|Adoption: A Family Choice
| African American Childrens' Hair & Skin Care
AA Skin Care is on my AA Skin Care
My Second Main Page
My little 11 year old, Kyahna, has beautiful hair, but to be honest though, sometimes it looks a mess! I have been collecting
"instructions," opinions, hints, suggestions, etc. and hope to continue getting new ideas. My 16 year old, Sophia has softer curls, so
can have her hair longer, but it gets dry easy. She had it straightened, but after lots of months of hot irons, the ends are dry, and have
broken off. She has decided to just let it go natural, and use a cooler hot iron, but no more chemically straightening. My 8 year old
son, Markus, has a "tail," which is a long braid down his back, and the rest of his hair is much shorter, but still more of a medium length
afro. After swimming, it will turn into gorgeous ringlets, if left alone. My 17 year old son, Izaiah, likes his hair very, very short, so that is
easy. All 4 are 1/2 siblings, but their hair is each so different from the others.
With permission, I have been collecting parents' hints and ideas. Try several things, until you find the one that works best for your child.
An AA Mom's Suggestions
I am an A/A mom and I've been reading your site re: hair care for A/A children. My daughter is 10 years old with a head full of THICK,
long, easily tangled hair. She loves to swim and the chlorine is very drying/damaging to her hair.
I have tried more hair products than I can name. However, we recently tried a product called Motions Oil Moisturizer. It has a detangler
in and it works like MAGIC!!!! My daughter and I are both thrilled. Prior to this product, we stuck pretty much to one ponytail because it
was such an ordeal to come her hair out. Now we try new hairstyles everyday. I wish I had found this product sooner. It depresses me
to think about all the terrible comb-out sessions we've gone through.
Because I like a little more moisture in her hair and I'm trying to get it back in shape (the ends are brittle from the chlorine) after it's
combed out, I add a little B&B Oil Moisturizer for a finished look. Motions has a complete line of products and I just bought the
conditioner last night. Can't wait to try it. Our hair is very fragile and breaks easily. It does require a little more attention. After
shampooing, it is easier to do the comb-out before you rinse the conditioner out.
Suggestions by: Pat B
I have 3 biracial daughters. When they were very young, I used baby care products made by Weleda and Aubrey Organics (both lines
should be available through local health & natural foods stores in Canada or USA.) They aren't "no tears" formulas, but they are very
gentle on the skin, made with very pure botanical products and vegetable oils. I never had any skin or scalp problems at all, probably
because these soaps/shampoos do not dry the skin or hair (unlike mass market drugstore and children's products which contain some
pretty harsh ingredients....most parents are extremely careful not to get soap suds in baby's eyes in the first place. Also, you want to use
only a tiny dab of soap or shampoo - if the suds are flying around enough to drip into baby's eyes, you're using way too much!
I gave daily baths, but only used tiny amounts of soap; I shampoo'd only once or twice a week. Play it by ear - if your baby sweats a lot
in the summer heat, then a more frequent shampooing might be in order to wash off the accumulated sweat and grime that could cause
skin rashes and infections. I never used baby oil or lotion because their skin was never dry, even in the middle of winter living in a
I don't know about the advice to never brush or comb hair for the first six months. My kids all had thick masses of curls from birth, and I
can't imagine the hideous mess their hair would have been without gently combing and brushing every day, especially when it gets wet
from a bath! Hair care (unless it's a boy with a close-cropped head) is going to be a big issue, and the sooner your baby gets used to
combing and brushing, the better. I would think that after six months of never being combed, your baby's head is going to be a real rat's
nest of snarls all the way to the scalp, which can cause skin infections in and of itself, not to mention a real nightmare the first time you
try to comb it! But maybe others have another outlook based upon their own experiences.
She went over all the basics of AA hair care, including frequency of shampooing (no more than once a week, preferably only once every
two weeks); to comb out hair starting at the ends, not the scalp; to shampoo in the shower instead of at the sink so that the water does
the work of washing the conditioned hair straight down and easing out tangles; and on and on. She showed me how to get super
straight parts using the rat-tail of a comb, and how to scrunch gel into her hair and gently dry it to set the curls if we wanted curls. And,
most importantly of all, to make sure that the hair is sectioned and secured in braids or twists every night before going to bed so that it
doesn't get matted during sleep. That way, in the morning you simply undo the hair one section at a time, comb it, oil it, and re-fasten it.
For Hannah's dry, but soft and fine tightly curled hair, Chantelle recommended Soft Sheen's Optimum shampoo and conditioner, plus
Baby Love's Hair Lotion and Paul Sebastian's clear styling gel for styling.
We wound up using some different products than were recommended. Hannah hates the feel of gel and hair lotion, so we settled on a
nice, light oil: African Pride Hair, Scalp & Skin Oil. It is rich in botanical oils and extracts, has a nice, light fragrance, and it doesn't
weigh down her fine hair the way that baby oil or the heavier lotions do. The Optimum shampoo and conditioner are good products for
her hair, but I found the fragrance overwhelming (I, the klutz with a comb, am also allergic to perfumes.) Matrix/Biolage has a shampoo,
conditioner and detangler for dry hair that are working nicely, but they are pricey salon products. I've also found that Infusium conditioner
and their Leave-In Treatment for dry hair seems to work well, and I can tolerate the lighter scents in those products.
Suggestions and Ideas by Nancy (Mom who is AA)
I bathe all my children (we are Black) every night, and have since infancy. Kids get dirty -- the ring in the tub proves it, LOL. I just use
regular deodorant soap, whatever name brand's on sale. Also, for ashy skin, my oldest two use lotion and it's enough, but the youngest
three do much better with cocoa butter. Cheap, and smells great, too :).
Here is a question to Nancy:
An Indo-Canadian friend who recommends that I don't comb baby's hair for about six months (maybe because it's hard on the scalp
and perhaps not necessary if baby's hair is short????). What do you think?
I think UGH! Not too diplomatic a response, but not comb the baby's hair? The Rastafarians do that, but I don't know anyone else that
does. I can't imagine the mess that would result, but it sure wouldn't look like she was loved by anyone... It's easy to comb baby hair, just
put a good conditioner on it if it's real nappy, then comb with a wide toothed comb, section it into four sections, babyoil them, and twist
each into a little pony tail. Secure them with a little barrette. Do once or twice a day, depending on if your child plays with her hair.
Re: Boys' Haircuts. Haircutting, cut it as soon as you can get him to hold still,he'll look adorable. The battery-operated clippers for
beards work real well on little kids, babies. They seem gentler, and are also extremely easy to use.
Another Question for Nancy-Another page
1. I have been using Nexus Botanic Oil for my 3 year old's hair. Baby Love by Soft Sheen, works nicely also, and even my 17 year old
AA son likes to use it-it also has a great smell. Pro-Line Comb-Thru (Lite Creme Moisturizer) is another product I use on my little ones.
2. Sometimes, I divide her hair in pie piece shaped divisions (triangles). I use tiny rubber bands that have been soaked in the oil, and
put tiny pony tails near the bottom, center of each "pie piece." If I am in a hurry, I just add another tiny rubber band to the ends of each
pony tail. That leaves cute "puffs" of hair all over. I put barretts on the ends of each puff, and a rubber band type ball, heart, etc. close to
her head. It is quick and easy, and looks darling!!
3. If I have more time, I will divide each pony tail into two sections. I twist each piece in a clockwise direction, then twist the two sections
together in a counter clockwise direction. I put on a tiny rubber band to hold it together, then a barrett (the rubber band also helps to
keep the barrett from slipping off).
4. I always just break each rubber band, rather than trying to get it off her hair, without breaking the hair itself. The tiny rubber bands then
come right off, especially if they have been dipped in the oil.
5. Once in awhile I use the stretchy, comb type things on her hair, either as a head band or just to gently pull the hair off her face. There
are new ones that come in rainbow colors, bangles/beads, etc. and they are gentler on the hair as compared to rubber bands. I have to
be careful not to pull the pony tails too tight, because the hair around her ears and forehead seem to break off easy.
6. Whenever I go to stores, I check for beads, hair things, barrets, etc. I buy at least 2-4 of each package. I have a huge number now, so
that she can be "color coordinated." She loves to have the "pretties" in her hair, and leaves them in now, even at night (she will ask to
leave them in, I sure can't figure out why, ha, ha). She also loves them because she can swing them around.
