How to Care for Kinky Hair

fontcandyPerhaps you have a child who was born with kinky hair but you have straight hair. Maybe you just adopted a child with kinky hair. You may be a parent who has relaxed hair and you are not sure how to take care of your hair in it’s natural state. Or maybe you’re a caregiver who recently started working with a child with this texture of hair. Whatever the case, there are definitely many people who would benefit from this information.

I recently encountered a sweet mom at my job who has straight hair but she has a child with Kinky Hair. I was wearing my hair in a twist  out, so she immediately noticed how my hair was similar to her daughters texture. She mentioned to me that she sometimes has a challenge when trying to take care of and style her daughters beautiful kinks. I tried to share a few quick tips with her, but I realized that explaining how to care for kinky textures is not easy. This was my inspiration for this blog post.

*Please note: I am not a licensed beautician or a natural hair guru. I am just sharing things that I have learned over the years to take care of my own hair. It is always great to look for a natural stylist in your area who can give advice based on actually seeing and touching your hair*

1. Try to avoid using negative words when describing the child’s hair. Saying that your child has crazy hair, bad hair, wild hair, or anything similar can seem harmless. But this teaches your child that their hair is a problem to be fixed and not a beautiful part of themselves that should be celebrated. I still remember how bad I felt when I had classmates who asked me why my hair doesn’t move when I was a kid. These words stick, and help to form the self-image that a child has.

2. Moisture is key, but make sure that it is the right kind of moisture. When I was younger we “greased” our scalps. That meant we used petroleum based pomades and oils on our scalps. Now I know that this was not a good choice. You can easily make your own hair (and body) oil from mixing different oils like this one. If you do not want to buy all of those oils at first, then you can make a mix with coconut oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil. All can be found at stores like Trader Joes or Sprouts. You can also occasionally spray the hair with water to add more moisture. Then apply your oil mix, then you can seal it all in with a nice shea butter mix like this one. Oils should be applied daily.

3. Do not wash their hair more than once a week unless absolutely necessary. Our scalp naturally produces its own oils and this is helpful in keeping our hair moisturized. When you wash too frequently, kinky hair becomes dry and then it breaks off. When washing kinky hair, use products that are organic, natural, and not filled with chemicals. Trader Joes makes an inexpensive organic tea tree shampoo and conditioner that can work well. Also remember that you do not need to use shampoo at all. Shampoo can strip the hair of oils. Hair can be cleansed just as well using conditioner in the place of shampoo. (This is called a co-wash) Shampoo can be used when there is a lot of product build up on hair.

4. Deep Condition regularly. Find a deep conditioner that you like and do this weekly with your wash routine. This will help the hair receive necessary nourishment which will build strength and prevent dry brittle ends which will result in breakage.

5. Protect kinky hair at night. Cotton pillowcases can be drying and damaging to hair. Wearing a silk or satin cap and/or sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase can help to protect the hair at night. These can be purchased at most beauty supply stores.

6. To manage Kinky hair, braid or twist it after washing and detangling. Kinky hair will become tangled when not taken care of properly. Braiding or twisting it can keep it under control, minimizing the need to detangle before the next wash. Here is an example of a style that can be relatively easy to do with practice. (However I do not suggest using the kind of brush that she used in the video to detangle hair.) This is the best way to maintain their hair between washes. A spray bottle with water can help to manage hair when braiding or twisting. I also like to add some Olive Oil to the bottle for extra moisture. Spray each section before combing or brushing. Then style.

7. Use the right tools! As I just mentioned, some combs and brushes can be harmful to kinky hair. Fine tooth combs are no good. They will break the hair when trying to detangle. Use a denman brush or a wide tooth comb to help get through the tangles. NEVER rake through the hair, be very careful and gentle when detangling so you do not rip the hair strands.

8. Shea moisture products are easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and natural. I always like to encourage people to try these products out because they are so easy to find and there are numerous options for different hair types. You can find the Shea Moisture lines at Target, Walgreens, CVS and many other stores. Please do not stop at just one product if it doesn’t work for you. I had to try a few before I found my staple. Feel free to check other brands in addition to Shea Moisture products.

9. Be patient. Unfortunately mastering kinky hair takes time for most of us. We have to try multiple products, multiple combinations of products, and different methods before we find the right fit.  Do not give up or be discouraged if it takes time for you to find what works well for you. With practice and patience, it will get better. I used to get so frustrated with my hair, but now I literally LOVE it! It took me a few years to get to this place.

10. Youtube videos are your friend! Most of what I learned about my kinky hair I learned from watching Youtube videos. I watched ladies like Naptural85, Kimmaytube, MahoganyCurls, and Simplyounique. But there are SO many more for you to check out. When doing this, it is best to find someone with hair that has a similar texture to the one you are styling. (YES there are many different textures among those of us with kinky/curly hair!) Some rules apply to all kinky/curly textures. But some methods, tools, and products will work better with specific hair types. These videos will also give you a better understanding of kinky hair overall.

I hope this provided some insight, encouragement, and help for those of you trying to figure this all out. This advice is just some basic, surface level advice to help you get started. But never stop learning, as I said, this is a process.

Please share this with anyone who you think might benefit from this information. Also if you have any hair tips or suggestions that you think would be helpful, leave them below in the comments. It will take work from all of us to change the culture for those with Kinky hair and to help people see that this hair type can and should be celebrated!

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About Angela

I am a working homemaker and soon-to-be mom, striving to create an eco-aware environment. My goal is to show people how the average person incorporates small, practical changes to cause a big impact on your life and our environment.
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