A Mother In Distress...

I got this email a few months ago, and I responded...but I wanted to share with you because this is a common question that I get from mothers.
"Hey there, lol! I really need some good advice on figuring out the type of texture hair my daughter has. I've been perming her hair since she was 2 (I know, dont yell), and as a result because her hair is so thin and brittle, her edges are short and her hair as a whole is very unhealthy. Now I haven't applied a perm in over 2 mths. I've decided that I NEED and want to go the natural way for her. But I dont know what product to use on her dry hair.

My own hair is different than hers so I know I can't use the same type products on her hair...please help me!"

-Jheanelle

Hi Jheanelle,

It usually takes me a couple of days weeks to respond to emails, but I having been in these same shoes, I know exactly what you're going through, so I made the time to reply tonight. Where to I begin...

First, don't beat yourself up for relaxing her hair at a very young age. Trust me, we have ALL been brainwashed into thinking that relaxing is the ONLY solution for manageability. I fell into the same trap when I relaxed my daughter's hair at the age of 6. She had long hair until the relaxer and ponytails ate it all away. She is now 15 and about a year and 1/2 ago, she went natural and her hair is a healthy shoulder length. But back to you...

Until your daughter's natural hair grows out, it will be almost impossible to tell what hair type she has. But if you had to relax it at an early age, I think I can safely make an assumption that it was probably in the 3C-4 family. This is the tighter curl range and can be the most unmanageable at times.

I don't know how old she is now, but my advice is to allow the relaxer to completely grow out of her hair. You can do this by braiding her hair and trimming off the ends periodically until all of the relaxer is gone. This process can take about a year to a year and half to get to a comfortable length.

As you are experiencing, relaxers are a definite NO for young girls under the age of 13 or at any age in my opinion. I don't know what it is exactly, but the combination of the relaxers with ponytails and puberty is like a death sentence for the hair.

The positive side is that natural hair is more resilient to ponytails, heat, etc. So once your daughter hair starts to grow you can resume the ponytails and her hair should not break. But I will caution that too much tension around braids and ponytails can cause the edges to break. So pay attention to how tight they are and avoid allowing her to sleep in the ponytails.

Another thing...if you want her hair straightened. Depending on her age, try straightening it with the blow dryer and ceramic flat iron. I been straightening my daughter's hair for over a year and her hair looks straighter than a relaxer. You will need a good ceramic blow dryer and flat iron like CHI or FHI. Blowouts can last up to 3 weeks and after a while become virtually resistant to humidity.

As for products, moisture is your best friend. Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In is inexpensive and works wonders. If it is in your budget, Miss Jessie's baby buttercreme ($58) is magical. I use it on my hair and my 3 year old's hair. However, if you choose to blow out her hair, use Olive Oil Sheen and wrap her hair every night with a satin or silk scarf.

Just remember, when worn curly, the hair needs extra moisture. If you decide to straighten it, oil it and wrap it every night and avoid excessive heat. My rule of thumb it to apply heat no more once than every two weeks.

Otherwise, I can't think of anything else. Oh, protein treatments may help some of the breakage. Aphogee is sticky, but is good. This should assist with the breakage that is occurring right now. But honestly, the best thing to do may be to get rid of the relaxer all together. It is the best thing that I could've done for my daughter. She even admits it.

Sorry my email may be all over the place but just to reiterate-natural hair can be very manageable with patience and a little know how. Anymore suggestions, ladies?
2 Responses:

Don't overuse protein treatments.

They do help to repair damaged hair strands but too much protein causes the hair to become dry and brittle, which you definitely want to avoid because it can result in additional breakage.

For a curly/wavy look, use two-strand twist, flat twist, braids, and cornrows to set her hair. Use satin covered foam rollers on the ends for a slight curl.

Stay away from products containing petroleum, mineral, and silicones.

Petro and mineral oil coats the hair and smothers the follicles inhibiting growth and silicones build up on the hair overtime requiring frequent clarifying, which strips the hair of oils.

Shampoo
Condition
Apply Leave-in
Moisturize
Seal the moisture with oil

Put the hair in large twists to let her hair air dry then style.

I use pure aloe versus chemical laden gels for my twists and to slick hair for puffs.


UC, good advice. This is a common problem that parents of little girls face. I will call this the parent trap. I pretty much agree with everything UC mentioned, I would just like to emphasize that children hair should be nurtured. There are no quick fix solutions and adding a relaxer should certainly be the last resort. Moisture, low manipulation, and patience is very important. Like Rhonnie suggested, try twists because they are extremely cute on little girls.


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