AA Hair by Jeanne:
Marlisa, my grand-daughter, that I am raising is part hispanic. (Although you'd never know it with her blue eyes and blond hair). Well,
anyway she has very tight curls in the back, loose curls in the front and on top. When she was a baby I used to use pure coconut oil on
her hair. Can't find any in my state or I would still be using it. I used to get it at one of the Puerto Rican food stores in MA. That works
great. And if you can find it, it costs a lot less than all these other products. But I did check the cabinet and the product that I use on
Burgundy and sometimes Marlisa is called Just For ME.
I think that there are alot of people who need to learn how to take care of their braids. I say this because I braid and weave and when
people come to see me I am in shock sometimes. They just don't care for them right no matter what I say. The braids start to get this
As for skin care, when my children were babies I put vaseline on them. Head to toe. Especially in the winter. It does not clog your pores
and it is a great protectant (?) from that dry winter skin. Marlisa gets her booty rubbed down with it because for some reason she has
very dry skin on it. She has dry skin anyway but not like on her booty. My oldest daughter is a cosmotologist. I will ask her for some
ideas for you, also. I know she just tried out a new tan accelerator for tanning beds and after one session she looked as if she had been
out in the sun 1/2 the summer.
Ringlets & Drinking Straws
Found a cute way to style girls' hair into perfect little ringlets. Get some plastic drinking straws, cut into 2 or 3"
lengths. Take little sections of hair and wrap them on straws (as if straws were curlers). Secure in vertical position
with bobby pins. Dry with blow dryer or air dry. When you take them out, don't unwrap them, just pull the straw out.
Don't comb them out. You will have a head full of perfectly shaped ringlets. Very cute:) I tried this on my daughter
who is AA/EI. Haven't tried it on my bio daughter yet, so I don't know how straight hair would hold up.
Short Hair or Long Hair? by Pat B.
I have 3 daughters, all biracial (very, very light skin), all sibs. All three have different hair.
I used to keep their hair cut short. It was easy to wash, easy to brush, and those masses of short curls sure looked cute - at least, to us
whites it did. Then they hit school - and came home in tears every day because the other black girls taunted them about looking like
boys. I could see the self-esteem indexes plummeting, so I let them grow their hair out.
The youngest (5) has silky soft hair with "white" wavy curls. She wants long, flowing tresses and is willing to put up (tearfully) with our
daily working out the knots and snarls. The middle (6) has soft hair with thick curly curls. She too wanted long hair until the knots and
snarls became too painful - then she begged me to cut it. Her hair definitely is not what anyone would call "black" hair (people always
ask if she's from South America) and she looks great with a thick mass of curls framing her face in a halo. No one, black or white, has
ever really teased her about her hair because she is not perceived by either race as being black. The oldest (8) has fine dry frizz (but
not nappy) that kinks into tight Afro curls that looks BEAUTIFUL when kept short and conditioned with black hair care curl activator. But
she was constantly teased and taunted about looking like a boy, so we've let it grow.
My oldest daughter and I visited a black beauty shop last year to get some ideas for hair care. Ouch, was I stepping into a place where I
wasn't welcome! The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. We went home and I did a home relaxer once with her - what a
mess! I followed the directions to the T, but it didn't work well; and even though I used one for children, her scalp still got chemical burns.
We fooled around with hot combing her hair straight, which she grew bored with very quickly (I was glad, because hot combing dried
and fried her hair horribly.) I don't do braids, twists, plaits, cornrows, etc. because the kids don't want them (direct quote from my 8 year
old: "Mom, that's a black thing. I'm not black, I'm brown.") What the girls do want to do is just to pull their hair back, or up, into a puffy
bun. With lots of fancy pony tail holders with bangles and baubles. EASY! The oldest is asking for spiral curls when her hair gets long
enough. Her hair might even do it naturally when it grows out to shoulder length.
I've spent the last 8 years brushing, combing, and picking my way into slow insanity. Adoption classes should include a lengthy segment
on hair care for AA and biracial girls - and I'm not kidding! Those of us who are white have NO IDEA what we're getting into. And it's
such a deeply ingrained cultural identity issue that we NEED to know! Good intentions aren't enough.
