Some of the questions we get most often are:
- Why is my / my daughter’s hair so dull?
- Why is my / my daughter’s hair so dry?
- How do I comb my daughter’s kinky hair?
All of these questions and more are answered in this guide.
I previously wrote a short general guide called: African and Biracial
Children’s Hair Care tips. That guide gives some
are useful in developing your own hair care regimen or one for your
child. But, I have found that people are requesting more
as to exactly what to do. Unfortunately, I can’t
tell you exactly
what’s best for you or for your child. I purposely
cookbook approach in the original guide because proper maintenance of
hair is more of an art than a science. Every
person’s hair is
slightly different and therefore requires a slightly different
maintenance routine. Even my two daughters, with the same father and
mother, have different hair types. I find that an oil that is great for
one is too heavy for the other. After years of trial and error that I
have developed regimens that work best for each of the three of us. I
am still tweaking those as I find new products and as I gain more
experience. But, I will share my routines with you. These should be
useful starting points for you to develop your own routine.
We are receiving a lot of requests from Caucasian mothers who have
adopted children of African descent and know almost nothing about Black
hair care. Most African Americans are multi-racial.
African American hair has a wide variety of textures and needs.
Expectations for African American Hair
The number one complaint we get about black hair is that it looks dry
or dull. Before you go too far to make your natural hair full
sheen and shine, it’s best to have the proper
Natural Black or African hair will not be as shiny as permed hair or
Caucasian hair. A major part of what makes hair shiny is the
structure of the hair, not just the amount of oil or moisture it
contains. If the cuticles lay flat (smooth hair), the hair will reflect
light better (translated will appear shiny). If the cuticles
raised, the hair will absorb light (translated will appear more
dull). Without changing the structure of the hair (as in
a perm or relaxer for us African Americans), our hair will only be so
shiny. By applying a bunch of grease to make it shinier, you could end
up damaging the hair. Having said that, natural African hair
appear healthy, smooth and have a nice healthy sheen.
Another complaint we sometimes get (again it seems usually from White
mothers) is that their child’s hair is too curly or too
are some things you can do to control frizzyness and curliness. But, if
you want to effect “permanent” (permanent until it
grows out anyway)
changes, you are looking at a chemical process. One thing we often
advise mothers about though is please do not expect your
to be like yours. And, please do not make her feel as though
something is wrong with her hair because it’s
“frizzy” or curly.
You should picture your child’s hair as a collection of fine
fibers. You should treat it as gently as you would a fine
washable silk blouse. The better you treat her hair, the easier it will
be to grow and the better it will look. You should be aware that
African hair and biracial hair tends to be drier than Caucasian
hair. The structure of our hair makes it more difficult for
oils to work their way from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Because
our hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more and pulling these tangles
out can cause breakage. In spite of appearances, black hair
biracial hair tends to be more fragile than Caucasian hair.
lack of moisture and elasticity and the kinks that get grabbed when
styling or combing make for hair that can be broken easily.
Someone once asked me if natural hair is meant to be combed. Actually,
the answer probably is no. I don’t think our hair
to be combed at all. So, as long as we’re going to
do it, we have
to do it causing the least amount of damage possible.
Both of my daughters have natural hair. We receive a lot of
compliments about their hair. We have a mixed heritage (as do
most African Americans). But, many of the same things I do
them can be adapted for biracial hair care. Here are my
Tools for Maintaining
African American Hair
Before you set out to perform any task, it's important to make sure you
have the right tools. While many products can be picked up on the cheap
in the drug store or at your grocery store, you owe it to yourself to
get the best products you can afford. While we don't believe in paying
a lot of money for fancy packaging, a name brand or a foo-foo salon, we
know that there are much better products available from specialty
stores like Treasured
or even your local salon.
Tips for Combing Out
This section will be
particularly important to those of you who have not worked with kinky
hair. Never try to comb out kinky hair while it is dry. Use a
moisturizer to provide elasticity to the hair and to reduce
friction. Be sure you have a wide tooth comb. You might want
look for a “detangling” comb. If
you’re used to fine tooth combs,
it might look a little strange to you. But, generally
the farther apart the teeth the better. I generally do not
bristled brushes because I find they tend to grab the hair. I
have a Kakakiki KombBrush
, which does a
great job on the girls’ natural
hair. It’s a combination comb and brush in one
shaped like a brush, but has round teeth more like a comb.
