Growing up I spent every other week at the hair salon for hours at a time. I sat as the stylist combed through my tender headed curls, washed and brushed it all out, blew it straight then seared it straight with a hot comb.
It wasn’t until college that I began to learn how to manage my natural hair, not until much later that I began wearing my curls out and learned how to style them in ways that were flattering.
I want my girls (and my son, but especially my girls), to not only embrace their beautiful curls, but learn how to love and take care of them.
Since she was a toddler Lil’ J and I have had a special tradition on wash day. My husband was working evening shift at the time, so I was home alone with the kiddos at bedtime.
I’d put her brother to bed, then we’d turn on a movie and enjoy a treat while we washed and styled her hair. It’s something to bond over and something we still enjoy to this day.
As the mom-stylist, I love trying different products in her hair and seeing what gives the best definition and moisture to her curls. She, her brother, and sister and I all have different curl patterns so it’s fascinating what works well from one kid to the next.
Johnson’s® just came out with a new product line and there’s shampoo and conditioner specifically for kids! It’s stronger than baby shampoo, but it’s still gentle and made specifically for developing kids’ hair without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and dyes. And it does contain shea butter, which we love in our hair!
We of course use the kind for curls but there are different products for other hair types, and they’re all available at Walmart.
We brought it along for wash day and recorded how it worked for us. Here’s how it went:
And the TL;DW version is: We love it! It went on smooth, was easy to detangle with it. Once we were done we added in the Curl Defining Leave-in Conditioner and braided it for bed.
It can take awhile for her hair to dry so she wore the cute braids to school the next day then we took them down the following day, just adding in a spritz of water and a tad bit more of the leave-in conditioner. This was the result!
I turned the camera around for her to see herself and she beamed and said “my hair looks so GOOD!”
I know sweet girl!
For now she’s helping me set up for our wash day, and learning bit by bit how to manage her own hair. I love being a part of the process, and nurturing her love of her curls while we nurture her hair.
There were a lot of things I couldn’t stand about my husband working the late shift. I hated all the worrying, doing dinner and bedtime with the kids by myself, and going to bed alone. But with all the bad parts during that time in our lives, there was a little piece of good I looked forward to most nights. —A little tradition between me and my daughter.
Sometimes before, but usually after putting her little brother to bed, I’d pop some popcorn, sneak in some chocolates or marshmallows and detangle and twist her hair before bed while we watched a Disney movie.
Mention the words “wash day” to any woman with natural hair and you’ll likely get a similar response. Maybe an exasperated sigh, or a nod of solidarity. Between my daughter and I, we could literally spend all day conditioning, detangling, moisturizing, and styling our hair. The struggle is real. But we manage. And we handle it as best as we can. It’s easier when I stay on top of it and detangle and pre-style her hair each night.
We started this when she was just two years old. Her hair was shorter and softer, so it didn’t take too much time. Sometimes I’d let her fall asleep in my bed until her dad got home.
The process has gotten lengthier as she’s gotten older and her hair has gotten longer. It can be a salty process but we sweeten it up with a treat and a movie. Through the years we take turns choosing a movie from our collection and she picks a snack. Sometimes it’s hot chocolate, or popcorn, or Yoplait Mix-ins. Like our hair process the Mix-ins have a salty or tart flavor on one side, and a sweet creamy dessert on the other. Tonight while I documented this process of ours we watched Aladdin while she enjoyed s’mores flavor with marshmallow-flavored yogurt on one side and chocolate and gram crackers on the other.
To others, we’re just doing hair and watching a movie but to us, it’s everything. Someday she’ll be old enough to wash and style her own hair. While a big part of me can’t wait for that day, another part of me knows I need to treasure this.
Thankfully, my evenings aren’t as stressful as they once were. My husband is on day shift (for now) so I get help with dinner and bedtime in the evenings, and I don’t have to go to bed alone. My daughter and I still have our washday traditions thought now they usually fall on a weekend. Through this experience we’ve learned how to take less than ideal situations and turn them into a positive.
