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Braiding black children's hair is unique.  When hairstyles are more natural or nappy, black children learn how to braid hair because it's a part of their style.  Some children learn how to cornrow hair as early as 5 years of age.  Braids for African American children include:  cornrows, two strand twists, french braids, dookie or dookey braids, plat braids and other styles.  Dreads or locs (also known as dreadlocks) are not the same as braids.  Braids are temporary and locs cannot be taken down.

While hair textures and styles vary greatly-straight, wavy, thick, curly, short, or shorn-people of Caribbean and African descent have long dealt with enormous pressure to wear hair straight. There were two ways to achieve this effect: the short-term solution of hot curling iron or hot comb, or the somewhat longer-lasting method of chemical relaxers. Although both practices are extremely damaging to hair, time-consuming, and demand elaborate upkeep, straightening hair has long been embedded in black culture-so much so that one's first perm was considered a right of passage for black girls entering adolescence.

Choosing not to straighten hair was often culturally unacceptable-not only to other blacks, who often equated natural hair with a lack of proper grooming, but also among the larger society, where wearing frizzy, curly, or kinky hair was seen as an affront or an act of defiance. As early as 15 years ago, a black woman could be fired, as our author Pamela Ferrell was, for wearing a braided, natural hairstyle.

Fortunately, wearing black hair in its natural state-dreads, braids, twists, Afro-puffs, and other styles-is today not only acceptable but increasingly celebrated. This is good news for anyone who has ever had to take care of a black child's hair. With this new freedom, however, remains a question for many parents, caretakers, friends, and others: how to style and maintain highly textured hair? In sharing these basic techniques for the chemical-free care of "nappy" hair, we hope to assist anyone and everyone who has ever fled the hot comb.

Keeping Kids' Hair Clean and Soft Shampoo braided hair at least every two weeks, to keep it conditioned and easy to comb. Here are the basics on taking care of thick hair:

First: Gather two thick towels, a large tooth comb, a natural shampoo and conditioner, and a blow dryer with a comb nozzle.

Second: Choose a comfortable place to do the shampoo. Small kids can lay on their backs on the kitchen counter, with the head tilted in the sink. Be sure to cushion the neck with thick towels. Older kids can stand and hold the head downward into the sink or bathtub.

Now for the Six-Step Kids' Shampoo

1. Comb the hair out thoroughly, then rinse the hair with warm water for a few minutes.

2. Apply shampoo to the scalp and ends of the hair. Massage the scalp with in and out motions, pulling the lather out to the ends.

3. Rinse thoroughly for a long time.

4. Apply conditioner to the hair, section, and comb it through to the hair ends. (This is important to make the hair soft.)

5. Rinse (or leave on conditioner), then comb out and twist the hair into six to 15 sections, depending on how thick and long the hair is.

6. Wait 30 minutes, then blow-dry smooth and comb the hair into your favorite style. (Blow-drying is recommended for thick hair.)

After the shampoo comb out, always blow-dry hair with a comb nozzle attachment. Don't let thick hair air dry, then attempt to style or braid it; combing it will be difficult and painful.

To Section and Blow-Dry Thick Natural Hair

1. Part the hair into small, easy-to-comb sections. Use your fingers to separate the hair.

2. Hold the section close to the scalp. Start combing the ends first then comb down to the scalp hair.

3. Divide the combed-out section in two and twist the two pieces together to keep the hair separated and organized.

4. Using a comb nozzle, blow-dry each section. Dry the ends first, then dry the hair down to the scalp.

For extra care, do a quick natural hot-oil or deep conditioning every other month. This will keep kids' hair in good condition and prevent product build-up on the hair.

Always apply a condition rinse after a shampoo. Comb the conditioner or natural hair oil through the hair to coat every strand.

If the hair feels brittle and crunchy, condition with hot oil.

If the hair and scalp look dry and ashy, deep condition for moisture.

Cornrows & Co. Quick Hot-Oil Conditioner

If the hair is very soiled, shampoo once.

1. Apply about 1/2 ounce of natural hair oil to the hair.

2. Wrap a moist warm towel around the hair for 15 minutes.

3. Comb the warmed oil through the hair and massage into the scalp.

4. Shampoo the hair thoroughly to remove all of the oil.

5. Apply natural conditioner, rinse, comb out, blow-dry (optional), and style.

Cornrows & Co. Deep Conditioner

1. Shampoo twice with natural shampoo.

2. Part the hair into eight sections (more if the hair is very thick or long).

3. Apply conditioner and comb it through each section of the hair.

4. Wrap a moist warm towel around the hair for 15 minutes.

5. Rinse thoroughly, comb out, blow-dry, and style.

Cornrows Are a Basic Style for Thick Hair. Here's How to Do It:

1. Divide a section of hair into three pieces: outer left, middle, outer right.

2. To braid, put the outer right piece over the middle, then the middle piece becomes the outer right.

3. Put the outer left piece over the middle, and the middle piece becomes the outer left.

1, 2, 3-and you are braiding. To make a cornrow, add the hair of the long section into the outer pieces as you are braiding. Over the middle for an overhand cornrow like the one pictured above. Under the middle for a flat inverted cornrow.

Freedom Hair!

So your little boy wants to grow an Afro bush? Three important things to remember:

1. Keep it combed every day.

2. Mist it with water, and rub some oil on it to comb it easily.

3. Shampoo it once a week.

 

 

HAIR DIRECTORY

African American Hairstyles

 

Black Hairstyles

 

Girl Hairstyles

 

Boy Hairstyles

 

Braided Hairstyles

 

Childrens Hair Styles

 

Kid Hairstyles

 

Relaxers for Kids

 

Teen Hairstyles

 

Nappy Hairstyles

 

How to Take Care of a Black Child's Hair

 

 

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