Be patient and gentle when combing kinky hair. If your
is screaming, you might want to consider that you are pulling too
hard. I begin by working in sections. I part the
tie off the part I am not working on at the time. I gently
the hair near the scalp with my free hand and work the comb against
that hand, rather than against the scalp. Comb gently beginning near
the roots and work your way up- until all kinks are free. I
tie that section off and start on the next section.
Tips for Washing Black
I wash their hair about
once a week.
In the winter this might stretch out a little longer. I wash
often in the summer. But, one of the mistakes non-African
of Biracial or African children commonly make is to wash their hair too
frequently. Many of my Caucasian friends wash their hair
daily. In a child with Black or African hair, this can lead
dullness and dryness. I like to use different shampoos to eliminate the
possibility of build-up from a particular shampoo. I
If your child is very young (too young to keep her eyes closed), use a
no tears baby shampoo. These shampoos contain agents that
the eyes from stinging. We do not sell any no-tears
shampoos. But, these shampoos can be drying, especially for
hair care. So, transition to a nice mild shampoo as soon as possible.
Wash gently, but thoroughly, massaging the scalp while
washing. When you dry, blot with a towel rather
rubbing vigorously. Avoid heat as much as possible for
drying. Allow the hair to air dry or you can even use a
conditioning cap to drive some of the moisture out before blasting the
hair with forced hot air.
If your child swims or
from her scalp, you may be tempted to wash too often. One way
stretch out the time between washings is to just rinse the hair with
warm water, condition and go from there.
How to Condition African
African-American clients often complain about dull, dry
hair. But, they skip the essential step of conditioning their hair
after they wash. Conditioner is vital because conditioner helps leave
the hair feeling smooth by leaving a thin wax-like coating. Conditioner
also helps lessen the breakage and pulling caused by tangling. Tangling
happens when the cuticle of one strand of hair (which are more raised
in Black and Biracial hair) catches on the cuticle of another hair.
Conditioner also smooths over rough broken edges of the outer layer of
hair. By smoothing over the outer layer of the hair, conditioner makes
the hair feel softer, reflect light better and keeps it from tangling
and breaking as much. Lastly, the protective coating left on by
conditioner holds moisture and reduces static electricity.
After washing, I condition with one of these three products:
Tips for Deep
Conditioning Black Hair
At least once or twice a
after shampooing, I deep condition their hair. I will use one
I put one of the deep conditioning products on after shampooing and use
either a microwave or professional heat cap for 30 minutes or so. The
moist, gentle heat allows the cuticles to open and the moisturizing
product to penetrate the hair shaft. A good hot oil treatment
could be done here instead.
How to Properly Moisturize African American Hair
Probably the most important key to
healthy African American hair care is moisture. Because of
structure of our hair, it tends to become dry easily. Dry
lacks elasticity and therefore is brittle and prone to breakage.
Moisturize with good
products and do it often. Moisturizing is not necessarily the
same as oiling. And it is certainly not the same as putting
what we used to call “grease” (see
below). After the Deep
Conditioning or Conditioning I moisturize. I use one of these
Should I Oil My Hair and
The subject of whether to oil or not is
controversial in African hair care. You’ll have to
yourself. My experience has been that, for my daughters, and
oil is good for our hair. The right oil
though is of vital
importance. We only use all natural oils, mostly plant
avoid mineral oil and petroleum based products. The one
exception to the plant oil rule is emu oil (an animal oil). I
love emu oil! This is one of those places where
have to experiment. One of my daughters can use a heavier oil
than the other. She can even use pure Shea Butter. The other
hair is too thin and looks weighed down with Shea Butter. To
apply the product, I put a little of the product in the palm of my hand
(and melt it, if it’s a solid product). I then rub
and massage into the scalp. I will not use anything that
melt at body temperature. That's why I avoid products with
beeswax, which melts at somewhere over 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
That's well above the temperature your water heater should be
at and is hot enough to scald you. In other words, if you put
beeswax in your hair, expect it to be there for a long time.
happen to use something with a
little beeswax (which has a relatively high melting point), I make sure
it still melts at body temperature so that it doesn’t build
mix a couple of the products. To be safe, I mostly use
that are liquid at room temperature. Some of my favorite oils
- Shea Butter Oil- has the wonderful properties
of Shea Butter, but in a much lighter, liquid form. We began
company selling nothing but Shea Butter products. That was
Shea Butter was as popular as it is now. It’s still
ingredient in many of our hair and skin care products.
- Emu Oil- unbelievably good for scalp health.
