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Your Children are never too young for you to start taking care of their hair. In fact the sooner you instil good and healthy hair practices, the easier it will be for them to maintain their own hair and have the confidence to do so themselves in the future.
It is recommended that you do not shampoo children’s hair from 0-2 years old. The scalps of younger children are sensitive and their new hair is healthy but fragile. Although there are Shampoos designed for children, many of them tend to have surfactant detergents, which can strip the moisture from babies already fragile hair and even aggravate dryness of the scalp. Therefore, simply rinsing the hair at bath times everyday or every other day, with warm water will suffice. After rinsing the hair, you can add an oil such as olive oil or a light water based moisturiser sparingly, to seal in the moisture of the water.
If your child has thick, curly hair and you feel that a water-based moisturiser isn’t enough to seal in the water, you can add both a water based moisturiser and an oil or natural butter to the hair, such as shea, cocoa or mango butter. It is recommended that you avoid oils and butters that contain mineral oils and petrolatum.
For children, from ages 2-5 years old, a shampoo-free routine is also recommended, unless the hair is heavily soiled. If you would prefer to use a cleansing product in your child’s hair, then a light moisturising conditioner would be suitable as opposed to a shampoo. Conditioners are good for young children’s hair because it helps with moisturising the hair and also contains light cleansing ingredients, which help with relieving the hair of any dirt deposits or build-up. Please avoid using hair constructive conditioners, as this may be too harsh on the hair.
Young children, tend not to need these types of constructive conditioners, as their hair is young and healthy and rarely damaged. It is advisable to rinse or conditioner-wash the hair every 3-7 days. Otherwise, the hair can be rinsed or lightly misted with water using a spray bottle everyday, in between washes. After rinsing/washing or even misting, don’t forget to add your light water based moisturiser or oil of your choice to fine hair. For thicker hair both a water-based moisturiser and oil or butter of your choice should suffice.
After rinsing and moisturising your child’s hair, if you find that the hair is still a little tangled, before putting your wide-tooth comb through it, divide it into sections of maybe 4 or so. Using your fingers, gently comb through the hair, pulling apart any tangles without snapping the strands. During this process of detangling it is advisable to start at the ends of the hair and work your way up to the roots. Once you are happy that you can get your fingers through it, use a wide toothcomb to comb through the hair, starting at the ends of the hair working your way to the top of the head.
For kiddies and adults with curly and Afro textured hair, it is advisable to use well-made, wide-toothcombs. They should only be used on wet or damp hair or hair that has been well detangled and moisturised before hand. Try to avoid brushes with hard bristles or combs with smaller teeth as they encourage breakage on already delicate hair.
When drying your child’s hair it is recommended that a fibre towel be used. They are extremely absorbent and do not snag the hair causing breakage. If you do not have access to one, then after gently squeezing out any excess water with your hands, gently squeeze and dab the hair with a towel. Do not aggressively rub the towel over the hair as this can cause unnecessary breakage.
Allowing the hair to air dry is preferable, however if time is an issue then you can use a hair dryer/diffuser on a low setting to partially dry the hair. Then allow the rest to air dry after putting in your sealant.
Once the hair has been cleansed, detangled, conditioned and moisturised you are free to style your child’s hair as is suitable. There are a range of great hairstyles that can be done, such as braids, cornrows, ponytails, etc.
If you choose to put hair-bands, braids or cornrows in your child’s hair, pay attention that the hair is not pulled too tightly. Hairstyles and bands that are too tight can cause breakage around the hairline. If your child’s hair is too short to be put comfortably into a ponytail, do not force it. This can put un necessary stress on the child’s sensitive and developing scalp. It is advised that you wrap the hair band no more than three times around the child’s hair and use hair-bands that are not joined together with metal.
During bedtime, take all clips and hair ornaments out of the hair as this can also cause breakage. Children tend to move alot during their sleep and with the friction of their hair rubbing against the hair ornaments, this can cause hair loss and or breakage. If the child’s hair is long enough, it is advisable to plait the hair in 2 or more braids before going to sleep. Sleeping with a satin scarf wrapped around the head is also recommended but if your child prefers not to, then satin pillows are great for maintaining the hair and protecting it against snagging and breaking.
‘Pillow patch’ is a term we give to young children who have lost their hair on the backs or on the sides of their heads as a result of their hair constantly rubbing against cotton or other such materials. You tend to find that it effects one side of the head more than the other, if that is the side that the child continually lays on.
One way to protect the hair is to use satin pillows or satin material where the child lays or sits. It is also recommended that you apply some natural coconut oil for protection on the area where the patch has appeared, to prevent further damage.