A Beginners Guide to Growing an African American Child’s Hair (by a Mom Who’s Doing It) – Pt. 1: Hair Types

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little-girl-natural-hair-journey v2If you ask any popular search engine, caring, maintaining, and growing an African-American baby’s hair is a mystery. You’ll get a menagerie of articles outlining general maintenance, but not very many online outlets directly address the delicate strands that make up a normal African-American child’s head of hair, or what it is you’re supposed to do exactly to keep those delicate strands healthy and prime for growth.

I went for months without really knowing what exactly I was dealing with on top of my little girl’s head. I knew her texture was different from mine. Her hair was softer, and curled into these perfect little spirals when wet – Nothing like my full head of tight, exquisite, “ziggly” coils.

Related Content: Brown Baby Hair Diaries – An African American Baby’s Hair Journey

I trucked along, throwing braids in her hair here and ponytails in her hair there – sometimes even snapping a comb through her delicate tresses.  It wasn’t until she began to show signs of breakage did I begin to do some hard core research on African-American hair and what exactly made it tick. What I learned led me on an amazing journey of hair discovery and personal growth.

Before you can begin to take care of your little brown baby’s hair properly and prime it for growth, there are two things you must understand. One: moisture is the key to EVERYTHING. African American’s hair, in general, WILL NOT grow without it; but we’ll get to that later. The second thing (and this is only my opinion based on experience) is that you must have a basic understanding of your child’s particular hair type. Without this knowledge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hair care regimen that will make your baby’s hair grow.

Related Content: 8 Tips, Tricks, and Cheats to Help You Care for Your African American Baby’s Hair

What works on your cotton soft, wavy tresses may not work on your baby’s head of constantly dry, zig-zag-like “curls”. Knowing, or at least having a general idea of, how each hair type reacts to certain products is a must.

Below you’ll find a texture “typing” system that the majority of “curlys” live by. It was designed by the super-fabulous celebrity hair stylist Andre Walker (This is the guy who does OPRAH’s hair.) and adapted by, one of my all time favorite natural hair websites, NaturallyCurly.com.[I'm excluding the Type 2 curlys in this list; so if you'd like more information on looser hair types, head here.]

type-3-natural-hair-3a-3b-3c

type-4-natural-hair-4a-4b-4c

There’s more! >>

Click here for detailed descriptions of the above hair types (with recommended hair products for each type)
along with other African American child hair care resources!

Click here for part 2 in the “How to Grow” series! 

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97 Responses

  1. Abigail Thomas

    Hey Kesha, what do you mean by trim? If I do box braids, it seems like my edges are being pulled and I think that the box braids cuts my hair instead of growing it :/

    Reply
    • Kesha of We Got Kidz

      It sounds like you may have some damaged hair that needs to be trimmed away. If you have ratty or damaged ends, that’s going to keep you from retaining length. There’s no use in hanging on to damaged hair as it won’t do you any good. Head to a stylist whenever you can and have them trim your ends. They may even feel the need to cut away the damaged parts and create a style.

      And box braids, if installed properly, will help your hair grow – not damage it. I did a “big chop” about a year and a half ago cutting my hair down to about an inch. I’ve been wearing box braids or box twists for the better part of the year (taking a week or two off between each install). My hair is now down to my bra strap. Steer clear of the African hair braiders as they put too little hair in each braid which can cause the damage and breaking that you’re speaking of. Find a stylist who does braids, or even a friend. Box braids don’t have to be your protective style of choice. Any style that will keep your ends tucked away and requires little maintenance for a week or more will do. :)

      Reply
  2. Abigail Thomas

    Hi my name is Abigail. I am 16 years old. My hair is wavy and not so hard to comb out. If I plait my hair, the ends tend to come out. The back of my hair is very short and won’t grow for nothing :( the middle is the tallest and the front is a little taller than the back. I have dry scalp and really itchy hair. I sweat in it a lot. The edges at the sides are very picky, like if I straighten my hair, it doesn’t stay. My hair breaks a lot and keeps getting shorter and shorter. I’m very discouraged and want to know what I should do, where should I go, what do I use. Please help!! I want my hair to grow back. It use to be really long.

