Hair Care

Natural afro hair care: The basics

Natural Afro Hair Care

HeyTresses! It’s my first blog y’all!! I’m so excited to finally share my failures and successes from my natural afro hair care journey. 

Twenty-four years ago I went bald to attend a boarding military school. Yeah, it was by choice, haha! Four years into it I had to leave because my family relocated to a different country (but I’m still a GAMUS girl for life!). 

I pretty much re-grew my hair from then on and decided not to relax it anymore. The past 20 years living with my God-given natural hair has been a learning process with trials and errors and my hair being my teacher.

I tried my best to be an attentive student but I believe I am still learning. Learning from the errors, celebrating the wins and trying my best to really listen to my hair.

Now to the point…

There are basic things you need to know about your afro hair to be able to fully make sense of what your hair tells you when you use a hair tool or hair product. I’m gonna break it down for you so stick with me on this post y’all.

Have you ever wondered why natural afro hair regimen isn’t universal? Do you sometimes ask yourself, “why isn’t my hair growing like other people’s hair?” Have you followed a YouTube tutorial and didn’t achieve the same results as what you saw in the video? Have you given up on your hair because, “well, it’s unruly”, “it has a mind of its own”, I don’t have the time”, “I can’t be bother”.

Sis, if any of this is you, A GATCHU!! I’m going to explain why starting from the basics.

Let’s call it “The basics of natural afro hair care!” 

Each head of hair has unique characteristics that influence hair behaviour. Understanding these characteristics and how they apply to you could help you determine the best regimen and products for your hair.

In this post, I breakdown the 6 main characteristics of hair:

  • Type
  • Length
  • Density
  • Porosity
  • Elasticity
  • Thickness


This is determined by genetics but of course can be altered temporarily by heat or permanently with chemicals. Andre Walker’s hair typing system classifies it according to the “shape of your hair strand”. He described four categories (Type 1 – straight; to Type 4 – coils) and 3 subcategories in each category (a, b, c).

We all know types 3 & 4 are the most common hair types in the afrocentric natural hair community.

Understanding your hair type helps you understand what styling tools and styling techniques work best for you. For example, while type 3a/b/c/4a hair might get away with a Denman brush, I often advice to use a wide-tooth comb for type 4b/c hair.

Most of you in the natural afro hair community know your hair type, therefore I won’t go too deep into it. Below is a picture guide to hair types if you’re still wondering which is yours.

It is absolutely normal to have more than one hair type on one head.


This is the number of hair strands you have on your head and it ranges from low to medium to high.

Density is generally determined by the proximity of the follicles on your scalp. Although in some cases, your follicles may be very close together which should assume that you have high density hair but looking at your hair strands it might not be as full. This is often because some follicles may not have hair growing from them either due to hair loss conditions (eg. alopecia areata) or it could be that your hair follicle is at the telogen phase which is when you naturally shed your hair.

It is important to know that low density hair is not always because of a problem; some people could naturally have low density hair and that is absolutely ok!!

That being said, it helps to be aware of your hair density, particularly during your wash day. My advice is:

  • high density – wash in at least 6 sections
  • medium density – wash in 4 sections
  • low density – wash in 2 sections (if you can manage none, fine)

If you’re not sure what density you have you can check this by doing the “Parting test”

Part your hair down the middle. Without forcing the two sides apart, how much of your scalp can you see? If you see only very little of your scalp or not really, you have high density hair. If you see some of your scalp, you have medium density hair and if you have no problem seeing your scalp, you have low density hair.

low density hair is not always indicative of a hair loss problem


Porosity is the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture determined by the way your cuticles lie. You can have low, normal or high porosity hair. This is actually more important to know than your hair type. Herein lies the bane of most naturals’ life. Your hair porosity will determine the way your hair reacts with your hair products.

I personally regard this as the most important hair characteristic when it comes to hair care and for this reason I have dedicated an entire blog post to it. It definitely deserves the extra explanation. Click this to read more


Also known as hair texture (and often confused with hair density), hair thickness is the circumference of each of your strands. It ranges from fine to medium to coarse.

Together with hair density, it influences the volume of your hair. More importantly, it determines your hair’s overall strength, durability and ability to retain length. The finer your tresses are, the less durable and more susceptible to breakage they are and vice versa. To decide where your tresses fall into you can do the “Finger test”.

Finger test: Take a single strand of hair between your fingers, close your eyes and roll it between your fingers. If you barely feel the strand, you have fine strands. If the strand feels slender and pliable, you have medium thickness. If the strand feels durable, you have coarse hair.


This is the stretchability or shrink-ability of your hair when wet. It can be low, normal or high elasticity but for the most part, as people in the natural afro hair community we all either have normal or high elasticity.

There’s no need to say too much about this. Basically if you tend to have a loooot of shrinkage then you have high elasticity. If your hair shrinks an average amount then it’s a normal elasticity. I’ve never met an afro natural girl with low elasticity.

Contrary to what some may believe, hair elasticity is not determined by your hair type, it is determined by:

  1. The hydrogen bonds between water molecules in your hair and keratin strands
  2. The disulfide bonds between adjacent amino acid groups in your hair shaft.

Elasticity depends on the protein structure of your hair and hydration of the cortex of your hair.


This characteristic is very explanatory and is often the “hair goal” for most people in the natural afro hair community. Your hair length is determined by your growth rate and length retention. Your genetics largely determines your growth rate but this can be influenced by our diet and habits as well.

I promise you, the vast majority of us have the potential to grow what we consider to be “long hair” (that is, hair beyond shoulder length).

I am an advocate for healthy hair more so than for long hair because healthy hair would lead to long hair. This is unless you intentionally decide to cut your hair to keep it at a certain length.

However, when your hair goal becomes only about having long hair, you may pick up certain unhealthy habits that could jeopardise this length goal in the long run; for example, holding onto split ends. 


  1. Learn your hair characteristics first and foremost and this hair journey you’ve embarked on will become enjoyable, productive and rewarding.
  2. No hair characteristic is bad. You just need to know what you’re dealing with to make the right hair choices.
  3. Each individual may have more than one type of some of these hair characteristics. This makes each head of hair unique. As a result, what may work for one person may not work for the next.
My Hair characteristics
  • Curl pattern: coily throughout
  • Type: 4c
  • Porosity: Low at the back and high at the front
  • Density: High at the back and medium at the front
  • Thickness: Medium at the back and medium-coarse in front
  • Length: Mid-back length throughout. Although the hair at the back always seems longer

What characteristics does your natural afro hair have?

Feel free to contact me if you need help identifying your hair characteristics. Check out my instagram page for more hair care tips.

(5) Comments

  1. Tasha says:

    Great content. Looking forward to more

  2. Grace says:

    This is some amazing content most of us never knew about. Thank you for this God bless

    1. Aww! Thank you. I’m glad you found it helpful. Keep visiting for more

  3. Olndak says:

    Very well written, informative and educative. Will be following. Thank you.

    1. I’m very glad you found it informative. If you have anymore questions on the topic do feel free to contact me either through my consultation form here on this website or leave a comment on any of my YouTube Videos or Instagram posts

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