Category Archives: Mixed Race Hair

What are Protective Styles for Mixed Kids? PLUS TOP TIPS for Getting it Right

What are Protective Styles for Mixed Kids?

If you’re here, you may have heard a lot about protective hairstyles for mixed kids and the importance of protecting your daughter/son’s hair from sun damage or breaking.

And while you may have a vague idea, like me you probably didn’t know exactly why it’s so important. Why is it necessary and what exactly does it do?. Well here it is…

protective style is simply a hairstyle that protects the ends of your hair, helping to decrease tangling, shedding and breakage.

Putting your biracial child’s curly hair into protective styles is necessary for growth, to maintain length, and often necessary to for time management. Trying to wash and style our children’s hair every day is not only practically impossible but perhaps not so great for their hair. 

So you’ve read through the basics on taking care of your mixed or biracial children’s hair. Now you need some more detail about putting it into styles that will help it to grow, prevent breakage and reduce daily damage caused by the elements. Protecting hair is beneficial to all types of curly hair textures, afro, natural and even relaxed hair.

I read somewhere that protective styles are to curly hair as washing daily and combing are to straight hair. It’s a must. The benefits of such styles help the hair to grow healthier and reduce split ends and tangling. 

What are Protective Styles for Mixed Race Kids?

I have three daughters and the time saved by putting their hair into protective styles cannot be overestimated. Washing, detangling and moisturising daily not only takes time but it also takes its toll on the hair. Protective styles can be left in for days, sometimes (depending on the hair) more than a week. 

Nowadays there are lots of ideas for putting your child’s curly locks into protective styles. 

What are some examples of protective styles for mixed race hair?

  • Buns
  • Braids
  • cornrows
  • box braids
  • Extensions
  • Sew-in Weaves

A true protective hairstyle hides the ends of the hair from exposure but should leave them in a detangled state. For example, once you have properly detangled your hair and pulled it into a ponytail, you can then twist down your ponytail and pin it into a bun. This helps to promote hair growth as the idea is to actually retain your length rather than the very ineffective idea of speeding up hair growth.

Sometimes braids or ponytails and buns that are pulled too tight can actually do more damage than leaving the hair out . Parents should be careful about the amount of tension placed on the hairline as it can actually be counterintuitive to what you are actually trying to achieve.

So that said, there are loads of hairstyles that protect the hair, some more exciting and elaborate than others. Here are a few examples that I’ve tried over the years but remember, the style must protect all aspects of the hair- the ends, sure but ensuring strong follicles at the root to promote hair retention and growth.

How often should I be putting my biracial children’s hair into protective styles?

Protective styles can be interchanged with styles that showcase their curls. Obviously, they’ll want to have their hair out at different times and that’s great that they want to let their hair breathe. Click here for some curly hairstyle ideas for both boys and girls.

A good idea is to incorporate styling your mixed kids’ hair into your routine. Try setting some time aside every Sunday evening to wash, comb, moisturise and style your child’s hair.

I know a lot of biracial kids who have grown up and look fondly on that time with their Mum (or Dad) as– okay, yes painful I won’t lie, the detangling can be an effort– but also a time that they looked forward to, when they had their Mum’s full attention and just knew it was part of their routine. (Giving them full access to screen time doesn’t hurt either).

If that doesn’t work for you, try finding a salon nearby that can braid your child’s hair. They’ll often be more skilled at it so the braids can be smaller and stay in longer. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just one that you feel comfortable in and that doesn’t charge an arm or a leg.

When is it Ideal to use Protective Styles?

A lot of naturally curly hair enthusiasts would advise to use protective styles a lot in the winter especially because of how dry the air can get. Saying that, if you live in an especially sunny climate and you expose your hair a lot, the damage from the sun can take its toll.

Take advantage of protective styles when going on holiday or when school is out and you don’t have the time, tools or routine to manage their hair properly. This is when I get creative. They appreciate not having to sit down every morning when they’re eager to get to the beach and so do I.

