Friday, February 21, 2014

Choosing the Right Oils for Your Child's Hair Type

Best Oils for your Child’s Hair Type
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Finding the best oil for your child’s hair will involve a bit of a stabbing in the dark for most caregivers.  Especially if you are raising them from infancy on up, their curly hair texture is likely to change a lot in their first few years of life, and then again upon reaching puberty. 

If you, yourself are a curly headed person, particularly if your child is your hair twin, or has an older sibling with identical hair whose perfect regime you have established, you will have a head start in the game. 

If you are anything like the rest of us, you just have to experiment until you hit your bingo. (When I first tried my type 4 regimen on Jubilee’s type 3 head of hair – it laughed at me for weeks J

Hopefully the categories below will shorten your search, or give you courage to try a new oil if you already have an idea of what works best for your family of curlies.  When experimenting with new products, particularly leave-in products, it also helps to know what oils your child’s hair loves in order to have a better chance of getting good hair chemistry with that blind date in a bottle.

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These loosely curled and or wavy heads of hair require lighter oils for any kind of leave in or styling application.  I would only recommend the wetter oils for pre-poos or hot oil treatments, for which purpose  the wetter oils are ideal, particularly if herbs or essential oils are required or desired.
Macadamia, jojoba, argan, sunflower, vegetable squalene, camelia and watermelon seed oil seem made just for your boo’s hair.

Type 3’s
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In my experience, most Type 3’s, who do not wash daily, benefit from a combination of wet and dry oils.  Basically wet oils (and even butters) for pre-pooing, oil rinsing or first day sealing, then drier oils for touch-ups between wash days.
The wet oils most beloved by type 3’s are coconut, olive, castor and avocado.  The finishing oils that I have found to be best for this hair type are passion fruit (maracuja), grapeseed, jojoba and argan.  Butters on wash days or for protective styling are also popular.

Type 4’s

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Your type 4 child’s hair loves oil.  The wetter the better, and more of it than you initially think is wise, is most likely appropriate.  The more frequently you wash (say you have a boy whose hair you keep super short) – you could probably get away with daily application of a heavy oil.  For longer hair, in protective styles you will need to use a lighter touch in between wash days for daily touch ups, but if going longer than 4 days, you may need to touch up with a heavier oil every few days or so.

Type 4 hair adores castor, olive, coconut, avocado, hemp, palm, apricot kernel and grapeseed oils.  Although butters and Type 4 hair are BFF’s, I would still limit their use to wash days and for initial process of protective styling and touch up with lighter oils like jojoba, argan and grapeseed on the ends or whole head as needed.

Understanding the Different Types of Oils

Types of Oils

For the purposes of our curly conversation, I am going to divide oils into two main types based on their skin and hair feel, and rate of absorption by the hair - wet oils and dry oils.  In future blogs I will address the best type of oils to purchase for your child's hair type and how to choose high quality oils.

Wet Oils

As the name implies, these tend to leave a “wetter” or oilier feel and look on the skin and hair immediately after use, and longer.  They can be more viscous than other oils, but quite commonly also appear just as runny or light flowing. 

Coarser and more tightly curled hair textures adore these oils as they provide for more lasting shine and moisture for these hair types.  Additionally, although I am unsure about the science behind this, it turns out that a lot of the wetter oils also tend to be a little more heat and light stable, so are better suited for herbal infusions, for those of you interested in making your own herb infused hair or body oils.

Some common wetter oils include olive, palm, castor, carrot seed, coconut, babassu, sesame, avocado, pomegranate, pumpkin, tamanu, apricot kernel, hemp, pracaxi, meadowfoam and soy bean oils.

Dry Oils

In my experience dry oils tend to be lighter feeling, fast flowing and absorb very quickly , leaving a drier, or less oily feel on the hair and skin.  (Please bear in mind that sometimes the same oil will behave differently on your child’s hair, than it does on their skin – as every body is different.  For example marula oil feels wet on Jubi and I’s skin, but but dry on our hair.  Go figure.  Most find it to be dry on both though, which is why I have categorized it as such below.)

Dry oils are ideal for thinner, finer or looser hair textures, and for retouching hair between washes or as a polishing oil for all textures.  Even if your child’s fine strands are easily weighed down by oil, using your dry oil of choice on just the ends on wash day can cut down on breakage and frizz.

