This is obviously a very large topic but I will try to give my top tips on managing children's hair. I'm black (obviously) my husband is white; my brother is also married to a white woman so I am all for mixing of the races. I'm colour blind, however, I am not blind to how hair management differs between us. Here are some tips on managing black children's hair:
1. Don't shampoo and go! Don't shampoo too often!
White hair has a tendency towards greasiness. Because of this I have noted that my white family shampoo their hair and they frequently don't add anything to their hair after nor do they even use conditioner. They also wash their hair daily! This would be a recipe for disaster for black hair.
The first characteristic of black hair is its tendency towards dryness. Sebum, the oil produced by the scalp travels easily down straight or wavy hair but it struggles to move done kinks, curls and coils; this is why black hair has a tendency towards dryness.
Shampoo is a detergent, it cleans hair but it also dries hair out by stripping it of any oils. Therefore my first two tips are:
2. Condition the hair
This is even more important than shampoo. If your child's hair isn't very dirty you can skip the shampoo all together and just wash the hair with conditioner.
Always follows a shampoo with a conditioner if you do shampoo.
At least weekly use a "deep conditioner" and let the conditioner sit in the hair for 20 minutes or so.
3. Add a moisturiser to the hair regularly
I have noticed that my sister-in-law actually uses some kind of non-greasy "hair oil" at times. Whilst it's okay for her hair, black hair needs something much more moisturising.
What products should you use?
See the products I recommend on Amazon, under the "Children!" category.
But the hair feels oily?
That's okay, if you touch black hair you will frequently get some kind of product on your hands. Our hair doesn't have the same silky feel that white hair does; it feels like an exquisite cotton or wool. If there is too much oil on your hands then you should probably use a little less product.
4. How to style the hair
I know some people still look upon the afro as messy but it's okay to have afro hair. I have type 4C hair on most of my head and it doesn't take to curling very well so I prefer to wear it in an afro with scarves, hairbands and flowers to make it look nice. I accept and love my hair as it is but even some of my black friends will call it messy.
It's so hard to comb though?!
When I started taking of natural hair I realised that the combing thing wasn't so necessary! Yes, I just said that. I use my fingers to comb and fluff my hair out and use combs less often. I usually comb through properly weekly when I do my deep condition. You can absolutely comb the hair but you need to section it and comb it bit by bit. Tips first. Moisturise with water and a leave in conditioner before combing.
Tired of combing and hair management?
If you like the afro look then leave it like that! However, you can buy yourself a break from hair management by getting your child in cornrows or other plaits. Most people (black people included) take the child to a salon, a few do it themselves. This is of course something white children don't have to do, but going to a hair salon has been part of my life since I was very, very little.
For more creative styling tips check out Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care - it's an awesome site for inspiration and support.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward