Maya had her first haircut just before Christmas late last year. She was a few months over two by the time she had her first one! When she was born with a full head of hair, I thought she’d need a haircut before she was six months old, but it started to curl when she was four months and it just never seemed to need a cut! She had a serious bald spot on the back of her head for almost her first year of life and then it all sort of filled in and looked adorably curly for a while. Until it didn’t.
We took her to get a hair cut not because we wanted it to be shorter but because it was getting so tangly it took forever for me to comb it every morning. I thought I might get some tips from someone who knew more about what to do with her hair type than I did. And I was right! We got great tips I am anxious to pass along to anyone with curly hair or curly hair kids.
I had thought I wanted to take her to an African American salon that was recommended to me by a kind woman in the ethnic hair aisle at our local Walmart, but when I called I learned that the youngest they take is a four-year-old. So when my original plan didn’t work, I decided I would take her to this place called Planet Curls that’s not far from our house and was recommended by a Colombian woman I met at the park around the corner from our house. She and her daughter both have very curly hair and when she saw Maya (on a particularly frizzy post-nap hair day), she suggested taking her to this place for a trim. Lo and behold, while the name makes it sound like Super Cuts for curly hair, it was awesome and exactly what we needed (and it’s not a chain, just a single colorful spot in Houston Heights). Maya’s hair, which goes halfway down her back when it’s wet, is really soft but with tight curls that have a kink (a 3C curl, I think). My old system was to spray it wet and then spray detangler on it before running a wide tooth comb through it. It took forever to get her hair combed and involved a lot of negotiation and bribery to get her to sit for half an hour. Not to mention it added tons of time to our morning, especially on school days.
Well, Macy at Planet Curls told me that was actually the totally wrong thing to do to curly hair. Whoops! She explained that with her hair, I should never put a brush or comb into it. Fingers only! In fact, when she cut Maya’s hair, she only used her fingers and never a comb! She just spritzed it and trimmed off bits using her fingers. She explained that combing curly hair is like using scissors to curl ribbon, it just strips the hair and makes it frizzy. Womp womp. That’s exactly what I was doing!
Instead, she suggested a product called DevaCurl One Condition conditioner (there’s a whole line of DevaCurl products, but we got the conditioner and the refreshing spray). She said only wash Maya’s hair with shampoo once a week, because curly hair tends to be on the dry side, but use the conditioner as a leave-in every time she has a tub. The conditioner is designed so that when you get it wet the next day, it reactivates the conditioner. If it’s been too long since her last bath, we use the refresher spray and get it quite wet with water.
So now our system is that we let Maya play in the tub for as long as she wants, then at the end, we go in and put in the conditioner and sit there and use our fingers to break up any knots. I just look for the tangly bits that look like future dreadlocks and pull those apart gently, bit by bit, until it all seems smooth. Then we let her hair dry naturally (which might be a problem getting out the door in Ireland! But in Houston it tends to curl those locks up even faster).
Maya’s hair now looks amazing and healthy and you can see the individual ringlets even after a long day of playing and wiggling and general acrobatics. After a nap or riding in the car it still gets a little fuzzy, but it’s way better than it was before. My mom also made her a satin sheet for her crib which really helps cut down on the frizz.
I’ll admit that I’ve used a comb a handful of times just to make a straight part in Maya’s hair so that I can put a pony in it, but I’ve been shocked that the comb glides right through her wet hair with no resistance. That never used to happen! So, here are my tips for kids with (slightly unruly) very curly hair:
- No combs or brushes!
- DevaCurl. It’s expensive but a bottle will probably last us 6 months and I was buying expensive products every week trying to find something that would work!
- Use your fingers to detangle
- Satin sheets! They really do help cut down on frizz, which is especially helpful during nap time because the last thing I want to do is her hair twice in one day because it’s gotten so frizzy!
- Only shampoo once a week
And enjoy all the time and anguish you’ve saved yourself! That’s the best part!