For many children, hair is an important part of their identity. Rapunzel’s hair was magic, in the movie Room, Jack’s hair was his “strong” and for many African children, their hair is their crown. But often moms, especially adoptive moms, aren’t “familiar” with their children’s hair, as Tamekia Swint puts it.
Hoping to empower these moms and create an environment of support, she established Styles 4 Kidzsomething we could really do with in SA.
“When you feel good about how you look that propels you into the world,” she explains.
“This is about giving the kids what they need so that they can feel beautiful.”
We've written loads of articles on hair care tips for kids (See: Top hair care tips for anti-washing warriors) and how to go about washing their hair if they absolutely dread it. But hair care goes beyond just washing, and every part of it can come with its own set of challenges especially when it comes to something as tricky as knots.
We got some really good tips from Tshilidzi Makhari though, co-founder of the kiddies hair salon Kurlz & Kutz in Rosebank, Johannesburg. It's no surprise that different hair textures require different kinds of care, so this one is for all our curly and coily-haired little kings and queens.
Some people like to define their hair texture by their hair texture number, as seen on Curlz.biz so they can know which hair products and methods to use that works best for them. These tips focus more on 3C ("curly") to 4C ("kinky") hair.
1. Always finger-detangle
Tshilidzi says parents should "always finger-detangle the hair first before shampooing."
This makes it easier to remove knots, seeing that tangles become harder to remove once the hair is water wet.
2. Finger-detangle with conditioner
Tshilidzi advises that parents "use a generous amount of moisturiser, leave-in conditioner or regular conditioner" when detangling hair to make the process easier and cause less damage to the hair.
3. Detangle slowly
According to Tshilidzi, "finger detangling is kinder to the hair and reduces hair breakage because fingers will feel a snag in the hair much easier than a comb."
She feels that detangling must always be "a slow, deliberate process" and when met with a tangle, you shouldn't force it. "Immediately release the tangled section and start from the bottom again." This way, she says, hair breakage is minimised and hair will grow thicker & longer than when detangled using a comb," she adds.
Patience is extremely important in this process, so relax and get to the detangling.
4. The great divide
The detangling process needs to begin by dividing the hair. Tshilidzi recommends you "divide moistened hair into several sections, using your fingers to create the parts. The more sections you create, the easier and more thorough the detangling result will be."
She adds that you need to "loosely twist each detangled section to keep the hair organised" which would essentially help keep each section separately.
5. Shampooing and conditioning
When it comes to shampooing and conditioning, it is "best done on loosely twisted sections as this reduces friction & breakage of the hair," Tshillidzi states.
6. Rinse thoroughly
It is important that you rinse the hair really well. "You can keep the twists intact throughout the entire shampoo and conditioning process but make sure to rinse the hair thoroughly, or you can unbraid and address each section of hair separately as you shampoo and condition," says Tshilidzi.
7. Using microfiber towels
Microfiber towels and cotton T-shirts reduce the frizz and hair-breakage normal towels may cause. Tshilidzi says that after shampooing and conditioning you should "squeeze out excess water from the hair and use a microfiber towel or cotton T-shirt to pat-dry any additional water."
8. Never rub hair vigorously
Tshilidzi recommends that parents "never rub hair vigorously when managing children's hair – whether detangling, shampooing, conditioning or moisturising – because this open up the hair cuticles." And the aim is to smooth them down instead.
She adds that "excessive friction will lead to dry, damaged hair. Use smoothing downward motions that keep the hair follicles down."
9. Water-conditioner mixture
Time to get a little creative and whip out the spritz bottle!
After drying the hair, Tshilidzi says that parents should "spritz it with a mixture of 20% water-based leave-in conditioner and 80% water to dampen the hair."
"Always manage hair in several small sections for easier handling. Thick tightly coiled hair may need more product than fine hair," she says.
10. Shea joy
Shea butter is your new best friend, as it is extremely nourishing for the hair.
"Seal-in the moisture with a blend of hair oil and Shea butter, using downward strokes to close the cuticles," Tshilidzi says. Then proceed to style the hair. "Never apply hair oil or shea butter to dry hair as there is no moisture on the hair to seal-in."
11. No plaiting of dry hair please
Tsilidzi feels that parents should "avoid plaiting dry hair as this will lead to hair breakage and damage as well as pain for the child."
12. Can you relax?
Relaxers for children have been quite the controversial issue.
According to the expert, you should avoid using heat or relaxers on children's hair as this causes hair cuticles to expand and lift open, which leads to hair breakage, damaged hair and limited hair growth.
"Heat also disturbs the moisture balance in the hair and stresses already naturally dry and porous hair ends," she adds.
Avoid relaxers at all costs then.
Do you have any hair care tips for moms and dads? Send them to us and we may add them to the list.