Tuesday, 11 March 2014

How to Care For your Mixed Race Child's Hair

     Like the rest of us, mixed race children do not all have the same hair texture.  My oldest childhood friends are mixed race siblings; one has thick, dense, now wavy but previously kinky hair, and the other has finer, medium density,curly hair. However, while it is difficult to lump all their hair care needs into one category, I believe the basic principles should work for the majority of the spectrum of mixed race hair types, perhaps with the odd bit of tweaking here and there to suit your individual circumstances.  The key to creating a regimen that works for your child is to understand their hair type.

      My daughter has fine, tightly curly, low to medium density hair that is prone to dryness and tangles easily.

I have chosen to use the products I use based on how natural the ingredients are.  While my daughter's hair health is of course important when coming up with a hair regimen, her health health is much more of a priority. Therefore, I have tried as much as possible to avoid products with ingredients which are harmful or potentially harmful., not just to her hair but to her overall well being. This was especially important to me as I started her healthy hair journey when she was about a year old so it was vital to use what I considered baby-safe products even though they are not made specifically for children. Many hair products made for children often still use a lot of chemicals so it is important to read labels. There are lots of alternative products locally available that are also natural-hair friendly but that contain more chemicals.

This routine may well change as she grows older (and my pockets get shallower) but for now, here is her hair care regimen:

   1. Wash your child’s hair with silicone free conditioner instead of shampoo
      Curly and kinky hair is prone to dryness and shampoos have detergents that strip hair of its natural oils which further exacerbates the problem. Using conditioners as cleansers is a gentler way of cleaning hair. You could try specially formulated conditioning cleansers as an alternative to shampoos or conditioners. 

Faith in Nature Jojoba Conditioner 400ml
currently using the Jojoba conditioner

I use Faith In Nature conditioners from Healthy U. I love Faith in Nature; they use all naturally derived ingredients, have no parabens or SLES and are cruelty free. I used to use the Chocolate Conditioner but because of unreliable stock, I now use any of their range for dry hair. I co-wash (conditioner wash) every morning and some evenings too. 

2. Use a wide tooth comb to detangle the hair when it is has lots of conditioner in it. 
You should never comb curly or kinky hair when dry. This not only causes breakage but also breaks up the curls, making the hair frizzy. Using conditioner on wet hair helps with the detangling and is an easy, pain free way of combing your child's hair. 

I start with a Tangle Teezer on the ends to help detangle without snagging the hair them I follow with a wide tooth comb. Add more conditioner if you need to make it easier to comb. If there are major tangles, use your fingers to separate the knots so you don’t break the hair.

Tip: finger detangling is much gentler on hair so you can completely opt out of combs if you prefer but it does take longer. My daughter has zero patience for having her hair done so we only use fingers for the big tangles.

3. Rinse with clean water (not the soapy bath water) and pat dry with a t-shirt or microfibre towel, making sure not to rub back and forth.
Rubbing causes the curls to separate and frizz up. A t-shirt is a great alternative to a regular towel as it doesn't snag the hair. You don't want to remove too much water from the hair, just enough so you avoid the drippies while it is drying. 

4. Apply leave-in conditioner making sure each strand is coated. 
It is very important to use a leave-in conditioner as it not only helps define the curls but it also keeps them moisturised all day long. 

use Kinky Curly Knot Today which I either buy from Elisheba Muturi of Aunaturelle (aunaturelleconcepts@gmail.com) or ask  friends coming in from the US to bring me.  It doubles as a detangler even on dry hair, and I mix it with distilled water in a spray bottle for quick touch ups or detangling sessions when we can't wash her hair. 

Tip: You can use any silicone-free leave-in conditioner instead or make your own:

  • 2 tablespoons silicone-free conditioner (can be what you use for co-washing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oil: I use jojoba as it is closest in make up to our scalps' natural sebum but any light oil will do e.g. Almond Oil or Grapeseed. Olive oil is also very good but was too heavy for my daughter's fine hair and Coconut oil is fantastic but it solidifies in cooler weather and clogs the bottle nozzle
  • Water (about a cup)

5. After applying the leave-in, use your fingers like a rake and, working in sections, pull your fingers through from root to tip (see picture below) then move on to next section. 

This is known as shingling or raking and it helps clump curls together, giving you better definition than using a comb. NOTE: THIS STEP WILL ONLY WORK IF YOUR CHILD HAS NATURALLY CURLY HAIR. After you have gone through the whole head, don’t touch the hair until it is dry otherwise the curls will frizz. Once dry, style them gently so as not to break up the curls. The car seat always messes up the back of my daughter’s head so I spray it with a little water to refresh the curls when we get where we are going. 

    Tip: you can use a gel over the conditioner if you want a firmer hold for your curls. I have experimented with Kinky Curly Curling Custard which has good ingredients and good hold without being crunchy.

6. Once a month, wash your child’s hair with a SULFATE-FREE shampoo. 
Sulfate-free shampoos are much gentler than regular shampoos. 

     The night before we shampoo, I generously apply food grade coconut oil to her hair which helps prevent the hair drying out too much the following morning when it is shampooed. For optimal results, you want to leave the coconut oil in for 12 hours. We do this at night so she is not walking around with a stringy head of hair all day although it means that some of it rubs off when she sleeps. I use Tints Of Nature sulfate free shampoo from Healthy U. Condition hair as usual after shampooing.

     7. Deep Condition Hair Monthly
      I'm a little lazy about this last step but deep conditioning is important as it helps strengthen the hair. I mix yoghurt and honey and leave it on her hair for 20 minutes while she plays in the bath. You can use various other natural fiod products like coconut milk, raw eggs, bananas and avocado but be mindful of allergies. My daughter's fine hair would probably benefit from regular protein treatments but I am also planning to try out this Organic Surge moisture mask on her hair (spotted at Med World pharmacy in Valley Arcade).

this is quite a tiny tub for the price so will only use it sparingly

      8. Protect hair at night to prevent moisture loss. 
      This is a case of do as I say not as I do as my daughter can't stand anything on her head so her hair is always parched by morning. Once we start using a pillow I will introduce satin pillowcases and when she is old enough to understand, satin bonnets or scarfs to sleep in. This is because cotton draws out whatever moisture is in the hair and the rubbing motion causes the hair to frizz, tangle and break. 

      9. Trim hair regularly 
      I am yet to find someone who knows how to trim curly hair without first using heat to straighten it so I trim it myself at home. I'm not very good at it so I only take a little off the ends when the hair is dry and set.

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