Washing and Styling Your Child’s Natural Hair with no tears.

What kid doesn’t love water! Water spells fun. If your child loves bath time, yet seems horrified by or dreads hair wash time, you can thankfully rule out fear of water. Washing and styling your child’s hair should be therapeutic and fun; not dreaded. Let’s evaluate a few factors that will hopefully enable you to reach the root of the issue. Here are six tips for washing and styling your child’s natural hair without tears.

  1. Evaluate and ask questions.

            If your child can effectively provide you with feedback–Ask questions. Inquire about their likes and dislikes about the process. (If they are less verbal) maybe they can communicate through a drawing that will give you an idea as to what distresses them about hair wash time. Try to identify when hair wash time seems to go left with your child. Does it happen during prewash (while taking down a style. The tangles of dry hair can be painful.)? Does it happen during shampooing? While detangling wet hair? During styling? What time of day is your child’s wash time? Where do you wash your child’s hair (sink, tub, shower, etc.)? Are they comfortable? What is the position (upright, reclined, etc.)?

2. How well do you know your child’s hair?

            Having knowledge of the type  (hair pattern: wavy, straight, curly, coily),  texture (fine, medium, thick), and porosity (absorption/retention of moisture: low, normal, high) will enable you to select beneficial products. Natural hair types of 4 (coily) shouldn’t be washed as often as the other hair types. Hair types that have a tighter curl pattern (coily) tend to need more moisture. Washing this hair type more than once a week can strip the hair of moisture. Washing this curl pattern once every week may still place the hair at risk for drying out. You should wash your child’s hair at least every 7-14 days. If your child’s hair seems naturally oily, then he/she may need more (once every week, twice a week…depends upon hair type). Even if you feel your child isn’t very active, the elements of perspiration, dirt, and product build-up are present. In colder months they probably can go a bit longer (2-3 weeks). Washing your child’s hair often is essential to keeping their hair and scalp healthy. 

            Testing the porosity: 1) Touch test: Take a strand of your child’s hair and run your fingers down the strand. If it is smooth (no roughness or bumps) your child has low porosity hair. This means that the hair cuticle is tight. It’s challenging for moisture to penetrate the cuticle. The products you use will seem to just sit on the hair and not be absorbed (will be able to feel the residue). If the strand feels slightly bumpy your child’s hair is normal porosity. This means the cuticle is slightly raised and moisture can enter. If you can feel roughness and bumpiness, then your child’s hair has a high porosity. This means the cuticle is highly raised, allowing moisture to swiftly be absorbed (and easily dry out).

            2)Water test: Use an 8 oz. glass or small bowl and fill with water. Take a few strands from your child’s comb/brush and place it in a glass or bowl. Wait 4-5 minutes. If the strands sunk to the bottom, they are high porosity. If they floated, they are low porosity. If it’s between, they are normal.

            Read the labels of products. Select products that are all-natural(gentle, sulfate/paraben free) for natural hair care, and children’s hair care. You may find that adult products may work better for your child, but stick to age-appropriate products. Adult products can be stripping for their young hair or not the healthiest for their scalp. Reading labels will enable you to better select a product that’s appropriate for your child’s hair. Olive, avocado, argan, and Jamaican black castor ingredients are better for high porosity hair. Coconut and shea ingredients are better for low porosity.

3. Using the right hair tools

Not only is it important to use the right hair products but it’s important to use the right hair tools for your child’s hair to reduce damage and discomfort. I often will use my fingers and then a wide-tooth comb to detangle my daughter’s hair. The wide-tooth comb is the most preferred because it can detangle and removed shed hair with minimal damage and pain. Using the right hair tools can make washing and styling your child’s natural hair easier.

4. Ready, Set, Protect!

           For some kids, their fear is a result of shampoo getting in their eyes. It stings and is very uncomfortable for them. So do your best to prevent shampoo from entering their eyes, either by having a washcloth available so you can wipe the suds away or using a hair wash shield. There are a few products on the market made to protect eyes and ears during the hair washing process.  You can often purchase them on Amazon, Walmart, and Target. For extra protection: Place cotton in ears and fit a thin washcloth over the eyes fitted snugly under the visor. If your child is over the age for visor, use a thick washcloth over eyes and cotton in ears. Fitted goggles may also help. Hopefully, with these tools in place, it will protect your child from shampoo eyes (a no tears shampoo is helpful as well).

5. Provide Comfort.

            If you’re using your counter top for hair washing, be sure to pad the surface for comfort. A thick towel or kinder mat should help. The Shampoo Buddy will provide head/neck support like a salon basin.

Many parents prefer having an all-in-one session (hair/bath), choose a separate time. Try to designate a day for wash time. Wash time is lengthy. Your child may be tired from his/her day and this added process will cause them to be irritable and impatient.

            Children may also have a fear of how water is being used on them. So, evaluate whether their fear is being triggered by water being poured down over their heads. Positioning is everything. If you choose to use a cup, be sure to recline your child instead of having them in an upright position. 

6. Wash your hair with them

Try having a bath with your child and wash their hair while you do. Children always want to do what their mothers do, so you can even turn it into a plaything and let them play with you wet soapy hair, forming shapes, and just having a fun time.

7. Make it fun

Making wash day fun can be as simple as adding a lot of toys and dolls to the mix. They  always want to play, so make it just like any other play activity, just a little bit more fun with songs (silly songs and their favorite nursery rhymes).

These toys, together with the singing, acts as a distraction and pulls their mind away from the washing process in most cases and makes the hair wash process more enjoyable for some.

Washing and styling your child’s natural hair does not have to be a pain. I hope these tips helped to make hair washing and styling easier for you and your child. Remain encouraging, so they will learn to trust the process. 

Until Next Time,

Sincerely Jackline

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A baby getting her hair washed




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