Ask Rogelio – African American Baby Boy Curly Hair & How To Look After It

The father of an African-American baby boy asks about managing his son’s curly hair. A common question that Rogelio gets from parents wanting to get their son’s waves, coils and kinks rocking, Rogelio gives our reader an outline of how to groom and care after his son’s curly hair!

Hello Rogelio,

I hope this message reaches you, I have a 18 month old curly haired boy. I don’t like to label or type hair but I guess in order to describe it I would put in the 3/4 category very tight curls all over kinda reminds me of a young Jaden Smith but really short. We’ve had it cut once and its never really grown much, I’ve tried not to use any other products but if I don’t it appears very dry and frizzy. The back has lost all the curl and is rather fuzzy and fine. My question for you is what is the best way to care for his hair.  I wash it once a week or twice (if it gets dirty) we are African American if that makes a difference.

 Thank you very much

Shawn (Ft. Lauderdale, Florisa, USA)

Hi Shawn,

I hope all is well.

My personal opinion is to be very light with the use of products on babies, that means no conditioners and certainly no hairstyling products (e.g. hair gel). This is because the skin, while a barrier, can potentially absorb chemicals, and hair products are choked with chemicals. I would just use a baby shampoo and then play with your baby’s curly hair by running your fingers through the curls; this is what I call the Sebum Coating method and the goal is to have his own sebum optimally coating his hair strands/curls. Endogenous sebum (we humans secrete an oil, aka sebum, daily from our scalp and skin) is an excellent conditioner that helps to define and strength his curls. Likewise, you can use tiny amounts of pure coconut butter or shea butter (buy it in a supermarket) to further define and condition his curls. Both the Sebum Coating method and applying coconut butter or shea butter are done when his hair is damp and after shampooing his curls. Do take into account that natural butters are hard to remove with baby shampoo so, like I say, use tiny amounts.

On top of the above, you can have your son’s curly hair grow a bit longer and, when he is a bit older, say 4-5 years old, twist out his curls (braid them overnight then release the braids) to get more defined curls. However, for such a young age, it’s better to not manipulate his curly hair much.

Lastly, keep in mind that your baby’s skull will continue to grow in these coming years which means that it is difficult to guess how his natural hair will end up looking like. Furthermore, your babies skull is probably not fully fused yet as the anterior fontanelle heals between the ages of 1 1/2 to 2 years old, so the overall look of his hair may not look too pleasing at the moment due to irregularities in the scalp that are corrected as the baby’s skull matures.

Overall, my advice is to always be the most minimalist with his hair grooming because at that age all babies look cute anyway and health should come before aesthetic hair. For baby shampoo, use any from the big brands or buy the one in the widget at the end of this article; reputable baby shampoos are researched and recommended by dermatologists. Then, run your fingers through his curls and coat them with tiny amounts of 100% pure coconut butter/shea butter. And in any case, always ask your pediatrician about any further use of hair products if you ultimately decide to use more than my recommendation.

All the best,


P.S. For those of you parents wanting to know more about the caring and grooming of your child’s curly hair, you can learn all about your son’s hair management in my book, The Curly Hair Book: Or How Men Can Now Rock Their Waves, Coils And Kinks. Before going on to read the whole book, simply have a read through Question 23 before starting to read the book.

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Rogelio is the go-to guy when it comes to men's hair. Having embraced his natural curly hair for over a decade while living in 5 countries, Rogelio has learnt a thing or two along the way. Rogelio is the author of the two bestselling men's books "The Curly Hair Book" and "The Men's Hair Book", and his motto when it comes to hair is, "Gentlemen, having a good head of hair should not cost us our testosterone".

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2 comments for “Ask Rogelio – African American Baby Boy Curly Hair & How To Look After It

  1. Audrey
    March 1, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Hi. I’m writing because I’m the mother of a very fuzzy headed biracial 3 year old little boy. I’m white and his father isn’t in the picture and I’m stuck on what to do with my baby’s hair. It’s short and I’ve tried cutting it but it’s so uneven because of his curls and his curls are tight in some placed but wavy in others. I massage his head and go through it with a wide tooth comb. I know there’s lots of hair care stuff out there for his hair but I don’t know what to use. I don’t want to ruin his hair. Please help!

    • Rogelio
      March 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Hi Audrey,

      It’s very common for children of that age to have fuzzy/frizzy hair instead of well defined ringlets. They hair follicles are developing at that age, so you don’t really get the full picture of a child’s curly hair type or curly shape until he/she is about 6 years of age. So don’t worry on that part, the hair will eventually settle and start to form in a more shaped manner. Do bear in mind, however, that curly boys do typically change their curl shape when they hit puberty as the increase in sex hormones affects the follicles.

      If you’re interested in grooming his hair, I would advise you to use a conditioner on his hair to go through his curls. Conditioners are very helpful for curly hair as they lubricate the hair strands making the curls, thus you can pass your fingers or comb smoothly without breaking the curls (as you’d otherwise do if you weren’t using a conditioner). So, if you aren’t already, consider using a mild conditioner to groom his hair. Only use tiny amounts.

      The unevenness of your child’s hair can be caused by two factors. The first is that he is moving about all the time and rubbing his head against the pillow (as any children of his age do) which alters the pattern of the hair on the areas where the heads rubs; this then causes the hair to look uneven in terms of shape. The good news is that, by using a conditioner, you will undo the change in shape caused by head friction.

      The second factor causing your child to have tight curls on some areas of his head and loose curls on other areas of his head is that this is completely natural in children as well as adults. I have documented in this blog and in my books how having two curl types on the scalp is very common, especially among males. The shape of the curls in a curly haired person are dictated by his/her own genetics, and distribution of same-curly-forming follicles isn’t always even.

      I would recommend that you try to use a little conditioner on his curls when bathing him (use the conditioner after the shampoo) as this will very likely solve the issue of his hair being fuzzy like as well as even out the different curl shapes in his head. But, as I mentioned earlier, do bear in mind that it’s very common to have two curl types on one’s head, even if one is following a good curly-hair routine. In fact, I have two curls types in my head too.

      Lastly, ideally you want to use the less products of anything that contains chemicals on a child. This is simply because the skin (of which the scalp is a part of) does absorb some chemicals while it repels others. So it’s always best to be safe than sorry. In any case, using tiny amounts of a conditioner (one fingertip) from a well known brand is safe from my point of view as a non-medical professional (always best to ask your pediatrician). You can also have a look at the link below of my conditioners guide, where I explain all about conditioners and recommend some that work very well:

      Hope that helps and feel free to keep me updated!


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