Two out of three of my kids are curly, and I often have parents/guardians ask me what to do with their curly kids hair. I thought I’d share with you some tips that I have found helpful from working with kids. To many parents with straight hair, curly hair can be a complete mystery! Here is a list of what you'll need, and I've made a special category for kids hair of products that I love, incase you want to try some. This is a longer article but I promise you will want to use every bit of this advice!
Things you will need every time you wash their hair:
~Sulfate free Shampoo
~Silicone Free Conditioner
~Silicone Free Detangler
~Detangling Brush (or you can use your fingers)
~Fine Mist Spray Bottle
~Large long sleeved t-shirt
To care for the curls on a daily basis:
~Daytime: Satin scrunchie, one-tie hair elastics, Buff/hair tube
~Nighttime: Silk or Satin Pillowcase, plus a bonnet or one of the accessories for daytime
For special occasions (or as kids start to do their own hair):
~a gel or foam
Tips for different age groups:
Kids ages 0-5: It’s best to get their hair fully wet and detangled about every day or two days at the most. This keeps the detangle-and-crying sessions to a minimum. It's important to keep on top of the tangles. It will make washing their hair easier. You can use a spray bottle to wet down their hair and a little spray detangler on top before you either finger comb or use a gentle detangling brush. When they are little, you are primary curl-giver and they need your help.
Kids ages 6-12: In this age group, you will likely see more independence as they grow older, and you become more of a helper than a hairdresser. They may even want to start doing their own hair so you will want to teach them the proper steps. Often kids this age have trouble with build up and greasy hair because they aren't scrubbing the shampoo in well enough and nothing is getting rinsed out properly. You will want to personally make sure they use a clarifying shampoo at least once per month to remove build up. It can make tangles worse, make the scalp smell funny and cause scalp issues like dandruff and hair loss if left unattended.
You will also need to get their hair wet with a spray bottle every morning to refresh their curls, but you shouldn't have to wet it as much as when they were really little. Often it's helpful for this age to wear braids, buns, protective styles and ponytails, as lice is always a concern for elementary kids. Be sure to change positioning often so as not to cause breakage happening all in the same spot and use a silk or satin scrunchie.
Kids ages 12 and up: In this age group, they will likely want to be doing their hair themselves. The more curly the hair, they more help they may still need from you so don't be afraid to step in when you see they haven't been maintaining properly. If they aren't wanting to your advice and help, offer to take them to a curl specialist. The Hair Stylist will be able to help you reach the goal of proper hair care for them and your child may be more receptive to them. They may be showering every day to reset their curls, as this age often can't stand frizz and wants the curls to be in total submission and that's okay. As long as you have the right products and routine, it won't hurt.
The Washing Method:
1. Get them in the tub and do the scrubbing the body parts first and leave the hair until last. Cleanse well with your sulphate free cleanser, making sure you scrub in well, and also scrub out well while rinsing the water over the hair. Then add your silicone free conditioner, and don’t scrimp! Curls will only be ‘tame’ (and I use that word loosely!) if they are properly hydrated. As soon as the conditioner is in, add more water trickled on top, then start gently raking your fingers through or using a detangling brush. Hair is at its most fragile state when wet. If you need extra help, add the spray detangler on top of conditioner at this point.
2. Once the tangles are removed, then start scrunch-pumping handfuls of hair up toward the scalp (Squish to Condish Technique) and rinse out the conditioner when done. Feel free to add some leave in conditioner (for wavy and curly put from middle to ends and for tight coils distribute root to end). This will act as a styler for young curly kids. It’s really important that curls are well hydrated by water and doing the Squish to Condish Technique. It's not the conditioner alone that will moisturize the hair. It's both water and conditioner WORKED into the hair during the conditioning process.
3. When you are done with this conditioning process and applied some leave-in conditioner, then it's time to leave those curls alone until the hair is dry. The leave-in conditioner will act as a styler to keep the curls intact and reduce frizz. For young curly girls, product is not necessary unless you want to use it.
If you want to apply any styling products:
For wavy hair: gently glide them over the surface of the curls, and then scrunch-squeeze into the ends while the hair is very wet.
For curly hair: you can do the same process as wavy hair, or rake product through in sections, starting at the nape.
For tight coils: You will want to apply products in many sections, starting at the name and after you put in the products I find it useful to run a brush through to distribute.
4. Then you can scrunch-squeeze out any excess water using an old t-shirt until the hair stops dripping. Then try plopping the hair in a large t-shirt is how you start to dry the hair. Then after plopping for 10-30 mins you can gently remove the towel and let the curls air dry. The other option is to dry the curls with a diffuser attachment that goes on the end of your blowdryer. Low-Med heat and low speed, with minimal movement or touching while drying will give you the best results. Hood drying is very helpful for kids with tight curls.
Protecting the hair at night:
We do this so that there's a chance that the kids can 'wake up and go' the next day without having to do much to their hair. Having your child sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase will reduce breakage and maintain their curls better for multiple day wear. Before putting them to bed you can try Pineappling longer hair, or try putting their hair into a BUFF or hair tube. A cheap alternative is cutting the leg of an old pair of yoga pants to make a tube like one of my clients did for her girls!
Refreshing the hair the next day:
It can be as easy as using a water bottle, a dime size of conditioner. Spray the hair with water until it’s about 50% damp, trying to keep the roots fairly dry. Then scrunch your tiny bit of conditioner it into the hair from the bottom up, run your fingers through it to remove tangles, and let the curls air dry. Alternatively, you can spray the hair damp with a detangling spray and do the same process.
If you follow this guide, you will not only be fostering a healthy way of caring gently for your little ones curls, but you’ll also be showing them how to care for their own hair one day. I know my Mom would have loved to have someone teach her how to care for my hair years ago. There was a point that I refused to let anyone brush my hair, and you can imagine how that ended; a buzz cut due to the massive tangles. I wouldn’t let anyone brush my hair because it hurt too much! Mom didn't know about using conditioner, and the 2-in-1 shampoo just didn't cut it for my thirsty hair.
Please share this article with any parents you know who are struggling with their curly kids hair.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
Click the link below to receive a free PDF on the "Top 5 Mistakes Curly Girls Make When Styling Their Hair" and expert advice on how level up your styling game!
Enter your name, email address and hair type below
to receive the free PDF that matches your exact curl type!