More common dry oils are macadamia, grapeseed (can go both ways), jojoba, argan, broccoli seed, sunflower, safflower, vegetable squalene, watermelon seed, baobab, marula and rice bran oil.

Please bear in mind that all the oils listed above are the ones that I have tested personally on myself, family members and numerous clients over many years of crafting products, and that the final verdict is just an opinion based on my personal experience.  I am not touting this as science.  Just trying to give any beginners a primer on how to choose oils for the hair.

Monday, February 17, 2014

4 Ways to Incorporate Oil Into Your Curly Care Routine (Part 2)

The Oil Rinse

Oh my.  This is my personal favorite.  It is quick and relatively painless and is the perfect solution for squirrelly toddlers. 

I first learned about this method from this post on the Curly Nikki blog.  May God bless Petra Lomax and Curly Nikki forever and ever for this post.  What oil rinsing has done for us is all that is mentioned in that blog, which amounts to;
-         -  Reducing frizz (drastically!)
-         -  Improved moisture retention (for days!)
-         -  Much easier detangling (like cuts time down by more than half!)
-         -  Healthier wash and go’s.
-         -  More shine without greasiness.
-          - Reduction of single strand knots by as much as 75 to 90% - I kid you not, even on free, unprotected hair.
-         - Cuts down styling time post-conditioning.
-          - Much improved second and third day hair.
-        - Growth/ length retention.

The only disadvantage is the oil slick in your bathtub or shower, so do be careful.  Depending on how sensitive your toddler’s skin is to oils, you may have to rinse off his or her whole body or parts of their body with soap and clean water separately after the process.  I have to do this for Jubi’s back and chest but her legs and arms love the extra moisturization.

To perform an oil rinse all you have to do is add your preferred oil to the hair between the shampooing and conditioning step.  You can either then rinse out some of it with hot/warm water or just add the conditioner on top of that and rinse out as much or as little of that combo as you want after detangling.

Sealing with Oil

This is an important step that is often missed.  Curly hair loves water.  The problem is keeping the water in.  Here is where oil comes in.  You probably already know that the less frequently you wash your hair, when you are a curly, especially for tighter curls and coils, the better.  In between washes, your child’s ends can really take a beating, leading to frizz and breakage.  Try to at least coat the ends of the hair with oil daily.  Even protective styles sometimes need a brush with a light oil. 

For some of us, oil sealing works best over water or water based products, and under a heavier cream or light styling gel.  Experiment with whether your child has oil on top  or oil in between hair.  It is the only way you can know for sure.  The difference between one or the other will be immediately obvious to you.

The next blog will focus on the different types of oils and figuring out which work best for your hair type and where to get well-priced, bulk, organic oils.

The 4 Main Ways To Incorporate Oil Into Your Curly Care Routine (Part 1)

In the previous blog we discussed the myriad of ways in which oil helps to nourish a healthy head of curly hair.  Today we will discuss the 4 main ways in which to incorporate oil into your child’s hair care regimen, namely; the pre-shampoo Treatment, the hot oil treatment, the oil rinse and sealing with oil.

The Pre-Shampoo Treatment

This simple treatment is frequently dubbed “pre-poo” for short.  Although some people use conditioners and clays as part of their pre-poo, for the purposes of this blog, I would say that really just one straight oil is all that is necessary when you are first starting out.

Basically the pre-poo consists of a singular oil, or combination of oils that help to nourish the hair and scalp prior to cleansing, and also helps to reduce friction between hair cuticles during the washing process.  The reduction in friction will reduce both the “stripped hair” feeling and the amount of tangling that normally accompanies shampooing (particularly a clarifying shampoo.)

A pre-poo can be done on dry or damp/ wet hair.

To pre-poo the hair, all you have to do is saturate your child’s hair with your oil(s) of choice and allow it to sit on the hair and scalp for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Obviously this will depend on the age of your child and their compliance level with walking around with “something” (usually a bandana in our household) or “stuff” in their hair.  Be sure to take the time to do a scalp massage too as you rub the oil into the hair and scalp.  The massaging action will help to loosen any dirt or flakes on the scalp and stimulate circulation (which helps with growth and general health of the hair.) 

In our house, the head scarf serves the dual purpose of preventing excess oil from dripping down onto her face, (thus preventing a melt-down) and the complete smearing of our furniture, clothes, carpet or other flooring with oil ;)  If your child is older than 3, you are probably eligible for the fancier hot oil treatment.
In a separate blog I will discuss various natural substances (some probably in your kitchen or bathroom right now) that you can add to your pre-poo to make it even more nourishing.