Top 10 Tips for Protective Styles:

  1. Always make sure your child’s hair is clean, deep-conditioned, and moisturised before styling. This will ensure the hair can actually go the distance last longer without breakage. How you prep your protective style is just as important as which style you choose.
  2. My favorite protective style is two strand twists! They’re gentle, easy, and quick to install.
  3. Leaving protective styles in too long can also perpetrate these crimes, ultimately, because of the lack of moisture.
  4. Never add too much product because it can actually cause product buildup. Keep it simple and use water and oil to maintain.
  5. Don’t overdo it and think you need to have an elaborate hairdo to keep it protected. All you really need is for the hair to be moisturised and oiled with the ends tucked away. A simple bun is a great style to choose.
  6. Keeping your child’s hair moisturised and their scalp clean during the protective style phase. Not just before and after.
  7. Make sure that the style you choose protects all of their hair—the ends included.
  8. Avoid going for hairstyles that put tension on the scalp and can cause more damage than it needs.
  9. Make protective styles part of your weekly routine. Make it intimate, put music or the tele on and allow your child to sit in between your knees and fall asleep if they want to.
  10. Allow your child to have their hair out once in a while. Spend the time when it’s something special and they want to showcase their curls. Loving their curls is just as important, if not more important, than protecting them.

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Curly Biracial HairA Guide to Teach Your Girls to Love their Curly Hair

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What are Sulfates and Parabens and Why Should I Care?

What are Sulfates and Parabens anyway?

We’re all pretty aware of the harmful toxins and chemicals we’re not meant to put inside our body. Organic, fresh, local ingredients are what dominate our thinking when it comes to food.

Therefore, doesn’t it follow that what we put on our skin and hair should also be fresh and organic- free of chemicals?

When it comes to hair products, we’re much less informed. And though we seem to understand that ‘no parabens’ and ‘no sulfates’ is a good thing, not many of us (myself included before researching this post) are informed about the reasons why.

How many of you have seen the popular signs indicating ‘no parabens, no toxins, no sulphates’ popularly painted across the packaging of our favourite kids’ products?

Admittedly, I have actively searched them out not knowing exactly what these can do to my kids and what harmful effects they could actually have. I’ve also not really sought out paraben- free and sulfate-free alternatives if I’m honest and just simply accepted that ‘paraben free’ means what it says on the label.

Well, if you’re like me, you may want to become more informed before you buy your next hair product that doesn’t contain sulfates and parabens so you know exactly why you’re paying the extra £6 for the ‘vegan-friendly’ stuff over your favourite drugstore brand.

What are parabens anyway? The Ins and Outs of sulfates and parabens and their effects on your hair
What are parabens anyway? The Ins and Outs of sulfates and parabens and their effects on your hair

What are Parabens?

Parabens are a family of chemical preservatives that are used to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold in perishable goods. They basically prolong the shelf life of our products.

Most of our beauty products contain parabens: toothpastes, deodorant, shampoos, skin lotion and makeup amongst other things.

So go check the ingredient list on the back of your beauty products and you’ll see parabens go by multiple names: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. But don’t just go by the label ‘no parabens’. Look at the packaging in detail to find out what are parabens and what do they do. Sneakily, these toxins can be disguised by names such as : Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates but they’re still every bit as much a paraben.

Why do parabens have such a bad rep?

In short, parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and our ability to reproduce. How? Well, numerous studies have shown that parabens can mimic the activity involved in the production of estrogen in the body’s cells which can lead to an increased risk of tumours. A 2004 British study even found the presence of parabens in 9 out of 10 breast tumours sampled.

Okay so the situation isn’t as bad as it could be. The amount of parabens in each product is safely controlled by the EU safety standards. And children under three especially are targeted.  But it’s the cumulative effect of multiple products that can be harmful.

Are there alternatives to sulfates and parabens that aren’t harmful to us?

Nowadays, many natural and organic health care products have found alternatives to prolonging the shelf life of their products. But sometimes, these can be even more harmful to our skin or hair.

In general, never take marketing and adverts at face value. With so much information available, it’s easy to educate ourselves on the label content of our beauty products.

If you’re looking to steer clear of products that contain parabens, opt for ones that use ingredients such as ethylhexylglycerin (which is plant-derived) or phenoxyethanol, another alternative to parabens, a naturally derived ether alcohol.

