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FEATURES May 22 2013 6:15PM
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Caring For Children’s Natural Hair

by Precious Henshaw of Precious-Curls.com

Taking care of a child’s hair does not have to be time-consuming or painful. Children’s hair care involves four simple routines: washing, conditioning, moisturizing, and styling. Each should be done carefully and gently to avoid causing the child pain, as their young scalps are very tender. Following these steps can help keep both mom/dad and child happy!

Washing
It takes some trial-and-error to figure out how often to wash your child’s hair, but you can try starting at once a week.
Before shampooing, wet and apply a generous amount of conditioner to the hair. Split the hair into 8-10 sections and using a comb or a brush similar to the Denman, detangle the sections of hair one at a time, always starting from the ends of the hair and working your way up the section as you detangle. Combing or brushing should NEVER hurt. Be very gentle, and with one hand, hold the section between the hair at the root and the part where the comb is, to keep the child from feeling the tugging from the comb. Detangling the hair before shampooing will keep the hair from getting matted after shampooing, since shampoo tends to make tangles stick to each other.

After the hair is fully detangled, split the hair into four sections for washing. Washing the hair in sections, especially if the hair is long, prevents it from getting tangled, and ensures that you are reaching and focusing on every part of the scalp. Apply the shampoo and wash, focusing mainly on the scalp and gently using the pads of your fingers. NEVER scrub using your nails. Rinse the hair downward so that the shampoo runs through the length of the hair before being rinsed away. The less you shampoo the actual hair, the less tangles you will experience. The scalp is usually the dirtiest part of the hair, so this area should receive the most shampoo. If you do need to wash the actual hair, be sure to use downward strokes to prevent serious tangles.

Conditioning
After shampooing, section the hair into 8-10 again and detangle once more to remove any tangles the shampoo may have created. Again, hold the hair between the root and the comb to prevent the child from feeling the pull. After detangling each section, apply your favorite leave-in conditioner to the section and twist or braid the section of hair. The twisted/braided hair can be left to dry throughout the rest of the day and at night. It helps save lots of time when the next day comes, as the hair will be dry, detangled, and ready to style!

Moisturizing
Moisturize the hair daily, every other day, or as often as it needs to remain soft and pliable. Apply your favorite moisturizer or hair lotion to the hair in sections to be sure it reaches all parts of the hair.

Styling
Always style clean, detangled, and moisturized hair. NEVER style the hair too tightly, as this can cause alopecia and other scalp problems over time. If you use rubber bands, try soaking them in oil prior to putting them into the hair. This makes them less drying, and will reduce the amount of broken hair they tend to pull out once they are removed from the hair. When combing, never be rough. Rough combing can hurt the child, and will also cause the hair to break. Always be gentle to prevent unnecessary breakage and pain.
At night, protect the hair by having the child sleep with a satin scarf or bonnet to keep the style neat and to keep the hair from losing moisture. If your child does not like scarves or bonnets, try using a satin pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases can suck moisture out of the hair.

Doing a child’s hair should never hurt! Be gentle and patient and remember that moisturized hair is healthy hair, and healthy hair is manageable. Keeping your child’s hair clean, moisturized, and tangle-free will make managing it much easier for the both of you.

How do you care for your child’s hair?

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