When my daughter was born with a head full of curly hair I was elated! I imagined wash days filled with laughter and smiles, cute hairstyles with multi-colored bows, headbands and curls and basically everything that I imagined when I played "mommy" to my baby dolls as a child. Boy was I mistaken! Now I will preface this by letting you know my daughter is 16 months old so we are very early in our mommy/daughter hair journey, but it has been quite the challenge so far! I have learned one lesson though that has been a major key and made things a little easier: properly detangling my daughter's hair sets the tone for wash day! It cuts down on the tears and makes wash day a little less stressful on both of us! Here are 3 tips that I have found that have made all the difference for my baby girl and I!
One of the key steps in my own curly hair wash day process is to do a pre-poo before shampooing my hair. If you are not familiar with this term, it references a process of applying oil and/or conditioner to the hair prior to shampooing and allowing it to sit for at least 30 minutes before washing hair. Now I typically do this on my own hair to avoid the dryness that can come from shampooing, but I found that it also helps with detangling! For my daughter's hair I use Righteous Roots Oils Pre-Poo: Pre-Wash Detangler, this oil has a base of 100% coconut oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a host of other amazing ingredients that provide the perfect slip which makes detangling that much easier. It's made especially for kids so I don't have to worry about any scalp irritation from using too harsh of a product.
To pre-poo my daughter's hair I apply the oil directly to her scalp using the twist top of an applicator bottle and gently massage it into her scalp with the pads of my fingers (Tip: be sure not to use your finger nails in this step, this can cause irritation to the scalp and cause discomfort to your little one). Scalp massages help to improve blood circulation in the scalp which promotes hair growth in the long run, but it also helps to relax her. Depending on how much hair your toddler has, you may find it easier to part it in sections to have easier access to the scalp. In our case, I don't section my daughter's hair off yet because she just doesn't tolerate it and it's still easy to access her scalp as her hair isn't that long or dense yet.
After I've applied the oil to her scalp and done a mini-scalp massage, I add more oil directly to the palm of my hands, rub them together and rub it into her hair. It's important to note I don't start detangling at this step because it's much harder to do this while the hair is dry, even with the oil in it! This brings us to the next tip!
2. Detangle saturated hair
I only detangle when her hair is wet and saturated with product. Once she is in the tub, I either use a cup or the detachable shower head to saturate her hair with water and begin the final steps of the detangling process here. The combination of oil and water in her hair allow my fingers or comb to slip right through any tangles! My comb of choice is the Ouidad Double Detangler which I use at least two times each month and the other times I simply finger detangle. I really emphasize doing this part of your detangling process while your child's hair is soaking wet because it is much more pleasant for them than trying to detangle dry hair, remember our goal here is to achieve tangle-free hair with no tears!
The next step is to use Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Kids 2-n-1 Curl and Shine Shampoo and Conditioner to cleanse and condition her hair. I run the Double Detangler through her hair one final time while the product is still in it to be sure all tangles are out. I love this 2-n-1 shampoo/conditioner by Shea Moisture because it not only cleans and conditions the hair but it is very slippery making it easier to detangle. I will mention though that no matter what you are using or what process you are following detangling will be a nightmare if you don't remember my final tip…
3. Be patient and loving
We must remember to be patient with our little ones in the detangling and wash day process. Toddlers are focused on playing and having fun! I have not come across one yet who loves to sit still to have their hair combed out, washed or styled (if you have one that does, kudos to you!!) This makes it imperative that we remain patient and show them extra love throughout the process. I may sing a song to my daughter while I'm massaging her scalp and talk her through the process just to let her know what I am doing. These things are soothing and make the process more enjoyable for little ones. The most important thing is to avoid creating a negative association in your child's mind about hair care.
Remember mama curlies, it is up to us to set the tone for healthy hair care and that starts with the detangling process. By taking steps like doing a pre-poo treatment, detangling while hair is wet and coated with products that give great slip, and by creating a loving environment for your little one when it's time to get those tangles out you will eliminate tangles and cut down tears on wash day!