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Washing Your Child's Natural Hair (An Introduction)
To shampoo, or not to shampoo: That is the question. And what's all the fuss about sulfates? If most shampoos have them, can they really be all that bad? The decisions parents, especially new parents, have to make when washing natural hair for the first time can be a little overwhelming, especially if you've been combing the Internet for a while, hearing keywords thrown around that you don't understand. Hopefully this article will help break things down into simple, easily understandable answers to some of the most common questions regarding washing natural hair.
We wash hair to remove build-up. For babies, that's rarely product build-up, but rather natural hair oils (along with spit-up, food, and any other thing that's found it's way into your little one's hair). Baby hair should never be washed daily because the scalp can easily dry out and cause irritation. Cradle cap is another issue, but taking a "less is more" approach to dealing with it will probably cause the least amount of irritation. The short answer: wash the hair when it's dirty (i.e., when the scalp is oily, there's food in the hair, or it's gritty).
Once your child is old enough for oils and moisturizing products, this is when you need to keep an eye on things more closely to watch for build-up, especially on the scalp. The general rule in our house is once a week, regardless of whether or not we're styling that week. If Boo is wearing a style, the scalp gets cleansed and new product applied while the style stays in place (see "How We Wash Yarn Extensions" for the basics on washing with a style in). If your child is scratching at the scalp, the scalp either needs to have dry patches addressed and/or needs to be cleaned.
Along with products, natural hair oil (sebum) can also built up on the scalp. It's a common misconception that people of African descent do not have hair oils. They do. The amount that is produced varies from person to person, but it's there and it can build-up if not properly cleansed.
No doubt while doing research you've come across things like Type 4a/4b hair or Type 3c hair, etc. These are terms that are used to help people with a common language when talking about curl patterns. The original intent was not to rank hair or imply that one type was better than another, but to assign a common vocabulary that can be used to help people understand their (or their child's) curls. Very often nowadays, companies will refer to these hair types when talking about their natural haircare lines. Some products will work better on one curl pattern, other products on other curl patterns.
Although it's not my favourite system, it is the most commonly used, so it helps to know it and be able to identify where your child's curl pattern falls. Note that your child might have several "types" on their head, and that the pattern will probably change over time as they get older. See "An Overview of Hair Types" for an outline of the different types and corresponding photos.
Sulfates are the cleansing agents in shampoo that strip the hair of build-up. The problem with using them weekly on natural hair is that they not only take away dirt, product build-up, and grit, but they also strip away the natural hair oils that the hair needs to stay strong.
So if it's so "damaging," why is it in so many shampoos? The answer is pretty simple: The shampoos are not designed for kinky curly hair (generally, Type 4 hair). Straight hair (Type 1 hair) gets really oily and greasy because the hair is straight and the natural oil from the scalp easily makes the trip from the scalp straight down to the ends of hair. The curlier the hair, the harder it is for that oil to make the trip down the strands of hair, thus the ends dry out more easily.
In short, sulfates are pretty awesome if you have straighter hair, especially if you use a lot of product in it, but the more curly the hair gets, the more damaging sulfates can be to the hair. So with kinky curly hair, we tend to avoid regular (i.e.,weekly) use of shampoos containing sulfates. Is this true for everyone with kinky curly hair? No. Some people can use the shampoos weekly with no problems. Others cannot. It will be a choice that you will need to make for your little one, based on his or her cleansing needs. However, generally speaking, the younger the child, the less likely sulfates are needed, and this goes for all hair types, not just curly.
Thankfully there are many, many products out there now that no longer contain sulfates, most of which are regularly available at local stores. Some products will actually say right on the front "sulfate-free," others will require you to look through the ingredients. There are many forms of sulfates used in shampoos, some more harsh than others; just note that if you see the word "sulfate" in anyof its forms, it is not sulfate-free. And if you're not interested in using shampoos at all, co-washing is always an excellent option.
Never use your fingernails to wash the scalp. I know that sounds pretty basic, but it's worth mentioning just in case. Fingernails can scratch the scalp, especially if the scalp is already dry, leaving an open wound that could get infected and/or cause further scalp issues. Always, always use the pads of your fingers to cleanse the scalp.
If the hair is longer, or you are noticing a problem getting the scalp cleaned to your liking, section the hair with clips and focus on one section at a time. We've found that this helps in not only getting the hair cleaner, but also keeping it from getting too tangled during the washing process.
Be gentle with the hair, itself. Excess rubbing, finger-raking, or otherwise messing with the hair can cause breakage. Focus on cleansing the scalp; your cleansing product will make it's way down the rest of the hair just fine without piling all of the hair on top of the head and rubbing (I say this because this is how I regularly wash my own hair). Cleaning the strands of naturally curly hair require just a little attention, usually squeezing small sections in your hand with a little bit of shampoo/conditioner is enough to dislodge the grime. Yanking, rubbing, or twisting the hair is overkill and could very likely cause breakage.
