The younger your child is the more likely they are to wiggle and squirm while you shampoo, condition, detangle, and style their hair. Below is a simple natural hair regimen you can use until they are old enough to enjoy having their hair done.
Determine Their Hair Type And Texture
Natural hair has special care requirements so begin by identifying what your little one’s hair type and texture is. The four main hair types are straight, wavy, curly, and kinky. The bullet points below will help you determine their texture so that you can create their shampoo schedule. If their hair is dry or damaged, decrease their shampoo schedule and condition daily.
- 1a = Straight hair that’s fine and thin
- 1b = Straight hair that has lots of body
- 1c = Straight hair that’s coarse and hard to curl
- 2a = Wavy hair that’s fine and thin
- 2b = Wavy hair that’s medium and frizzy
- 2c = Wavy hair that’s coarse with thicker waves
- 3a = Curly with the diameter of sidewalk chalk
- 3B = Curly with the diameter of a sharpie
- 3C = Curly with the diameter of a pencil
- 4A = Kinky with curl the diameter of a needle
- 4B = Kinky with zigzag curl pattern
- 4C = Kinky with no curl pattern
Create Their Shampoo Schedule
As a general rule, straight and wavy hair should be shampooed 1 or 2 times per week, curly hair no more than 1 time per week, and kinky hair may only need to be shampooed every 2 weeks. There are of course a few exceptions to this rule, such as if their scalp is sweaty or oily, and you must always shampoo after they swim. To protect their hair, you can co-wash every other time, by using a conditioner instead of a shampoo. Massage the conditioner into their scalp to ensure cleansing, and condition a second time after you co-wash with the same conditioner or with a leave-in. Set a reminder on your phone so that you don’t forget when to wash.
Always use a moisture-rich shampoo designed especially for curly kids. This will cleanse without stripping their hair and add just enough moisture to soften and loosen tangles and small mats. If they have a lot of tangles detangling may be easier outside of the bathtub. Set them in a chair with a book, cartoon, game, or toy to keep them busy. Any time their hair feels dry or must to shampoo ahead of schedule co-wash with a rinse-out conditioner, followed by a leave-in conditioner.
Ideally, you will apply a rinse-out conditioner first, followed by a leave-in conditioner. If their hair isn’t too tangled, use their conditioner in the bathtub. Be sure they have plenty of fun bathtub toys to keep them busy. Comb their conditioner through from bottom to top, both to ease detangling and ensure it is evenly distributed. If they won’t sit still long enough for a rinse-out conditioner, not to worry as a leave-in formula designed for curly kids is fine.
It is up to you if you want to use the full LOC method, but it’s not right for every hair texture. If your child has 1-3B hair that is straight to wavy, LOC may weigh it down too much leaving their hair and scalp feeling heavy and oily after just a few days. For kids with 3C-4C hair, LOC may be the most effective way to keep their hair nourished and moisturized, and you may find you need a more generous portion of product to be effective.
Before you begin with the steps above, determine what hairstyle you will complete and what you will need to style their hair. This includes having the right curly kids brush or comb to detangle and style, as well as fun and functional hair accessories to keep their hair in place.
If their hair is prone to tangles, consider a protective style, alternating between a variety of braids and twists. Keep things fun with colorful hair bands, barrettes, and other hair accessories. Even while young, get them to participate in this process by selecting their hairstyles and accessories. If they don’t mind sitting still experiment with different ponytails and buns or let them rock their afro, maybe with a headband. Be mindful as an afro will require daily grooming to keep their hair tangle-free. If they aren’t patient enough yet wait until they are old enough to enjoy daily styling.
You might wrap your hair when you sleep at night, but young children aren’t always comfortable with a head wrap. So, in the meantime, invest in a sleep bonnet or a silky pillowcase. This will extend the life of protective styles, minimize breakage regardless of their hairstyle, and protect their hair from fibers that absorb the moisture from their hair. Yes, even high-quality cotton will absorb the moisture from their hair, so select a beauty pillowcase.
Daily Haircare And Styling
Daily haircare will vary greatly depending on their hair type and whether they are in a protective style. Whatever their style may be, don’t be shy about adding a bit of water. You can lightly mist protective styles to smooth and fix areas that are starting to loosen. Not too much water as you don’t want to weigh down their hair. Fix and tame frizz and flyaways with a curly kids cream or gel.
Wet or mist non-protective styles daily and brush or comb from bottom to top, in sections if their hair is thick, matted, or in need of a thorough comb out. Add in a leave-in hair conditioner to make combing a bit more comfortable, completing with the LOC method or a curly kids styling product. The more textured their hair the more hydration it will need daily so be generous when applying moisture.
Here’s to keeping your little one’s hair natural, healthy, and beautiful!