The Hot Oil Treatment

This is basically a pre-poo on wet or damp hair, with heat added.  The advantages of this over the pre-poo is that;
a)      It cuts down on time spent in the hair washing process, which for any child is a plus.
b)      It really stimulates growth for those for whom it matters.
c)       Helps to deliver any added nutrients like herbs and essential oils right into the roots of the follicles as the heat dilates blood vessels of the scalp, making them more open to receive said nutrients.
The disadvantage is that unless you have mad child training and disciplining skills, you should not even bother to attempt this on a child younger than 3 or 4.
To add the heat factor, all you really need to do is place a shower cap on their head.  If you have a hooded hair drier, (you know the bonnet kind that sits up on your counter and you sit under it, that will cut this whole hot oil/ pre-poo business down to 20 minutes.)
If not, just wrapping a towel, turban style, over the shower cap will do.  In a pinch you could also use a plastic baggy in lieu of the shower cap.  In a super pinch you could just wring out a towel dunked in hot water and wrap that around your child’s head.
The idea is to allow the heat that is naturally generated from your child’s head to become trapped in a sort of micro-climate around the scalp and hair, allowing the oil treatment to penetrate faster and deeper into both.

Part 2 of this blog will cover oil rinsing and oil sealing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Importance of Oil in a Curly Care Regimen

Why Is Oil So Critical for Curlies?

Oil serves multiple purposes for all people in skin and hair care, but is really a critical element when constructing a care regimen for curly and coily haired children.

Oil mainly functions in curly care as a cleanser, emollient, protector, detangler, nutrient delivery system, hair growth aid and sealant.  In addition to briefly describing how oil performs these functions, I shall also outline in two subsequent blogs, the ways in which oil can be incorporated, simply and efficiently, into your child's grooming routine, as well as the most popular oils and good sources to buy oil in bulk.

As a Cleanser

The skin is an organ that will actually clean itself, left to its own devices, with an oily, waxy substance called sebum.  When oils compatible to the hair and skin are introduced, they actually help to clean skin, scalp and roots of hair by removing/ dissolving dirt and toxins.  It seems counter-intuitive but actually works.  Different kids will resonate with different oils, but generally  the most cleansing oils I know of through experience and research are coconut, babassu, jojoba (which is most similar to our body's natural excreted oils) and olive.


In this case oils create softness, are soothing and moisturizing to the hair and scalp.


The processes of washing, and any subsequent manipulation of dry or wet hair roughs up the hair cuticle. The whole point of most curly hair grooming is an effort to get the cuticle to lie flat again.  What does this mean visually and texturally?  It means that hair goes from appearing, frizzy, tangled and dry to appearing shiny and  moisturized, with defined, springy curls or coils.  Oil also thus helps to flatten the cuticles, preventing damage between washes and helping with moisture and length retention - particularly on the ever susceptible ends of the hair.


Oils assist in reducing the friction that comes in the process of wet or dry combing.  They can really help the detangling process by adding a little slip to the hair, helping your fingers or preferred detangling tool to undo any knotting with a little more ease.

Nutrient Delivery and Hair Growth

Many natural, cold processed oils come with their own stock of vitamins, minerals and critical essential fatty acids that deliver nutrients to the scalp and thus are healthy for the hair.  Additionally, herbs and plants can impart their nutrients to oils through an infusion process.  When such infused oils are then used in the hair regimen it can greatly accelerate growth, strengthen the hair shaft and repair hair or scalp imbalances.  Look out for future posts on great herbs for hair, and how to infuse your own oils at home.  For the DIY-averse, do not fear - I will give you links in those blogs to great places to purchase already infused oils.


Water is arguably the most critical ingredient for curly hair.  It is easy to wet, dampen or mist the hair, but how do we keep the water in?  Oil is the answer.  A little bit of oil or butter rubbed over the hair shaft from close to the roots, right down to the ends goes a long way to keeping that hair moisturized.  Even people with finer hair textures that easily get weighed down and prone to looking greasy, find that a little oil rubbed on the ends of their hair has an anti-frizzing and protective effect on their hair.  By protecting your child's hair and or ends this way as often as needed, you can prevent damage, promote length retention and give his or her hair a little more lustre in its appearance.

Check out the next blog on how to easily incorporate these benefits of oil into your child's hair care program.