Doing the girl’s hair week after week can at times be daunting. There are days that I’m not in the mood, my back is aching and I just want to chill. The same goes for the kids, they are not always game to sit through a wash and styling. Regardless of what we WANT to do, we are equipped with the knowledge of what we NEED to do. It’s regular maintenance and consistent routines that have helped grow and sustain their healthy hair.
I received various hair questions from my girlfriends, strangers in the grocery store and even hairstylists prior to the launch of my blog, on how I grew their hair so long. It must be intimidating, as a white mother of black or biracial kids trying to navigate these natural hair regimens. My own exploration into my natural curls didn’t start until I was thirty but at least I had textured hair experiences. Please believe me when I say you can grow and manage your child’s hair, even if what you did in the past has not worked.
Do not rely solely on professionals
Utilizing a braider is great and you can go and have protective styles installed professionally. We all need relief and it is okay to acknowledge limitations. If you aren’t great at braiding, try this. However, as a mother, you need to understand your child’s hair, moisture requirements and provide basic grooming practices at home. At some point, they will oversee their own hair regime. How will you set them up for success?
It is your job to advocate for their health because not all professional stylists use healthy practices to encourage length, strength, and shine. I often need to remind African braiders to use a wide-tooth comb to detangle my hair to start at the tips and work up to the roots. Take note of the state of the braider’s hair when you go in for an appointment. Does it look healthy? Is it dense, do they cover it or wear wigs?
Becky with the good hair
At the beauty supply store this week the clerk said: “but they have such good hair and curl patterns”. It may be easy to dismiss my advice and credit my girls with having some superior grade of hair. That is not true, you can verify with their stylist, detangling their hair is not that fun. We are usually at the salon for a minimum of two hours when they both need a trim.
My daughter’s hair when neglected, does not look like “good hair”. It is the consistent practices that we stick to, that has ensured that their hair continues to grow, retain moisture and avoid damage. My curl pattern is quite like Giana’s; her hair has multiple textures and consists of both tight and larger looser coils and curls. While Misha has a sidewalk chalk size spiral her strands are fine, just like mine.
These things take time…
I promise you, that you possess the tools to manage your baby’s hair if you are willing to take the time to learn. Prior to having kids, I had always relied on chemically altering my own curls. Although, I was inexperienced in setting curls, braiding hair and wash day routines, I was exposed to the rituals that black women have for their hair. Back in the day, it was quarterly hair appointments, greasing the scalp, plaiting the hair and wrapping it at night in a scarf.
I’ve had several people reach out to me and ask for help with questions on how to manage their child’s hair. When I start to make recommendations mothers are a little bit taken aback by the amount of time required or the number of products needed to layer into their strands. I’m not surprised that they don’t always follow through with my recommendations. I’m sure it’s easier to dismiss my recommendations and credit my kids with having some superior grade of hair but that is not the case. If you put these non-negotiables into place I promise you it will become easier, and their hair will flourish.
From burden to blessing
I have fond memories of sitting on the floor between my mother’s legs as she ran the hot comb through my hair. She never made me feel like I never it was a burden. When I start outlining our wash day routine I can see some white moms start to look overwhelmed. Try to frame this time as an incredible opportunity for mother-daughter bonding. I want to encourage you, to know that you have the tools and capabilities of managing your child’s hair.
I know we talk a great deal about hair. Keep in mind that, the most important aspect of what we’re doing is giving our kids a positive self-image and that self-love produces confidence. I wish we lived in a world where our self-esteem wasn’t so closely tied to our image but I am afraid that is not the world that we actually live in.
I confess I have a little more time than the average mom, to spend creating elaborate styles and nourishing those curls. I’ve made it my mission. But, once you get the rhythm of our weekly routine, it is not that complicated.
Even if you have tried before and you feel defeated you can manage your biracial or multi-racial child’s beautiful textured hair. The only requirement is that you’re willing to learn and put the technique in place.
Non-negotiables for textured hair
You can experiment with products and I won’t go into which ones we use in this post because I want you to focus on the steps themselves. You can find our staple products in this post.
- Protective Styling is a Must!
