A few weeks ago I sent an email to 40 black moms I know. In the e-mail I told them I would be doing a blog on black hair and skin care for white mothers raising black children. I asked them to share some advice on hair and skin care and below are their responses unedited.
The thing I found most interesting was that even black mothers struggle with what to do with their black child’s hair and skin.
Thanks to the BMAC and I hope this helps shed light on a difficult subject. Please let me know what comments most helped you and other topics you would like the BMAC to address.
The very first thing I would tell white mothers of AA children is that is no hard and fast rule to abide by. There is no one perfect method. You can ask 10 different AA moms opinions and get 10 different answers. Then that everything depends on the texture of your child hair. This will vary from child to child. Our children have textures that are completely different and require completely different approaches. With boys I also recommend keeping it cut short. This will require a trip to the barbershop every couple of weeks. A brush is mandatory. A soft brush may not do the job Diane brand makes a selection of brushes for different hair textures. For girls the hair must be combed out before it dries after a washing with a quality detangling shampoo. A monthly hot oil treatment might also be helpful for very dry hair. I agree with Nicole about using a silky headscarf and pillowcase, this is key to lessening the breakage that will happen at night.
Skin care can bring on another challenge. Plan soap is very drying to the skin and if the child has eczema you must be very picky about what you use. I recommend Eucerin, Cetaphil or Aquaphor gentle body cleansers and moisturizers which all work very well. Each of these product lines have complete skin care systems. Cetaphil and Eucerin works best with moderately dry skin and Aquaphor works great with very dry skin. At the very least I would recommend a moisturizing bar with limited perfumes like Lever 2000 for sensitive skin.
“Great question Kevin! I met my stepdaughter at the age of 3, and we had to do some REAL work to ‘train’ her hair to grow and be healthy. If the children have coarse African American hair I recommend the following. Washing not more than once per week with a gentle/moisturizing shampoo – nothing with a lot of perfumes; followed by a deep conditioner covered with a plastic cap for at least 15 mins. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT….after rinsing the conditioner, wrap hair in towel and blot dry. use a light oil (olive, jojoba) even what we call ‘grease’ (Ultra Sheen, etc.) and massage a small amount in the palm of your hand to soften, be fore massaging onto hair. Separate the hair into sections with your fingers (while hair is still damp) and comb through with a WIDE TOOTH comb. You can buy one of these at Sally’s Beauty Supply. The ‘grease’ and the comb are the key! Hold the hair at the roots and begin combing at the ends – then work toward the roots. That way there is less pulling on the scalp. To maintain ‘control’ you can quickly braid each section after you’ve de-tangled, and keep moving all over the head. Once you’ve removed the tangles you can apply oil to the scalp. Just apply to your fingertips and spread directly on to the scalp – not thick, just enough to make it shine. So, now it’s not STRAIGHT, but tangle free and moisturized. GOOD. From here you can blow dry by section and style in pig tails, french braids, curl it – whatever. OR….and this works best on younger girls, more active girls, and for busy moms. Don’t blow it dry….while it is damp and oiled, braid it in the cornrow or french braid style. Whatever style you choose, consider using a satin pillow case, or scarf on her head for sleeping. Cotton pillow cases deplete natural oils from the hair. Don’t give up, practice makes perfect.”
“Okay this is funny because all mothers have a hard time figuring out what to do with their child’s hair. My daughter’s hair is thick and coily takes forever to comb and only looks good first couple of hours—- if you want the kid to keep natural texture find an African-american beauty shop if you want to make the hair a little more manageable a soft kiddie perm no-lye perming once a year depending on texture. Boys just keep the hair short but do not cut boys hair until they reach 18 months.”
“Oh yeah for girls a good leave in conditioner especially if the hair is perms. Kevin I bet you didn’t know it’s a lot to hair.
“check out the website http://www.facebook.com/l/511b3;naturallycurly.com.When it comes to black hair there are so many different types. It does a good job at explaining hair care”
Kevin, this is such a great project and topic that needs to be discussed. I think we can all learn from one another.
I am currently dealing w the same issue w my daughter.
I orignally took the easy way out and started relaxing her hair at a very early age, 5yrs old.
It was so easy and it simply worked for me.
The nighmare didn’t begin until I couldn’t get her in w her aunt (who I must state was ALWAYS oppossed to relaxing her hair).
We were about to travel and her aunt was out of town so I took her to an unamed popular salon and they jacked her hair up. She is now 13yrs old. While it didn’t fall out she had tons of
When i took her to her aunt 6 weeks later she said enough is enough. We’re currently letting her relaxer grow out and I am catching HELL! SOMETIMES I wanna shoot myself. Lol
Its been about 3 months and its such a learning process. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to use oil, oil, oil. Something I would never bombard my hair with but for her, it keeps the hair healthy. While I hate that she doesn’t have body and movement, it helps repair her hair especially since I’m still using minimal heat. I also learned that the hair weakend w a relaxer and she’s also at risk for more breakage as the new hair which is stronger grows in. Hair can break at the perm point.
