The 80’s and early 90’s weren’t kind to a young gal with curly hair like me. There were lots of bad perms, Christmas tree shaped haircuts, fluffy poodle mullets, and years of school pictures that will never see the light of day. So years later when the Curly Hair Gods smiled down upon me and gave unto me a little curly haired girl, I was thrilled when every single day she woke up like this:
I’m totally kidding! Most days this is how she wakes up. Yikes! Pass the coffee and the leave in conditioner!
On these mornings, her hair looks exactly how I feel, but I was determined to figure out the best and easiest way to style her hair so that my girl would always love her wild and fabulous curls. So here’s what we’ve learned:
Just say NO to shampoo- For curly kids you need lots of moisture in their hair. We only wash my daughter’s hair every 2-3 days, and when she is due for a wash, we only use a moisturizing conditioner and skip the shampoo. Try shampooing just once a week for bouncy, fun curls.
Throw in the Towel- Wrap your kiddos up in a fluffy towel when they get out of the tub, but keep that towel away from curly hair! Since curly hair is so fragile, a regular towel is too heavy for curls and can cause a lot of frizz. Instead, grab and old t-shirt and lightly dry their hair with the t-shirt.
Tools of the trade- Detangling after bath time used to take forever and there were lots of tantrums and tears (mostly that was just me). Now we use the Wet Brush or a wide tooth comb and detangling is no big deal. Do you have a brush? Get rid of it. Seriously, brushes and curly hair do not mix. Don’t believe me? Don’t make me show you my second grade school picture. *shivers*
Bottoms Up- Detangle from the bottom and don’t start at the roots! This causes damage and frizz plus it just hurts! Instead, pile the hair on top of your child’s hair with a clip and work in smalls sections. Working an inch or two from the bottom of the hair near the neck, detangle with your fingers or the Wet Brush. Then move up a few inches and so on. As you finish each section, wrap the hair around your finger to help the curl bounce back.
Morning Bounce Back- My girl’s hair always looks best right after a bath, but who has time for all that work in the morning? Not us! So we’ve created a new system to freshen up her curls. Using a spray bottle with water and conditioner wet the hair. Use your fingers or Wet Brush on hair that is tangled or fizzy. Grab small sections and wrap the hair in a spiral motion. This helps hair to bounce back and regain it’s shape. Air dry wet hair as much as possible, but if you’re in a hurry or for a little extra volume, flip hair upside down, use a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment (never without!) until hair is 80% dry. Too much heat is a no-no for curly hair.
Coiled Care- Deep condition once a week but there's no need to spend a fortune on expensive treatments. We just lather up the conditioner, put a fancy shower cap on, and let my curly kid play in the tub while those curls get the much needed moisture.
Up Do Safety- Only use ribbon elastics for ponytails and braids. These will cause minimal damage and won’t get tangled in curly hair like regular hair elastics and rubber bands.
Style Tips- When it’s time for a haircut, find a stylist that is comfortable and experienced with curly hair. This makes a HUGE difference, and I usually ask the salon manager for their recommendation. Also sometimes finding the right product takes a lot of trial and error, but stick to sulfate free shampoos and conditioners and think less is more when it comes to hair products. Right now we are using a light weight foam cream that is working well with her hair.
I love her curls. I want her to love her curls. And I promise, no fluffy poodle mullets for either of us. Ever.