The ultimate guide to caring for curly biracial hair

by Mixed Up Mama
38 comments

I swore I’d never be that Mum. The white mum whose kids’ biracial hair looks like she has no clue.  And her only attempt at ‘doing’ her mixed kid’s hair is to brush it– straight down.

Three mixed daughters later and all three sporting completely unique, textured biracial hair, I quickly learned that wash, brush-and-go would not work with my girls’ curly biracial hair types.

A mountain of research, plenty of questions to friends and family and a motto to ‘learn as we go’ has gotten us far.

Now, with a 3 step routine every morning with each daughter, it’s gotten slightly easier but no less complicated.

So, I feel your pain. Not the pain at having curly hair. Truly, I love their curls. I love how it looks, how it feels and most of all that it’s a part of their biracial identity- where they come from.

I love that each one is unique in how her hair falls- a lesson I am constantly reinforcing. Curls are amazing.

But what I didn’t love when I first stared at my daughter’s curls was how little I knew about how to care for it.

I have straight hair and before having biracial kids, I’d never heard of co-washing.  I could never imagine sleeping on satin pillowcases, and putting ‘oil’ in my already oily hair was the last thing from my mind.

So I’ve had to do my homework and then some. I have included affiliate links to some of my favourite products that have worked for us. Use these or try your own, nothing has worked for all three of mine 100% of the time but these have been my consistent go-to’s.

Is there a one-size fits all solution?

If you love your mixed kids, you’ll only want the best and time is nothing when it comes to doing it right. We’ve now gotten it down to a 20 minute routine (for all 3), depending on how cooperative my girls are and the hairstyle they choose. (I definitely hated braids in the beginning but am now getting better and faster at it).

Having said that, there is no ‘bible’ to styling biracial hair.  Hair is different but add to that: curls that fall, coil, and frizz in different patterns and directions. That said, there are helpful tips that will get you on the journey faster than if you had to research it all yourself.

From identifying their hair texture, using the right tools on their hair, wash routines and moisturising. Getting these right can play a big part in how healthy your biracial child’s hair will look.

So, here it is. The ultimate guide to get you styling and caring for your child’s biracial hair. Complete with helpful curly tips, the best biracial hair websites, mixed race hair tutorials from the experts and helpful information to identify the best curly biracial hair products for your curly kids hair care routine.

**NB: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.**

1. Figure out their biracial hair texture.

I figured out early on there is a whole school of thought about curly girl hair type which, once identified, can open up all sorts of doors in terms of product recommendations and what would likely work on your biracial hair.

Porosity, thickness, coil type and more play into this. And once you can identify these, you will go onto getting some products recommended for you based on their curl type. So, to identify your biracial kids curl type, check out these sites:

2. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise…

One of the first things I learned about curly hair is that it gets dry. Dry and then frizzy. Curly hair needs moisture. And lots of it if you want to achieve the shiny, defined curls that most will crave.

3. Follow a 3 step routine

That means following  a 3 step daily routine where you detangle soaking wet hair (don’t apply moisturiser to dry or just damp hair) and allow to air dry.

  1. First, spray the hair with water and possibly a detangling spray with moisturiser and comb it out (with a wide tooth comb- the wider the space between the teeth, the better). Never, ever try combing or detangling dry hair. It will result in hair breakage and stress on the hair follicles. Below are some of my recommended detangling sprays.
  2. Next, apply a daily conditioner, gel, custard or curl activating creme (see product recommendations here). ***Be generous with the amount of product that you apply. Do not follow the quarter size amount that often works with straight hair. Apply generously, coating the hair, section by section. (Click here for a step by step process here by a curly expert hair stylist). Work in sections, gently combing out the knots from the bottom up, holding the hair near the scalp to minimise pain. Work through the hair, tying up each section and moving onto the next. These are some of my favourites.

4. Applying Oil

Finally, apply an oil. The amount of oil will depend on the hair. If the hair is fine and looser curls, a lighter oil may be better to just control the frizziness. If the hair is thicker and tighter curls (see my DD2 above), she may need more oil to achieve the shine and really hydrate the curls so they are defined and healthy.

I personally love argan oil, shea butter oil and macademia nut oil. I wouldn’t recommend coconut oil but that’s just because it didn’t work for my girls’ hair. Others swear by it. Castor oil is supposed to be good for hair growth. I have tried a lot and it may be a trial and error process for you and your little ones. There are many out there which are incredibly expensive. You don’t have to go that route but do look for one that has pure ingredients.