BTW, a wonderful book to read to your daughter is "CORNROWS". I forget the author, but it might be Eloise something. Tells all about
how the different braiding designs tell stories, and how the mothers and grandmothers continue oral storytelling traditions during the
combing and braiding process.
Thoughts of a mother who is AA
I have followed this hair discussion with interest because I have lived it as a child and an adult and now with my daughter. I hated the
hair issue because mine would never be long unless I did something artificial with it. My curls are thick and tight. I used to hate them, but
now I love them ever since a dear friend found the tiny, perfectly round black ringlets on the floor referred to them with terms of
So here is some of what I have learned . . . If you go with an Afro, i.e., natural, the easiest and cheapest way to comb the hair each day
is wet. I should know, I have worn an afro for years--plus I have gone the hot comb, chemical perm, curly perm, etc. etc.
I wet my hair thoroughly each morning under the tub faucet and then wrap it with a towel. After it is no longer dripping, I put a few drops
of vegetable oil in my palms, rub in both palms and then rub my palms all over my hair, pressing down to get the oil in. My scalp is
sensitive to hair products, so I have been using corn oil, safflower oil, etc,. for years. It leaves my hair soft and without an odor.
I use a metal pick (used to be called a cake cutter), which I bought from Meijer. I systematically work from the ends to the roots so that I
do not hurt my scalp or have too much breakage. I comb my hair straight out all the way around. Then I shape it lightly by patting it gently
with my hands and then tie a scarf on it ever so lightly.
My 9 year old is bi-racial. She started wetting her hair under the tub faucet after she saw me doing it. If she wanted curls she would let it
air dry. If she wanted a frizz, she would comb it after it air dried.
Now she has extensions, which grace her face nicely. I let her have a perm (kicking and screaming, I might add, because I loved her
naturally loose curls), but she wanted to be like the white girls in her class. The extensions were her next request. Which have saved us
countless night and mornings of arguing and crying (her) about hair. It is a bear to remove, I did it once on my own. She said she would
help, but she went to sleep after a few half-hearted attempts when she found it really was work. I vowed to never do it again, but . . .
And this is just the beginning of the hair journey for her. I try to down play it by complimenting her on whateverway she does her hair
unless it is absolutely wacko.
"Mom, I will tell you when I want my hair braided."
My 4yo AA daughter recently had exensions in her hair which took over 7 hrs, as she had to take many "breaks". We had an
appointment to have her hair braided again, and she said "Mom, I will tell you when I want my hair braided". She is very content with her
short little afro, that looks adorable. Her hair is very short and curly, yet has never been cut. I am frequently stopped and told how "pretty"
she is by people who do not have to say this. I see many attractive black adults with very short hair, similar to hers, and this is their
choice. Personally, I do not feel the need to go with all the braids and beads, if this is what my daughter does not want right now. If she
decides she wants it done again, we will do it.
Be sure and use ONLY natural boar's hair brushes.
I found cholesterol at the Dollar Tree for a dollar (what else!) a jar.
I got some and I love it! It even made my hands feel soft.
Suggestions for Kids Who are Swimmers:
What has worked well for us is a two-fold approach. Swim caps have been sorta pointless...but the best way to use one, we have found,
is to cover the hair with a pair of pantyhose (you know how to make one of those caps, right?) and then pull the rubber cap over
that...otherwise the swim cap pulls the hair. Mainly we leave our daughter's hair braided and use a combination of a hair dressing with
sunscreen, a shampoo which deactivates chlorine (like the kind you used to use to keep blonde hair from turning green) which we work
through the hair at least once a week and then rinse out, and LOTS of oil which seems to help protect the hair from drying out.
