Afro Latina on The Rise
Amara La Negra has been a huge topic of conversation considering colorism, music, and hair since the first episode of Love and Hip Hop: Miami.
The Miami-born singer/rapper is proud and vocal about her African-roots, afro-textured hair, and beautifully dark complexion. Women that look like Amara aren’t usually represented in mainstream media, causing a lot of talk about her appearance.
Amara La Negra is beautiful in my books, and her hair is amazing and inspired me to write this article.
As most of us know, the natural hair movement has shown no signs of slowing down. With more and more natural hair care brands thriving and an influx of curly-haired influencers, it is no wonder why relaxer sales have declined.
Today’s natural hair movement has expanded African descendants in Latin America and how they embrace their natural hair and navigate identity politics.
For some, wearing curly afro hair is just a simple way to style their hair, but for those who have faced adversity and discrimination, it is a way of reclaiming culture and fighting back against centuries of erasure of Black identity.
Preparing For An Iconic Afro
Some may think the afro life is comfortable, but it is not!
You will encounter many irresistible urges to take “melanated” selfies, fluff your hair, and spend an extra 10 minutes in the morning trying to get the “perfect” shape. You may also encounter countless women and men begging to know ‘how did you get your hair like that?’
No worries, just send them the link to this article!
Step #1: Wash
The shampoo is one of the most critical steps to achieving a luscious afro. Depending on your texture, if your hair is too weighted down with a product, it will be nearly impossible for your hair to defy gravity!
Use a moisturizing shampoo like SheaMoisture Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Shine shampoo to remove any built-up dirt, oil, and product from your strands.
Step #2 Moisturize
It is critical that you infuse your hair with moisture before styling.
The way you will moisturize your hair will vary on your hair texture and curl pattern. If you have very fine hair, use a lightweight leave-in conditioner with a light oil for shine. If you have very coarse hair, you can use a thicker moisturizing crème and shea butter for shine.
Step #3 Styling
Unless your mother blessed you with a full, perfectly shaped afro naturally, you will need to do some styling. Amara La Negra’s afro is giant, round, with a few spiral curls. Depending on your hair texture, you can create a similar look with a few techniques:
- Perm Rods
A perm rod set is effective on thick and kinky curly hair as well as loose curly hair. I recommend a perm rod size 11/16″ for a tight curl. You may need to blow dry your hair so you can stretch it to roll onto the perm rod. Use a holding foam like Lotta Body to set the curl. Use 1-inch parts to roll on to the perm rods.
Once you have rolled all the perm rods, sit under a hooded dryer for an hour or until your hair is completely dry. You may also sleep with the rollers in overnight.
When your hair is completely dry, gently remove all the perm rods. If you chose to sit under the hooded dryer, then be sure to let your hair completely cool before you remove the perm rods.
Gently separate the curls and fluff with an afro pick until you get your desired volume.
Twist and Curl
A “twist and curl” is similar to a perm rod set, but instead of rolling the entire section into a perm rod, you two-strand twist the length of the hair and roll the ends into the perm rod.
To twist and curl, separate a 1-inch section and use your preferred styling product to two-strand twist your hair. Leave about half an inch of hair untwisted. Wrap the untwisted hair around a perm rod.
Allow your hair to air dry or sit under a hooded dryer for 1 hour or until your hair is completely dry. Gently separate the twists and fluff with an afro pick.
- Bantu Knots
Bantu knots have been a classic technique for creating beautiful spiral curls for centuries.
For this look, I recommend blow drying your hair before adding Bantu knots. Apply your preferred styling product, and take 2-inch sections of hair and create a tight one-strand twist with your fingers. Wrap the twist around itself until you create a Bantu knot. Use a straight pin to hold the knot together.
Bantu knots are a bit complicated to explain in words, so I recommend watching this Bantu knot YouTube tutorial for an excellent visual.
Step #4 Maintaining an Afro
Figuring out how to manage your afro will require trial and error. Here are a few night-time maintenance techniques to try:
- Pineapple Method
The pineapple is a quick an easy way to maintain any curly hairstyle. The will only work on medium to long length hair.
Grab a loose hair tie and flip your head over so that all your hair falls to the front. Wrap the hair tie around your hair once. The hair tie should be loose around the hair. Next, tie a silk or satin scarf around the pineapple and wear a bonnet for extra protection.
In the morning, just remove the bonnet, scarf, and hair tie and fluff your hair out.
- Jumbo Twists
Jumbo twists are a great way to stretch your hair and maintain the curl pattern. Separate large sections of your hair and two-strand twist them. The size of the twists are relative to how long and thick your hair is. These twists should be 1-2 times larger than the original twists you did.
Tie a silk or satin scarf and apply a bonnet to your head to sleep. In the morning remove the twists and fluff your hair.
When wash day comes around, and it is time to detangle, use these three steps to ensure you don’t rip or break your hair:
- Wet Your Hair
Always wet your afro with water or leave-in conditioner before you detangle. Detangling a dry afro will result in breakage!