How Young is Too Young to Wear a Weave? | Essence.com
The other day, while dropping off my six-year-old son at school, I noticed some of the girls there were wearing weave. These girls couldn’t have been more than 13 years old. They weren’t wearing cornrows with jumbo braiding hair added or individual braids with weave. No, these girls were rocking what looked like waist-length, virgin Indian hair with a u-part and perfect wand curls. I’m talking about some serious hair here. While walking my son to class, I saw a young girl probably in 7th or 8th grade with a really long weave walking towards me. She flipped her hair incessantly and looked at me like she knew she looked good. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her real hair and her weave weren’t blending well. I just smiled and told her to have a great day at school.
As I got in my car and drove away I thought about that young girl. First, I thought about how fast she looked with all that hair in her head. Then I begin to wonder if that weave that made her feel cute was doing more harm to her than good. For some, this may not even be an issue worth talking about. You’ll probably think that since her mother bought it for her to wear, then it has to be okay. That seems like a good answer, but I can’t help but to think about myself at that age. I didn’t know myself at all. I was very impressionable. I was slightly insecure, didn’t understand the meaning of real beauty, and didn’t love myself fully, “flaws” and all. At that age, I wanted to look like the women on television. They had long flowing hair (which in retrospect was probably weave) and wore tons of makeup. That, to me, was what beauty was and I wanted to look them one day. One day, I too, would look as beautiful as those women did. Or, at least that’s what I thought.
Before ya’ll get all crunktastical and assume I’m talking down about people who wear weave, let me clearly state that I am not. Weave is harmless. It is only an accessory. However, weave in the hands of the insecure and the broke can become a dangerous weapon. I’m not trying to be deep or make a big deal out of nothing, but I am wondering if the weave she was wearing will one day make her feel less than.
We’ve all been there a time or two. You get a weave and you love how it looks on you. When you take it out you feel slightly insecure because your hair isn’t as full or as long as weave made it look. For some women, this feeling drives them to become weave dependent and they refuse to be seen in public without extensions. Imagine this feeling of insecurity in a 12-year-old girl who is still figuring out her way in the world. As a mother of a young daughter myself, I would argue that some kids—most kids— aren’t ready to handle that. Am I saying that our girls shouldn’t be allowed to wear weave at all? No, I am not. Ultimately, that is up to the parent to decide. What I am saying is that we have to make certain that our young girls are mature enough to know that weave is an accessory and they are just as beautiful without it.
What age do you think parents should allow their kids to wear weave? Is wearing a long weave appropriate for pre-teens? Leave your comments below.
Briana McCarthy is a writer, blogger and editor of The Mane Source. When she's not blogging about hair and beauty, she's enjoying her Chicago hometown with her hubby and two children. Chat her up on Facebook and Instagram
14 Tips for Styling Curly Hair
Hello ladies! I am super duper excited about this post today. I’ve spent some time researching and trying new techniques. I wanted to create a resource for all you curly-cues out there! Your hair is beautiful! People pay to have hair like yours. If you’re discouraged and don’t really agree, you must read on. It’s all in the hair care!
Styling Curly Hair
If you’re wondering what gives me the authority to speak on styling curly hair, I get it! I thought of that too as I was creating this post. My hair is kind of in between and I didn’t want the truly curly-haired women to laugh at me in my attempt to help. So let me share a picture that I feel may help me make my case
Yep. That’s my baby. He has really curly hair and I just can’t bring myself to cut it. I feel like it matches his personality. He’s a little crazy and silly if you were wondering… And although he is not a little girl, it still needs to be managed!
So between having mixed babies and semi curly hair myself, I had a starting point. The rest, to be honest, is research and trying new products & ideas. I hope you enjoy & that it is indeed helpful! Don’t have curly hair? Feel free to share with your curly-haired friends!
1.) Embrace the curl!
You know, the grass is always greener on the other side, right? NO! Your grass is really, really green, you just need to know how to take care of it! Embrace your curls, love them and rock them with confidence. They truly are beautiful — people pay to have hair like you! If you have a hard time knowing how to tame them, then read on. I’ve got some tips & resources for you!
2.) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
Curly hair is naturally dry to begin with and is prone to frizz, as you probably know all too well! The key is to stay away from products with alcohol and sulfate in them as they will strip oils from your hair. It’s also a good idea to wash your hair less and take advantage of your natural oils. I’d say that’s a pretty big benefit, if you ask me!