How can we do that more in our lives? Finding the sweet in a salty situation, or adding a bit of our own. Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. Let’s find that good.
Yoplait Mix-ins are creamy, traditional-style Yoplait yogurt combined with delicious, crunchy mix-ins. From S’Mores to Cheery Chocolate Almond, to Mint Chocolate Delight, find your favorite flavor at your local grocery store. My favorite right now is the Salted Caramel Pretzel and it’s totally hitting my pregnancy cravings. A big thanks to Yoplait for sponsoring today’s story.
I can’t believe it’s been about three years since I’ve written about our routine for washing my daughter’s curls.
We’ve updated the process a bit and I’ve been debating writing another post about it because our process hasn’t changed a ton, but we have added a few new tools to our mix.
Instead of breaking down our process step by step like I did here, I thought this time I’d address some FAQs including our updated products list, and include a video tutorial of how we wash.
1. What products do you use?
We use a lot of the same products and I do switch things around now and then. Right now I still love Herbal Essence Hello Hydration conditioner and I use this alone without shampoo a lot. After swimming I like to use a dab of You Be-Natural Tangle Me Knot Shampoo to cleanse her scalp and hair. Then I’ll rinse and use the conditioner, and then rinse and use another conditioner (I love Curls Curly Q Coconut Dream conditioner) and finally for a leave-in moisturizer I bounce around between a few. One is Curly Q custard, which I’ve been using for years another is Shea Moisture Curl and Style Milk but I mostly use that in a water-mix for spritzing and refreshing because I like it better on my hair. But my two new favorite leave-in moisturizer is You Be-Natural Botanical Soft Curls Curling Creme (and for my hair I use the custard for coiled textures) and my FAVORITE which is great if your curls are feeling really dry is the Shea Moisture Detangling Moisturizer. I actually sectioned her hair and tried four products I alternate between and this one by far gave us the best results. I’d suggest if you have a bunch you play with try sectioning the hair and trying different products in each part.
2. What tools do you use?
Ok first off, a wide toothed comb is my best friend. I also like to use the Wet Brush. It doesn’t snag or rip the hair. I personally only use it when I’m washing the hair or if I’m brushing it into a pony tail before cheer practice after using a bit of moisturizer. I like to wash her hair in the sink so I can use the hose attachment. She usually lays down on the counter while I wash her hair with a pillow or paper towel roll under her neck. But a mom recently reached out to me saying she invented a tool to turn your bathtub or sink into a shampoo bowl. It’s called a Shampoo Buddy. We tried a prototype and my daughter said it was way more comfortable this way with the soft gel mold under her neck, and the spout helps funnel the water into the sink. It’s not for sail just yet but her Kickstarter is almost up. Chip in to the cause and get your own Shampoo Buddy once it’s hits the shelves (we hope it does!).
3. How often do you wash her hair?
Right now about once a week or so. Sometimes much longer (whoops) and sometimes more often, especially when she’s swimming a lot. But we’ve been trying to stay in the habit of moisturizing every-other night before bed. It makes a big difference. More on that in a bit.
4. How do you keep it from getting frizzy?
Staying on top of moisturizing. Oh man my daughter gets some frizzy hair. We all do when it’s dry. Frizziness is an indicator that you need a bit more moisture on the hair. I’ll re-spray the hair with a water mixture and finger-comb through it when I’m looking for a quick “refresh” of the curls.
5. What do you do between washes?
I mostly braid it up at night and sprits with moisturizer in the morning. I don’t let her wear her hair all down and out all the time lately just because she’s always flipping around or playing in the water. Often it’s in a pony or a bun for cheer. I’d like to get our of this habit though cause the tight bands all the time can cause breakage.
