Little Girls, BIG Hair

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a photo of Little Afrobella, AKA my niece Dominique. And I’ve shared even fewer of her sister, my even littler niece Isabella. So here’s their official Afrobella reintroduction! Are they not ADORABLE?

As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of patience and love to get their hair combed and ready for school every day. My sister in law Lindsay uses Dove conditioner, and still swears by Miss Jessie’s Baby Buttercreme for her little ones. And I’m sending products by Cara B Naturally for them to try next!

Hair care for little kids can be a struggle for even those of us who grew up having our own Sunday hair rituals at home, who remember sitting at our mother’s feet with that familiar jar o’ grease at the ready. I don’t yet have children of my own so I can’t speak to how difficult it must be…but I KNOW. Because I remember. I gave my mom hell, and therefore I wound up getting my hair relaxed at an early age. And now that I write the weekly Essence.com natural hair diary I realize that my struggles aren’t at all unique. So many of us wind up getting our hair relaxed before the age of 10, because our parents couldn’t manage.

That’s why I LOVED everything about this Chicago Tribune story about Caring For Afro-Textured Hair and Skin, a how-to class for adoptive parents of black children currently being taught in Evanston, IL. I can’t tell you HOW many adoptive parents have admitted to me that haircare for little black girls and boys can be confusing and difficult. More than once I’ve heard people wish for a class like this – not just for adoptive parents who aren’t the same race as their new little one, but for parents in general who are struggling to style their kids’ afro-textured natural hair.

I tried interviewing Dominique about her hair, but somehow we wound up talking about hamsters and how interesting they are. And Isabella wound up telling me that she wanted chocolate. My efforts at getting hair care tips straight from the little ones who deal with it on a daily basis didn’t work. So my dear readers, I turn to you.

What are your best hair care tips and favorite products for your little girls (and boys)?

Thanks to my awesome brother and sister in law for letting me share photos of the girls!

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Comments

  1. Your nieces are the cutest things ever! Loved the Tribune article. As a mom of 2 young girls with a ton of natural hair to care for, I appreciate hearing about parents (particularly non AA parents) making an effort to learn. Nice post!

  2. Have patience, but most of all be reasonable. i was born at a time when children didn’t get relaxers. Despite having hair so thick I broke combs, I didn’t get a relaxer until I was 14 and had a girlfriend perm my hair. (Actually we did each others.) My mother did my hair in either braids or connected plaits once or twice a week and the just swapped out different barettes daily. It meant that we didn’t do the hair battle on a daily basis. A press and curl was for special occasion only. I remember those days when I sat on a chair in the kitchen holding my ear and trying not to flinch as my mother slowly sectioned and ran a hot comb through my hair.

    As an older teen, I in turn braided the hair of my younger cousins, again with the thought that if neatly done they lasted nearly a week. There were a lot of products back then so a jar a water was kept nearby along with the infamous jar of grease.

    My advice to parent that want to keep their children’s hair natural is to adopt some of that. We have much better products, but instead of the fancy ‘do why not keep the hair simple? A simple ponytail, or braids can lessen the time spent battling thick hair and actually making the time spent doing a child”s hair a fun, bonding time.

  3. A few years ago a woman standing behind me in line remarked on how beautiful my children were. It was a long line and we continued to talk. Then she quietly said that her son in law was of African descent (she was white) and that her daughter had really struggled with their daughter/this woman’s granddaughter’s hair. The girl was 6 and had her first relaxer already.

    I recommended the book Kinki Kreations to her and told her that moisturizing and coming the hair while damp would help. That was before I got deep into the children’s hair world myself (my kids were really young).

    I always recommend that book.
    My favorite products are:
    Tui oil -Carol’s Daughter, plus the Tiana conditioner for kids
    Olive oil (simple and you can find it everywhere)
    Miss Jessie’s Buttercreme

    I often use the same things on my hair – because it’s easy and I try to use things that aren’t too harsh on my hair anyway.

    And I do sometimes use detanglers – but I try not to – they usually just smell very chemical – y.

  4. I have 2 bi-racial goddaughters, the oldest one is 9 and has awesome curly hair. Unfortunately her mom doesn’t. So she had no idea what to do with that gorgeous hair. I’ve been helping her out since she was 1 yrs old.
    Any teaching is good!

  5. My tip for children’s hair care. Don’t brush without first combing, don’t comb without first applying a detangler , or some kind of moisture additive. Massage lightly, comb hair by making small partings starting at nape and combing down the strand starting from the ends gong toward the scalp then work your way up to the crown taking small partings. On the side start at temple and work way up to top. At the front hairline , start combing hair forward towards forehead work your way back to the crown. After hair is all detangled then comb or brush to style.