3.) Shampoo right
Like #2, you don’t want to dry out your hair, and often shampoo can do that. I mean, it is cleansing your hair, stripping it of its natural oils. Try washing it less and use a product such as a moisturizing shampoo like Ouidad’s Curl Co-wash. It’s a shampoo but you lather it throughout your hair, leave it on while you shower (a couple minutes), then rinse & condition. So it is washing while conditioning and then you also add conditioner after that. I have used it and LOVE it!
4.) Condition & then condition some more
After your moisturizing shampoo you should regularly use a heavy conditioner. Ouidad has this product called Whipped Curls. It’s fabulous. It’s a conditioner that you can either leave in, for you really curly girls, or rinse out, for girls with hair like mine – kinda a tweener. Then invest in a good deep conditioner to use once a week or week and a half. Remember, you really shouldn’t be washing your hair more than a couple times a week.
5.) Fight the Frizz
To truly style hair and achieve the look you’re going for, straight or curly, you need product. You don’t have to go all out and spend 100’s of dollars, but you need some good basic products to have on hand. I’ve used John Frieda’s Anti-Frizz Serum and have been happy with it. Ouidad, which is made for curly hair, has a shine glaze serum. I haven’t tried this particular product, but I know curly hair women who swear by Ouidad!
6.) Less Fuss
Overall, the more you fuss with your hair, the more frizzy and messy it will be. So fix it, then leave it. Here’s a few other things you should be using less of:
In the shower, try to use cool water on your hair. The hotter the water, the more frizz. Once you’re out of the shower, you should apply the product needed to wet hair so it can absorb it all. Then let it air dry as long as you can. Maybe do your makeup, drink your coffee, get dressed. Then when it’s dried, flip your head upside down & use a diffuser (something similar to this one). You want to lightly scrunch your curls and lift them while drying. I have a curly-haired friend who uses chopsticks to lift her curls while drying!
Some people say don’t brush at all, but I say you don’t have to entirely lose the brush. I would suggest brushing while you’re in the shower with a wide-toothed comb (like this one) while the conditioner is still in your hair. Because brushing can break & ruin your hair, this way will protect it!
Like I mentioned above, once you’re done, just leave it alone. And honestly, this should be a blessing! You don’t have to fuss with your hair after you’re done in the morning. You’re welcome Oh, and to freshen up at night, just put a little water on your hands and scrunch your hair up. Done!
Another blessing in disguise (or not really disguised) you don’t have to wash your hair as much! In fact, you shouldn’t wash it as much. Because curly hair is naturally dry anyway, the oils from every day & even sweat from working out can be helpful. You can always use a little dry shampoo or baby powder in between washes.
Now, I just want to clarify, this is not an excuse to not shower. You can still shower, just don’t wash your hair as much when you do!
7.) Product application
Applying product to curly hair is mostly a necessity. In fact, I think product can and is helpful for all hair types. However, when you’re dealing with styling curly hair you want to be careful with how you apply it. Start at the ends or at least half way down and work to the ends. You want to avoid applying too much product to the top because it can weigh your hair down.
8.) Lose the towels
Well, the towel might not be the problem, but the way you use it. When you’re drying your hair from just out of the shower don’t rub your hair as it will rough up the cuticles creating more frizz to deal with. Instead squeeze hair dry. You might even want to dry using an old t-shirt to absorb the water, or even some super absorbent paper towels. The bottom line here is not to rub your hair dry. Just try to soak up all the extra water you can.
9.) Get the right cut
So much of styling your hair has to do with getting the right cut. You can also try finding a stylist that is either certified or has curly hair themselves so they understand what you need. With the right cut & right products, you’ll be unstoppable!
10.) Give it time
Just so you know, you can’t try one or all of these things one time and expect the frizz to be gone and your hair to be totally fantastic. Develop a routine that works for you. Find the products that work best with your type of hair. Then do it consistently. Any beauty regime takes time to work; just stick with it and you will see results!
There you have it! Bottom line, ladies, like I say in nearly every beauty post I write, embrace YOUR beautiful! Learn to love the things God gave you and embrace the beauty you have inside and outside. So even if my hair isn’t super curly, I want to encourage women to see the beauty in themselves. And if this post helps a few curly-haired women see that beauty, that makes me happy!
Have a great day!
Natalia is a mom to two crazy boys and wife to one handsome dude. She lives in France part of the year where her husband plays professional basketball, but she hails from Southern California. The hubs was born & raised in Nassau, Bahamas, which makes them an intercultural, interracial family traveling the globe together since 2007. She loves to cook (but mostly eat), hang with her fam, be adventurous, & find ways to stay girlie in a house full of men. On her site you can find loads of hair tutorials, makeup ideas, & fashion tips for the everyday woman. She believes that beauty and fashion don't have to be intimidating and that every woman should learn to embrace her own beauty