6. How do you manage it at night?
I did another video of that process in a vlog recently. I’ve since changed it a little. I do little sections when it is in need of a good detangling. But otherwise, I’m combining the hair now into one or two (three max) braids before bed. I find it keeps her curl pattern better than a bunch of twists. I still like the small twists as I’m working through the hair, but while it sets to dry, I like it to be in one big braid for easier take down later.
7. Does she sleep on it while wet?
Yep. I try to wring it out first so it’s not totally sopping, but it’s ok if it’s damp. She usually falls asleep with a satin bonnet to help with friction (and in turn frizz) but it usually falls off. She has satin pillowcases on her bed too and her hair comes out much nicer in the morning when she actually sleeps on them.
8. How long does your routine take?
Ummm. A long time. But the more we stay on top of it and do our evening hair routine every-other-night, the easier and faster the process. On bad wash days where we waited after swimming it could take hours to get through it. On days where we’ve been on top of it, the process may take under an hour.
9. Do you trim her hair yourself?
No. She’s had one trim when she had her hair straightened for a dance recital. She had it trimmed after it was straight a year ago which made it WAY shorter in it’s curly state. I’d like to try a curly trim next time to avoid such a loss in length. It seems like it’s just now gotten back to where it was before.
10. How do you do your son’s hair?
Not this extensively. He is usually in the bathtub or playing near the sink when I do his hair. I get it a little wet with a spray bottle then rub some conditioner in, spray most of it out, and rub in some leave-in moisturizer. It used to be much more difficult when his hair was longer. His curls have gotten bigger and he’s getting a little more patient with me now that he’s older. I’ll also sometimes try to do it when he’s napping.
Hopefully this helps answer questions you may have. If you have more leave a comment! And if you’re less of a video person and like to read a step-by-step routine check out this post or click the image below.
With my daughter’s dance recital ahead of us I decided she could get her hair straightened to help make it slick back into the ballerina bun, and make it easier to go from bun to pony to side part in her different dances.
We went to a salon and I got a press at the same time–My first in 3 years! To do a length check and so we could go through the experience together.
Here’s what I’ve learned after straightening my little girl’s curly hair:
1. It hasn’t gotten much easier since I was a kid
I remember those trips to the salon that took what felt like all day. All the tugging and combing and heat and waiting. You’d think we’d come up with a faster, easier process after a couple decades but it seemed very similar to before. Lil’ J was willing to stick it out for the result, but she’s just as tender-headed as her mama and it wasn’t fun.
2. I will probably do it myself from now on.
Because of #1, I most likely will take over any straightening in the future for her hair, and possibly my own hair too when I want to occasionally give it a go. I just ordered a blow drier and I’ll probably stick to that versus a flat iron for my daughter’s hair. I was shocked to see how much heat the stylist was putting on her locks. When I realized she had the heat all the way up on the flat iron I asked her to turn it down. Don’t want to damage her pretty baby locks.
3. My husband is totally #teamcurly
Without any coaching my sweet husband was nice about my daughter’s new look, but reminded her daily that he thought her curly hair was prettier. So often kids get complimented on the opposite and I know his words stuck with her.
4. It’s ok to love your hair straight too
My daughter was in L O V E with her hair styled straight. I mean any glimpse she got of her reflection she was staring in it. She was whipping her hair back and forth. She was brushing it. She was telling strangers about it. She was all about it. And I let her have her moment. Yes, I love her curls and I want her to embrace them too, but it’s ok for her to love the versatility in her hair styles as well. After all, all it takes it a little water to reverse the process.
I’m also enjoying the change of pace with my temporarily straight locks.
5. Swimming trumps straight hair
Right after she saw the results of her hair straightening she told me she never wanted to go swimming again. She made sure to have an umbrella or some kind of cover over her head any time we were out and there was a chance of rain. But after about a week and a half, she decided having fun in the pool was way more important than having straight hair and she’s been swimming just about every day since.
We may give hair straightening another go sometime now that I own my first ever blow dryer. But I’m in no hurry. We love our curls, our hair, and all the many things it can do!
