Caring for your angel's tresses can be a daunting experience, but it doesn't have to be. Armed with the proper education, the right technique, and, most importantly, the right products - you can master the art of caring for ethnic hair. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with hair. Because my hair was easy to manage, I began styling my own hair at an early age. Using my long locks, I taught myself how to french braid and soon became a styling expert (or so I thought). As I matured, my interest in healthy Black hair peaked. I learned which hair care ingredients were good for my hair type and which ingredients were not. I learned how to shampoo, condition, and properly handle my hair. Most importantly, I learned to love my hair. With the proper care, your child will love his/her hair too! Over the years I've read, seen, and experienced unbelievable acts of ignorance regarding ethnic hair care. It is my attempt to provide a few basic tips and tricks so you will avoid common pitfalls
A Few Things You Should Know, As Your Child Grows
Common Mistakes Made When Caring for Ethnic Hair
- Black hair is extremely fragile. A gentle touch is required to avoid unnecessary breakage and hair loss. Therefore, always use a wide tooth comb or pick when combing the hair. Avoid fine tooth combs as they snag and pull out curly/kinky hair. Invest in a quality brush; natural boar brushes are the best.
- Curly/kinky hair needs moisture, moisture, and more moisture! Consider this when purchasing hair care products. Avoid drying products such as hair spray, mousse, holding gels, etc. Opt for moisturizers, leave in conditioners, and styling lotions.
- All products are not created equal. Just because a product claims to be created for "curly hair" doesn't guarantee that it will be suitable for ethnic curly hair. Products created for Nicole Kidman's curly hair may not work for Angela Bassett's. Caucasian hair tends to distribute more sebum (oily secretion created by the sebaceous gland) than Black textured hair; therefore, Black hair requires more natural oils. Read, no, scrutinize the ingredient list. Look for natural oils and quality ingredients. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of volume.
Error #1 - Over shampooing - Black hair should not be shampooed every day, or every other day for that matter. Instead, shampoo your child's hair every 7 days max! We recommend shampooing 2x a month. I know this may confuse those who shampoo daily; however, you must remember that Black hair needs oil, and because it distributes less sebum, frequent shampooing can dry out the hair and scalp. Now this doesn't mean that you shouldn't cleanse or condition the hair in between your "no poo" days. Instead, opt for a conditioning rinse. Conditioning Rinse: Rinse hair with warm water, apply Coconut Dream conditioner, and rinse well. This will give you a clean start and provide added conditioning and moisture without stripping away protective oils. We recommend our Curly Q's Hydrating shampoo and Coconut Dream conditioner.
Question: How often should I shampoo my African American/Multi-ethnic newborn/infant's hair? Shampooing an infant's hair should be done on an as needed basis. Daily shampooing isn't needed nor is it recommended. If your infant has a substantial amount of hair, you may need to shampoo it more frequently (~ 2x week) than an infant without as much hair (~1x week). When washing the hair and the scalp of a baby or young child, be sure to go very slow and easy. Make sure that there are no tangles in the hair before washing it. It is recommended that you continue to use baby shampoo until the child is old enough to sit (reasonably) still during shampooing.
Error #2 - Under conditioning - Proper conditioning is one of the most important steps for healthy hair. Unfortunately, most do not take the time to adequately do so. I recommend using a deep conditioner on your child's once a month, especially during the winter season. Our Coconut Dream conditioner works great with or without heat.
Question: When is the right time to incorporate conditioning into my child's hair regimen? As soon as the hair begins to shift from silky to curly/kinky (~ 1 years old) conditioning can commence! Doing so will help to keep your child's hair moist, soft and healthy. We recommend our Curly Q's Coconut Dream conditioner.
Error #3 - Using the wrong products - As your child's hair texture begins to transition from silky straight baby hair, into curly/kinky hair - the need for quality children's hair care products will become necessary. A daily moisturizer (Curly Q's Moist Curls moisturizer) is critical! In fact, you should begin using a daily moisturizer as soon as the hair begins to change. Our Moist Curls moisturizer is a great choice. Adding a creamy styling lotion (Curly Q lotion) and a natural oil (e.g. our pure Avocado oil) won't be necessary until the child is ~ 2-3 years old. However, you must know that not all oil is good oil. One misconception that plagues African Americans concerning hair care is the use of grease. Grease (thick pomade-like product that usually contains mineral oil and/or petrolatum) is commonly used to moisturize dry hair and scalp. Do not use products that contain mineral oil or petrolatum. Both of these cheap oils clog pores, rob the hair's moisture and can retard hair growth. Natural oils are the best bet - they condition the hair as they penetrate the hair shaft. Jojoba and coconut oil are great conditioning oils. Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer. Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, D, and E; potassium, and scalp soothing sulfur. Curls and Curly Q's products contain all of these!
Error #4 - Combing, cutting, detangling, and other styling faux pas -
VERY IMPORTANT - Avoid putting pressure on the soft spot on the top of the baby's head. Most babies and even some children up to the age of 4 or 5 are sensitive to any kind of pressure on their scalp. To avoid pain, tears, and massive hair loss when combing out your child's curly/kinky hair, part the hair into four sections. Get a tight grip on the hair (not to hurt your child) and start combing at the bottom and work your way up to the top, section by section. If her hair is extremely thick and coarse, secure the combed out section with a pony tail holder to avoid further tangling. You should always use a moisturizer when combing her out hair, doing so will help to soften the hair, ease comb-ability, and prevent the hair from becoming matted.
We recommend our Curly Q's Moist Curls moisturizer. Do not attempt to comb out dry hair, always comb through after it is wet and/or damp. NEVER USE WATER TO "WET" THE HAIR! Girls and ponytails seem to go hand and hand. Here are a few tips to avoid pig tail disaster. Do not use rubber bands to secure her pony tails, instead use elastics and covered bands. Rubber bands (the type you find on newspapers or the little black rubber bands you can purchase in ethnic stores) can cause undue breakage and damage. Remember to ALWAYS remove the pony tail holders before bed time. Make sure you braid (or twist) the hair completely all the way to the ends. Exposing the ends to environmental elements will guarantee split ends. I recommend adding a coat of leave in conditioner to the ends before braiding for extra protection. Remember, the ends are the oldest and most fragile part of the hair. They require extra attention.
Question: Baby's first hair cut, when is the right time? Unless the child's hair is getting in their eyes or getting frayed on the ends, we recommend waiting until the 1 year mark before consulting a stylist.
What You Need:
- Wide tooth comb or pick the wider the better (Goody has a variety of combs available at most grocery stores)
- Natural bristle brush (The Body Shop has a nice selection of brushes)
- Hydrating shampoo (try Curly Q Hydrating Shampoo)
- Moisturizing Conditioner (try Curly Q's Coconut Dream Conditioner)
- A daily moisturizer - this will add needed moisture, and ease comb-ability (Moist Curls is a great daily moisturizer)
- Natural oils to apply to the hair (I recommend Pure avocado oil also available on our website)
- Cream hair dressing for light control of frizzes (Curly Q Styling lotion is a great choice)
- Elastics for securing ponytails
I hope these tips will encourage you to invest in the health of your child's hair. Feel free to email me with any additional questions you may have. Visit Curls
online for more tips, tricks, and product and ordering information.