The most common question I’m asked isn’t about breaking into my broadcast career, how I met my hot husband, or even “how are you today?” it’s “how do you do your daughter’s hair?”
Ok, one of those questions may be a little more popular, but not when it comes to my blog. Biracial hair care, mixed hair care or natural hair care especially has become a hot topic. I can’t believe I haven’t updated my process since Lil’ J was a toddler. I’ve been meaning to do it but really wanted pictures of the process to make it all flow. I finally took some yesterday (Sunday is typically our hair-washing day). It’s going to be picture-heavy so get ready!
It’s been a learning process for me as I only recently began to wear my hair in its naturally curly state all the time. Before that I kept it flat ironed with salon visits. I’m embracing my natural hair in all of its curly beauty now that I have a little girl who has gorgeous curls of her own. It can be hard to think curls are pretty when we’re bombarded with society’s standard of beauty that often overlooks us.
I’m going to be filing this under my new “making strong roots” section because this topic fits in more way than one.
So, first off, FYI, I try not to let her hair get this crazy but let’s face it—Life gets busy. I avoid letting her out of the house like this though.
Typically I’ll wash Lil’ J’s hair when Big T is napping, or already in bed. He loves splashing in water and if he knows his sister is having all the fun, it becomes a challenge trying to entertain him too.
I clear off the kitchen counters give the sink a little extra scrubbing—Yes, you read right, the sink. I could do her hair in the tub but dumping water on her head over and over with a cup just isn’t cutting it. I’ll probably eventually invest in one of those bathtub sprayer adapters but I feel like I’m conserving more water in the sink, and it works for us. It’s also how my mom did our hair at home, and I have fond memories of those nights so let’s just say we’re carrying on the tradition.
I get her set up with an iPad or phone, and let her watch a show while I do her hair, but usually we end up “talking to the knots,” which I’ll explain later.
I have a bathroom caddy that I lug all of our hair supplies in. Between three different curly hair types, we have a variety of products. These are typically the ones I use most often, but not all at once. I didn’t use all of these when doing Lil’ J’s hair this time. But here are my go-tos:
–Herbal Essence Hello Hydration Conditioner: I use this to get her hair detangled because I need to use a TON of conditioner and would use my nicer and pricier conditioner right up if I used the same amount. I love this because it has a lot of slip.
–Curly Q’s Coconut Dream Conditioner: LOVE the smell and it hydrates her hair so well, and leaves it silky smooth. I use this EVERY time.
–Shea Moisture Cleansing Conditioner: I use this instead of a Shampoo.
–Curly Q’s Custard: I love this after washing when I’m styling or twisting it up for the night. I’ve tried various similar products but keep coming back to this.
–Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Style Milk: Similar to the custard above, I also buy this a lot.
It’s important to remember that it’s about the process not the products. So what works for my daughter’s hair may be totally different for your child’s hair. For my natural curls I use the Shea Moisture products most often and I’ve recently started using them on my kids. I haven’t noticed a huge different from product to product, but I do see a big difference if I change up the process.
Alright, enough yapping, here we go…
Step 1 Shampoo (optional):
Rarely do I use shampoo. I usually go straight to conditioner. Today I used a cowash by Shea Moisture to cleanse her hair before going on to condition some more. I get her hair soaking wet, wash, massage, then rinse. Simple enough.
Step 2: Condition
I load her hair up with conditioner. I currently have been using the Hello Hydration by Herbal Essence. It’s inexpensive and exactly what I need to get her hair slick and easy to detangle. I use a TON of this stuff, I just keep caking it in, and let her hair soak it up. Since I use so much of it, I don’t use a pricey conditioner for this part.
Step 3: Separate
I part her hair into a few sections and tie them apart. Sometimes I’ll use clamps. It just depends what I have on hand.
Step 4: Detangle
Dang, I forgot a photo! But I needed all hands on deck for this. I go to work section-by-section and detangle using possibly the most important item of this whole process: A good wide-tooth comb. I start from the bottom and work my way up until the entire section is detangled. This process can be a breeze if you stay on top of it, and use A LOT of conditioner while detangling. Be extremely generous with a good conditioner and it helps the tangles slip right out. If it starts to hurt, Lil’ J will tell her knots they’ve gotta pack up and move out of her head, and I’ll talk her through what they’re saying as they leave. It keeps her smiling through the process and she actually looks forward to detangling because of this strange tradition we have. But lately, when I wash her hair in this order detangling is a breeze.
Step 5: Deep Condition
As I complete each section I rinse out the conditioner then add a nice deep conditioner. Right now I really like the Curls Coconut Dream Conditioner for kids. I used to only use this for detangling and conditioning but I was going through it so fast, and believe it or not, it’s not the best for detangling and doesn’t have as much “slip.” But it smells great and is an awesome moisturizer. I add this conditioner to the section I’ve just detangled before moving on to the next section of hair and then put it in a loose braid.
Step 6: Repeat and Rinse
I repeat steps four and five until her whole head is detangled and up in lose braids. Then I rinse her head with cold water to close the pores. I don’t take the braids down just yet, because it’s ok if some conditioner is left in. It’ll help keep in extra moisture.
Step 7: Moisturize and Style
Are you getting the idea yet? The key is hydration and moisture retention. For this step I take down her braids and add some moisturizer cream section by section using my hands. I usually use the Curls Curly Q Custard Curl Styling Cream, but I’ve also started using my Curl Enhancing Smoothie by Shea Moisture and it seems to be doing a good job too.
If it’s the middle of the day I’ll leave her hair down, let it air dry and she can run around and let her curls dry in a couple of hours. If it starts to frizz and I want to freshen it up a bit I’ll spray some Shea Moisture Kids Extra-Moisturizing Detangler and run my fingers through to freshen them up.
If it’s right before bed I’ll use the styling cream while I twist it up either into bantu knots, or braids (tighter than the ones from before when we were detangling).
The final key is having her sleep on a satin pillowcase. It keeps her hair from all the friction and frizzes caused by regular cotton pillowcases.
To keep it fresh the following days I use a water bottle to spray her hair and get it damp section by section, then use the moisturizer to re-style before bed. Take it down in the morning and BOOM! Gorgeous curls day after day.
Big T’s routine is similar but much faster because he HATES getting his hair detangled and it’s a struggle. Luckily his curls seem to be staying so cute and hold their natural ringlets for awhile. Hopefully he’ll get used to our routine in a couple more years because I’d like to keep it about this length (and get trims back to about this length in the future). Excuse this blurry picture of my little tornado. I may post a guide for how I do his hair soon if there’s interest, though it doesn’t seem like there are as many boys rockin’ their fros lately.
For my babies, when they were babies, I used Curl’s baby line. You can find that tutorial here.
Have any questions or comments about biracial hair care? Shoot! I’ll be happy to reply below.
Oh, and because I know someone will ask… No, I didn’t make this dress. I bought it from Adelaide’s Boutique.