When I was planning my family’s trip to Disney World I asked about “must-have” magical experiences that I should consider. I have no idea when we’ll be able to go again, so just in case, I wanted to get it all in on this trip. I wanted something that would be memorable, and significant.
One of the experiences several people suggested was the Bippity Boppity Boutique. It’s like a makeover salon for little princesses where they can get their hair, nails and makeup done.
Another was the Harmony Barber Shop for a kid’s first hair cut experience. I wasn’t keen on the hair cut idea but as far as memorable first-hair cut options go, it doesn’t get better than that.
But can these places handle curly hair? I’ll tell you our experience.
Bippity Boppity Boutique
I did a quick Google search and saw a bunch of cute girls all dolled up with updos and glitter. But none of them looked like my daughter, or had her hair texture.
I love that my daughter is growing up automatically learning to love her curls and I didn’t want a bad experience to change that.
So can Bippity Boppity Boutique Fairy Godmothers handle curly hair? When I called to make an appointment the woman booking my appointment instructed me to make sure my daughter’s hair was clean and brushed before our appointment, and to bring our own brush.
“Can they handle curly hair?” I blurted out, immediately feeling kind of silly. But all this talk of brushing and “clean” hair made me wonder if they expected us to walk in with hair blow dried straight.
The woman on the other end of the line paused for a moment and said that the fairy Godmothers had experience with all hair types and that she’d be fine.
This made me feel better, but I continued to wonder if I should request a special stylist who was experienced with curly hair. But how hard could it be to put her hair in a bun? I thought to myself.
I washed and detangled her hair the day before, but her appointment was at 6pm. She spun on the tea cups, road Dumbo, danced and played with her curls bouncing around her face all day. All of the detangling was for not, and I was a little nervous. She was totally pooped by mid-afternoon and took a nap in the stroller before her appointment.
I had to wake her up and get her changed into the Rapunzel dress we brought. She is rarely in a bad mood, but waking her up from a nap is one sure way to be greeted with her cranky side.
Lil’ J sat in the chair and started getting excited when she got to pick out her hair style. At first she pointed at a crazy updo with fireworks coming off of her head, and twists going back, but we steered her in the direction of the more tame princess bun. Plus it came with a tiara.
The Fairy Godmother in Training took the wide-tooth comb we brought and started detangling her curls. (Note:DON’T do what I did. Just bring a brush like they ask. It’s way easier to slick it back for the bun styles. Once she ditched the comb and went for a brush things got way better, as you’ll soon see.)
She added some detangling spray, then tried again. Knowing how much water and moisturizer it takes us to get through her curls at night, I knew this wasn’t going to be a successful plan of action.
I looked at my daughter who was trying to be brave but crying silently (the worst kind of crying for a mother). I tried to comfort her, not knowing if I should help the stylist, or help my daughter. Lil’ J eventually couldn’t take it anymore and started wailing. Two more Godmothers in Training swarmed her to do her nails and makeup, while the main one took a break from her hair.
When she picked it up again to be met with more tears the young woman finally asked me if I cared if it wasn’t totally slicked back into the bun.
“Absolutely not!” I assured her. “I don’t care, it’ll be totally fine!”
She moved to brush (yes, brush! We don’t always do this but in this situation it was just what we needed) the hair back into a ponytail, then she banded it and folded it under itself to make the bun which would have been about 30 times the size of a “normal” princess bun, to be just about twice the size (and even more beautiful if you ask me).
Lil’ J loved the makeup, the glitter (oh the glitter!) and the stories they read her as she was pampered. When the spun her around and show her herself in the mirror her cute little smile was priceless.
I just asked her today what her favorite parts of Disney World was and Bippity Boppity Boutique made the list. She does remember it hurting, but says it was still one of her favorite parts.
