I got a question last month that made me smile. Here tis —
First off let me say I love your site and can’t get enough of it every day.
I have a toddler who just turned four and I decided yesterday that instead of straightening her hair and putting lots of barrettes or braiding it up, I would like to start twisting it or have her wear it out in a natural curly afro sort of do with hair clips, headbands, clips and what not.
The problem is her hair is coarse and rather hard to manage. It’s very kinky and frizzy. Also, she cut it about a month ago but my stylist says to let it grow out rather than cutting the rest to even it out so I am wondering what product could I use to twist it up to get the soft curly look, if you know what I mean. My stylist suggests jam but I don’t find that it’s left curly, soft and manageable but rather hard to comb and stiff. I myself, haven’t taken the step to natural just yet so I have no experience with it but I would like my baby to grow up with natural hair and let her decide if she wants to straighten it.
Thank you so much for your dedication to us Bellas out here!!!
Hey L — love your question. Obviously there’s no way I could ever recommend straightening your little bella’s hair, ESPECIALLY not now — she’s only four years old!!! That’s old enough to be own-way and finicky about how her hair is combed, but waaaaay too early to consider using creamy crack on her tender scalp. The same chemicals that remove the kink from natural afro-textured hair, are used in harsh household products like Drano, which you use to de-clog your sink. Would you slather that on your little one’s head? Or your own, for that matter? Millions of women of color do just that, in order to alter the texture of their hair as it naturally grows. And we pass these messages along to our kids, thereby reinforcing a message that their natural hair is unkempt, unattractive, and unfit for public eyes. It’s kind of insane, if you really stop to consider it. OK, I’ll get off the soap box and answer your question!
I’ve been seeing more and more little afrobellas wearing their hair wild and free. On that note, allow me to introduce you to my favorite new model on the Trinidadian scene — my niece, little afrobella Dominique! Here she is, posing off on the beach for an advertisement for Trinidad clothing company Westport. My favorite little afrobella is such a big girl now! She’s going to pre-school, and the other day she sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for her aunty Afrobella over the phone. YAY! (Click here here and here to see earlier photos of little miss gorgeous). Little afrobella Dominique is going to be three soon, and she’s got such a big bright personality. It goes with her big, beautiful hair!
I had to ask her mom — my sister-in-law, Lindsay, what they were using at home to keep her hair combed and presentable.
“I use the L’Oreal kids shampoo, which is nice and fruity and moisturizes her hair (because she has thick curly long hair). I use Miss Jessie’s Baby buttercreme moisturizer, you gave to me a big tub on the last trip and it is the best, just a little goes a long way. But to comb her hair I use a comb and a Denman classic styling D3 brush. I got this in London, I am sure you have it in the States. I do not find a comb on is own can do the job I need to brush it to get all the knots out,” says Lindsay.
Oooh, I need to get myself a Denman brush!! I might have to do some UK shopping and get that panther handle, too. Regular commenter and new beauty blogger on the scene, Wes of Honey Brown Sugar reignited my interest in the classic model. My sister Petal BELIEVES in Denman brushes and always has, for as long as I can recall. When I went natural six years ago, I figured a brush wouldn’t touch my curls ever again. But according to Wes, it is the BUSINESS. Tracee Ellis Ross swears by it, and it’s safe to use on wet hair — actually makes the combing-out of conditioner even easier. So my eyes are on the prize, and I’m making a trip to Sally’s ASAP.
So L, those are the products my sister-in-law’s been using to style her little afrobella, and I have some additional advice on styling. Stay away from the jam!! Your little one needs nurturing, moisturizing products that are gentle for her curly locks. If Miss Jessie’s baby buttercream is too expensive, consider the Curly Q line for kids, or Dark and Lovely Beautiful Beginnings Detangler. Their two-in-one shampoo and conditioner is also good stuff, if you’re trying to find affordable products for your little bella. Some of the natural recipes and methods I’ve recommended here would work great for her as well — why not make Sunday a mommy and me beauty/hair care day? The two of you can do a pre poo treatment with warm olive oil. Make the experience into a fun, bonding new ritual. After shampooing, conditioning, and detangling her hair, style it into some big two-strand twists — the twist-out should create some adorable spirals afterwards. I am no styling expert, so I implore you to consult a book like Kinki Kreations for styling techniques. Get your little bella some J Blossom products and a copy of I Love My Hair! while you’re at it, reinforce that positive self image.
I must admit that I was a bit concerned about one part of your e mail, allow me to quote — “The problem is her hair is coarse and rather hard to manage. It’s very kinky and frizzy… I am wondering what product could I use to twist it up to get the soft curly look, if you know what I mean.”
I do know what you mean, but I wouldn’t be a good afrobella if I didn’t carefully examine your turn of phrase. Your baby girl’s hair is naturally kinky, coarse, and frizzy. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, or “a problem,” but it might mean that it will take more time and patience to style her hair, and she won’t naturally be able to achieve that “soft curly look” — If it isn’t naturally like that, I know many bellas who achieve that look by using heat, or getting a texturizer or “silkener” as they call it at the Miss Jessie’s salon.
I would like to encourage you — and by extension your little princess — to embrace her natural texture for what it is. Stop referring to it in negative terms, as “hard to manage,” or “a problem,” because those feelings, that reaction to her hair at home, could well seep into her consciousness and make her start seeing herself that way as well. I speak from my own experience — little girls tend to absorb negative self images early, and that can lead to a strong desire to conform to the norm. I know I gave Mama Bella hell to comb my hair, and because of that strong-willed-stubbornness and insistence, they gave in and started relaxing my hair when I was seven. I’ve regretted it ever since.
Learn to love your little one’s natural hair, learn to work with it, and let her know how beautiful and special she is, just the way she is. Encourage her to maintain her natural beauty for as long as possible. The two of you (and her hair,) will grow healthy, gorgeous, and strong.
I hope that helps, L! Do any of you mama bellas have any advice? Share!