- Detangle from Ends To Roots
Always remember to detangle from your ends to your roots. Take your time. If your hair is very thick, separate your hair into sections.
- Take Your Time!
As a cosmetology student, I see so many women who rush and rip through their hair with a brush because they are frustrated. All this does is create breakage! Always take your time to detangle your hair gently.
How To Thicken Your Afro
If your Afro is looking a tad see-through, you may want to add pieces to make it appear more full. Private Label Extensions has beautiful kinky 4c natural hair clip-ins that you can add to your natural hair to create a bigger, fuller afro.
Installing The Clip-ins
I recommend ordering Private Label Extension’s 4c Natural Hair Clip-ins that are 18 inches long.
Use a paddle brush and blow drier to lightly blow out the clip-ins until they match the texture of your natural hair when blown out. Section out the nape of your hair and clip the rest up. Clip the two clip weft into the nape section of your hair.
Section out another medium-sized horizontal section above the previous section and clip the second two-clip weft into your hair.
Repeat these steps as you continue up and around your head. Once you’re done installing clip-ins, style your hair with perm rods, twists, or Bantu knots. Always twist your natural hair into the extensions for a seamless blend.
Believe it or not, Amara La Negra often wears a wig to rock an afro. Although she has beautiful, thick, long and healthy hair, she admits that keeping up a perfect afro is difficult, so she prefers wearing extensions.
You can quickly make a wig or get a sew-in afro with Private Label Extensions Brazilian Afro Kinky Bundle deal and a matching closure. There are many wig making tutorials on YouTube, and if you don’t feel like making a wig, you can always have a talented stylist construct one for you. Viola, instant Amara La Negra afro!
Growing Thicker Hair
If you aren’t one to wear extensions often, there are ways to thicken your hair over time naturally.
Did you know that your everyday products like conditioner, scalp oil, and leave-ins can clog your pores, blocking your hair from growing?
Over time our everyday products sit into our pores and prevent hair from growing in as thick and as fast as it could. Thickening shampoos can alleviate some of these issues by removing the build-up from the pores and stimulating hair growth.
Let’s take a look at some excellent thickening shampoos.
- OGX Thick and Full Biotin and Collagen Shampoo
- Avalon Organics Biotin B Complex Thickening Shampoo
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo
Massaging your scalp is crucial in aiding the growth of your hair. If you wash your hair every day, take a few moments to massage your scalp with shampoo to stimulate blood flow. This is an easy way to incorporate a scalp massage into your daily life.
If you do not shampoo every day, I recommend using a light oil like jojoba oil to massage your scalp. Just one to two drops is enough to apply to your fingertips and massage into your scalp. Massage your scalp for 3-5 minutes daily.
Castor Oil Treatments
Castor oil treatments has been proven to thicken hair over time with consistent use.
Before you shampoo your hair, pour a little castor oil into a Pyrex glass container. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and place the Pyrex container into the water. Allow the water to heat the oil for 3 minutes.
Carefully test the temperature of the oil to prevent burning yourself. Use the warm oil on your scalp and hair. Massage the oil in as normal then cover your hair with a processing cap for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes has elapsed, thoroughly shampoo the oil out of your hair and proceed to condition.
Tea Tree Oil
This oil has many benefits including reducing inflammation, dandruff, and unclogging pores.
Tea tree essential oil also has a light cool minty feeling that stimulates the scalp. Tea tree essential oil is powerful, so it is best to mix it with a carrier oil like jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil.
You can also use shampoos and conditioners with tea tree oil to stimulate the scalp.
Patience Is Key
Growing your hair out is a journey! You probably will not start seeing results for six months to a year. Stay consistent, and over time you will see beautiful, luscious locks!
These are all the tips and advice I have for creating an Amara La Negra inspired afro! Remember, rocking an afro is all about embracing your natural hair texture! Embrace your natural hair texture, even if your afro doesn’t come out as perfect as Amara La Negra’s.
Whether you have super kinky 4c hair or loose spiral curls, your hair is beautiful. Your hair is the crown you never take off; be proud of it!
Words From Amara La Negra
Amara La Negra had a few things to behind the passion of her hair.
“I had to find that voice in the African-American community. I fell in love with their message and their strength, and after that, started questioning who I’m doing this for,” Amara La Negra said.
“It wasn’t done to please me because my mom would burn my scalp and it would be painful throughout that entire process. So I thought I’m doing this to please who? The one who needs to be happy with who she is at the end of the day is me. Around the age of 16 or 17, I decided to completely stop perming my hair. A lot of my hair fell off, and I had a small afro.
Years later, I’m still rocking my ‘fro. And I change my hair, going from braids to wigs to weaves, to all types of things. I’m very open-minded to doing it, but I’m just not open-minded to feeling that I have to change the way I look to fit society’s standards of beauty,” she said.