As a curly haired mama, I welcomed the curls that began to sprout on my first born’s head. At six months old her straight hair developed a slight “swoop” in the front. By 15 months there were signs of actual curls and by two years old, those little curls turned into beautiful Shirley Temple ringlets.
Having years of experience with trial and error on my own hair, I knew exactly how to care for my daughter’s curls. What I didn’t realize was that so many moms (typically those with straight hair) would ask what I did to manage those locks, because for them, having a child with curly hair was intimidating and uncharted territory.
And though I would agree, it does take more time and care to control that curly mop, but it is possible. So from one mom to another, for the sake of a curly haired girl to another, here are my tips and tricks for taming those curls.
Wash your child’s hair with a sulfate-free shampoo. Shampoos which contain sodium lauryl sulfate, strip the hair of it’s natural oils, drying out hair and causing frizz. Some sulfate-free shampoos/cleansers include Aveeno – Baby Wash & Shampoo, Johnson & Johnson – Natural Baby Shampoo, and DevaCurl – No Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser.
Once you have rinsed the sulfate-free shampoo from your child’s hair, take a quarter size glob of a thick conditioner and apply it to the ends of the hair. I find that a thicker, better quality conditioner works best to get through the tangles. Some great conditioners include Shea Moisture – Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner and DevaCurl – One Condition.
The most import rule of managing curly hair: ONLY brush it when it’s wet! Once the conditioner is set in your child’s wet hair, take either a wide tooth comb or a “Wet Brush” and begin combing the ends first and then gradually work your way up towards the scalp. If the strands are really knotty you can add some extra water and conditioner or even a detangling spray.
Another trick is to grasp the hair with one hand and comb with the other hand. This helps to alleviate some of the pull on the scalp and minimize the yelps from your little one. Once all the tangles are out and you have completely brushed through the hair, rinse out the conditioner. Warning: the brushing process takes the longest. You must have patience. Some nights this step can take up to five minutes. Tip: try and distract your little one with fun bath toys or sing a silly song while brushing.
PRODUCT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Once the conditioner is rinsed off, put a generous glob of mousse or styling creme in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together and then run your fingers through your child’s wet hair (right there in the tub) as if your fingers were a comb. Make sure to distribute the product evenly. Once complete, take your child’s hair in both hands, then scrunch and squeeze upward.
This will tighten the curls and get rid of excess water, which also helps the hair to dry faster. Some curly-friendly products include Herbal Essences – Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse, DevaCurl Styling Crème, and Pantene Pro-V Silky Moisture Whip.
Once this hair care routine is finished let it air dry and Do NOT touch it. Do not rub it with a towel. If you want to use a blow dryer, particularly in the colder months, wait for as long as possible for the hair to air dry on it’s own and then use a diffuser attachment. The diffuser helps to dry curls more evenly.
FREQUENCY OF WASHING
Since you should only brush curly hair when it’s wet, I typically wash/condition my child’s hair every other night otherwise her hair gets extremely matted and tangled. If your child doesn’t need to wash their hair every other night or if it’s not dirty, skip the shampoo altogether and go straight to the conditioner/comb routine.
When you notice your child’s hair getting harder to brush through, it may be time for a trim to get rid of the split and dead ends. You will notice that after having a haircut it is so much easier (and takes so much less time) to get through the condition/comb routine.
ON THOSE MESSY DAYS
If your child wakes up with limp or frizzy hair in some places, take a little water on your fingers and try to wet and reshape the curl with your fingers. If that doesn’t work, pin some hair back with bobby pins, add a braid or put it in a messy bun. Messy buns can really mask bad hair days and appear so put together.
FOR BEST RESULTS
On days that you want your child’s hair to be “top notch” (i.e. holidays or taking professional photos) do the wash/condition/combine routine the morning of. The curls will look better and are less likely to have “bed head” frizz or flat spots.