For your information, the Breast Cancer Action group has compiled a list of approved paraben-free companies.


What are Sulfates?

The most common sulfate-based ingredients found in personal care products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth ether sulfate (SLES), commonly known as sodium laureth sulfate. You can find them in soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents, dish detergent, toothpaste, bath bombs and more. Anything that gives you a lather.

Because that is the main use for SLS and SLES. It’s to create lather, giving a stronger impression of cleaning power. While sulfates aren’t “bad” for you, there’s a lot of controversy behind it.

Why are sulfates bad?

The highest risk of using products with SLS and SLES is irritation to your eyes, skin, mouth, and lungs. For people with sensitive skin, sulfates can also clog pores and cause acne. In the 90’s sulfates got a bad rep because they were believed to be carcinogenic because they are petroleum-based. This has since been disproved and the most harmful effect that has been proven is still skin, eye and mouth irritation made worse after prolonged exposure.

Some of the controversy also has to do with how sulfates are disposed of because they get washed down the drain through our sewage systems and can affect marine life.

Are there alternatives to sulfates and parabens?

Going sulfate-free depends on your concerns. If you’re worried about skin irritation and know that sulfate products are the cause, you can look for products that say sulphate-free or don’t list SLS or SLES in their ingredients. How sulfates affect your skin may also depend on the brand and manufacturer. Not all sources are the same.

It’s important to remember not all sulfates are bad. When they’re used in conditioners, they can actually help make hair smoother, softer, and visibly healthier.

Also, manufacturers haven’t been able to find proper alternatives for the foamy action that sulphates give to say, toothpaste. You can still use alternatives such as oils, olive oil, coconut oil etc to eliminate bacteria but you still won’t get the soapy-suds effect.

Still, there are alternatives.

For cleaning skin and hair: Opt for solid and oil-based soaps and shampoos rather than liquid. Some products to consider include African black soap and body cleansing oils.

For cleaning products: You can make cleaning products using diluted white vinegar. If you find vinegar unpleasant, try lemon juice. As long as you can ventilate your space while cleaning, there should be no irritation.


So, there you have it. Switching to products free from sulfates and parabens isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Parabens no. Sulfates, you can be choosy. Stay informed. Don’t just accept the labels you see which claim to be ‘free of everything and its brother’ but know your ingredients and what you can accept to be applied to your skin and hair.

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My Biracial Hair Care Routine

My Biracial Daughters' Hair Care RoutineThere’s a lot written about biracial hair care and how to take care of it. But I find there’s nothing more real than seeing what curly biracial hair care routine the average Jo Mum does with her kid’s curly hair.

I have 3 mixed race daughters (mixed Iranian, Nigerian and English) and they all have different types of curls, length, texture and thickness.

biracial hair care routine

So we use a myriad of different products- some that change with the season, some that I use on one girls’ hair and not on the other, and some that are absolute staples in our house.

Here is a look at what we do as part of our daily mixed race biracial hair care routine.

My oldest daughter has the longest, perhaps loosest curls and her hair grows down as opposed to up. biracial hair care routine

biracial hair care routine

biracial hair care routine

Because her hair is made up of looser curls, I find I don’t need to apply thick gel or creme. I can get away with this Argan oil styling mousse which makes her hair both shiny and slippery to comb my fingers through. I do need to get her hair quite wet to be able to comb through though. And the thicker the hair, the more oil you’ll need to really penetrate all of the hair. My daughter’s curly hair care routine (for reference) takes me about 7-10 minutes to brush through and put into a protective style.

 


Biracial hair care routine
3b curls

Biracial hair care routine

This is my middle daughter. She has the shortest, most afro type biracial hair. Her hair grows in tight curls and gets dry the easiest. I usually wet it (a lot) before applying a generous amount of leave in conditioning cream.

I use a one or the other of these products to allow my fingers to comb through her hair easily. The wetness combined with the moisture from the products allows me to finger comb it easily but her hair is also quite fine so you may need to separate thicker hair into sections to get the same effect.

biracial hair care routine After this, I apply half a bottle cap amount of argan oil to give it shine and to keep it moisturised all day. **Note: always apply oil to wet hair or it won’t be absorbed into the hair. Her biracial hair care routine seems shorter somehow but still takes about 5-7 minutes.