When we were in Orlando, I took her to the Aveda spa and we worked w an African American stylist who specializes in natural hair. Her grade of hair was exactly like my daughter’s but it was so healthy that she’s able to wear natural curls like a Wanda Sykes but a little funkier. While my daughter plays sports and big bushy hair is not an option right now, she taught me the less heat the better. I was blowing her hair, pressing and flat ironing it everyday. I was trying to get it straight like when we had a relaxer which obviously was not helping matters.
What we do now, is wash her hair every 7 days and then blow dry. She told me that if she didn’t play sports I could wash her hair every 10 days or so. I’m allowed to use the flat iron one additional day throughout the week.
A miracle saver that I have seen but didn’t realize realy worked is that damn hair scarf. Let me tell you sleeping in a head scarf is a complete gift from God. I wrap her hair and take it down in the morning and its like silk. I understand silk scarfs are even better but unfortunately it slides right off of my daughters hair because she’s such a wild sleeper.
Once the relaxer completely grows out, I will be able to add the hot comb to her hair again but because her hair is so fragile we can’t use it right now.
The hair oil we’re using right now is called Morracan hair oil. It’s a complete hair care line and is sold at usually high end salons. I don’t use the shampoo and conditioner because its so expensive but if I could I would.
When I take her to the salon once a month, they cut her ends and give her a deep morrcan hair oil treatment.
If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have never looked for the quick fix in getting the relaxer. The other option would have to only let her sit in someone’s chair that I had full confidence in.
If the moms chose chemical relaxers make sure they research their stylist and get referrals. The salon I used is a popular salon but I went w a new stylist because I couldn’t get her in w their head stylist. The new stylist pulled the relaxer over the already permed hair and thus my nightmare began.
Whew! Nice to vent but I also hope my experience can help your moms cuz I completely get it!!
“I agree with LaWanda and KIm B, mama did a trial and error. They didnt have perms and things like now, she used a straighting comb. Now some of my friends use the kiddy perms on their girls, some do braids and sum stick to the all natural puffs. I used a perm as soon as I was old enuff to do it myself. I have used marykay products on my skin since high skool (why I became a rep lol) and they now have products for teenagers (velocity line). I have 3 boys, who have skin and food allergies so Im careful with them. The teenager uses a combo of marykay & avons skin care products and I use hot six oil on the hair of the youngest 2. keep their hair cut every 2 weeks and brush it at least once a day. also remind them that dark skin gets ashy and I use avon moisture therapy in the blue bottle or the shea butter but works the best is disney baby”s gental naturals (in the baby isle) baby eczema cream. good luck”
For boys I would suggest they keep the boys hair cut low. I notice that some people allow the boys hair to grow too long and it gets curly (you know what I mean). They should really attempt to keep a neat low cut, get a good brush and apply a lite oil to the boys hair (i.e. Hot Six oil)
“This is such a good list already — and I’m going to use some of this advice for my own family. A copule things to add re: girls’ hair: Don’t wash the hair more than once a week. I think it’s common for white women to wash their hair pretty much every day. Our hair is much too dry for that. Also, purchase a silky head scarf and/or silky pillowcase for girls. A lot of breakage happens at night…and an unprotected head doesn’t help. And depending on the type of hair, you should probably also put it in large braids or plaits at night…particulary if they’re younger and still wearing their hair natural.”
Sometimes the soap used can help with skin problems. Aris has exzema and I could never use a deodorant soap as it would cause severe dry patches. He can only use Dove or Oil of Olay. I would also use Eucerin for severe dry skin. I like to use St. Ives collagen elastin lotin daily. It works really well especially in the winter months when dry skin can be pervasive.
I agree with Michelle about keeping the boys hair cut low and Aris would say “tapered” and yes a good brush is the key. Girls hair can be very challenging. It is very important to comb the hair out while it is wet when you wash it. Also, the hair should be blow dryed with an attachable comb or detangling wire brush. If you don’t want to use a blow dryer then the hair should be braided in medium size braids to dry. Never, ever just let the hair air dry without out braiding or blow drying. It will be a big, bushy unmanageable nightmare. Also don’t use rubber bands on wet hair. When washing the hair a good detangling, conditioning shampoo is vital. I recommend Motions or Creme of Nature. Also, use a good conditioner of the same brand. A light oil (isoplus or motions) should be applied to the hair once it is dry. Refrain from using hair lotions as they are highly water based and tend to dry the hair out. A flat iron is safe tool that can be used to straighten coarse hair at home.
