I've always been sporty and since being on the athletics squad, football and netball teams at school, the bug has stayed with me. I ran marathons well into my early 20s and (even with 25+ knees) still manage to log at least 10 miles a week. But the one thing that always grinds my gears is having to wash my 3C curls after every single workout.
For the majority of Black hair, whether you've gone natural or opted for protective styles (such as braids, locs or weave), the maintenance process takes extra care, planning and preparation. It can put you off exercise entirely. One study found that 45% of Black women avoid exercise because of their hair, and that Black and Asian women are the groups least likely to get enough physical activity every week. The stats are disappointing, especially as we know the health benefits that exercise has on our bodies. Now, one brand is aiming to change this. Enter: AIRFRO.
AIRFRO is the first and only natural haircare brand specially formulated for curls and designed with active lifestyles in mind. Cofounders Nneka Fleming and Catherine Radojcin launched the brand in September 2020 after becoming frustrated by haircare. They struggled to find products which were not overly perfumed, full of chemicals or felt laborious for their mixed race sons, and so the 00.3 DFY Curl Refresh, £14.95, was born.
While there is currently only one product in the line, it has already made waves. The Curl Refresh is a multifunctional, gender-neutral, curl reviver spray which hydrates and brings curls back to life quickly without the need for water or any other products or tools. Packaged in a sleek, reusable aluminium bottle, the formula contains scalp-soothing aloe vera, moisturising vitamin B5 and hydrolysed honey, all of which work to reduce static and frizz, and give curls back their definition, even if sweat, rain or workout gear has left them flat.
This week I decided to put the much talked-about product to the test. I went out for my second weekly workout, a four-mile tempo run, along the seafront in the rain. With my hair tucked under my hat, I was ready to sweat it out. When I got home, my curly hair was completely flattened and my scalp was obviously very sweaty and itchy. While I would usually wash my hair with a cleanser, instead I covered it with a shower cap and after my shower I applied the 00.3 DFY spray all over my dry hair. As per the instructions, I concentrated the product on my roots and mid lengths, and combed it through to the ends.
The scent instantly grabbed my attention: a relaxing lavender fragrance which isn't overbearing or sickly. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the essential oils that I pop in my diffuser. The formula is free from silicones, parabens, sulphates and artificial fragrances, and it was kind to my hair. After a quick spritz, I could see my curls bouncing back to vitality. My roots were no longer flattened but there were no crunchy curls. My scalp wasn't itchy or greasy from the sweat, either. I also rate the packaging. The spray handle was easy to use, so I could spritz it around my head easily.
If I had to choose between the AIRFRO and dry shampoo after my next workout, I'd definitely opt for the former. It's small enough to fit in your gym bag and is so convenient to use in between wash days. I was impressed by how quickly the formula revived my curls even though they were covered for an hour and had caught the rain. This product has been really great for my natural hair but I can't wait to try it out when I finally get my braids. Just knowing that there is a product which can instantly refresh my roots without drying them out or causing dandruff makes me happy. I'll be throwing my dry shampoo in the bin for sure.
As I'm trying to reduce my carbon footprint and opt for more sustainable options, the packaging was also a major selling point for me. The brand offers a refill option, which can be purchased either once or on a monthly subscription for £12.95. And there's good news: Nneka and Catherine are planning to add to their smart product range, including the launch of products 002 and 001, which are functional for afro and curly hair.
Watch this space.
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