The Experts, Brands and Products That Celebrate Natural Hair in All Its Glory


When your hair is your crowning glory, it deserves to be celebrated. Whether you’ve just started your natural-hair journey or you’re a pro at caring for your coils and curls, there will be times when you might want to switch up your style or are in need of some haircare advice, and it can be difficult to know where to begin. 

In a society where curly, coily, kinky and Afro hair is often misunderstood and, quite frankly, underserved, finding the best products, hairdressers and advice out there can be a challenge. But thankfully, social media has given us a new source of inspiration, connecting us with a whole host of influencers, hairdressers and beauty fanatics who are making the search a lot easier, whatever your hair dilemmas may be. Want to create defined curls? There’s a product review for that. Caring for mature hair? Get insider tips from the Silver Sisterhood. Looking for a salon? There are more curly hair specialists than ever, and you can find their work right on the ‘gram. 

In a bid to help you on your hair journey, we looked through our feed for some of the best influencers to follow, the brands to know and their favourite products to keep you informed and inspired. So whether you’re working with type-3 spirals, type-4a coils or type-4c kinks, these are the hair innovators to follow now. 

Check out the Instagram page of Afro hair subscription box Treasure Tress for a comprehensive mix of reviews, tutorials and inspirational pictures that celebrate the beauty and diversity of Black hair. Founded by self-proclaimed “product junkie” Jamelia Donaldson, this feed has motivational quotes, product previews and some seriously good styles you’re going to want to screenshot for your next trip to the salon. 

What are common misconceptions about curly and Afro hair

Jamelia Donaldson: That it is difficult, unruly and damaged. The language around the we way we talk about naturally textured hair further perpetuates the misconception. Michelle Sultan talks about this a lot in her work. We at Treasure Tress are determined to reframe washing your hair as a task and make it an indulgent experience for all.

Curly and Afro hair requires time and patience—in the same way most self-care/relaxing treatments do. You wouldn’t rush a wax, so why would you rush detangling/washday?

What are your top tips for caring for curly and Afro hair?

JD: Deep-condition, air-dry where possible, moisturise the ends of your hair and embrace your texture wholeheartedly! Our hair thrives when it is well moisturised, building a good-quality deep conditioner or mask into my washday was one of the best things I have ever done for my hair.

Air-drying my hair in twists or plaits allowed me to drastically cut down on the amount of heat I was using on my hair. (Heat damage plagued my hair throughout my teens.) It took a mental shift for me to move away from heat-styled hair constantly to enjoying, experimenting and embracing my hair in all of its forms, with and without heat.

The ends are the oldest part of your hair. They need to be treated with all the TLC possible. Find a water-based leave-in conditioner your hair loves, and keep those ends moisturised. We’re so used to focusing on our scalp when styling and maintaining our hair when the real gold is at the ends. That’s where length retention is at!

Embracing your texture is more mental than anything else. Learning to love your hair in all of its forms—wet, dry, long, short, shrunken, stretched—allows you to unlock a new degree of freedom in your own beauty journey and makes your hair journey and hair maintenance that much more enjoyable. Stop comparing your hair to others and work with what you have—own it!

What are your favourite haircare products, and how do you factor them into your routine?

JD: I am a sucker for a good moisturising shampoo, a protein mask (I’ll alternate between protein versus moisture depending on the style I’m wearing or taking down), a lightweight yet moisturising leave-in conditioner (I have fine strands so butters, etc., weigh my hair down) and a gel.

Right now, my favourite products include (keep in mind these change every week as we trial new brands!) Pattern Beauty Cleansing Shampoo,
Pattern Beauty Heavy Conditioner (I recently tried these for our Treasure Tress boxes and am now an absolute STAN), Pantene Gold Series Detangling Milk and Ava Estell Growth Oil (particularly for when I’m wearing braids). Also, Ecostyler Olive Oil as my holy-grail gel!”

If you’re looking for first-hand reviews from a curl expert, look no further than Abbie. Prominent on YouTube and Instagram, her channels are dedicated to in-depth videos on common hair queries and are an explorative guide on how to get salon-quality results at home. 

Self-confessed makeup, Afro-haircare and skincare obsessive Lesley Buckle is the digital creator behind Fresh Lengths. Her step-by-step tutorials and styling reels cover FAQs like how to add volume, blow-drying, summer styles and scalp-care, so head to her page for easy-to-follow videos for curly haircare.

What are common misconceptions about curly and Afro hair?

