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Afro Answers: nine afro hair care myths we’re leaving in 2020

From scalp massages to dunking our curls in rice water, there aren't many hair care trends we want to take with us into 2021.

03 Jan 2021

The year of our lord 2021 just has to be better than 2020. When it comes to our hair, 2020 tried to steal our joy so this year we are taking all the risks. And if it goes badly, just wear a scarf to your Zoom meetings as we still can’t go outside anyway! But genuinely, as we get acquainted with the new year, I want you to enjoy your hair – regardless of length, texture or density. It is time to push the boat out, big chop, new colour, even return to the creamy crack.

Last year I wrote a post about all the things we should be leaving behind in 2019, most of which I have written about in previous Afro Answers columns. The biggest table shaker has been why you should stop greasing your scalp. Rebuttals to this advice always include an anecdote about how, thanks to a particular oil, hair grew back after ‘alopecia’. Just quickly – alopecia just means ‘hair loss’ and is an observation not a diagnosis (you need to know which type to determine treatment).

What most people who refuse to set down the castor oil experience is thinning/shedding/traction or Alopecia Areata; all of which can spontaneously regenerate, especially when improved practices are put in place, read: washing more and avoiding tight styles.

With the salons mostly closed, lockdown has seen a major rise in successful DIYs with YouTube just a tap away. But other trends which have soothed the eternal Wednesday that is lockdown 1 and 2.0 haven’t been quite as exciting to see as a trichologist. On that note, here are nine afro hair care myths I am begging you to leave behind in 2020:

1. Taking supplements (branded hair vitamins or Biotin) without a deficiency. Set the gummies down and go have a blood test. I’m on my knees!

2. Calling every braided style ‘protective’ and pitting them against each other. “Ebuni, are knotless better than regular braids?” Firstly, who is doing them and I hope you are paying them appropriately; secondly, if your hair is gripsed up in 12 braids or 100, knot or no knot you can’t expect your edges not to scatter.

3. Ayurvedic hair products but not living the lifestyle. You know Henna, Neem and Brahmi but not Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

4. Using products until they finish, even with a negative effect. Medicated products may have side effects or take a while to work but your regulars should make your hair look and feel good. Sorry if it was expensive, gift it or get rid. 

5. Expecting products to work harder than you do. Sadly, I can’t bottle and sell a shampoo and style service. Until we develop home robots that can flat twist (copyrighting this!), count it as cardio.

6. Buying products by porosity rather than need. “Um, chile, anyway so,” hairdressers should say when you ask about porosity. Your porosity is not as big a deal as the internet will have you think. Focus on a routine with good quality products.

7. Anything rice water, chebe or old village dry herb mix – feed your body and your hair will follow.

8. Scalp massages to grow edges – you are probably doing more damage, leave them alone.

9. Anything that promises fast hair growth – issa scam!

This is part of the Afro Answers column. If there are any afro hair questions you would like answers to in a future column, email them to with the subject line “Afro Answers