Tag Archives: managing children’s natural hair

Hair Care for Children – Part 2

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Cruel comments about Blue Ivy’s hair need to stop!

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I was pretty disgusted to see the comments made against a baby on the BGLH (Black Girls with Long Hair) Facebook page, under the post: Blue Ivy is Rocking Twists. This is not the first time this blog has posted pictures of Beyoncé with her 21 month old daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Each time, people feel the need to make negative comments about the baby’s looks, and hair. ALL of us had natural hair when we were babies, so why the scrutiny? During an interview with Oprah, Solange Knowles spoke about getting her first perm as early as four years old. With the cruelty targeted against her niece’s natural hair, I fear Blue may suffer a similar fate. Examples of these negative comments include ‘ Beyoncé really needs to do something  with her (Blue’s) hair’, ‘Beyoncé really needs to comb that girl’s hair’, ‘She’s a beautiful kid but why does her hair look unkept’, ‘Oh those are twists, I thought they were naps’. I noticed that some of the comments were made by women who appeared to have relaxed hair or weave according to their profile picture.  Such women probably joined that natural hair blog  to cause trouble and make negative comments about natural hair.

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Most of us with natural hair have heard comments like this, especially the usual demand that we comb our hair. People who make such statements have no knowledge of Afro textured hair. They compare it to straight silky hair and its noted differences are simply seen as flaws, rather than unique qualities. It disgusts me that such attitudes still exist in 2013 and people would resort to making such comments about a baby. These were probably the same people who were complaining about Beyoncé not showing any pictures of Blue Ivy for many months after she was born. Now we know exactly why she kept her hidden. These people seem upset that she has her father’s African features. They are upset that Blue Ivy didn’t get the ‘good hair’ but got the African/’nappy’ hair instead.

The majority of African-American women chemically straighten their hair or continuously keep their natural hair covered with other hair textures.  Comedian Cheryl Underwood received a backlash for calling Afro-textured hair ‘nasty’.  Judging by these comments, she was only saying what many African-American women think about their own hair texture. These are the same women who wouldn’t hesitate to put harmful chemicals on the scalps of their little girls.  This gives them the message that; ‘mama really has to do something with your hair because, your natural hair isn’t good enough, or, your natural hair is problematic and has to be fixed!’

FYI, Afro-textured hair is kinky and tightly coiled in nature, it may appear uneven at times because some women have tighter or loser sections. Combing it, doesn’t magically make it sleek or give it an even shape, where every hair is perfectly placed.  Babies especially have uneven hair because it is in the early stages of growth. You often find some babies with bald patches especially at the back of their head which they sleep on. To put the same standards on a baby that you would put on a grown women, is ridiculous!  In general, the use of a comb on Afro-textured hair should be minimized and only used on wet hair.  Finger detangling is just as good,  if not, more effective than a comb. So comments like the ones I read on this blog, only go to show how clueless people are about natural hair.  You often see clueless mothers subjecting their daughters to pain when combing their hair, because they have never learned how  to properly comb, Afro-textured hair in its natural state.

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I am not a  Beyoncé fan,  I’m a fan of natural hair. I am a fan of little black girls knowing that they are beautiful and that their hair is beautiful. I am a fan of young black girls not coming home from school and saying they want hair like the white girls. I’m also a fan of mothers taking the time to learn how to manage their daughter’s natural hair, rather than damaging it with relaxers or excessive heat and, I am certainly a fan of African beauty. If Beyoncé wants to experiment with Blue Ivy’s hair by putting it in braids, great! She’s taking the time to look after her daughter’s  hair, which is beautiful. Blue Ivy is not a natural hair inspiration or a celebrity yet; she’s simply a baby who has just started her life! And already, she is being told that her hair isn’t good enough, not by white people, but by black women with the same type of hair, minus the perms and weaves. Sad!

Have you seen these comments? Check out the blog post here: https://www.facebook.com/blackgirllonghair/posts/10151737920758391