Harmony Barber Shop
I was DREADING my son’s first hair cut. I loved his long hair so much and so did everyone else. Even Minnie Mouse herself said she loved them as he posed with her at Animal Kingdom.
Nevertheless, my husband convinced me it was time, and I caved under the condition that his first hair cut would be at Disney World.
If you want to make a huge impact on a first haircut experience, this is the way to do it.
The Harmony Barber Shop has a first hair cut package for under $20, which you know is an amazing deal for Disney World. Especially considering it comes with special embroidered Mickey ears, a certificate, and a little keepsake with your child’s lock of hair.
Again, I was nervous about how the barbers would be able to handle my child’s extremely curly hair. I don’t know how often they get ethnic clients, or clients with extremely curly hair. Plus my son is tender headed. He hates people messing with his head, so I knew it was a disaster waiting to happen, but I had high hopes anyway.
I washed and detangled it the night before, but you know little boys, and Disney World… Not a great recipe for staying that way.
Initially when I called to book the appointment, the shop was going to be closed for renovations. They ended up changing the dates, and as soon as I heard that I called to make an appointment and had my choice of times.
I scheduled the appointment for right after the parade, and we watched the Festival of Fantasy Parade from right in front of the shop, then walked in once it ended.
Big T was fine sitting in the chair, and happy to play with a little toy his barber gave him, but once she busted out the brush and started brushing it was not pretty.
Oh he screamed and screamed. I cried, and he screamed some more.
She really went to down brushing out his hair. She used a Wet Brush, which I now LOVE using on his curls, but it was a lot more difficult getting through it when it was longer.
Luckily, like I had asked, they didn’t use the clippers. I only wanted them to take off a couple inches but I gasped as she took off huge chunks.
I wasn’t ready.
Lil’ J has never had a hair cut, so this was a first for me, watching my child go through a transformation.
I cried partly for the loss of his locks, and partly because he was so sad and I wanted to do more to comfort him.
I was a little disappointed that the Dapper Dans weren’t there. They’re a singing quartet usually around Main Street. I thought they hung out at the Harmony Barbershop to serenade people, but they weren’t anywhere to be found during our appointment. However, a fellow customer turned up the magic.
A woman there with her son–Or maybe her grandson, I didn’t ask–Started singing, and by chance, chose my son’s favorite song: The Wheels on the Bus.
After a couple lines the whole room started chiming in and my son was mesmerized. I’ve never seen him calm down so quickly, and I couldn’t believe that he continued to stay calm while his barber finished his hair cut. I took a little video because I wanted to remember this moment just the way it was.
Once the song was over, he did start crying again for a moment, but he was basically done.
Since his curls were brushed out, and then cut, once they bounced back they were WAY shorter than I had really wanted, or expected (this picture below was taken before the picture above so think of it opposite in terms of ending length) but the barber suggested I keep it shorter so the next time he gets a hair cut the barber could use the longest set of clippers. Umm… We’re going to avoid clippers for a bit. But I appreciated her suggestion.
She took his cape off, put on his hat and showed him himself in the mirror.
I kid you not, that happy face made all of the tears worth it.
I was still a little bummed about the length. It was much shorter than we wanted (three months later it’s finally grown to about the length I wanted initially), but my husband loved it, and Big T seemed to love it.
I didn’t realize it as much at the time, but the sides and back seem to be shorter than the top. Or maybe his curls are just tighter there. I don’t mind it, it’s a cute style for him.
Three months later Wheels on the Bus is still his favorite song, and every time we sing it I think of this day. Talk about a magical memory!
Have you been to either salon? If you’re considering taking your curly-headed kiddo, hopefully now you feel a little bit more at ease.
A couple weeks ago I walked into my boss’ office and uttered words I never imagined myself asking:
“Do you care if I wear my hair curly?”
I thought I was pretty much hanging up my blazers when I resigned from my weekend anchor position. I also figured being on TV less would be a great opportunity for me to embrace my naturally curly hair while reporting. Then when they asked me if I could fill-in anchor, I wondered if that meant I need to go back to my straight “Barbie” look.