 


My youngest daughter has a combination of both types of hair. It grows fast and down but it still has an afro-type texture in the front and in parts of the back.

Her biracial hair care requires a lot more moisturising as it’s also the thickest of all my daughters’ hair and gets the most tangled. I can’t usually finger comb through it after wetting it so I use a hair brush

(pictured above) with lots of Cantu conditioning creme.

Because she’s the youngest and has the thickest hair, I usually spend about 10-15 minutes on her curly hair care routine , combing through (without too much pain) and putting it into a protective style.

Here is the result after combing it through and moisturising it.

biracial hair care routine
The result

I will soon post about my weekly wash day biracial hair care routine as I know this can be a bit trickier. For insight, I generally use the Curly Ellie products as these are very gentle on the hair.

If you want to know where you can buy the best mixed kids hair products, hop on over to Best Online Shops to buy Curly Hair Products.

And don’t forget to download your curly hair do’s and don’ts for styling biracial hair and learning about mixed race hair products that will give you a few more tips and tricks you will swear by!

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Meet the Author: Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time, Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way is the perfect book to introduce your child to loving their curly, thick, and wonderful hair.

But even better, I got to meet the author, Tola Okugwu who shared her story and what inspired her to start writing about afro hair.

Known even more for her blog about natural hair, when Tola had her first daughter, she noticed (like many of us) the lack of books to inspire her daughter to love her curls.

Daddy Do My Hair
Author Tola Okugwu reading from “Daddy Do My Hair”

A book lover and journalist by nature, Tola decided she would write about it. But she didn’t just want to write any book. Every morning she went to work and her partner/ husband was the one doing her daughter’s hair. In her household this was normal. But where were the books that showed the beautiful relationship Dads and daughters can have doing hair??

Soon after, Tola wrote her first book Daddy Do My Hair and after trying unsuccessfully to find a publisher, she soon started her own publishing house and self published Daddy Do My Hair, along with Hope’s Braids and now, Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way.

I have to say though her latest is my favourite. It’s a fun book that still explores the relationship between Daddy and daughter poking fun at the way afro hair can’t be ‘contained.  Curly hair’s ability to go “this way, that way and every which way” is a celebratory repetitive rhyme throughout that makes every child want to turn the page eager to see what happens next.

You can see from the videos below, Tola Okugwu is inspired by her daughters and truly believes in what she is doing. Her chat with the children in the audience encouraged them all to examine their own hair and see which way their hair curls, and if it does, does it go every which way?

Illustrated with lovely pictures throughout, Kechi’s Hair is one to look out for. And I’ve even got a few signed copies to give away to a few lucky readers! I will give details this week about how you can enter to get your free copies!

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How To Teach Curly Girls to Love Curls

How to Teach Curly Girls to Love Curls

Like all Mums to biracial girls, I want my girls to love curls. Not just to accept it but to love it, own it, be confident about it. That starts with me, their Mum the first person who will touch and style their hair and show them how to care for it.

But how do I, their Mum, actually teach girls to love their curls when I have straight hair??

I started with language. Words such as ‘difficult’ and ‘time-consuming’, ‘thick’ and ‘course‘ no matter how innocent, all have an impact on how our daughters perceive their hair- and their own self. Because hair is representative of who they are as biracial or black women.

I wanted to know, from someone who’s been there, what it really means to teach girls to love curls.

So I spoke with Shannon Fitzsimmons best known as Instagrammer and Natural Hair Enthusiast UKCurlyGirl, recently about her experience.teach your girls to love curly hair

Shannon works with women from all walks of life who are making life-changing, sometimes complete philosophical changes from relaxed hair to embracing the wild curls that they were born with.

In many cases, these women have grown up ashamed of their curls, taught that straight hair is better- easier even. Wearing their hair natural was never a possibility.

Shannon’s work has attracted a huge following with almost 20k Instagram followers and a further 4k+ on Facebook.

