When it comes to curly kids this school year, the message is loud and clear.
'Celebrate it,' says Rodney Cutler of New York's Cutler Salon. 'The best thing to do is to go with it.'
And unlike years past, when stick-straight hair dominated the hallways, curly kids will have plenty of company this year. The look is Bohemian, and texture is hot.
'Everybody got sick of the flat iron,' says Noah Hatton, a freelance stylist for Redken. 'We're sick of blowdrying. It's better to embrace it.'
'In the past, I didn't see a lot of curly people,' he says. 'Now I see curls everywhere.'
After a summer of sun, salt and chlorine, it's time to get their hair back into back-to-school shape, said Canadian stylist Ilona Reece, who launched Taria Curlz, a video about curly kid haircare.
That means conditioning the hair with a product for very dry hair. She recommends applying an ample amount of conditioning treatment or a moisturizing conditioner, starting at the ends and working up to the roots. When the hair is saturated, comb the product through the hair with a wide-tooth comb, clip the hair up and place a plastic bag over the hair tightly so the hair is contained. Let the conditioner stay on the hair 30 minutes and then rinse it out. The process should be repeated once a month to keep the hair moisturized.
'The more moisture curly hair gets, the better,' Reece says.
A spray bottle can be filled with conditioner and water for a quick locker room pick-me-up.
Diane Da Costa likes to apply a light oil like almond or carrot to moisturize texturized hair. She leaves the oil in the hair.
Shampoo no more than once or twice a week, wetting and conditioning the hair on other days. Otherwise, the natural oils can be stripped from the hair.
Lavender is a natural lice deterrent, so parents of young children may want to buy a spray in lavender product such as Devacurl Mist-er Right or Tai Texture.
It may be time for a good haircut. But cutting curly hair can be tricky. And try to find a stylist who has experience cutting curly hair textures.
The younger the child, the shorter the hair, says Lorraine Massey, author of 'Curly Girl' and founder of Devacurl.
'I definitely think a blunt cut above the shoulder is lovely for a toddler,' says Massey, who has three curly children of her own. 'As they get older, if Mom's got time on her hands, you can go a little bit longer. But it must be taken care of.'
Boys are opting for longer looks that accentuate rather than hide their curls, whether it be long ringlets or an afro.
'It looks adorable longer,' Hatton says.
Reece cuts curly hair dry because of the shrinkage factor.
'I avoid the curl jumping up three inches when I only cut off a half an inch,' she says. For extremely curly hair, Reece actually flat irons the hair straight with a ceramic flat iron so she can cut the hair evenly.
'I explain to them that they have beautiful curly hair and that I am only straightening it so I can give them an even haircut,' she says. 'I tell them that once their hair gets wet, it will go back curly again.'
Da Costa likes simple blunt cuts for straight to wavy or curly long hair. A rounded angle layered cut works well for a textured afro, she said.
'Easy, easy, easy is the key,' says NaturallyCurly.com Curl Master Dana Kaplan of M Salon in Cambridge, Mass.
Parents should be aware that cutting a young girl's hair too short may harm her self esteem, even if it might look cute to them.
When styling curly hair, the less done to it the better.
Many stylists recommend using a moisturizing detangling spray before styling. Styling products can help define curls and reduce frizz. There are several styling products available specifically for curly kids by such companies as Curlisto, Curls and Ouidad. Adult styling products can also work well in children's hair as long as they're not too heavy and sticky.
Pomades and curl revitalizers can be kept in the locker to zap frizz and redefine curls throughout the day. Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue suggests putting a a tiny dab of pomade in your hand, rubbing it between your palms and pulling the hair back as if you're making a ponytail. Then let it loose.
Hair accessories can create easy, fun looks that can help pull the hair back from the face. That can include everything from bobby pins to raffia to headbands.
Get creative. Instead of one ponytail, maybe put two in the back. Try one side up and other down. But when pulling the hair back, make sure it's not pulled too tight because it can cause hair loss.
For a fun curly style, Da Costa recommends apply a styling cream like her Tai-Texture TwistCreme, taking large sections and creating two-strand twists all over the head. Let it dry and separate the curls for a controlled look that should last as long as four days. Cover the hair at night with a satin bonnet to protect the curls.
For curls that have gone astray, wrap the hair around your finger, hold it there for 10 seconds and pinch it.
'I promise it will reset your curls,' Massey says.
The look for high schoolers is a soft, tousled and textured, says Cutler -- loose updos, messy ponytails. If you want to pull it back, pull it back in a loose way.
'Back to school is about looking stylish without looking like you made an effort,' Cutler says.
ShampoosCurlisto Kids Tearless Shampoo Ouidad KRLY No Time For Tears Shampoo Circle of Friends Ana Banana 2-in-1 Shampoo Circle of Friends Hans Blueberry 2-in-1 Shampoo Devacurl No Poo Jessicurl Hair Cleansing Cream Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo Bar Suave For Kids 2-in-1 ShampooConditioners
Curlisto Kids Detangle Rinse Curly Q's Coconut Dream Maximum Moisturizing Conditioner Ouidad KRLY No More Knots Conditioner Devacurl One Condition
Leave-in-Conditioners and Detanglers
Bumble & Bumble Leave-in Curlisto Kids Leave-In Conditioner Curly Q's Curly Girl Potion Curly Q's Moist Curls Moisturizer Circle of Friends Abebi's Safari Detangler Circle of Friends Maya Papaya Leave-in Conditioner Redken UV Rescue Daily Sun Milk Johnson's No More Tangles
Curlisto Kids Spray Mousse Curly Q's Styling Lotion Circle of Friends Einar's Arctic Freeze Hyper Hold Gel Circle of Friends Luc's Lemon Lime Shine Hair Slicker Circle of Friends Erik's Shaping Hair Gel Circle of Friends Janaina's Mango Mousse Foam Circle of Friends Valerie's Vanilla Freeze Hair Spray Devacurl Set It Free Devacurl Angell Tai-Texture TwistCreme Ouidad Pump & Go Spray Gel Redken Glass