I belong to several mixed kid groups and see white mothers posting questions on how they can allow their kids to wear their hair loose and avoid tangles, drying, and frizz? Those are all indicators of dryness.
Research porosity of the hair which is an indication of how much moisture a specific hair type can keep in. For example, Giana’s hair starts drying between the time it takes her to get out of the bath and get dressed before I can even start styling. At the end of the day, her hair just isn’t the same as straight Caucasian hair and it cannot withstand being exposed to the elements daily.
By braiding, bunning or banding it, we group the hairs together and lock the moisture in, we are essentially protecting them. The easiest analogy I can give is a slide vs a spiral staircase. Think of the oils of your scalp traveling to the end. It takes a bit more effort to spiral around and around than to slide straight in!
There’s so much value in the sharing of information, I started this blog because I had a love for writing and expertise in self-care and a passion for raising two biracial girls. It’s so rewarding for me to help other mothers build their kid’s confidence. Thank you for caring enough to meet the challenge.Dione
2. Product Layering
If you saw my bathroom closet of products, you might have to pick up your chin. We liked to experiment with different lines and there are so many curly companies jumping on the bandwagon. The practices you use are more important than the products you choose. Play with products and see what is working but layer the products to lock the moisture in.
LOC- Leave-in Conditioner
LCO- Leave-in Conditioner
3. Gentle Detangling
It’s not that you can never let those curls be free. We love a progressive hairstyle week. What I mean by that is you let the hairstyle evolve over the course of a week. Perhaps you start with your wash day on Sunday. You place the hair in a quad of braids. By Wednesday it’s time to adjust the style and eliminate the hairline frizzes. Release those front braids and put them in a fresh braid or ponytail. By Friday the style is done.
Unbraid the set curls, which has dried in clumps. Spritz them with water and add a little oil to seal them in. Then you can let them out and wear the hair completely free. If tangling occurs after being down for a day, use a wet bristle brush and put it in a bun on Saturday. Sunday is a fresh opportunity and a new wash day. Take a look at how we detangle knots here.
It hurts my heart to think that a child might be thinking that their hair is undesirable, unmanageable or nappy. If washday is a pain for the mother the child will sense that and internalize the negative tension surrounding their crown.
This may also be a baffling concept for a mother who practices a daily washing regimen on her own hair. With the challenges of maintaining moisture in ethnic hair and the lesser amounts of oils from the scalp reaching the tips of the hair, it is better to reduce the amount of shampoo used on the hair. In fact, too much shampooing can strip and ultimately damage curls.
Evaluate the activities of the week, if they didn’t swim, play in sand or sweat profusely then washing the hair with just conditioner may be the best practice. We wash with shampoo every 2-3 weeks and in between we just co-wash with conditioner.
5. Protective Sleep Practices
If you follow us, you know that we created our own line of Swurly silk-lined sleep bonnets. Specifically, we focused on the lack of options for kid’s sleep bonnets that were secure and made to appeal to them. We tried the polyester “satin” bonnets from Sallys and Walgreens. We even ordered some hand-made caps from Etsy but nothing worked.
If you look back at my youngest Misha’s hair when she was a toddler her length was stuck at a bob for years while we were perfecting our product. Black hair, textured hair, and biracial curls do grow and flourish. The hair is fragile, easily snagged and can break off when it’s exposed to friction. Make sure your princesses sleep pretty with their hair covered.
Advocate and establish healthy hair practices
An adoptive mom of an African child was referred to me recently. She was struggling with matted tangles and needed help with her daughter’s hair. I gave her some links to our post on wash day routines and I also referred her to stylist she could visit for trims, braids, and products to get her started.
When I asked about the child’s sleep regimen I was surprised to find out she already had purchased one of our Child’s adjustable sleep bonnets. She then stated, “she has no interest in wearing it.” Had she given the authority of maintaining her child’s hair to her three-year-old? Did she feel like the toddler was equipped to know her own needs? We grew up wrapping our hair it wasn’t an option.
The resources that are available now, through natural hair bloggers and YouTube are invaluable in giving you the tools you need. It’s up to you to utilize them.