Category Archives: Hair care for Children

Hair Care for Children – Part 2

Standard

Many of us have bad memories of our hair being combed as a child. Due to a lack of knowledge and patience, we endured the pain of having a comb forced through our tightly coiled, kinky or curly hair.  For some of us, our natural hair was nothing but a source of pain and annoyance.   Meanwhile our straight-haired friends could run a fine tooth comb or brush through their hair with ease.  Not to mention being bombarded with images of silky, flowing hair via the media. We must change our mindset about our natural hair, it is a negative mindset that has developed for generations.  There is nothing wrong with Afro textured hair. The ability to run a comb through it, from root to tip, is not a measurement of beauty and quality. Neither is it inferior to straight silky hair.  It simply differs from straight hair and requires a different technique for care and maintenance. Part one covered moisturizing your child’s hair and the type of products to use, check it out. Here are six more strategies for managing your child’s hair.  Hopefully, we can pass on good hair care practice to the next generation.

Blue-Ivy

 

Comb with care

The quality of combs and brushes should be of the highest quality before using them for our small children. Large, wide tooth, seamless combs should be used as opposed to cheaply made plastic combs. The combs with longer teeth cause less damaged when detangling kinky or curly hair.  Use soft bristle brushes only,  for gently smoothing the hairline. Using brushes to detangle the length of the hair will likely lead to breakage. Brushes with harder bristles can work well for young boys with short hair. Mist the hair with water first, add oil or butter to soften the hair before brushing. Brush along the grain of the hair, not against it.

Most importantly, hair should be combed after it is sprayed with water or a water based conditioning serum. Never comb the hair when it is dry and unpliable,  this leads to nothing but pain and breakage.   Instead, comb tangled hair from the tips, a quarter of an inch or so at a time. Release any tangles gently and work your way down to the root. The more patient and gentle you are with their hair, the more it will flourish.

Finger detangling is another option, combs can be avoided entirely. This is generally recommended for textured hair, especially for kinky, tightly coiled hair. Combs may not always be necessary and can cause breakage.  Finger detangling is gentler and easier for textured hair.  Spray with water, add some oil or butter and gently finger detangle and smooth edges with your hands. Accessories like ribbons and bows can be added after.

EXCLUSIVE: Robin Givens strolls through midtown with her sons, Buddy and Billy

 

Braid gently with minimal tension

Braids should never be too tight. Style longevity should not be put before the long-term health of the child’s hair. What does it matter if the style lasts a week longer, when the hair breaks and thins dramatically once the style is taken out? Furthermore hair that is braided too tightly causes headaches as well as damaged hair. This will make it harder for them to concentrate at school and even disrupt sleep.   Always keep braids around the frontal hairline relatively loose so that no tension is placed on the hair as the child plays, sleeps, or makes facial expressions. Braiding tightly can cause permanent damage to the child’s hair follicles and prevent them from growing  healthy hair in their adult years.

Mist braids and cornrows with sprays daily and seal with oil for shine. This will prevent them from drying out.  With extensions, it is important to remember that synthetic hair is stronger and heavier than our hair. When intertwined with delicate children’s hair it can abrade the cuticle and lead to terrible breakage. Children under the age of seven should always have their own hair braided without extensions.

d80a02f7afbfb200e0470f52c4bf02b2

Establish a night care routine

Ideally a satin scarf at night is best. Getting them into the habit of using one is advisable. The next best thing is a satin pillowcase to minimize frizz and preserve their style. If the scarf keeps falling off , a satin bonnet may also work well. These methods will prevent excessive rubbing that can lead to nape and side hair breakage. It is also important to remove all accessories such as clips and hair bands as these can snag the hair as the child sleeps. Release the hair from ponytails at night to prevent ‘halo breakage’. This is when children develop breakage around the rim of their hairline and nape or when they have short hairs around their head that do not fit into ponytail holders. In the morning, to smooth their edges and eliminate frizz, lightly spray their edges and braids with water. Then firmly apply a satin scarf to flatten the stray hairs. Leave it on for five minutes or so and their edges should be smoother and neat once it is taken off.

