We only work with and promote products from companies that we trust and feel are good for our consumers to use. We are reader-supported. If you decide to make a purchase through one of our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Last Updated on November 2, 2023 by Verna Meachum
Discovering the right techniques and products to nurture your child’s curly hair can unlock a world of healthy, bouncy curls and waves. Treating curly hair in children is a whole different ballgame, especially with their sensitive scalps, finer strands, and still-developing follicles. But having kids with different curly hair types taught me a lot, so I can help you properly care for your child’s curly hair.
These are 9 ways you can properly care for your child’s curly hair:
The best and most effective way to care for any hair, including your kids, is to learn and understand the different curly hair types and determine which one your child has. My kid’s curl type ranges from 2C to 4A, talk about a diverse spectrum! This range means we deal with everything from loose, wavy curls to tight, springy coils.
Understanding the specific needs of each curl type is helpful for effective hair care. For my 2C child, hydration is key, focusing on lightweight products that define without weighing down the waves. For my 4A child, moisture and detangling are paramount, often requiring richer, creamier products to nourish and define those tighter coils. Tailoring our approach to each child’s unique curl pattern ensures their hair is not only healthy but also thriving.
Another essential aspect in understanding your child’s hair type is to accept and appreciate their hair as it is, albeit different from yours or what you expected. This will also help motivate you to learn their hair needs accordingly and teach them to love and care for their own hair as they grow up.
Babies and children’s hair and skin are different from adults. They are still growing and developing. Their skin is a lot more sensitive, making their scalp sensitive. Babies’ scalps are highly fragile for the first several months after birth. And children’s hair is much finer than adults’.
To understand the structure and biology a little better, check out our post on Baby Curly Hair, where we explain how baby skin has reduced water and loses moisture at an accelerated rate. We also discuss their poor barrier function, resulting in a need for mild and gentle hair products.
A huge part of caring for children’s curls is taking extra caution to be gentle with their scalp and finer hair, which is highly susceptible to damage and dryness if not looked after well. This means using appropriate brushes and accessories and reducing tugging, overwashing, and harsh products.
As mentioned, haircare products for kids should have mild formulas and be gentle on the hair and scalp. Shampoo is the most used hair product and will likely cause the most damage. You want to ensure your child’s shampoo is free from surfactants and harsh chemicals.
Silicones are also best avoided when dealing with kids’ hair as they can cause unnecessary build-up. And since children have much finer hair, it can become damaged more easily with continuous use of silicone-based shampoos. Check out this post for Baby Curly Hair Products.
Properly caring for your child’s hair also includes avoiding overwashing. Their hair loses moisture quickly, so washing too often can cause dehydration and further damage. Curly hair generally is on the drier side, and overwashing should be avoided.
You want to wash your child’s curly hair only 1-2 times a week unless, of course – as kids do – it gets dirty while playing. A routine of this sort will help to retain moisture and protect their strands long-term. You can also rinse their hair without shampoo if it gets messy between shampoo days.
Many baby and kiddies’ towels are woven from terry cloth. This is a type of cotton that traditional towels are made from. They are extremely drying and can tug on the hair. You want to be super gentle with your child’s hair, so using a microfiber towel instead is a recommended suggestion.
Microfiber towels are safer for the skin and hair. They are also quick absorbing, so a few dabs on your kid’s hair will remove most of the excess water. But the towel will not snag on your child’s hair strands or mess up their curls like the harsh material of traditional towels.
When dealing with curly hair, even on kids, it is best to work with wet or damp hair. This makes it easier to brush or comb through tangles and helps the hair absorb product better. It also helps to manage the curls more easily and helps them stay in place for long periods.
Wet hair is best for softer, loser textures like type 2 and early type 3. Type 4 hair will work best with damp hair. This has to do with porosity levels and hydrogen bonds in the hair. Read more about that here.
You can apply a conditioner in the shower for your child. This works best if they are a little older and are okay with hair rinsing. When they are small and fight when water gets poured over their heads, minimal hair rinsing is best. That means avoiding conditioner in the shower.
To help counteract the dryness from not using conditioner in the shower/bath, apply a tiny amount of leave-in conditioner to your child’s wet/dry hair. The slightest quantity will be sufficient, and dilute it with a little extra water if necessary.
Leave-in conditioner also helps protect your child’s curls by adding moisture, acting as a barrier against humidity and environmental dirt, and promoting curl definition. Kids get wild and often rub their heads everywhere. A little leave-in will reduce curl loss and frizz while they enjoy childhood.
Check out this post, “Kid-Friendly Curly Hair Products and Routines” for more product recommendations.
When using any product in your child’s curly haircare routine, remember to use the tiniest amount. Their hair is very fine and fragile, and too much product or too heavy formulas can cause serious damage, greasiness, hair fall, and weighed-down strands from a young age.
It always seems fun to play dress up with your kids, especially if your child has long hair. You might like blow-drying it or using a flat iron. But, even with heat protectants, heating tools are not recommended. They can alter the natural texture of your child’s hair and even burn through the cuticles.
At most, if your child has very long hair, use a diffuser or a curly hair-safe hairdryer. Alternatively, letting your child’s hair air dry after microplopping it to remove excess water is the best solution to ensuring healthy hair for your kids.
As a parent or caregiver, it is natural to feel concerned about properly caring for your child’s curly hair. You want to avoid doing something that will cause damage, but you also want to know what the best methods are. Hopefully, the above points answered your questions and provided some help!
I had to listen to what my hair needed...my curls are finally ready to take in some moisture again!!!
- renee, Stylist Liaison
“I truly couldn't have gotten through this without her knowledge, advice and support...after suffering from Hygral Fatigue and getting tons of advice @themestizamuse.”
“@themestizamuse: for ESSENTIAL information you will NEED TO KNOW in order to see results.”
See how easy the topics are to find on her page (a few posts screenshot)? There is no topic Verna hasn't covered.
- dominique P, wavy hair enthusiast
“I have learned a whole heap of knowledge from @themestizamuse.”
Inspiring hair tutor, grateful for what she offers the Curly Community in authenticity, passion, and knowledge.
- zoe F, Producer & Host of The Curl Squad
“I was so excited to embrace my curls and take better care of them. As I started to dive in, I immediately became overwhelmed with the information.”
I read books and tried doing things because "that's what I'm supposed to do," but it didn't always work and I didn't understand why. I'm so grateful for Verna and her blog. Her info. actually helped me understand more of the science of why some methods helped and what products or ingredients to use and why. Anyone that compliments my hair and wants to start a curly journey, I tell them to start here. My hair is so much healthier and I'm so happy with it.
- stephanie, Curly hair enthusiast
One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted.
Do it now.
- Paulo coelho