Afro-Caribbean natural hair care can be tricky, because the shops don’t tend to sell many specialty products, and even less so organic vegan ones. Many people simply use shea butter or coconut oil on dry frizzy hair (the latter is sometimes used for dreadlocks). Be careful in cold climates, as coconut oil solidifies at low temperatures, so could make hair stiff (best to use on your scalp, as the heat from your head will prevent this).
Avoid aromatherapy essential oils for pregnancy/nursing (and medical conditions like epilepsy and asthma). Avoid rosemary & citrus oils for high blood pressure. Avoid shea butter for latex allergies.
- Jim + Henry makes the first eco leave-in conditioner, sold in sustainable refillable packaging. Made with 8 natural ingredients, it includes rich shea butter and rosemary oil. Just apply from root to tip on damp hair, leave in and style as required. Specifically designed for Afro and curly hair, a preservative is added to stop bacteria from developing.
- Afrocenchix is one of the best brands of hair care for Afro-Caribbeans. Co-founder Rachael is ‘allergic to everything’, so all items are free from common allergens like sodium lauryl sulphate and perfumes (some have essential oils). Everything is also made ethically in easy-to-recycle packaging and sent in compostable packing peanuts. The company had years of being rejected by wholesalers telling them that ‘black women’s needs are niche’ (not if you’re black!), and since then they have won awards and gained investment from black angel investors. Go girls!
- The book Kink Alchemy (by Caribbean scientist and chef Taymer Mason. It has recipes for Moringa Hair Butter, Coconut Styling Conditioning Milk and Lemon Twist Mist, Black Soap Hair Wash and Papaya Reverse the Breakage Mask.
- Flora & Curl make hair products for Afro-Caribbean hair. Mostly vegan (a few items contain honey), some items contain hibiscus (avoid for pregnancy). The range includes Bentonite Clay Wash for Curly Hair to soothe the scalp, with coconut and banana fruit powders to soothe overworked strands.
How to Care For Dreadlocks (naturally)
Dreadlocks are where the hair coils naturally matt. Some people (like Rastafarians) do this for religious reasons, others do it simply because they like the look. The hairstyle was made popular in the music world when Bob Marley had them.
Wash your hair every few days, after ‘giving your head a good shake’ to dislodge fibres. Avoid conditioner as it can cause dreadlocks to untwist. London Dreadlocks uses organic products to build, detangle or remove dreadlocks.
Major Beauty Brands (must try harder)
Likely not intentionally, but studies have found that women of colour find it very hard to find beauty products (especially on a budget) that match their hair type or skin colour. Recently 8 black-owned beauty brands asked the industry to improve. Especially as black women tend to spend more per year on beauty products.