Be gentle with ponytails and buns

Babies and young girls with very short hair should not have their hair forced into ponytails and hard barrettes. Their hair can be beautifully accentuated with satin headbands, ribbons and clip-on bows. When short hair is manipulated into a ponytail, the tension placed on both the scalp and hair can damage both the hair follicles and strands.  This leads to thinning edges and missing nape areas. The hair underneath the ponytail holder should have freedom to move. Perform a tension test by asking the child to move her head from ear to shoulder on each side and chin to chest. If there is any discomfort, loosen the ponytail. Limit ponytails to five or six, as smaller ponytails are more likely to lead to breakage.  Avoid rubber bands and ponytail holders with the metal crimp in the middle as these can snag the hair.

5e03eeee2658d7c55f7b649b1d4a99ab

 

Use kinder shampoos and conditioners

All natural, sulfate-free shampoos are best because they are gentle for the hair and scalp. If you must use shampoos with detergents, adding a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or almond oil will reduce the harshness of the shampoo. Stronger shampoos can be used for clarifying every two to three weeks if your child is particularly active and needs deeper cleansing. Clarifying will reduce product buildup or dirt.

Deep conditioning with heat caps isn’t considered necessary for children, as their hair should be at its healthiest. The exception is hair that is chemically treated, in which case a protein conditioner may be necessary every other week.  This will help to maintain the protein moisture balance that chemicals tend to disrupt.

images

Lead by example

If your child sees that you love your hair in its natural state, they will learn to do the same.  Many of us grew up believing that God made a mistake with our hair and that it needed to be fixed. We used a European standard of beauty to measure the worth and beauty of African hair. These misconceptions are slowly changing. How you teach your children to love the hair that God has given them is your decision. However resorting to chemical relaxers to permanently alter the texture of a child’s hair is unnecessary. Perhaps it should be left to your child to decide, when they are old enough to deal with the consequences and maintenance that is required for chemically treated hair.

 

How do you manage your child’s hair? Please share your tips below.

 

Advertisements

Hair Care for Children

Standard

Last week there was a lot of debate about baby Blue Ivy’s hair, after a ridiculous petition was created on change.org to ‘comb her hair.  It received over 3500 signatures.  It also brought natural hair into the forefront again and made me question if the stereotypes about it still exist. The woman who started the petition claims to have natural hair herself and has since said it was a joke. Perhaps people should think twice before ‘joking’ about somebody’s child or ridiculing a baby’s hair. So, what is good practice when it comes to hair care for children at various stages?  Here are 6 points that I believe are important for managing our children’s hair. Stayed tuned for more next week.

Image

Less is more when it comes to newborns and babies under 2 years

Not much should be done with their hair at this stage as their scalps are very sensitive; any manipulation is likely to cause damage or pain.   The hair fibers will  be developing and changing rapidly. In the early months their hair is usually fine, wavy or curly. As they grow, their hair will develop more texture. Most of us have baby pictures of ourselves with softer, loosely curled hair and probably believe it is a contrast to our hair now.  It is also common for newborns and young babies to have uneven hair and bald spots . The most likely area for a bald spot is at the back of their head. This is due to them constantly sleeping on their backs and the friction caused by rubbing. To prevent or minimize this, rub a little coconut oil on the affected area to protect it and lay them on a satin blanket.

Shampoos are not considered necessary at this stage either; a simple rinsing with warm water will suffice.  As the hair grows in texture and thickness, co-washing can be introduced.  A light moisturizer may be used daily to  style and nourish the hair.  As the hair thickens, a thicker moisturizer can be used, followed by a light oil for sealing.

img-thing

More moisture is needed for toddler years and older

As a child’s hair texture thickens and matures, the hair fibers will require more moisture, to keep them supple and pliable. A lack of adequate moisture will weaken the hair and lead to breakage. Avoid products that are too harsh for textured hair. With the growth of the natural hair community, there are now a plethora of products catered to natural hair.  Many of these products are 100% natural and free from drying ingredients, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or silicones. There are a number of kinder shampoo and conditioners that are sulphate-free. Use conditioners that are rich and creamy for adequate slip when washing and detangling.

