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!
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)
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.