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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Caring for your mixed race child's hair

1. Washing
For spiral curls and tight curls alternate washing with extra gentle shampoo once or twice a month with a good co-wash - ( washing with conditioner) in between. It may sound strange especially if you are yourself caucasian with type 1 or type 2 hair and are used to washing your hair with shampoo everyday. Why do we wash with conditioner rather than with shampoo?
Or why do you 'caucasians with type 1 hair or type 2 hair' wash your hair with shampoo as often as you do? Shampoos are formulated to strip off all natural hair oils. You wash you hair with shampoo so often because of the excess of sebumm that your scalp produces. The sebum is grease and travels along your hair shaft or is helped by you brushing your hair and distributing the sebum (grease) all along the hair strand. As a result if you do not wash your hair frequently, your hair looks greasy and dirty and is not flowy and supple as it usually is. Black diaspora hair (mixed race, African, Carribbean hair)is very dry and our scalp does not produce as much sebum as a caucasian's scalp. Also, the sebum produced does not and cannot travel along the hair shaft because the hair is curly or tighly coiled, which breaks the journey of the sebum and leaves it on the scalp, the hairline and a couple of centimeter at most away from the scalp, which is why the hair close to the scalp is always softer and doesn't break that easily.
Since mixed race hair doesn't have to get rid of the greasy sebum, it doesn't need as much or as harsh washing as caucasian hair. Which is why co-wash is enough to keep the hair clean, and has the advantage of smoothed and moisturising the hair in the process. When you shampoo 'black' hair you strip it of a much needed moisture and you damage the strand where the sebum never got in the first. Only use shampoo to clarify your hair and get rid of products build up, that is the accumulation of products we use to moisturise the hair day after day. Once or twice a month should be enough, if the hair is dry or needs washing use a conditioner instead of a shampoo.
For all you white mothers of mixed race children I am sure it is a relief to learn that you do not have to wash your child's hair too often. It is a chore, and it is heart breaking hearing your child cry because it hurts!
2. Conditioning
when you use a shampoo, rinse it out and condition with a good, highly moisturising conditioner, use a stronger conditioner than the one you use on your co-wash days. While the conditioner is in the hair, comb the hair through GENTLY with a wide-toothed comb. If the hair is tightly coiled (4a) avoid brushing, otherwise use a brush as it will help defining the natural curls but regardless of the mixed race hair type be gentle and careful when brushing through. You can cover the hair with a shower cap and wrap the head with a towel for 20-30 minutes before rinsing out the conditioner. The hair will be left very soft and supple. If you do not have time to wash and condition, do a co-wash. Never use shampoo without conditioning the hair afterwards.
3. Styling
Make sure to use leave-in conditioner, they are a life saving find! Comb the hair very carefully (to learn how click here)
If the hair is short I simply let it air dry. For longer hair use a towel or a t-shirt and wrap it around the head for a very short time to absorb excess water. If you want the curly look, apply the leave-in conditioner straight after removing the excess water, apply a large amount of leave-in conditioner/moisturizing cream to your child hair, be generous curl maintenance requires water/moisture- the hair must stay very damp when adding the large amount of leave-in conditioner/moisturizing cream because as the water evaporates and the hair dries, it will absorb the water and the product, if there is not enough product the hair will remain quite dry. Practice will help you find out the right amount of product to use in your child hair so that the mixed race hair is moisturise and soft and not cloggy and lump made heavy by too much product. There are different cream texture for different hair types, type 2 hair and type 3a, 3b will need lighter products than type 3c and type 4a which would benefit from heavier products. Do not worry you will find out what works best for your child's hair.
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I hope this post has been helpful. Do not hesitate to leave comments or questions.


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