-soft feel – and all before the routine really begins. Some of our favourites include both moringa and murala oils for extra softness.
Cleansing conditioners are well primed for afro-textured hair as they are thick agents – ideal for really soaking in and hydrating the frizzy and dry follicles. A good cleansing conditioner will be free of sulphates, be stuffed with natural oils and proteins, and will fend off moisture loss and hair damage for as long as it can.
The ethnic hair industry is growing rapidly in the UK, with estimated revenues of about £60 million a year. There has never before been so much choice for BAMEs looking to hydrate, nourish, and show off their hair. But sometimes too much choice isn’t always a good thing. With ethnic hair more likely to be dryer, weaker, and prone to breakage, it is important to only choose the right products. We hope this guide has been of some direction to our readers.
This article was written by Regrow Hair Centre, a hair loss clinic based in Essex. Maintaining good hair sometimes goes beyond hair products. And although hair loss is less common amongst afro-textured groups, it still exists. Hair loss does not have to be forever, so make sure to do something about it, if it makes you unhappy.