Lesley Buckle: I get asked a lot if I just wake up with my hair the way it is, and often, there’s a lot more work involved. But for those who have curly hair, I’d say a common misconception is that there’s one product that will solve any hair woes or you can copy someone else’s hair routine and expect the same results. Even with the same hair type, every head of curls behaves so differently. Lots of factors like hair thickness, density, length, porosity and your environment, etc., all have a role to play besides curl texture, so figuring curls out can take a lot of experimentation.

What are your top tips for caring for curly and Afro hair?

LB: I don’t want to state the obvious, but being cautious with overusing heat, dye and bleaching is really important, as all of these can affect the amount of protein available in our curls and as a result how strong they are. The way curls naturally bend can make them more susceptible to damage, so we just have to be a bit more conscious and gentler with how we handle them. I still use heat, and I have had my hair coloured, but I’m very aware of still exercising caution and using products to help restore strength. It’s really about finding that balance between caring for your hair but still getting to enjoy it.

Depending on the curl type, deep-conditioning is likely to be needed regularly to hydrate, and it’s good to do styles that are not too tight to avoid any breakage around the hairline. Really getting to know and understand what your hair likes and doesn’t is key, too. For example, mine seems to really like heat because my hair is low-porosity, which means I usually need warmth or humidity when using styling product to actually get my hair to feel moisturised. This means I’ll usually style in the shower, and I diffuse with a blow-dryer quite often to get the best results for me. Someone else might find because their curls are more porous that heat has the opposite impact for them, causing lots of frizz, so maybe they prefer to style out of the shower and then air-dry.

What are your favourite haircare products and why, and how do you factor them into your routine?

LB: My job as a content creator (and because I’ve always been obsessed with haircare) means I’ve tried a lot of products, so it’s really hard for me to pick favourites. There are so many amazing products available, but some solid brands I always go to are Aveda, Dizziak, Bouclème, Kérastase Curl Manifesto and Living Proof, but there are many more I love! My hair is naturally quite dry, so my favourite types of products to use are always moisturising formulas and deep conditioners, as the effect is satisfyingly instant. For me, the key to a good routine is having a gentle, moisturising shampoo for regular cleansing, a clarifying shampoo for removing heavier build-up every now and then, a deep conditioner to hydrate and a styling product that moisturises but also gives my hair enough hold for some curl definition. Oils can be really helpful, too, but I tend to use these on my ends as a final styling touch to lock in moisture.”

London-based influencer and model Mia Maugé is all about celebrating the midlife years with energy and self-appreciation, most notably by ditching the dye and embracing her now-iconic silver curls. Follow Maugé for style tips, skincare and plenty of infectious joy. 

The Curl Bar is a London-based salon that celebrates all things coils, curls and waves. Check out its Instagram for the cuts, colours and styles you need to know about (as well as tips and giveaways), or head over to founder Nia Pettitt’s personal page for beautiful shots of her incredible hair, as well as some products to add to your routine. 

What are common misconceptions about curly and Afro hair?

Nia Pettitt: I think people complicate their routines too much. When you strip back on the 10-step process, your hair will truly flourish by sticking to a simple routine with great products.

All you need is a thorough shampoo, a hydrating conditioner and a mousse or gel to hold everything together.

What are your top tips for caring for curly and Afro hair?

NP: My top tips are to be consistent, whether that is through trims or deep conditioning. Just be consistent; your hair will appreciate it and thrive.

What are your favourite haircare products and why, and how do you factor them into your routine? 

NP: My current favourites are Kinky Curly Shampoo, Bumble and Bumble HIO Mask and Living Proof Curl Cream and Gel.

I love the super-clean feel the shampoo gives me, the conditioner mask is great for hydrating my hair, and that combo by Living Proof is amazing!

Entrepreneurs, authors and ambassadors Jay Lopez and Trina Charles are the brains behind Curlture, an independent platform celebrating Black beauty and culture. From the site’s Instagram feed, you can expect a mood board bursting with affirmations, product reviews, colour ideas and plenty of fashion-forward hairstyling inspiration designed to uplift and empower. 

Starting out with a range of wigs, clips-ins and ponytails for Afro and curly hair textures, Tendai Moyo and Ugo Agbai’s Ruka empire has now expanded to include hair perfume, gel, edge control and tools. Essentially, it’s everything you need to protect your natural hair while switching up your look (no heat damage required). Follow Ruka’s IG to stay up to date with their innovative new launches before they sell out. 

