My daughter has stunningly beautiful curly hair. It’s the kind of hair people look at and wish they had, though their next sentence is usually, “It must be such a pain to take care of!”
Truthfully, at the beginning, it was a pain to take care of. Then, a miracle happened — and it came in the form of literature.
After a desperate text to my cousin, she recommended a book. That’s right, my friends. There is a book for that. The instruction manual extraordinaire: “Curly Girl: The Handbook.”
There are categories, pictures, and explicit directions. There are charts and product recommendations and a whole section about hair care for children.
I had never needed a “textbook” as much as I needed this one.
So there we were, my 5-year-old and I, sitting on the couch reading this new book. The first thing we read was to throw out all of our old brushes and combs. The pure joy that radiated from my child’s body as she tossed her brushes in the trash made me a little nervous.
In the end, after reading several times, we finally had a grasp on what we thought we were supposed to do. Much to our delight, when we tried it, the process was easy and had amazing results. We went one step further and used a directory to find a hair salon that caters to clients with curly hair, and we’ve never looked back.
Here are our must-have items for kids with curly hair.
This is the most essential of our “easy curly hair” products. Between preschool, winter hats, pool days, and everything in between, we use an ungodly amount of conditioner. Sometimes we even “wash” with conditioner only. We also have a spray bottle of water and conditioner that we use to “restyle” (as in, spray then scrunch) her curls after a rough night or trip to the playground.
Conditioner is the best solution to the curly hair wars, hands down.
Though we only shampoo my daughter’s hair twice per week, a hydrating shampoo is a must. I like this one because it does create some suds, and lavender and spearmint are both natural lice deterrents.
We only comb through my daughter’s hair under three conditions: in the shower or bath while her hair is wet, using this comb, and with copious amounts of conditioner. Sometimes I need to use my fingers to separate the knots and add a little extra conditioner before combing, and it works best to section off parts of the hair instead of combing it all at once.
We use a microfiber towel when my daughter gets out of the bath to “dry” her hair a little bit by flipping her hair upside down and scrunching it up in the towel. You can also use cotton, but we prefer microfiber.
When my daughter finishes scrunching with the towel, we comb this gel through her hair, curl by curl. We don’t use a lot — probably one quarter-sized glob three different times. We run this product through her hair starting near the nape of her neck, eventually going up to the top layer. This prevents the “slicked down” look.
Protective braids are our best friend. Going swimming or to the beach? Braid it. Helmets or hats? Braid it. Wood chips on the preschool playground? Braid it.
If we braid when her hair is wet, we always use plenty of DevaCurl Light Defining Gel. I use a little bit for every strand I pick up for her braid, which seems like a lot, but it extends the life of her braid(s) for two or maybe even three days if we’re lucky.
Silk scrunchies and “pineapple” ponytails
Unfortunately, the likelihood that my kid will wear a satin bonnet to bed is zero. Does she know that it would make her curly hair life so much easier? Yes. Does she care enough to try it? Absolutely not.
So, we do the next best thing — a “pineapple” ponytail with a silk scrunchie. To achieve the pineapple look, I have her flip her hair upside down and make a ponytail as high on the top of her head as I can. It looks silly, but it’s fairly effective against the curl smushing.
Last one up is the silk pillowcase. Fancy, but it really does help with the tangles.
All I want is for my daughter to love her hair. I shudder at the thought of her straightening it until she damages her curls beyond repair, or waking up to an uncontrollable mess that makes her feel self-conscious.
Simply said, I want her to love herself the way she is and embrace the things that make her unique and beautiful. Taking the time to learn about her curly hair and how to take care of it instead of complaining about how horrible it is to manage has been worth every minute. Her curly hair is currently her favorite thing about her appearance, and I’ll take that as a win.