Welcome to our 5 part blog series on growing kids natural hair.
This isn’t your average blog post on the topic, oh no, in this series we are going to dive DEEP So you can gain a COMPLETE understanding of your kids natural hair and how to grow it to it’s full potential.
By the end of this series YOU will be empowered and have the knowledge required to get the best out of your child’s hair, no matter its present condition, its type or texture.
So let’s go…
Firstly yes, it’s true. I am a little bit obsessed with children’s natural hair.
Ok, more than a little bit, lets say totally completely obsessed with it!
It all started 3 years ago when I had my daughter Bae (and yes that is her real name! It means inspiration in Korean and it was waaaaaaay before the whole ‘bae’ thing anyway!) Read below if you don’t believe me!
In those glorious three years I have learnt a LOT about children’s natural hair care, I’ve written a number one bestselling book on the subject AND I and was able to grow Bae’s hair to reach her waist (when stretched) all before she was 3 years old.
PIN IT FOR ME! SHARE THE LOVE!
As you can imagine her hair received a LOT of attention, and I got a lot of questions from curious mums like you asking: -
‘how did I grow her hair so long?’
‘ what products was I using?’
A lot of the mums wanted to dive straight in immediately….
They wanted to know the products I was using, where I was getting them from, how much they cost, how I was using them etc. all with the hope that by replicating my product choices they would get the same results with their daughter’s hair as I had with mine.
Whoa there ladies…..let’s not rush into things!
When it comes to growing your child’s natural hair, it is of course natural to be results orientated. You might look at a particular child and say to yourself that you want your child’s hair to be like that and that’s natural; and in fact it’s a great motivator.
However in my experience it’s more important for you to have a strong understanding of the science of hair and get to know the facts about Black hair as your primary objective.
This is simply because ‘knowledge is power’.
It’s all good and well for me to tell you the top 10 products to use on your daughter’s hair, but if you don’t understand WHY they are good or what BENEFIT they bring to the hair on a scientific level, then my next question to you would be. What is the overall long-term benefit to you?
What will happen if the products get discontinued?
What would you do then?
Would you understand enough about the unique needs that Black hair has to be able to select new products successfully?
Wouldn’t it be better if you understood your child’s hair enough to make your own informed hair product choices rather than rely on someone else who may be (a) talking rubbish or (b) getting a commission when you purchase through their site?
My guess is, if you don’t understand the fundamentals of Black hair, then you may be vulnerable to fall for anything.
I don’t want that for you.
I aim to EMPOWER and EDUCATE you so you can make the best choices about what is best for your child’s hair and in so doing grow it to its longest potential.
So with that said, lets move onto the my first tip for growing your child’s natural hair
THE FIRST STEP TO GROWING YOUR CHILD’S NATURAL HAIR IS TO UNDERSTAND IT
This. Is. Critical.
Could you pass your driving test if you didn’t understand how to drive?
Similarly can you get the most out of your child’s natural hair and grow it to its longest possible length if you don’t understand Black hair and its unique needs?
My guess it that, no you won’t.
In this first post on our series on how to grow kids natural hair for beginners we need to understand what it is that makes Black hair unique.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES BLACK HAIR UNIQUE
What makes black hair unique?
There are 3 main hair types in the world: Afro, Caucasian and Asian, each with unique traits and characteristics. As you will see, Afro hair is probably the most unique, but by understanding it you can learn how to treat it to get the best out of it!
The very first thing you need to know about black hair is that it is the most fragile of the 3 main hair types and is most susceptible to breakage.
Studies have found the tensile strength in Afro hair to be the weakest.
“Tensile strength is the force required to pull on an item in order for it to snap”
Black hair is the weakest and breaks the easiest under pressure, which is not good news at all, because curly hair tangles the most and as such it needs the strength to be able to withstand the pressure that comes from detangling.
Unfortunately, its fragility means it is highly prone to breakage, which is not good news for your child’s hair.
Hair strand shape
On top of black hair being weak, the unique shape of the strands makes them even more susceptible to breakage.
If we look at a cross section of hair from each type, we will see that Asian and Caucasian hair is round in shape, whilst Afro hair is oval.
As a result of their oval shape, afro strands are often tightly curled, can have random reversal in direction and have uneven thickness in each strand.
It’s this uneven thickness we have to worry about.
You see, where an individual strand is at is thinnest, It’s also at its weakest and this makes the thin parts very susceptible to breakage.
To further compound the issue, the thin/weak bits are most likely to occur where STRENGTH is needed most: right at the point of a kink or curl. Again contributing to the overall fragility of the hair, resulting in weaker areas in already fragile hair.
We often think of kinky and curly hair being thicker or denser than other hair types, but actually it’s the least dense of all the hair types. The way the hair curls and coils is what gives it the appearance of thick hair.
Hair density is determined by the number of follicles on the scalp.
Studies by Franbourg et al. found the average density of afro-textured hair to be approximately 190 hairs per square centimetre. This was significantly lower than that of Caucasian hair, which, on average, has approximately 227 hairs per square centimetre.