With my girls I leave their hairstyles in and rinse it very well. You can put conditioner in if it is getting very dry. For my AA kids I then add
Dudleys Hair and scalp conditioner everyday. I get her braided every 2 weeks. Their hair stays healthy. For my bi-racial girls, I mix
Dudleys and Nexus moisturizing conditioner. We swim all the time. Be sure not to over wash their hair. For their skin I use Motions extra
moisturizing skin creme or Soft As Me. They add creme every time after they swim. They know the routine.
|Alternatives to braiding:
Rather then braiding, try twisting. I do this with one of my 4 year olds. She is hyper sensitive on her head, so just to comb out her hair is
an ordeal. Section it off (front to back) 3 across the front, 4 ear to ear, 3 behind that and 3 at the neck line. I take small sections,
separate it into 2 sections and twist them around one another. I get the tiny clips to put on the ends. I do use a cream conditioner and
leave it in. Wrap her head at night. If it gets fuzzy, just undo the ones that look bad and redo them I use very bright colors, that look good
I've had hair extensions on my daughter's hair several times, starting when she was 2 1/2. The first time, the extensions were much too
heavy and tight, and caused a lot of breakage. I learned how to do the extensions myself so that I could do it more carefully without
causing damage to her hair ~ but it's lots of work.
Extensions seem like overkill for a toddler. Twists are a lot easier.
I am doing the tiny little twists (two strands, not three) all over her head and sometimes do beads. I do wash the twists as they are and
leave them for a month. What do you do daily though? My daughter's hair, as is expected, is very dry, so I've been applying Blue Magic
to the twists each day. That in itself is quite a process!
|Ideas to Help Kids hold still while you’re doing their hair:
The way that I kept my daughter still for extensions was to bring her favorite videos and have her sit on my lap ~ however she was by no
means still and she cried a lot. It was not fun!
Toddlers are the worst for sitting still. This weekend was hairwash/hairdo weekend for my 2 1/2 year old. I spent two hours Saturday
afternoon taking the then current twists and beads out, and trying to get the worst of the woodchips, sand, and God knows what else
combed out. I put it up in a single puff overnight. (I wish that wasn't so bad for her hair...she looks utterly adorable in it.). I washed and
oiled it before her nap on Sunday. When she got up from nap, I then spent two hours retwisting and rebeading.
How did I do it?
I put her in her highchair, and plop it front of the TV with her favorite Wee Sing and Gullah Gullah videos. I also periodically give her
raisins, craisins, and M & Ms. Bribery, pure and simple. She doesn't get to watch too much TV, or get much candy normally.
One AA lady I met suggested I get a little spray bottle and work on her hair a little at a time, spraying the area to wet it, and then letting
her go play for awhile. I do this, but it's still a struggle.
Some Hair Products
I went to Sallys (hair and beauty supply store) and bought a few things that I have not tried before: ion. shampoo and ion finishing
detangler, also carriot oil.
The carriot oil I have put in the girls hair and scalp while doing the little braids on two of my little kids; also, when I put the braids with
extensions. I have to tell you their hair looks and feels great! I have never tried either one before but if it keeps doing the job I am going
to be one happy mommy. There was a lady in there that has five full AA children and that is what she uses on them,
I went to Sally's, the woman I asked was African American. I explained my dilemma, and she had me buy the Dark and Lovely
shampoo. Told me to do the Blue Magic or some similar grease every other day and then decrease as the condition of Ashlyn's hair
improves. She also agreed with the brushing and I did buy a natural boar bristle brush. Already had been using one of those on her, but
didn't know it was called that. Anyway, she also said to do the cholesterol about once a week and to put a plastic cap on her head and
leave for as long as she'll let it. I also bought the Dark and Lovely leave in conditioner/detangler. My helper didn't know why I needed to
buy reconstructors either, so I felt really stupid most of the time!
I spend a LOT of money on my girls' hair. I use mostly KMS products because I have tried just about everything and it is the best. Pink
Lotion just dries and coats the hair and makes a sticky mess eventually--take a look at their pillows when they wake up. I use
Sebastian's Potion 7 once a week. Then I follow with KMS's Silkier line. In between, I use the Silkier leave in conditioner and
reconstructor, but don't shampoo. It makes it much softer and easier to take care of. The reconstructor and leave in, if used more often
than a week, continues to help make the hair less brittle and dry and makes it much easier to comb out and style. Never use mousses
and gels that have alcohol in them.
Try an AA salon. I use Dudleys hair conditioner. It is thick and yellow but works great on all my kids.
