Caring for curly haired kids is a lot like caring for your own curly strands, except we need to use a lot more care on those tiny little heads. The curls and care we all know and love involve some key steps and tips that translate across age and hair type. From cleansing to styling and daily maintenance, we share similar concerns and anxieties - especially time, which we sometimes seem to have little of when caring for our little curlies. They want to get in, get clean and get out as soon as possible. They have other things to do, like play! Check out these eleven tips on caring for curly haired kids. We hope you can use them.
1. Prepare for Cleansing
One of the best ways we can care for our curly haired kids is to prepare them for wash day. You can begin the process with a pre-poo treatment. Emulsify a little coconut oil between your hands and saturate her curly strands from root to tip. Be sure to massage her scalp a little and cover with a shower cap. This quick step is an important part of the cleansing process that will help lock in shine and moisture during the cleansing process. The scalp massage will help increase blood circulation and encourage hair growth. You and I have talked about the importance of maintaining as much moisture as possible throughout the cleansing and styling process. Performing this initial step will set the stage for fantastically moist curls.
2. Creamy Cleanse
In the pursuit of clean curls, your best weapon is a great nourishing shampoo or co-wash cleansing creme. So far, I find Creme of Nature Ultra Moisturizing Detangling Conditioning Shampoo works best for my daughter's 3C/3B curls. My second best favorite is L'Oreal Ever Creme Cleansing Conditioner. Both of these products do a fantastic job of cleansing, conditioning and detangling hair thoroughly and quickly. Both are essential qualities when caring for our curly haired kids.
3. Handle with Care
Curly hair should come with instructions on the day we are born. But, oh well -- it does come with the well-versed "handle with care" from friends, family and general intuition, sometimes. Whenever you handle curls, be sure to repeat that mantra in your head: handle with care. To that end, whenever you attempt to detangle her hair, make sure it is very wet, then saturate her strands with a moisturizing conditioner like Aussie Moist or Curls by Curly Q Cupcake N'Cream Conditioner. These products provide lots of "slip," which is essential to the detangling process. After applying the conditioner from root to tip, gently twist her hair to ensure thorough saturation of each strand. Once her hair is fully coated, use your fingers to gently comb through those curly strands in small sections a little at a time.
4. Conditioning Break
Sometimes we have time for a lengthy deep conditioning treatment and sometimes not so much, especially if your curly kid is pretty young. This tip is an immediate follow-up to the previous: After thoroughly coating her hair with a rich conditioner, take a short break and allow the conditioner to do its job. After a reasonable amount of time has passed, rinse her hair until about 80 percent of the conditioner is gone. Leaving a little conditioner behind will help her strands retain moisture similar to a separate leave-in conditioner product. Yep, you can purchase a separate leave-in but continuing with your regular conditioner will also do the trick!
5. No Brushing, Please
Curly hair need loads of T.L.C. As such, try to manipulate it as little as possible while dry and avoid using any sort of multi-bristled boar brush on your curly one's hair. My favorite tools for detangling my daughter's hair are: hands, wide-toothed comb or a Knot Geenie. Try to avoid using fine-toothed combs as well. I have one exception: Whenever I finger coil my little girl's hair I use a rat-tail comb on the very ends to catch all the hairs and form into the final end curl. Used in this way, a fine-toothed comb is limited to a very small area of her hair, avoiding any potential damage.
6. Trim as Needed
Our curly kids likely play outside in the elements much more than you or I. All of that fun exposure to wind and sun from running around outdoors will encourage split ends. Now, we both know that outdoor activities are not solely to blame for split ends, but split ends happen and we need to address them whenever we see them. If you choose to do the "seek and destroy" or "dusting" methods to trim her hair, be sure to invest in a quality pair of hair cutting scissors.
7. Professional Cut when Necessary
I grew up with a general rule about hair: It is kept cut to shoulder length until you are able to care for it yourself. This rule taught me a little patience but it also allowed me to figure out how to handle my massive curls without the added responsibility and distraction of length. Curls are beautiful, especially when they are well-cared for. We love to see them grow and grow as much as they will, and a good haircut can help. A professional cut can set the stage for healthy hair and future healthful hair maintenance. A stylist who specializes in cutting curly hair will understand shrinkage and curl needs. This person can also help you choose a cut that will work with your daughter's curl type, hair needs and face shape.
8. Shape up
We know that protecting those strands is pertinent to curl health, especially the ends. Another way to ensure moisture protection is with a kid-friendly moisturizing styling creme. A good product will hold those curls in place. I like to use Cantu Shea Butter Curling Cream on my daughter's hair but other products like Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie, Desert Essence Hair Cream and the As I Am Curling Jelly help lock in essential oils and are pretty good at getting the job done.
9. End Protection
If you are a curly then you probably also appreciate the hair health benefits of a great protective style, namely moisture and curl retention. There are tons of instructional videos available online via websites such as YouTube and Naturallycurly.com. Check them out. There are many kid friendly styles around, and with the help of an instructional video or two you just might master a few staple styles your daughter will love. My daughter's favorite style is a braided mohawk we designed together. She has very long hair, which means this style takes a while to complete but she loves it! It is well worth the time investment.
10. Refresh Often
With proper tools and care our curly kids can rock a wash-n-go with confidence and ease. A wash-n-go done is one of the easiest styles to achieve. But even this fantastically bold style encounters a day or two between cleansing sessions that requires a little moisture boost. You can handle that situation with a curl refresher: Using whatever ratios that work best for your hair, combine water and conditioner in a spray bottle and keep on hand around the house. I like to add a little olive oil and rosemary to our curl refresh cocktail. Spritz and scrunch hair thoroughly to refresh curls.
11. Daily Moisture
A little light oil product can go a long way in style and moisture control. Products like all natural coconut oil, argan oil, macadamia oil or olive oil will do the trick. We love coconut oil as a daily moisturizing agent for our hair. It works well and smells fantastic. A light oil used daily will help your curly little one maintain healthy, shiny curls.
Lastly, invest time, money and energy into finding the right products for your daughter's hair needs. One thing we did not discuss are the many different allergies that our curly little loves sometimes have. For instance, nut allergies will make it nearly impossible for you to try some the items I love, like the Cantu Shea Butter Styling Cream but you may want to check out the Aussie Moist Conditioner. There are amazing nut-free products from lines like Aussie, Suave, Oyin and Giovanni. Just be sure to read the ingredients. These steps can be as short or as long as you want them to be; the timing is up to you. They are merely suggestions to help you care for your curly haired darlings. How do you care for your curly haired cutie?