3. Washing biracial hair

First and foremost, do NOT wash everyday. Washing the hair strips curly hair of its natural oils and it will end up looking dry, dull, frizzy and unhealthy. This is the most common mistake most Mums and Dads do with their mixed kids’ curly hair.

Start with washing once a week and increase or decrease as necessary. Ie. in winter, you may wish to wash less frequently, in summer, more frequently because of sweating etc.

Choose a shampoo that does not contain alchohol, and that is suitable for curly hair (as these often contain more oil based agents to moisturise as it cleanses).

4. Conditioning the hair

Apply conditioner generously. This is so, so important. Some curly experts even recommend skipping shampoo completely and washing with conditioner (a process called co-washing). I personally use shampoo  because I believe there are enough products out there nowadays that are gentle on the hair. Saying that though, applying a deep hydrating leave-in conditioner then becomes that much more important.

         

Once a month, apply a deep conditioner and leave it in the hair for at least 30 minutes. You can even put on a shower cap to encourage more conditioning for the hair. You’ll notice a big difference if you can do this consistently.

5. Drying biracial hair

Use a microfibre hair towel (or an old t-shirt) to blot dry, never rub the hair. It will result in tangles and frizz. Then allow it to air dry if possible. Using a lot of heat on the hair, such as a hair dryer can also cause heat damage and dries out the hair. You will need to apply a heat protectant product to provide extra moisture if you need to blowdry the hair.

6.  Get a good sleep routine

Before your kids go to sleep, take out their tight hair bands and styles. Plait the hair but try not to use any hair bands or braid it too tightly. Tie the hair into a pineapple on top of the head and use a satin pillowcase or a satin nylon sleep cap to keep moisture in their hair. Or to reduce friction if they do have a protective style. These can have amazing results for preventing tangles and frizz in the hair.  Click here to learn more about protective styles and why we need them. 

8. Get mixed hair care tips!

I’ve gotten so many helpful tips from blogs and articles I’ve read online about biracial hair care. From co-washing to leave-in conditioner, to wetting my daughter’s hair every morning to activate the curls, start with these and you’ll feel like an expert in no time. The best part is that they’re not written for hair experts but cover the basics and give real, non-judgemental advice.

9. Follow naturally curly hair blogs.

There are so many out there! With so many helpful articles, blogs, styles and tips for toddlers, girls’, boys’, long, short and all kinds of curly hair. Here are the best I’ve come across:

10. Styling your child’s biracial hair

There are lots of hair styles out there, even easy ones that you can start out with. I’ve compiled a gallery of easy biracial girls (and boys) photos of easy-to-do biracial hairstyles.

Bound hairstyles like ponytails, braids and twists are great and are a go-to for most curly kids’ Mums. They usually keep for more than a day or two and can protect the hair from tangles saving you time detangling everyday.

Be careful that you don’t pull too tight or do the same style repetitively as it can cause strain on the hair follicles and cause hair loss over time. Check the hair line in front to see if you notice any bumps which is a sign of pulling too hard.

Also, try not to use rubber bands or even hair bands that have metal on them. Use a cloth hair band ideally or a scrunchie if it holds it in place.

11. Use YouTube for hair tutorials!

If you’re more visual and crave that hands-on lesson, try these Youtube channels. (And of course there’s a load more links on the right side for you to browse:

12. Try different mixed hair care products.

Although we all wish it was just about the amount of research you do that equals success, it is actually about trying, trying and trying more… And, then, just because it works on one biracial child’s hair, it may be different for your other child.

Because biracial kids curly hair care will depend on the season. The weather, the thickness, length and curl size of each hair type- not just their hair texture. For reviews and recommendations for different curly girl hair products, go to:

13.  Ask around.

Nothing beats a recommendation from a friend or someone you know. Make sure every time you see another child with curly hair and you like what you see, ask the Mum or Dad what their hair regime is. Mums love talking about curly hair as do curly haired girls themselves I’m learning!

Particularly if the child has hair similar to your ds or dd, make sure you ask them what products they use, what kinds of hair styles they do and what hair salon they go to. (It’s not every black hairstylist that can do mixed curly hair and the same goes for upmarket European hair salons- they may be expensive but curly hair has its own rhythm and texture).

14. Finally, and most importantly: Embrace the curls!

“I embrace my kids’ curls through praise and curly hair education. It is important to me that they love their hair. So I constantly tell them how beautiful and amazing it is. I never speak negatively about their curls or allow myself to show any frustration when I’m doing their hair.

