Haircare is a large part of our daily routine as Black women. There are 100+ blogs and websites dedicated to helping us maintain it, care for it, and make it grow. It is one challenge to attempt to figure it out for ourselves but an entirely new one to take that same concept and apply it to a rambuncious toddler. I have met many mothers who have told me they would rather just Loc their daughters’ hair versus spending the time to try to do it. While I love locs, I want to offer you mamas in the same predicament a few tips before you make such a permanent jump. Hair, like all things can be trained. It just takes a little patience and effort.
1. Understand Your Child’s Hair Texture: Determining your child’s hair texture will save you plenty of time and money. Every hair product is not made equal nor is it made for every kind of hair- no matter what the company tells you to try to make the sale.
Above is a very basic hair chart displaying hair texture from 1 (bone straight) to 4c (extremely coiled). To break it down, hair texture one is normally associated with those of Asian nationality. This hair texture is completely limp. 2c-3c are more normally associated with individuals who identify as mixed nationality (this is the hair texture most frequently used in demo videos and photographs by companies and beauty bloggers). 4a-4c are what you would classify as thicker and more “unruly” by society standards.
For someone with 1-3B hair texture, thick creams and oils may be too heavy for this particular hair texture and will actually result in weighing the hair down and making it too oily or greasy. And for those who identify with 3C-4C hair, spritzers and dime sized oils may be too light and result in the hair being dry and brittle. It is important to know that just because the girl in the demo video has beautiful curls at the end of trying whatever hair product that promises you Halle Berry hair, you may not get the same result because your hair texture does not match that of the model.
Can you identify where your child’s hair texture falls in the category above?
2. Screw The Dime Size Amount Rule: If I read another hair bottle that tells me to use a dime size amount of its product, I am going to scream! A dime size amount of anything is gone on two strands of my hair. Our hair is thick, it is coarse, and it needs A LOT of moisture. Do not be afraid of the oil, use it! Part your child’s hair in two inch sections and moisturize each section from root to tip. Soak the hair in the moisturizer.
Normally when I hear of mothers complaining about their child’s hair, I can easily take a quick look and come to the conclusion that the child’s hair is just dry. Moisturized hair and dry hair are not only two different textures, they also vary in manageability. When a child’s hair is properly moisturized, it is much easier to detangle and style.
3. Co-Washes And Conditioners Are Your Friend: Did I already mention to you how important moisturization is to Black hair? If you missed it the first time, see it again here. Do not skip out on moisture. It may not always be nececessary to wash your child’s hair once a week. Doing so can actually dry it out even more. I suggest washing one week and co washing the next.
Co-Washing: Conditioner only washing. Skipping the shampoo and only using conditioner for easily managed and softer hair.
4. Do Not Be Afraid Of Water: Water is not the Anti-Christ when it comes to styling Black hair. I actually do not believe in doing my daughter’s hair without adding water first. It helps to not only soften the hair but to also help the oils easily spread throughout the hair, root to tip. It is not recommended to soak the hair, but to just lightly spritz it with water before adding moisturizer.
An easy solution: Make a daily conditioner with 1 part oil (jojoba, sweet almond, or castor), 3 parts water, and 20 drops essential oil (I personally love to use Rosemary).
5. Protective Styles Are BAE: While I love allowing my daughter to wear her hair loose, I also equally love protective styles. This also goes back to knowing your child’s hair texture. For us, braids were a no go. Her hair was too soft on the edges and it caused a lot of breakage. So we do two strand twists. The twists were great because they are multiple styles in one. Upon initial styling, twists look great being worn down with a cute flower. Once they start to get alittle old, they are cute pulled up into a ponytail or pig tails. They also have great endurance through heavy play, pool, and beach water during the summer months.
A quick tip: To get your toddler’s two strand twists to last longer, three strand twist from the root about 1/3 of the way down before starting the two strand twists. It will keep the twists tighter at the top and protect against frizzies.
Once your toddler has outworn their two strand twist style, untwist them for a beautiful twist out that can last for another week. Flat twist at night to keep the style fresh.
6. Wrap Your Baby’s Hair!: When your baby sleeps at night, their hair is subject to being snagged and pulled on their covers, being caught under their sleeping bodies and pulled- thus resulting in heavy breakage. Not to mention, not wrapping your child’s hair will completely dry out their coils (and leave your sheets oily). Invest in a good head scarf for your child. We go between bonnets and long silk scarves. This was definitely a trying process for us because my daughter sincerely despised having her hair wrapped. With much consistency, she eventually began to go with the flow. It also helped for her to see her hair and take pride in it once I finished styling it. She learned that her hair was beautiful and worth protecting.
7. Just Say No To Flat Irons And Straighteners: I know it will be tempting to press out your little one’s hair to monitor their growth but I highly recommend against it during these first few years. Your child’s hair is still developing and any amount of heat can be damaging, even blow drying. Save the flat irons and pressing combs for the older years. There are also many ways to “stretch” your toddler’s hair without using heat. After washing, detangle by combing from tip to root. Hold the hair tight and plait the hair in two inch chunks. This will cause the hair to unravel and appear stretched or elongated. You can also use rollers to stretch the hair.
8. Free The Fro: The best way to maintain your toddler’s hair? Leave it alone! Let them wear their afros wild and free. Teach your little ones to embrace their natural hair beauty and the mindset of self love will follow them well into adulthood. Incorporate the use of natural barbie dolls with afros to help nurture their perception of their own beauty. Allow them to style their doll’s hair and help you oil and take care of theirs and yours.
A daily haircare tip for Afros: Flat twist the fro at night to avoid tangles. Spritz lightly with the water mixture mentioned above and rub sections of the hair with conditioner or a moisturizer.
Do you have any go to hair care tips for your toddlers? Share them below!