Improves circulation, reduces inflammation and has natural antiseptic
properties. All help promote hair growth.
- Jojoba Oil- the closest thing to natural sebum
itself. Jojoba oil is technically a wax, not an
oil. It can
actually make oily skin less oily and dry skin more oily, In other
words, it helps bring skin into balance. In the case of
hair care, we are generally seeking to add oil to the scalp.
- Castor Oil- nice all natural plant oil that helps
humectify (draw moisture to) the hair and scalp.
You can choose from the following products (from heaviest to
lightest in order)
Tips for Styling Black
Generally, I style the girls’ hair without
the use of styling products. Since they are young, mostly,
they’re in ponytails, plaits, braids or the like.
But, I mix it
up and am very cautious about overly tight styles that can lead to
scalp damage and even a certain type of hair loss. I especially avoid
any styling products that might be drying to their hair.
You’ll want to
be very careful with hair sprays, mousse products, gels etc.
there are a few aids I use for certain hair styles to provide hold or
- Treasured Locks Curl Tamer- I use
this on the
occasions when I want their hair straighter. Combined with a
dryer, this allows me to easily get their hair ready for styles for
- Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter Loc Butter-
all natural Shea Butter based loc butter that I’ll use for
styles where I want a little more hold.
- Treasured Locks Locks of Curls Pomade
provides hold and moisture in one product. An aloe vera based
product with Shea Butter oil and other natural moisturizers &
softeners. This is great for two strand twists, straw sets or
hold in braids for less frizzing. Also can be used to work
hair into curly hair.
- Treasured Locks Thermo Shield- a
spray that protect
from heat and gives hair a shine when flat ironing or pressing
This is very
important. I repeat
the Moisturize and/or Oiling steps above on a regular (almost daily)
basis when I’m
combing/styling the girls’ hair. Even if
we’re in a non-comb
style (like twists), I’ll touch them up just about daily,
something. I’m careful to avoid build-up and I
don’t use a lot of
product. But, I find that their hair is healthiest when
receiving moisture on a very regular basis.
Controlling Frizzyness and Curliness in Black Hair
As we said
earlier, expectations are important when it comes to hair. But, we do
have products that will help reduce the frizzyness, to an
extent. Natural-Laxer MIX
is a treatment
that can be applied about once a
month. It is all-natural and works to gently tame wild
hair. We’ve had people of various ethnicities who
pleased with it. It does not actually alter the structure of
hair like a relaxer would. It can be applied in the home and
wears off after several weeks. For those looking for a more
permanent solution, a mild relaxer, a texturizer or a kiddie perm might
be something to consider. Before you do though, please read
precautions when it comes to permanents/relaxers (see below).
you’re not familiar with them, please be informed before you
Other products we offer that help when styling curly and/or frizzy hair
- Treasured Locks Conditioning Balm-
Conditioning Balm is a botanically rich, leave-in conditioning and
styling balm that straightens and controls curly frizzy hair while,
giving incredible shine and manageability.
- Treasured Locks Liquid Silk- A
space age blend of
silk proteins for redefining any texture hair. Curly hair becomes
smooth and shiny.
Locks Curl Tamer- just shampoo, towel
dry, apply product and blow dry for those days when you want to wear
your hair straighter. Fantastic product for biracial hair.
- Treasured Locks Locks of Curls-
curls, but defines them, turning kinks into soft flowing curls or just
smoothing out curls and making them more defined. With the
styling technique, you can get those bouncy flowing curls you see on
the stars (instructions are on our website)
Perms or Relaxers for Black Hair- Should I or Shouldn't I?
We often get questions concerning
perms for young girls. Generally, we recommend against perms
prepubescent girls. Their hair and skin aren’t
and changing their hair texture this early in life (especially a
permanent change) can send the message to them that their hair
good enough. Our older daughter is proud of her natural hair
says she will never perm it. But, our younger year old says she
Ironically, it’s the older one who has the thicker
they are old enough, they can decide on their own.
I use Natural-Laxer MIX
on our older
daughter. It has made her
hair much more manageable and improved the texture. I can
her hair in about half the time it used to take and I’ve seen
reduction in the amount of hair left in the comb after combing.
Perming or relaxing the hair might seem like an easy solution to the
kinky/frizzy/hard-to-comb problem. But, there are several
you should know before heading down this path.