My advice for boys would be to keep their hair cut low and trimmed up. And make sure they keep their hair mositurized and condition. I know their boys but they require condition in the hair. I wouldnt recommend cutting the boys hair with clippers until they are at least 15 months, but they can even their hair out with scissors as I had to do on a reagular basis until their little heads could handle the clippers. It’s hard to recommend hair care products because everyone hair is different. Our family uses the olive oil products. When my boys were younger we used dove products to wash/condition. I would say also get a wave brush for their heads and to make sure that they wash/condition their hair at least once a week and moisturize it at least weekly dont be afraid to do it more if their hair is dry.
As for the girls that can be challenging simply because again their are so many variations of black hair from curly to kinky, wavy to straight and then theirs the combination heads. I use Carols daughter products which have proven to be successful you can order from off line and they also sell in various stores. The website is http://www.facebook.com/l/efcdc;www.carolsdaughters.com they have a variety of natural hair and skin care products that they can select from we utlize these for both my sons, my daughter, myself and my husband because we all have different types of hair. I would also find someone who knows how to french braid (cornroll) that can be a life saver for dealing with hair but they need to make sure the person doesnt braid to tight and that their hair stays moisturized by oiling their scalp. Invest in a wide tooth comb to comb out hair when it tangles so that you dont break hair out, and a open air brush (conair) they are about 5-10.00 and can be picked up anywhere. Also wash the hair weekly and find a good conditioner and detangler and a leave in conditioner (check carols daughters for specifics) when blowdrying hair it would be was wise to part the hair in 4 plats and blowdry them in sections it’s just easiert to manage and I would recommend buying a blowdryer that has a comb attachment and use that. Also a good flat iron(chi) to straighten the hair after it’s dried. Most people know how to use a flat iron so I would recommend that over a pressing comb. If at all possible I wouldnt perm/relax the young girls hair unless they had someone who could properly care for it because if not properly cared for it could lead to hair loss and breakage. So please dont buy over the counter kiddie perms if they are not familiar with how to apply it could make a bad situation worse.
Achieving a manageable texture is key for hair care. Wash and Condition every week. Blow drying with a comb and moisturizing olive oil lotion, hair food, light bees wax or good old fashion grease are good. A soft, hard brush, wide tooth comb (tangles) and a rat tail comb (parts and smoothing) are essentials. Stock up a bow box with hair ties, twists and barretts. Practice parting hair in manageable sections and make pony tails. Outside of that recruit some help to learn cornrows and chemicals. Just don’t do the wild curly mane. It is not cute. Do not have these girls looking crazy by the head. For boys, please line them up. Invest in some good clippers and trimmers. For skin…good lotion Jergens, Vaseline (cocoa butter) and Eurcerin. Mild soaps.
You know I have two girls and both have different hair textures. Kendall’s hair is thick and has medium curl. Kristen’s is EXTREMELY thick with tight curls and she’s tender headed, which makes combing her head an all day event. I normally wash their hair once a week with a moisturizing shampoo and condition. I oil their scalp with a light grease and maintain it through the week with Pink Oil Moisturizer or Liv. I love french braids, but after a week, they start looking a mess if you don’t maintain them. I make K & K tie their heads up every night with a scarf or wrap to keep the braids looking fresh.
My children have AA hair and no mixture at all- My suggestion is since every child is different and every family- male and female have different grade of hair- is to see a stylist who knows how to do hair.
The thing I hate most if children are racially mixed or not is parents who don’t comb their girls hair regularly because they are lazy- They need their heads combed everyday – The braid your hair for 2-3 week is such a mess!! Boys are easy- cut it- keep it cut every two weeks- Don’t try to grow it out and have the curly nappy look- that does not work!!!
My advice is to locate someone who has been there and done that and get help- The mistake some White Moms make is letting the black women do the kids hair and it looks a mess because we don’t know how to do it either- There is a lot of literature out there and lots of help
Skin- If they are darker – use Vaseline- I hate ashy kids black or white- LOL!!!
I hope this helps- just my opinion!!!
The first things that came to my mind have already been said. I would add that leaving your child’s hair natural doesn’t mean that you don’t have to comb it regularly. I’ve seen too many black children looking a mess about the head! Even if you have your child’s head braided, you do need to take the braids down and comb the hair. More than likely, they would need to use a wide tooth comb and a stiff bristle brush. Oh and oil the scalp regularly with a moisturizer that is appropriate for your child’s texture of hair – your child might do fine with a Pink Oil moisturizer or you might need to use a heavier pomade. As Kim already said, they need to experiment and see how quickly their child’s hair soaks up the oil. If it feels brittle, it’s time to put some oil in it – if your palm comes out their head feeling like cooking oil, you probably have too much oil in it and you need to wash their hair! Skin care – I think black people’s skin tends to dry out and get ashy more quickly than white skin and need a skin moisturizer that is thicker like shea butter, especially in the winter. Please tell them to put lotion on their child’s skin (face, legs, arms, everywhere!) EVERYDAY! 🙂