May 02, 2011

Help With My Bi-Racial Daughter's Hair - You've Got Mail


Dear CC,

I am a white woman with a 7 year old daughter.  My daughter’s father is a black man, which brings me to why I am writing.  I am seeking help on how to care for her hair.  I have straight blonde hair and my daughter is a curly brunette.  Her texture is somewhat in between my straight texture and her father’s kinky texture.  In the past I have tried using the same products I use in my hair in her hair.  The result was nothing nice – poofy and frizzy.  I took her to a local salon and the white stylist, while very friendly and eager, had no idea what to do with her hair.  She blew it straight with a round brush and loaded it up with lots of hairspray.  Again, the result was poof and frizz, not to mention my daughter was in tears by the time we left.  I took her to an African American salon and they wanted to apply a straightening chemical so that it would be more “manageable”.  I didn’t feel comfortable with that idea so I found myself back to square one.  Can you please advise what I should do to take better care of her hair and what products to use that will allow her to keep her length and remain healthy? 

SWF (Single White Female)

Dear SWF,
Your story is one I’ve heard before.  When I was in Cosmetology school, Caucasian mothers would bring their bi-racial daughters in all the time with desperate cries of defeat.  If all of the African American students were busy with customers, the child would inevitably end up in the chair of a Caucasian student.  The approach was much like you described in your first scenario and it was almost painful to watch.  So, to answer your question, without seeing your daughter’s hair it is hard to give you anything but general advice.
  1. Seek out local salons that specialize in natural hair
In most cities, there are at least a few salons with someone who is familiar with natural hair.  When I say natural, I mean hair without any texture altering chemical.  (See my previous post on choosing a stylist)

  1. Product Selection  
·    Shampoo – Many naturals will tell you to look for a sulfate/paraben free shampoo, others say these ingredients are ok.  In my opinion, sulfates promote dryness and brittleness, something you’ve already dealt with.   There has been some concern over the possible link between parabens and cancer.  I suggest you do your own research on these ingredients and make your own decision on how you feel about using them.  There are arguments for and against them both.

Here is a great article about sulfates from The Natural Haven:

Check out this article regarding parabens:

·    Conditioner – For the most part I look for conditioners that are silicone free, with a few exceptions (Herbal Essence, Aussie Moist).  Silicones are another ingredient naturals haggle over. 
Silicones are inert, synthetic compounds with a variety of forms and uses. Typically heat-resistant and rubber-like, they are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medical applications (e.g., breast implants), cookware, and insulation.  *Source:  Wikipedia

Check out these articles on silicones:

There are a number of natural products specifically for children.  Here are just a few:
Cara B Naturally

You mentioned length retention and again without seeing her hair, I don’t know what condition it is in.  However, a professional will be able to tell you if a trim is in order.  What I can say is be sure to use a wide tooth comb when handling her hair.  It is also a good idea to keep her hair protected most days by wearing braids or twists.  

These sites have great ideas for children’s hairstyles:

These are just the basics.  Hair care is such a broad topic that there are books dedicated to it!  As stated in my disclaimer, I am not an authority, but I am a woman who has been natural for many years sharing her experiences.  Every hair type is different.  There is a lot more to caring for natural hair, such as regular trims, how to care for it while sleeping, while swimming, seasonal considerations, etc.  These are merely suggestions to give you a starting point.  It is really up to you to tap into the resources that are available to you.  You may find that your daughter’s hair does not respond favorably to these particular products and if that is the case, try others until you find the recipe that works well for her hair.  There are many more products and blogs/sites like mine with a wealth of information for you, some of which I have mentioned in this response.  For more specific concerns, please ask and I will share with you what I know.  If you do your homework, I am confident your daughter’s hair will flourish. 

Good Luck and thank you for reading!

Other Helpful Links:

Curly Chic

1 comment:

Christy said...

I have 2 curly tops:) one has kinky curls and the other has more of my straight hair with a perm. We have a stylist that also has a bi racial daughter and knows exactly how to handle their hair!! The greatest products she introduced to us we're oddly enough from a product line you can find at wal mart, called just for me. We have tried all the products in the line and don't love them all but 2 in particular have saved my sanity! The 2 in 1 detangling conditioner in the pink bottle is a daily user we go through 2 bottles a week easy, but it is amazing for both of their hair even though the texture of their hair is different, the other is a texturizing softener in the yellow box, it is NOT a relaxer, but I do it every 3 months to soften the curls for my daughter with the kinky curly hair, it is amazing for her texture, I can comb through her curls with a wide tooth comb when done. The other product she introduced us too to smooth the edges around the scalp is carols daughters mimosa hair honey which smells awesome. I have found finding shampoo and conditioner was hardest but really love an online product called mixed chicks. Just like mentioned before, bi racial children have so many different types of textures to their hair, what is great for one may do nothing for another, you just have to keep experimenting to find the right combination. Oh yea another thing, if you straighten her hair, which my daughters live me to do lol, chi straightening syrum or something similar and a super hot iron like a Chi are essential or it will never straighten properly.