It happens all the time — parents look for help with their children’s hair, and proceeds to rattle off a list of ethnicities, nationalities and racial groups to find out what magic potion or holy grail product will work best.
Problem is, those details don’t necessarily give insight into the child’s hair needs. “Mixed” hair isn’t a category, and multiracial children can have textures ranging from stick straight to wavy, curly and kinky/coily — sometimes on the same head!
While many children of partial African descent do have some type of wave/curl pattern, I know from experience that describing my child’s hair as “mixed” does little to explain how his strands look and figuring out what products work best. He has a black mother with kinky-curly 3C/4A hair (using the popular curl typing system seen in many hair groups) and a white father with 1A hair – the straightest texture possible. My guess before he was born was that he’d be about a 3A with curly ringlets.
Wrong. Turns out he’s more wavy than curly, and his curls only “pop” when it’s humid during the summer. He’s a 2A or 2B — so much for my dreams of us sharing conditioner and curl cream.
I know other biracial children with 3C/4A hair like mine, and I’m not biracial. Yet their parents ask me for hair tips and product recommendations, then come back days later raving about my suggestions. And even though some products do cater to a multiracial audience through their marketing, I’ve recommended those products to women and men who don’t have a biracial background and who have very tightly coiled curls.
Finding the right products for your children could be an exercise in trial and error at first, but make sure to pay attention to their curl pattern, not their racial background. And don’t think that a particular product is forbidden because of your child’s racial makeup — I’ve met black women who adore TRESemme conditioner and white women who swear by Care Free Curl. Drop the idea of “white” and “black” products.
Here are a few tips, however, that seem to be common for those of us with hair ranging from wavy to coily.
-Use conditioner. Curly hair tends to be drier than straight hair, so some type of conditioning product should be used to help your child’s hair retain moisture. Conditioner is a must for detangling.
-Detangle/comb while wet. It’s hard to keep little ones in place for styling, and getting the tangles out of their hair can take some effort. Doing so during bath time can help save time.
-Keep it simple. See the part above about trying to do a young child’s hair. Find simple styles that can stay in place all day or that don’t require much maintenance. A headband on an Afro puff is as simple as it gets, and it’s super adorable on a little girl.
-Go online. The Internet is filled with bloggers, vloggers, websites, forums, social media pages and other sites to learn more about natural hairstyles, products, salons and other resources to help you and your child have the best hair ever!
Check out Shannon’s other articles!
10 Serious Curly-Girl Realities, Marie Claire or on Dr. Oz!