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ILLUSTRATION BY KETURAH ARIEL

I’m sure this has crossed the minds of many parents. We have all had a time when we are going about our day and stumble on a child with a very grown-up or mature hairstyle; the 4-year old with the asymmetrical bob and highlights. Is there really age appropriateness for hairstyles? I’m going to say yes, there is or there should be.

I find certain hairstyles are more suited for certain ages and as a child develops, so does her personality and style preference. With age comes maturity, along with the opportunity to claim her beauty as she evolves into a young lady. What does that all mean? Well, the older she gets the more her personal style changes.

At certain ages it’s not solely about how cute they look or how mature they look, but how much maintenance a style requires. Generally, the ages will determine how willing and able she is to maintain those styles and as parents, we need to ensure they learn the responsibility of caring for their hair.

Ages 0-5

  • Go for the cuteness! Afro puffs, ponytails, and individual braids.
  • I love that look on toddlers, if they have enough hair. This is the only time they will allow you to dress them up so go for it and the more colored ribbons the better.
  • When is comes to twists or braid extensions for little girls over 2, they should be shoulder length or a little past. Any longer would be too much.
  • If very young and without much hair, place a gorgeous lacy headband or a cute beanie on your head if she allows that, as many will pull it off.

Ages 5-9

  • Here she is coming into her own and may try to dress herself, as well as choose her hairstyles.
  • She’s in school now and she may gravitate toward like longer braids (mid-back) or a low ponytail. She may want the afro puff without the barrettes.
  • She’s in grade school for goodness sake! Curlformers, straw sets, and wearing it loose would be great for special occasions.
  • Straight styles will probably be few and far between since she’s probably not up for the daily maintenance.

Ages 10-12

  • Here she wants to longer braids and wear loose hairstyles more frequently.
  • She’s probably doing her own hair (or at least trying to) and her independence is showing through her choices of friends, fashion, and hair.
  • She may want to add some color to her hair so hair chalk is fun and not permanent.
  • She’s probably sporting more straw-sets, curlformers, twist outs, and bantu knots.
  • She’s even ready for the straighter styles so her hair can hang and not succumb to shrinkage. She’s ready to start taking care of her hair.

Ages 13-15

  • It’s pretty much open season on hairstyles and letting her personality shine through with straight styles, curlformers, straw-sets, twist outs, bantu knots, and the whole nine yards. If she wants extensions and is willing to care for them, I think adding extensions should only be braids and clip-ins.
  • Color should still be either hair chalk or even a rinse for semi-permanent fun and nothing as bold as blonde.
  • It may seem like the wild cuts are too much so if she is dying for the mohawk let her try the frohawk. She can be stylish without permanent upkeep.

Ages 16 and up

  • Here she may want to explore permanent color and full-blown weaves if she and her mother so desire. She’s old enough to take care of her hair and keep it up, as many styles require daily and nightly maintenance.
  • She can sport all the hairstyles out there and even cutting to cute trendy styles like an asymmetrical bob or even a fade if she so desires.
  • Now it’s time for the mohawk, fade look…whatever to give her the individuality she craves.

To sum it up

This is just a guide of suggestions, not a rule book. Experimenting with various hairstyles is a great way to allow your child to grow into their own, but at a pace they can learn the good practices for the upkeep for healthy, happy hair. If they have high manipulation, detailed hairstyles before they can truly appreciate and care for them, then you are asking for trouble with heat damage, breakage, and long-term bad hair habits. 

What hairstyle do you think are appropriate for children?

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