Low manipulation styling is key

Low manipulation styling should be practiced as the norm. Avoid heat, chemical relaxers and weaves (yes I have seen young children with weaves), as these can hinder healthy growth.  Traction alopecia is most prevalent with women and young girls of African descent. This is a cycle that must be broken.  Most of our bad habits relating to hair started in childhood.  The reasons we are known as the race with the shortest hair is because of generations of chemical use, excessive heat,  lack of knowledge about our natural hair and, an over-reliance on tight weaves and braids.  It is not because there is anything inherently wrong with our natural hair, or because it doesn’t grow.

Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks.

Be wary of marketing gimmicks such as ‘no tears’ formulas in baby shampoos.  These products are marketed as being gentle, but are just as strong and drying as adult shampoos. They still contain high dosages of detergents and surfactants. Being easy on the eyes should not be the only qualifying factor, as they can still be harsh on the hair and have little conditioning values. Afro-textured hair is prone to dryness by its nature. Baby shampoos strip already fragile curly or kinky hair types, leaving the hair shaft unprotected.

Also, be aware that relaxers targeted at children are not gentler than adult relaxers, the ingredients are the same. The only difference is the children on the packaging. The same goes for texturizers, which work the  same as relaxers. Both use the same ingredients, either sodium hydroxide or Calcium hydroxide.  They permanently alter the natural curl pattern, strip the hair of its elasticity and straighten kinkier hair textures. Texturizers rarely leave the hair wavy or curly like it appears on the box.

Image

Consider using no shampoo and conditioner for the under 5s

A shampoo free regimen is best for those under five years of age. Young children this age typically do not need to use shampoo of any kind on their textured hair, unless it has been heavily soiled (food, playing in the sandbox, swimming etc).  No shampoo or conditioner-regimens insure that moisture is reinforced within the strands and is not depleted due to the harsh detergents found in shampoos. This may be a method to consider if your child’s hair continues to suffer from excessive dryness no matter what shampoo you use.

Image

Butters, oils and leave in conditioners

There are many products with petroleum and mineral oil that claim to combat dryness.  Instead, these ingredients coat the hair and prevent moisture from being absorbed. This leads to dryness and causes a dependency on the product, causing you to constantly reapply it for temporary relief.  Such products have resulted in dry, weighed down tresses for many of our children.  Baby oil is 100 percent mineral oil for instance.  Instead use natural oils such as coconut oil, grapeseed oil or avocado oil, for sealing and styling.  The type of moisturizer used depends on your child’s hair type. Thicker, kinkier hair works well with heavier butters and creams, whereas looser curls and finer hair would need lighter products, so it is not weighed down.

The simple use of water in a spray bottle will suffice, or a water based spray or leave in conditioner can be used. You can purchase detangling sprays, leave-in conditioners, creams, custards or simply make your own water, oil and conditioner concoction.  Nourishing butters such as avocado, cocoa, mango and shea can also be used instead of mineral oil or petroleum.  The same moisture-sealing rules apply with children. Hair must be moisturized with water, or a water based moisturizer and sealed with an oil or butter.  This will help the hair retain moisture, promote shine and improve manageability.

Shea Moisture for Kids

Shea Moisture for Kids

Next week will include: appropriate hair tools, methods of styling and washing your children’s hair.

Please share your hair care tips for children below?  What did you think about the Blue Ivy hair petition?

 

Sources: babycenter.com

Davis-Sivasothy; The Science of Black Hair

The “fringe sign” for public education on traction alopecia:

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1h81c7s1