We’ve seen unaware
mothers actually make things much worse by not knowing this before
getting started. Consider the following before you start
- We do not recommend home box perms. People often
ask us to recommend perms to them. We do not recommend any
because we do not sell any. A beautician has told us that
are not the same quality as the salon perms. I
don’t know if
that’s true. But, even if it is not, a chemical
relaxer or perm
is a process that is best performed by a professional.
damage can be done to the hair (that can never be repaired, it has to
grow out). A relaxer, improperly applied can do permanent
to the scalp. The only compromise we would even contemplate
this would be to take your child to a local beauty school, if you just
cannot pay the money the salons are charging. At least
get the perm under professional supervision. And, the cost is
usually a pretty small fraction of the cost in a salon.
- If you insist on applying perms at home, please
read and follow the instructions carefully. Do not keep
the part of the hair that has already been treated. Only
the perm to the new growth (the kinky stuff underneath).
the same part of a strand of hair over and over again thins it a little
each time. Eventually, it will break. It’s not a
“if”, it’s “when”.
- If you begin to relax your child’s hair, you must
keep on doing it. When the natural hair reaches a certain
underneath the relaxed hair (hair grows from the root), the hair begins
going through a transition stage. At this point, the hair is
vulnerable to excessive breakage. Generally speaking, a perm
be required every 6-8 weeks unless you are prepared to transition back
to natural hair. Transitioning, without taking proper
can be very traumatic because of the breakage.
- If you relax your child’s hair, you weaken the
and reduce the ability for the scalp to naturally oil itself.
Permed hair is especially delicate and must be cared for even more
diligently than natural hair. But, it's better to perm hair
to fry it with excessive heat trying to make it straight or to end up
breaking it off by combing it too aggressively.
Ponytail Do’s and Don’ts
Bound hairstyles are great for little girls. They keep the hair
from going wild and from tangling. I can often get a few days out of a
style, too. But, these bound styles can lead to hair disaster- as in
severe, and even permanent
hair loss. Here are some dos and
don’ts you will want to be aware of:
- Don’t- use common rubber bands to hold her
hairstyles. Also, avoid the bands with the metal clips, which grab and
break kinky hair. Rubber bands cause too much friction on the
hair and will eventually cause breakage. Buy covered bands or
smooth bands made especially for hair.
- Do- remove any bands from the hair every night
before bed time. Even the best bands should be removed before
retiring for the evening.
- Don’t- pull the hair too tight. While
be attractive, if you see your daughter’s eyebrows arching
just had a face-lift you could be doing damage to her scalp.
you start to notice bumps around her hairline or elsewhere on her
scalp, you could be causing traction alopecia. Normally,
the hairstyle easily reverses this. But, if it is continued,
practice can lead to permanent hair loss.
Please remove tight
bands from hair before sleeping. Using a satin pillowcase or
satin sleep cap will reduce friction with the pillow and help retain
moisture in the hair. Cotton pillow cases against the hair
absorb moisture from the hair leaving it dry. Also, the
(if you move a lot) can actually lead to breaking. Using a
smooth cap or a satin pillow case avoids these problems.
Should I Trim My Ends?
The ends of the hair are the
oldest parts because hair grows from the root. If the ends
neglected, they can begin to split; causing damage even further down
the hair. It may be counterintuitive. But, trimming the ends
actually lead to having longer hair. If you notice the ends
the hair are very dry, you might want to make sure you are doing a good
job conditioning. If you notice they looked frayed, more
than normal or split, have them trimmed. I neglected this for a long
time with my girls. But, since starting, I immediately
improvement in the manageability of their hair. It was
easier to comb just after trimming the ends.
Hair Growth/Health Supplements
I use the
Treasured Locks H2G Hair Growth Supplement
Locks H2G Hair
. I have had a noticeable
improvement in the
condition of my hair and nails since using these supplements.
Proper nutrition is essential to good hair health.
can certainly help with that. However, we do not recommend
products for children under the age of 13. They are formulated for the
needs of an adult. Treasured Locks H2G Hair Growth Serum
(applied to the hair and scalp) and Treasured Locks H2G Awaken Emu Oil Shampoo
and Treasured Locks H2G Awaken Emu Oil
are also great for stimulating the best possible
I hope you find this guide useful. I know that what
really want is a cookbook approach. But, for the reasons we
stated at the beginning, that just isn’t possible.
If you follow
these general guidelines and learn how to look for signs of hair
health, you can easily begin to make your or your child’s
manageable and healthy. After a few days, weeks and months of
using the right products and the proper techniques, you will see a
If you have any questions after reading this, please do not hesitate to
contact us. We’re glad to help.
We’re available at