His reaction surprised me nearly as much as my own question…
“Are you kidding, why would I care?”
It may sound like a superficial question but trust me, some news directors in this business would most definitely care. My first boss asked me to change my name to Keisha for Heaven’s sake. So you know looks and public perception come with the territory.
He told me he thought my hair looked great, and to wear it however I liked.
To be safe I checked with my other boss, and she was also extremely supportive. So there I was, planning to debut something so natural and simple. Yet it felt like I was knocking down some kind of barrier; an unspoken rule that said I had to stay within the cookie cutter lines of an appearance.
On one hand I felt extremely proud. Thinking: Yes, this is a proud moment I’ll share with my daughter some day! And on the other hand it felt like no freakin big deal. “It’s just hair!” As my boss put it.
But then again this is the same head I covered up years before with a short wig after repeated requests to cut my hair from multiple people.
I twisted my hair the night before my anchor shift then took it out the morning of. I thought I’d be overly self-conscious or maybe even dislike the change, but the opposite was true. I felt confidant, like I was channeling my inner Oprah.
The reaction to my hair has been all over the map. When I first started wearing my natural curls co-workers didn’t immediately recognize me. Responses ranged from “YIKES!” (luckily this only happened once) to “I love it!” My station even got a viewer response that directly complimented me on my new do, and praised me for showing off my natural curls. Granted, the subject line was mistakenly addressed to the other black anchor in Austin, but close enough right?
Since changing up my hair, another naturally curly anchor in town has decided to rock her waves as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if more are on their way. I’m obviously not the first new anchor to wear her natural curls on TV, and I definitely won’t be the last, but as for my experience all I can say is… It’s nice to let my hair down.
I know my babies have the sweetest, most delectable looking curls you have ever seen. So enticing in fact, that you may find your hands wandering in its direction.
I’ve only recently began to notice just how frequently it happens. Last week we were waiting in line for a cookie at the mall when a little girl behind us started stroking my daughter’s head. Lil’ J looked at me like ‘Ma, who is touching my hair?’. I looked back at her and said “Oh, thinks your hair is pretty,” loud enough so the little girl’s mom would hear and maybe be prompted intervene. Yet she wasn’t.
I was torn between asking the little girl to stop, swatting her hand away, or just letting it go. I let it go.
The sad truth is, my daughter is pretty accustomed to people she doesn’t even known touching her hair. She used to frequently tell people “You can look at my curls but don’t touch them” but it’s not something I’ve heard her say in a while. I don’t know if she’s grown tired of telling people, or just gotten used to the attention, either way I still want her to know it’s not ok without her permission.
I could go on about the psychological aspects behind a child understanding their body is their own. But I’ll stick to the main point here… You touch my kid, I’ll cut you.
I know these strangers aren’t ill willed–The opposite in fact. Some cultures actually believe touching a child’s head is good luck.
But here’s the thing… I don’t know where your hands have been. I finally reached my boiling point when I ran in to grab a drink at a convenient store, son on my hip and daughter at my side. We were setting out things on the counter when one of the store clerks walked behind us, and as he did he grabbed my daughter’s pony tail. He didn’t yank it, but just kinda felt it like ‘oh that looks soft, I want to touch it’. He gave me a friendly smile as he did it but I couldn’t contain my stink eye, and had my son been in my Ergo and not in my arms, I might have smacked his hand, or punched his throat.
In that instant it hit me how often I have let it go. People want to rub my son’s head just as often, though usually when he’s close to me people will at least ask, my poor daughter is the perfect height for wantering hands that just have to know what her bouncy curls feel like.
Yes, they’re fabulous I know, but they also take a lot of work to get them that way and I have to start all over again after your grubby hands grace her sweet locks.
Yes, their curls are irresistible, but I beg of you, please, resist!
I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.