  6. Your nieces are adorable!!! Beautiful girls!

    I’ve been grooming little kids’ hair since I was in my teens. My essentials are:

    -patience. For some children sitting still for an hour is like an eternity, but overtime they will get better.
    - something to entertain them that is age appropriate (toy, tv, book)
    -spray bottle with water or some type of detangler/detangling mix
    - a good detangling brush
    -always comb/brush from ends to scalp. Make sure to hold the hair firmly in one hand (do not tug) and comb/brush with the other. The firm grip will ensure that the brushing won’t pull on the hair at the scalp. This also minimizes pain and discomfort which are major reasons why children grow into teens with disdain for natural hair and a perception of it being unmanageable.
    -If your kids do a lot of swimming in the summer invest in a leave-in conditioner.
    -Try to use light cremes/butters or lotions. Back in the day my grandma swore by petroleum jelly, looking back that was a main culprit in scalp issues. I have seen a few kids as well with major flaking & dandruff problems due to the use of vaseline but also due to inadequate washing techniques that do not lift the residue off the scalp. You really have to massage the scalp when shampooing. Bear in mind the age of the child… but don’t be overly light-handed, they won’t break.
    -Always have positive conversations with them about their hair. It is important to instill a confidence and positive attitude in them regarding hair of all types and textures.

    Those are a few of my tips. I hope they are useful.

  7. I know we have different hair care needs but had no idea we had different skin care needs! Can someone enlighten me? :)

    • Taken from Rx for Brown Skin:

      “Characteristics unique to brown skin include:

      – More melanin, or brown skin pigment, resulting in a warmer skin shade
      – Greater natural protection from the sun and lower risk of skin cancer
      – Potential problems with pigmentation, or uneven darkening or lightening of skin color
      – Greater risk of keloid (raised, often large scars) development”

      In a nutshell, melanin provides more than pigment.

      “Because of the reactive and unpredictable nature of melanin, women with brown skin are more likely to suffer from problems such as dark marks, blemishes and other skin discolorations such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma and vitiligo.

      Brown skin also reacts differently and at times more severely to common conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. Finally, women with brown skin often take medication for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, and these medications can also lead to skin discolorations.”

      In my home, that translated to the constant use of aloe (straight from my mother’s plants) and cocoa butter. We were tomboys that constantly skinned knees and elbows and my mother did her best to restore and keep our skin even using those two things.

  8. Queen Eye Cee says:

    Your neices are adorable with massive amounts of hair, my prayers goes out to their mother, LMBO!!!

    But, on a serious note, I’d recommend to all mothers of children with afro textured hair to: 1) make a detangling mixture with 40% distilled water, 40% Aloe-Vera Juice and 20% Veg.Glycerin, 2) detangle using a wide tooth comb starting at the ends of the hair 3) seal in the moisture of the detangling mixture with an all natural oil such as Coconut, Castor-Oil or EVOO, concentrating on the ends 4) most importantly keep the hair in a protective style and re-do upon shampooing & DC’ing…

  9. Mamabella says:

    Patrice as a little girl was difficult when we washed her hair and so we got a Mother Care (UK product) Visor that kept water away from her face. Then she was put under the hairdryer so her hair could be away from her face. Naturally (no pun intended) the next step was to starighten her hair – it was past her shoulders at that point.

    I am sorry that the steps taken to control and effectively manage her hair resulted in her dislike of the straightening process but that is how it was in those days.

    • Mom, I’m not at all mad at the decisions you made in dealing with my hair! If I didn’t go through all of that and have those emotions, I wouldn’t be Afrobella today. Right? I love you!

  10. *cavity*

  11. Hey All,

    I’ve got three bi-racial children. They’ve all got long hair [my boys (9&5) - shoulder blade length, my girl (8) - waist length]. We 4 use ‘Rene Furterer Okara Leave-in Protective Conditioner.’ A few squirts on wet freshly washed hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and the snarls come out with amazing ease – no tears or wrestling required. Hope this helps. Your nieces are so cute – gorgous!

