A proactive approach is a must when it comes to keeping natural curls healthy and moisturized. Although our sebaceous glands produce a naturally occurring oil (sebum) that helps to moisturize and protect our scalp and hair strands, the beautiful coils of your little one’s curls keep this oil from traveling all the way from root to tip. Not to worry as these 9 tricks stop curly hair from getting dry.
1. Only Brush And Detangle When Wet
Between their active lifestyle and curly hair’s natural tendency to tangle, detangling will be a regular part of your haircare routine. As tempting as it may be when you spot a tangle, only detangle their hair when it’s wet. This can be while in the bathtub, just after they get out of the shower, or by spraying the tangle with water. Add a bit of leave-in conditioner to help the tangle break up and protect their fragile curls during the detangling process. As always, only use a curly hairbrush or comb—or the end of a rat tail comb to break apart matted areas. Separate their hair into small sections and detangle it from the bottom up.
2. Use Sulfate-Free Curly Hair Products
Sulfates are a common ingredient in shampoo as they create the foamy lather we all associate with cleansing. However, sulfates strip the natural moisture from all hair types—especially curly hair. Even with conditioning directly after shampooing, natural curls will rapidly dry out. Products designed specifically for curly hair are sulfate-free and made with natural ingredients such as honey and avocado oil, meaning that they are gentle and designed to protect, nourish, and moisturize.
3. Know When To Shampoo And When To Co-Wash
You’ll have to create a designated shampoo schedule for your children which will vary depending on their hair texture, type, and their lifestyle. For curly kids, shampooing every 7 to 10 days is average, more often if their hair is dirty, oily, if they’ve been swimming, and maybe more often if they are mixed race.
However, shampoo is not required every time. For example, if your child is on the swim team, they need to wear a swim cap or shampoo every time they get out of the pool. However, they can co-wash with conditioner instead of using shampoo each time they swim.
4. Only Shampoo The Scalp
Even if your little one has product build-up on their hair, focus your attention primarily on their scalp when you shampoo. Massage the shampoo in, which can also help to stimulate hair growth. If their hair is long, quickly massage it from root to tip, then rinse it out ASAP. If their hair is short or mid-length, the shampoo will cleanse the rest of their hair as it’s rinsed out—no need to massage it in from root to tip.
5. Always Use A Conditioner
Even with a nourishing shampoo, you must condition their hair every time you cleanse. If your little one won’t sit still in the tub long enough for a rinse-out conditioner, just use a leave-in conditioner. In addition to conditioning after shampooing, curly hair benefits from daily conditioning. This could be a daily leave-in or conditioner mixed with water to wet their hair on days that you don’t wet it in the shower or bath—often as part of the protective routine detailed below.
6. Daily Moisture And Oil
If your kids have different textures of hair you will need to personalize their shampoo routine and the method you use to moisturize and protect their hair daily. Two popular options are the LOC or LCO methods. Remember, a little bit of product goes a long way, their hair should not look or feel oily, and it should not be weighed down. Separate their hair in to sections and follow the steps below.
- Short for leave-in, oil, and cream, this method is achieved by adding leave-in conditioner to towel-dried hair or spraying dry hair with a mixture of water and conditioner.
- Apply a light layer of your natural oil of choice, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil. The type of oil you choose depends on the porosity of their hair. The more porous their hair, the heavier the oil will need to be. Water and oil don’t mix, so the oil will coat the hair sealing in moisture.
- The final step is to close the cuticles with your cream of choice, such as a natural curl cream.
If the LOC method doesn’t lock in moisture, try reversing steps 1 and 3. Give each method at least 3 weeks to see which one works best for your child.
Alternative Moisture Methods
If your child is mixed race or has 2a through 3a hair, they may not need the full LOC or LCO methods. Experiment with both, but you may not need to do the full routine daily as it can weigh down loose and larger coils. Test skipping the oil or use styling products that contain natural oils.
1. Style When Wet
Mornings are busy and sometimes kids mess up their hair before it’s time to head out of the house. As tempting as it may be, always grab a spray bottle to wet their hair before you style it. If you’re in a pinch, style without combing or brushing, wetting their hair with oil or a product to reshape curls or smooth it into place.
2. No Direct Contact With Cotton Pillowcases
If they’re too young to sleep in a scarf or bonnet at night invest in a silky beauty pillowcase. While the cotton pillowcase that came with their sheets is cute, the cotton will zap moisture from their hair drying it out and increasing breakage. On that same note, consider a microfiber towel for their hair instead of a standard cotton towel.
3. Protect Their Hair From External Factors
At the very least, carry a small bottle of hair oil with you, ideally a full hair kit with a brush or comb and a spray bottle with leave-in conditioner mixed in. This will help you protect your little one’s hair from external factors.
Add additional oil when they will be playing in the sun for an extended period of time and encourage them to wear a hat.
Wet their hair before they go swimming to minimize chlorine absorption, then apply a layer of your preferred oil before they hop in the pool. Shampoo or co-wash directly after swimming. Or wear a swim cap.
If they will be in extremely cold or windy weather ensure their hair is dry, have them wear a hat, and apply a protective layer of oil.
- Keep heated styling tools to a minimum.
These 9 tricks stop curly hair from getting dry but only if you use them consistently!