Before you get ready to blow-dry your afro, consider this: In its natural state, African-American hair is delicate and prone to damage and breakage. While kinky, curly and coiled afro hair is fragile, you don’t have to wear a weave or a wig to obtain silky, straight or slightly-curled hair. By following a few expert blow-drying tips and techniques, you can unleash your inner Tracee Ellis Ross, Beyoncé Knowles or Lupita Nyong'o for work, weekend or a special event.
Wash your hair with a mild, cleansing shampoo that will not dry out your scalp or hair. When washing your hair, concentrate on the scalp and move your fingers gently and slowly through the hair to prevent knotting and tangling.
Rinse your hair thoroughly, and then condition with a palmful of your favorite deep-conditioning product. To moisturize your curly, coiled or kinky hair thoroughly, let the product remain on your hair for a minimum of 30 minutes; this will smooth the cuticle and fight frizz.
Rinse your hair again until the water runs clear. Wrap your hair in a microfiber towel until it is 50-percent dry or is slightly damp. While your hair is still damp, run a wide-tooth comb through the hair to detangle, starting from the ends and moving up to the scalp to prevent breakage of your coils.
Pour a quarter-sized amount of hair oil or leave-in conditioner into the palm of your hand. Using your fingertips, rake the product through your hair, from the roots to the ends. Afro hair is typically drier due to its kinky and curly nature, so applying oil or a leave-in conditioning product to the hair helps to add additional moisturize dry strands.
Let the product seep into your hair completely. Let your hair air-dry completely, or sit under a hooded hair dryer for a minimum of 10 to 60 minutes -- until your hair is completely dry -- depending upon the length and thickness of your hair. Drying wet hair with a blow-dryer can lead to breakage and loss of elasticity, says natural hair expert Nikki Walton in "Essence."
Part your dry hair gently with your fingers to create six to eight sections of hair. If your hair is still damp in parts, sit under the hooded dryer for a few more minutes -- or let it air-dry -- until your hair is completely dry to the touch. Apply a dime-sized amount of a heat protectant to each section of the hair to shield your tresses from any damage caused by heat from the blow-dryer, and to decrease water evaporation from the hair’s shaft. Twist each section of hair up and secure with a large, plastic butterfly clip.
Attach a diffuser to the end of your hair dryer, if you want to retain your curly, kinky or wavy hair texture. Set the dryer on a low or medium heat setting. Starting at the back of your head, release the first section of hair from the duckbill clip.
Place the diffuser onto the scalp to dry your curls without causing frizz. Repeat until all sections of your hair are dry and curly. Take off the diffuser attachment, and give your hair a final blast of cool air from the dryer to close the cuticles and lock in moisture.
Place a comb attachment on the end of your blow-dryer, if you are blow-drying your hair straight. Set the dryer on a low or medium heat setting.
Place the comb attachment into a section of hair at the roots, and pull the comb down and out of the hair to dry. Blowing the hair dry using a downward motion reduces frizz and causes the cuticle to lay flat.
Repeat until all sections of your hair are dry. Remove the comb attachment, and give your hair a final blast of cool air from the dryer to close the cuticles and lock in moisture. Finish the look with a spritz of shine spray to add gloss to your hair.
Things You'll Need
Hair oil or leave-in conditioner
Hooded hair dryer
Large butterfly clips
Blow-dryer with comb attachment
Use a microfiber towel, instead of a cotton or terry cloth one, to prevent frizz and friction of the hair. The hooked weave found on cotton and terry cloth towels can catch onto afro hair and cause hair breakage.
Because Black hair is fragile, avoid using a brush when drying your hair. When blow-drying afro hair, the tension from the brush can damage and break wet hair, says Titi Branch, co-owner of Miss Jessie's salon in Brooklyn, New York.
Applying direct heat to the hair is very drying to African-American hair. To maintain healthy hair, blow-dry hair no more than once or twice a week, recommends Oprah Winfrey’s personal hair stylist, Andre Walker.
- Essence: Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki Reveals How to Safely Blowdry Natural Hair
- Ladies Home Journal: Black Hair Care Basics
- Oprah.com: Q&A with Andre Walker
- The Beauty Brains: How to Protect Your Hair from Heat Damage
- Essence: The Look Last Night: How to Get Lupita's Golden Globes Hair
- InStyle: Star Hairstyles from A to L