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Afros have had a long history in the Black community, particularly in the United States. With cultural Black hair practices like cornrows dating as far back as 3000 BC — with hairstyles often being used to signify someone's position in society and what community they belonged to — the hairstyle was again used as a social message when Afros rose in popularity in the US in the 1960s.
"The Afro is of African origin but wasn't known as the Afro until the '60s and '70s," celebrity hairstylist and Brush With the Best owner Felicia Leatherwood tells POPSUGAR. "That was when Afros went from a cultural heritage to a political statement." It's true: at the height of the civil rights movement in the '60s, the "Black Is Beautiful" movement saw Black thought leaders encouraging Black people to love their natural features, particularly their hair in its natural state. As a result of this movement, Afros became incredibly popular, and activists like Angela Davis wore the hairstyle as a sign of rebellion against Eurocentric beauty standards.
At present, Afros are just as much of a statement, particularly in the midst of the fight to pass the CROWN Act, which seeks to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles on a federal level. "Today, an Afro is a symbol of acceptance, pride, and confidence in the Black community," Leatherwood says.
Afros can come in many variations and styles, including looks like high-bun Afros, Afro puffs, and TWAs (teeny weeny Afros), to name a few. The health of your hair is imperative for any Afro hairstyle, and Leatherwood has some helpful tips for taking care of and maintaining a healthy Afro.
"Moisture is an Afro's best friend," Leatherwood says. "Get a good moisturizer, leave-in conditioner, or oil spray to put on your 'fro." Products like the Creme of Nature Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner ($8) and Creme of Nature Argan Oil Gloss and Shine Mist ($9) promise to keep your hair hydrated and, more importantly, easy to manage and detangle.
Another pro tip when wearing an Afro: increase the amount of times you deep condition. "Be sure to deep condition twice a month for a healthy Afro," Leatherwood says. Try using an extremely hydrating hair mask, such as the Flawless by Gabrielle Union 5 Butter Miracle Masque ($10).
Now that you know how to care for your Afro, get some styling inspiration from the Afro hairstyles included ahead.