    Peace,

    Temple

  12. My daughter and I have a rotation
    2 weeks braids with beads…wash
    1 week twisted
    1 week twists out separated for a twist our look
    wash and then repeat….
    Every 6-8wks I trim her ends
    Check out her wash and go at the link below….

    http://mahoganymaverick.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

  13. paradisebird says:

    I cannot speak from own experiences but there is this wonderful site http://beadsbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com/
    which I have already bookmarked to be prepared :-)
    HTH

  14. I could list a full alphabet of tips, but I’ll keep it to the top ABCs. Patrice, I work with Sofn’free n’pretty for kids, and here’s what I tell moms and aunties who ask for help: A – Always moisturize hair before combing. B – Be careful when braiding not to pull hair too tightly, particularly at the temple and forehead. C – Combing hair should not cause breakage. First use fingers and moisturizer, then start combing. Take little sections at the nape and work up to the crown. Work from the base on up for the rest of the head. Then comb to style. And smile. (By the way, cute nieces!)

  15. Wow — I came across your website Googling Esperanza Spalding, a jazz artist I just heard for the first time on Sirius Radio. What a blessing to run into you!

    I’m a caucasian w/a bi-racial 6-year old girl, whose hair has been a struggling for me since day one. What do I know about managing an afro? Your blog here about how difficult it is to work this hair everyday before school is right one.

    I take advice from anyone, sister-in-laws, friends, etc. & some things have worked to keep it moist. But she won’t let me do anything w/it except keep it in a fro, so I don’t get a good opportunity to really get that grease/moisture in there like you do when you braid or cornrow it.

    Any advice? Right now, the regimen is the Blue Grease after a bath/shower & then Olive Oil lotion every day with a soft brush to get it through to the roots, if possible.

    I’m going to peruse your website, but any other ideas?

    • Smilez2569 says:

      Try the Beads, Braids and Beyond blog spot or Happy Girl Hair. I would say try Happy Girl Hair first. The mother is Caucasian with adorable twin African American girls, who both have very different hair textures.

      As far as regime it just really boils down to what her hair responds to. I would say leave the blue grease out of it and try something else. Thats just my opinion. Also try tying her hair in a satin scarf at night before bed. My little one just started doing it and it has helped with moisture. if she won’t keep it one then the next best thing is a satin pillow case. Hope this helps

    • Hi Kathy. Go to http://happygirlhair.com

      • Thank you both for mentioning Happy Girl Hair, I should have linked to them in this article and will make a point to write a post about online resources for this kind of thing. They’re amazing!

  16. Smilez2569 says:

    I can truly understand. As a child I had a LOT of hair to deal with. Now that I have my own little girl with a thick head of hair, it can be a bit much. She’s only 2 years old but I try to let her know how beautiful her hair is.

    We often go to the websites http://www.beadbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com as well. Also when i hit a styling stump, I go to http://www.happygirlhair.com

    As far as products, I use shea butter from the health food store. I’ve been trying out Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Lite for a coupe of weeks. I really like it.

    BTW this is just a side story. My daughter and I went into our local BSS (Beauty Supply Store) one day. She had never been with me inside. As we went to go in the back to look at hair “pretties” for her hair, we passed all of these wigs and weaves. She took one look and shouted “Mommy we have to leave now, right now Mommy, I wanna go!”
    I wasn’t for sure what the matter was and I tried to calm her down. I asked her what the matter was and she said, ” I don’t wanna be around this hair. It’s stinky hair Mommy”

    Well it took me a few minutes to realize she was literally afraid of all the wigs and weaves. If we got near one she just would freak out. Needless to say I purchased my items and left with her crying because she didn’t like the hair.

  17. Your nieces are cute as buttons. Thanks for sharing. I don’t have any children yet either but I would not but a perm in their hair until they were in junior high school but would still discourage it.

    On a side note, I think it is most impressive that your mom comments on your blog…very sweet.

  18. This is a great post. I have a niece and my sister simply takes her time to shop around for products to do her hair. Sadly, I wish that I cold do my nieces hair as well as my sister.

    I also want to point out something. My sis and I have partially fine hair, however, my nieces hair is not as easy to maintain. So kudos to the women out there who are black and their daughters have a different grade of hair as they do. I think many people assume that we all know what to do b/c we are black :)

    When I was a girl my mom used water and grease and sent me off :)

  19. Hi first of all I’m so mixed up my mom’s from jamaica and her dad was from india my grandma was mixed with some kind of dark skinned indian and my dad has cherokee on both sides so my hair is more like mixed hair curly wavy long down my back I have 6 kids 3 of each but one girl age 11 has really thick hair it’s nice and curly but super thick and frizzy I usually use curl activator and that works fine for the rest of us but hers is comb breaking thick even with activator she does her own hair now and complains why hers is not like mine or her sisters any suggestions? Thanks!

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