'The best approach is to be gentle': Steps to taking care of natural hair for beginner parents

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"Brushing should be gentle, with a soft wide paddle brush focused on the roots".  (10'000 Hours/Getty Images)
"Brushing should be gentle, with a soft wide paddle brush focused on the roots". (10'000 Hours/Getty Images)

The triumph of finally finding a hair care routine that works is no easy feat, and no one knows this better than parents who have chosen to keep their kids' hair natural.

For natural hair blogger and mom, Stephanie Mashigo, the decision to embrace natural haircare turned out to be the best decision not only for herself but for her daughter as well. 

"Now that she understands how to care for it, she simply loves doing her own hair. She even gets excited for wash day- something I never thought was possible".

Also read: 'Teaching our kids to love themselves': Natural hair blogger and mom shares confidence-building tips 

'Smacked on the head with a brush'

"Most parents have grown up in homes where styling natural hair was not an everyday practice," says Taryn Gill, founder of The Perfect Hair, a local hair care brand. 

For many, relaxers and heat-treated hairstyles were the norm "along with the perception that natural hairstyles were difficult to achieve," Taryn says. 

Stephanie says this was definitely the case for her, "I believed my natural hair was hard, dry and unruly, and that chemical relaxers were the best way". 

Recalling her hair trauma from childhood, Gill says school hairstyles by her mom included more than just tugs and pulls.

"I have very vivid memories of my mum styling my hair for school and being smacked on the head with a brush if I did not keep still". 

Also see: 'Patience and TLC': Secrets to taking care of your child's natural hair

'Detangle while conditioner is applied'

For parents new to natural hair styling who hope to avoid putting their children through similar experiences, Gill says it's all about using gentle haircare tools and quality natural products. 

For hair tools, Gill recommends soft brushes, wide-tooth combs, soft cotton or elastic scrunchies, and headbands. 

Gill also shared additional tips: 

1. Water is your friend! So be sure to dampen hair a little before applying styling products to make sure the hair stays hydrated, even after wash day

2. Brushing should be gentle, with a soft wide paddle brush focused on the roots. I prefer wide-tooth combs to detangle while conditioner is applied and only use a brush for more structured styling. 

3. For active kids in sport or the swimming pool, keep hair and scalp healthy and hydrated. 

4. Put the brush in their hands to learn and feel more confident with the routine!

Gill also urges parents to be aware of their children's sensory intake when using styling techniques. 

"The top tip here is - understand that some kids have come to associate hair grooming with pain. Also, some kids have high sensory intake and don't want the sensation of water or hair brushing on their scalp. So, the best approach is to be gentle, no pain, and allow the child to take part in the process by showing them how to detangle and brush everyday styles into place". 

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