This means that hair breakage can become an issue faster on Black hair than other hair types, because we have less hair to play with.
The same study also found that afro hair is the driest of all hair types, as it has less moisture content than that of Caucasian or Asian hair.
A contributing factor to this is the natural moisturizing hair oil (sebum) produced at the root of the hair, has a hard time travelling down the kinks and coils of curly hair, in turn leaving the hair prone to dryness.
Dryness is a huge problem with afro hair, as it often leads to brittle, breaking hair.
So the very first thing you need to grasp is that your child’s hair is likely very fragile and dry from the low moisture content.
Now this knowledge is empowering because with it you can make better hair care decisions to give the hair what it needs!
Lets address each issue with its solution to get your child on the road to healthy hair.
STRENGTH – The reality is, your child’s hair is likely weak. I remember when I was young thinking that my hair was strong, but I was dead wrong. In adulthood its obvious just how delicate my fine strands are, they can snap easily.
To minimize breakage make sure you: -
- Use great care when handling your child’s hair, be gentle. No roughness or heavy handedness.
- Don’t use fine teeth combs or brushes on your child’s hair, it’s likely that these will add undue pressure and will break the hair.
- Do use quality wide tooth combs on the hair instead
HAIR STRAND SHAPE – The uneven thickness in each strand can lead to the hair having extra vulnerable spots, so extra caution is needed.
I’d recommend you: -
- Detangle the hair prior to washing on damp hair that is coated in a ‘slippery’ conditioner.
- Detangle the hair with your hand FIRST, before using a wide tooth comb.
- Detangle the hair from the ENDS first to minimise tangles and breakage
Be gentle on any knotted areas, using force will likely break the hair, ideally you want to untangle the knots by hand.
DENSITY – It looks like the thickest but Afro hair is actually the thinnest if you count strands!
I’d recommend you to: -
- Be vigilant about hair breakage because damage will show up faster on thin hair.
- Do styles in the hair that are gentle, NO TIGHT STYLES! These can break and thin the hair further.
MOISTURE – Our hair is the driest; it needs help in the moisture department!
Make sure to: -
- Moisturize the hair daily with a water based moisturizer.
- Seal in that moisture in with an oil, cream or hair butter.
- DEEP CONDITION! Yes even for children deep conditioning is a must, do it after every wash.
- Protect the ends of the hair. To grow long hair we will need to keep the ends around for a while! Tuck them in a night and try to not let them rub on clothes.
I’m hoping you picked up on what I want you to first understand about Afro hair, and that is: -
IT IS FRAGILE!
You may be wondering why in this first post on this series of growing your child’s natural hair I am focusing on the vulnerabilities of Black hair but the answer is simple.
If you want to grow your child’s natural hair long then you will first need to take measures to ensure that you are minimizing breakage in your child’s hair.
The cold hard truth of the matter is this. Hair breakage is the number one enemy of black hair. It is a key contributor to perpetually short hair: that is, hair that appears to not grow.
So ladies if you want to grow your child’s hair your first objective is to eradicate breakage. First things first, don’t run before you can walk!
This is because the hair needs to not break or ‘retain length’ in order to get longer.
Retaining length or Length retention is basically the state when hair strands don’t break as they grow, so new growth can be seen.
Let me give you an example of poor length retention.
If a person’s hair grows ½” per month, yet breaks ½” per month, the hair will appear to NOT GROW.
Now contrast this with good length retention
If a person’s hair grows 1/2” a month and does not break at all, in one year, that person’s hair will be 6” longer.
It’s a HUGE DIFFERENCE!
Poor length retention can lead to hair that never seems to grow and if you have you ever wondered if your child’s hair is actually growing or worry that it is growing super slowly its likely this is a problem for you.
Short hair syndrome occurs as a result of hair breaking as fast as it grows, and this occurs in hair that is dry, damaged and brittle and afro hair is highly prone to it.
The key to overcoming it of course is to raise health levels in the hair so it doesn’t break, and therefore length can be realised.
As a child, I recall constantly seeing broken hairs after combing, washing or blow-drying. I thought this was normal, as many people do, because it happens almost every time they style or manage their hair. Some even see it as part of the territory of having Black hair. But the actual truth is, it’s not normal, nor is it tolerable. If your child’s hair is breaking you should address it immediately don’t wait for it to go away on its own! Be proactive here.
As we now know to grow long hair, the first step is to eradicate breakage by taking steps to make sure the hair is healthy.
Stopping breakage not only retains the original length of the hair, but it ensures healthy growth. Then, and only then, can we see it get longer.
This concludes part one on our series on growing children’s natural hair, in part 2 we will look more at the science of Black hair, and what it means to YOU and your child’s natural hair growth.
If you would like to go even DEEPER and set yourself on a sure foundation then please be sure to check out our FREE 5 part email course ‘THE BEAUTIFUL NATURAL HAIR BLUEPRINT’ Where we will lay out the complete foundation you absolutely need if you want to grow super long Black hair.
Get our number one bestselling book on natural hair care for kids on Amazon, in print or for kindle below!