    Reply
    • Kesha of We Got Kidz

      Hi Abigail! Sorry you’re having trouble getting your hair to a healthy state. It sounds like it may be time for a little trim. Also, are you doing regular deep conditioning treatments? Once a month you should deep condition your hair using a natural conditioner you create yourself, (http://curlz.wegotkidz.com/4-homemade-deep-conditioning-treatment/) or a conditioner made for your hair type. You should use heat to do the conditioning. (Sit under a hair dryer.) Are you utilizing regular protective styles? ie: cornrows, box braids, or flat twists – any style that you’re able to leave in for at least a week without having to manipulate your hair is considered a protective style. If you go to a stylist and have them incorporate some hair into your braids then you shouldn’t have to worry about them coming out; otherwise, use small rubber-bands to keep the ends secure. That will cut down on the breakage and keep your moisture locked in for longer. Go to your hair store and grab some tea tree oil and massage that into your scalp every other day. That will cut down on your dry scalp. Start with these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see some results. :)

      Reply
  3. TA

    My daughter is 9 with natural hair that is down her back. It’s very dry around her forehead and very nappy. I do know what to do. She sweats a lot playing sports. I think it’s breaking around the edges from sweat and trying to comb there.

    Reply
    • Kesha of We Got Kidz

      Protective styles! Pick a great long-term protective style and have your daughter rock that regularly. Be it cornrows or box braids, she needs something very low maintenance that requires low manipulation. If you can’t braid well, find a braider who you can take her to regularly. It will be a worthy investment. Have her wear the protective style for a few weeks, take it down, and then do a wash and deep condition. Give her hair a week off from the protective style and then have another protective style reinstalled. When having her hair braided, don’t be afraid to tell the stylist not to pull her edges too tightly. I would recommend cornrows given that she plays a lot of sports. Be they straight back cornrows or a pattern style, cornrows will keep her edges safe and locked away leaving her scalp exposed for regular moisturizing.

      I appreciate you reading! Hope that helps. :)

      Reply
  4. Ashley

    Hello. My daughter is 2 years old, about to be 3 in a couple of weeks. Her hair stays incredibly dry and so when I wash it, I always try to deep condition it; however, the dryness always creeps back within a day or two. Based on your photos above, it looks like she may have the type 4 could hair type (can’t see type 2 and it’s definitely not type 3). Can you provide any regimens and some recommendations for me? I want to give her her first press (bevel at home) when she turns three as we will not be getting a perm. Thank you so much!!!

    Reply
    • Kesha of We Got Kidz

      Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for reading! And way to go for not giving in to that relaxer AKA creamy crack. lol. I didn’t post type 2 because that category usually only encompasses our Caucasian counterparts. Do you use heat to open up the cuticle when you do your deep conditioning? If so, then your issue may be the type of conditioners you’re using. Check out this link for more information about deep conditioning for kids: http://curlz.wegotkidz.com/4-homemade-deep-conditioning-treatment/

      I get your question so much that I’ve designed a hair analysis questionnaire so that I could help moms just like you! For $5 (since it takes me a little while to do the research) you can get a personalized hair regimen for your child along with product recommendations as you’ve requested. If you’re interested, head to this link: http://curlz.wegotkidz.com/natural-hair-analysis/

      Good luck on your hair journey! :)

      Reply
  5. Brittney

    Hello my daughter is one and she has a course dry sandy red colored hair its super dry and is very short and thick I have tried to use hair food it doesn’t work and a moisturizer which works momentarily I wash her hair with carol’s daughter no sulfate shampoo and a coconut milk conditioner do you have any suggestions

    Reply

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