Already with a book ‘Get My Curls Back!’ under her belt and a line of curly hair products, Osocurly, she’s a well-established name in the industry.

She makes a healthy living out of teaching girls to love curls. So with all this experience, I wanted to know what drew Shannon to this work and what we can do as Mums to biracial girls from a young age.

Shannon’s story began as a child growing up mixed to a Nigerian Dad and a Scottish Mum in London. Her school was mostly white and her Dad was largely absent from her upbringing.

She remembers the questions, ‘what are you?’ from her friends highlighting her difference, and she struggled to like her thick coarse hair. She wanted straight hair, like the other girls in her class. And athough her Mum was always positive about her curls, she knew her hair brought with it extra ‘complications’.

In High School, she experimented with colour and wanted desperately to relax her hair, wanting her curls to reflect the Beyonces and Christina Milians with more wavy curl patterns.

Whilst her Mum discouraged her, eventually Shannon did relax her hair, using the excuse that she was going off to Uni and it would be ‘difficult’ to find the right hair products outside of London.

Again, the word ‘difficult’ featured in her journey.

In 2014, her hair had become so damaged it hardly had any curl pattern at all. Upkeep was expensive and her hair was thinning.

She started the transition back to her curly all-natural hair. Though she’d never really bothered to learn how to take care of curly hair, she decided to cut off all the damaged bits and start again.

The change was significant. She felt more confidant, therefore and she noticed how her journey seemed to inspire many of her friends who saw not only the change in her hair but also in her. She was finally teaching herself self-love.

teach girls to love curly hairQuite early on, Shannon started posting about her progress. And whilst it started off as a hobby, it soon turned into a career. Shannon realised that her own experience was leading her to teach other women to love their curls. So her book, “Get My Curls Back” was a chance to show the world how we could do it too.

Her experience has propelled her to build a community of women who love their curly hair. Working with women who are often at the end of their hair journey in terms of already being grown up and through the most difficult stage of teenagedom, I wanted to know what advice Shannon could give us Mums of mixed kids to teach our daughters to love their curly hair from a young age.

For Mums raising mixed girls, she had this to say about how to teach girls to love curls:

  • Use all natural products in your children’s hair (no chemicals, no sulphites, no parabens).
  • Look at the back of each product for an ingredient list and if the first 3-5 ingredients don’t contain water, it’s probably not moisturising enough.
  • Show your daughters bloggers or you tube videos with similar hair types. Girls like them who are confidant and happy with their hair. Girls who have a hair routine and they have healthy curly moisturised hair because of it.
  • Make the experience of braiding and twisting a positive experience- a special occasion that they can look forward to every week.
  • Get dolls that feature their hair type. Curly, afro dolls are widely available now. Even curly styling heads so they can practice doing their own hair.
  • Mums, you should practice was well. Get onto youtube and watch videos on how to plait and cornrow. There’s really no excuse anymore.
  • By about 11 years old- sometimes later depending on the child- your child may be ready to start doing their own hair. Let them experiment and watch video tutorials  then let them go for it! It’s empowering and important in their own hair and identity journey.
  • Never let your daughters think their hair is ‘difficult’, thick or ‘complicated’. That means showing them women who are happy and confidant and who go through the same styling process as them.

What Next?

I don’t want my daughters to get to adulthood and decide it’s easier to straighten it. I don’t want them to think their hair is ‘difficult’ or ‘wild’ or ’embarassing’. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in that talk when it comes to embarking on what can often feel like a huge learning curve.

teach girls to love curly hair
Women showcasing their curly hair journey at one of UKcurlygirl’s curly events.

Coming from a woman who’s lived it and who teaches fully grown women to repair the damage a lifetime of shame and fear has ingrown, this is stuff we can listen to.

Shannon offers curly haired women 1 to 1’s- a consultation with Shannon offering personalised hair advice and product recommendations. She also offers regular brunches throughout the UK for her followers to discuss hair, transitioning tips, hair struggles and routines.

If you’d like to get in touch with Shannon or want to know more about how to teach girls to love curls, follow her on Instagram @ukcurlygirl or visit her website at Ukcurlygirl.com


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