Short or Long Hair? A 12 year old’s experience
Our daughter, 12, had long hair when she came home to us at age 5. She loved it and would let me work with it, braid it, etc. She is 1/2
AA and 1/2 Cauc., and while her hair is very curly, it's a very soft curl. She has learned to care for it herself, but here's the thing: SHE
now wants it cut fairly short. She loves it that way. It's about 3 inches long or so, and she does little twists with clippies sometimes, and
has a elastic hair band that looks like black braided hair with little flowers in it--really cute on her! I worried about the 'don't cut your AA
girls hair' statement, but since she is the one who wants it short, I let her. We also have quite a number of AA friends and I always am
asking the ladies for advice. Many of them have extremely short, darling hairdos, so now I don't feel so funny.
If I leave her hair natural, let it rest for a few days, what do I do?
Take out the twists. Thoroughly wash and condition her hair (using reconstructors and conditioners). Work leave-in through the hair with
your fingers, trying to carefully work out the biggest knots with your fingers. Brush it out carefully with a boar's hair brush (natural bristle). I
section it and keep a spray bottle of leave-in conditioner with me while brushing. Then I use headbands, clips or barrettes around the
face for cutsie, sometimes I use those claw clips and twist it all up into a bun.
If I leave it natural, then I use a good gel (no alcohol) and work it through the hair. Each day I brush it out, I wet it down, work through the
leave-in and start over. Every other day (until the hair reaches good condition) or every three days, I use the KMS Silkier Reconstructor,
but no shampoo. Massage scalp and follow directions on bottle. Shampoo once every ten days to two weeks.
When brushing, make sure to brush from the roots out so it massages/cleans the scalp. I never wrap their hair at night, but I know lots of
people who do. I do twist it up into a bun with a claw clip, making sure the clip is on top of the head where they won't lie on it.
My daughter, loves to go to the beauty salon. It is her special trip and Dad usually takes her.
Sometimes she squirms but the beautician works quickly and somedays her hair is better than
others. I think your daughter will learn how to sit and they feel good when they look so pretty.
Sophia, with her hair "natural."
Sophia's braided hairstyle by Me/Mom.
Rozy, about 5 years old, with
braids done by Mom. At that
age she loved the beads.
Rozy-Braids & Twists
Markus, the "cool" guy
Izaiah-Homecoming Dance 2013
This is what happens
when you "let it go too
natural." Kyahna, just
before I conditioned and
braided/twisted her hair.
Do Not Copy, Reproduce, Publish, etc., any article, story, picture, etc.,
from any part of this website, without my permission.
Hair Rules at Adoptive Families-an
article about the importance of AA
children's Hair care (also Asian, etc.)
Curly Kids: Curly Hair Care for
Easy Mornings-a short article
African American Hair Styling
Professional types of
hairstyles...way beyond my
abilities I am sure, but lots of
interesting, beautiful hairstyles
for children. Great pictures.
Here are some other sites on the internet that I like:
1. Adoptionhair_skincare A Yahoo group "Adoptive Hair and Skin Care" for families that have adopted children who are
African-American, Black, and bi-racial, to share about Hair care. Open to all who are interested in hair care. They share in
hair discussions, learn how to care for their children's hair, offer advice, or share hairstyles.
2. Chocolate Hair Vanilla Hair This site has some informative pages, but this one is really great because it has pictures of
different AA children's hairstyles. When you click on the picture, there are clear instructions on how to do the doo.
3. How to Do Yarn Braids-video
4. Adoptionhair_skincare through facebook, something like the yahoo group
5. Black Hairstyles for Foster or Adopted Children Great pictures and detailed instructions with pictures.
6. Hair Style video's through Chocolate Hair Vanilla Hair-clear instructions, 12 or 13 styles & video's
7. Hairstyle Ideas for Big Girl'E is on Pinterest. Lots of links. There are some really cute hairstyles, with pictures.
8. Our Natural Hair Styles-Pinterest: A mother writes, "Styles that we have done on our daughter"
Beads, Braids and Beyond-This
page is called, "Miss A's Hair Care
Routine. This is a detailed, easy to
understand, daily haircare
instructions for a little girl with
LONG hair. It is beautiful.