What are common misconceptions about curly and Afro hair?

Tendai Moyo: One of the biggest lies is that you MUST love your fro at all times. We can express that frustration without it being some form of self-hate or the opportunity for someone else to educate you on what you should be doing with your hair. Our relationship with our hair will have ups and downs, and that is okay!

What are your top tips for caring for curly and Afro hair?

TM: 1) The simpler, the better. Having a high-quality, minimal base routine ensures less headache and effort whilst also creating space for additional products that you may need to deal with specific issues. 

2) Try to keep dependent steps within the same brand (e.g., shampoo and conditioner) to give the products the best chance of working, given that most brands will create the products to be most effective when used together.

3) Less is always more!

What are your favourite haircare products and why, and how do you factor them into your routine?

TM: My scalp has always been quite sensitive, and so I try to invest in products that are prescribed for scalp health. I love Mielle Mongongo Oil Exfoliant Shampoo. It is soothing and gentle, plus it contains the key ingredient from our Ruka Hair Perfume Mongongo Oil, hailing from Zambia, and offers my hair that healthy protective film whilst nourishing my roots too. I use that daily to lock in all the goodness!

I have always been a little bit shy with my edges due to my sensitive scalp, so I love using the newest addition to our brand, the Ruka Hold Me Down Gel, because it matches a fantastic hold with ingredients that protect and soothe that difficult area of facial skin and scalp that can often be neglected.

I am also a ponytail stan because it’s such a great on-the-go protective style. On my busiest days, you’ll find my hair sleeked back using the Ruka Do-It-All Gel and a Ruka Press’d ponytail to finish!

Leal Alexander is a content creator who began documenting and sharing her transition from relaxed to natural hair in 2016. Recognising the taboo surrounding textured hair, @curlygallal is Alexander’s answer to creating a safe space for the open discussion of Afro and textured hair in a bid to empower others. 

What are common misconceptions about curly and Afro hair?

Leal Alexander: The biggest misconceptions are that curly and Afro hair is difficult/unprofessional/unkempt. I think a lot of it comes from unrealistic beauty standards, which can then become internalised from a young age, especially when it comes to “frizz.” I always hear people say things like, “My hair is just so frizzy,” or “My hair looks wild.” Sadly, I don’t think that will ever go away, which is why I think it’s important to be an example and dispel these myths. Everyone has an issue with something relating to their hair, so
instead, I think we should focus on embodying and celebrating the individuality and versatility of our curly and Afro hair! Personally, I’m much happier with my natural hair than I was with straight hair, and it’s much easier to maintain. Before going natural, I’d spend one to two hours straightening my hair a day. Now I wash my hair once a week, and it typically makes it to the end of the week. Whilst the first two years of my transition from relaxed hair to fully natural were difficult at times, I’m actually much happier with my natural hair than I was with straight hair, so it was worth the journey. It just takes time.

What are your top tips for caring for curly and Afro hair?

LA: I try not to be prescriptive and instead encourage trial and error! Be inspired but experiment because what works for someone else’s hair won’t always

work for yours. You may have a different lifestyle, environment, set of requirements or just hair texture—you need to find what works for you.

Hydration is key for curly and Afro hair. We are prone to dryness. Water and leave-in styling products are necessary for maintaining curl definition, if that’s your goal. One thing I do is stand under the shower for one to two minutes to make sure my hair is fully saturated with water before applying any product, which leads me on to my next point! Less is more when it comes to product. It’s so easy to think you need to pile it on, but how you apply them is just as important. Take the time to really work the product and water into your curls (and scalp), and they will thank you!

What are your favourite haircare products, and how do you factor them into your routine?

LA: Some of my favourite products are from brands I have loved and used for years, like Trepadora, Innersense and Bouclème. But my favourite styling combo at the moment (and has been for a few years)
is the Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control Styling Cream and I Create Hold Styling Gel. Whilst I don’t like to use the word perfect, it’s the closest I get to
perfection in a wash-and-go: long-lasting, hydrated and defined curls every single time, and they aren’t weighed down and don’t give me build-up.

My current favourite conditioner is the Biolage Hydrasource Conditioning Balm. It’s perfect for detangling and really just gets the job done!
But for deep conditioning, I use the Bouclème Intensive Moisture Treatment. It has a lovely rich texture that melts tangles and restores curl
moisture, and Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask has the protein to keep hair strong.

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