I make it a point to teach them about the products I’m using and why I am using them.  As well I am letting them help me add their conditioner and styling products in anticipation of them one day managing their curls by themselves.” – See more at: Curly Genes: Meet Two Moms Who Embrace Their Kids’ Curls

15. Do’s and Don’ts

Before you go, click on the below link to get a free full page printable with all the do’s and don’ts you need to get styling. With helpful tips, absolute no-nos and essential tools, you’ll be well on your way.

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Leave a Comment

38 comments

Nicola Webster April 24, 2018 - 8:13 pm

Hey there, could do with some help here!! I am a white woman with very straight fine texture hair and I have 2 mixed race sons both with very different hair types- same parents, just an eclectic mix of their father’s and my hair types. My eldest has very tight curls but soft fine texture to his hair and my youngest has bigger curls with much more lift to it and a thicker, more course hair. So far we’ve been OK as I have managed to keep their hair healthy with oils, both for their hair and scalp, and regular but infrequent washing and lots of conditioning and combing. We live in a small market town that is predominantly white, it is becoming more multi cultural but not fast enough, and while they see their father regularly we don’t really know that part of their family, so the 2 aunts and several cousins and older sister that would he perfect to help are not accessible!! So I am relegated to searching online hoping strangers can help me manage my children’s hair!! As mother’s, as much as we hate to admit to not being able to provide one of our children’s basic needs, like haircare, I actually can’t!! I would love some advice mcxx

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mixedupmama April 24, 2018 - 9:22 pm

Hi Nicola, first off, you’re in the right place. As long as you’re looking for tips and advice, you’re always going to get better. While all of us are learning as we go, it does help to share things we’ve learned along the way. It sounds like your hair routine has been ok in that you know not to wash too frequently and moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. I would check out my post that identifies hair types:https://mixedracefamily.com/find-products-resources-mixed-race-hair-type/. Then, click on the link that takes you to a page where you can get tips for exactly your child’s curl pattern and hair texture. Try co-washing with a deep conditioner to keep it moisturised, finger comb it instead of trying to brush it and put it into protective styles at night to keep it from getting tangled (depending on your son’s length of hair of course). Try heavier puddings and oils for your son’s more courser hair and make sure you’re always working with damp hair to allow the curls to set. Give that a go and let us know how you get on. Good luck!

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George October 28, 2018 - 5:24 pm

Hi, I was just wondering if you had any self styling ideas for men, I have quite long hair but struggle to find a way to wear it when I haven’t got it braided.

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mixedupmama October 28, 2018 - 9:58 pm

Hi George, I have a post for boys with mixed race hair (https://mixedracefamily.com/easy-boy-hairstyles-mixed-race-curly-hair/) plus you can check out my pinterest page on biracial hair styles and cuts for boys and men: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/fariba3/curly-biracial-boy-hair-cuts-and-style-ideas/

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mixedupmama May 10, 2019 - 12:59 pm

haha! Yes, glad you found it useful!

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Meag May 18, 2019 - 5:09 am

Hello! This may be a silly question but I would love some advice on how to take care of my daughters hair while shes asleep at night. Her curls are so beautiful and I would love to have her down everyday but I feel like its not possible for more then day one of washing. Thank you!

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mixedupmama May 18, 2019 - 8:20 am

Not a silly question at all! It can make a huge difference to my daughters’ hair when I’ve taken the time the night before to take care of it. Try putting her hair into a protective style the night before like a braid or even into a pineapple bun on top of her hair. Make sure she either wears a satin bonnet or has a satin pillowcase- this can make a huge difference because it reduces the friction while she’s sleeping and a bonnet can often serve as a warm place where the hair stays moisturised. That should help with detangling the next day and if you’ve use a moisturising hair mask once a week, your morning routine after doing that at night should just be wetting the hair, spritzing it with a good detangling/moisturising spray and then running your fingers through it to smooth out the curls. GOOD LUCK!

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Julie Green January 23, 2021 - 5:52 pm

Hi. I have 2 daughter’s both with different hair. Older one is very soft English type hair but a big afro! I spray it down with a detangler (which last about 4
5 days) and comb it through with a wide tooth comb. She then ties it up every day. Because it never dries at the base of ponytail nearest scalp her hair smells fusty.

I have recently been advised to wash and condition the hair everyday and plait, remove plaits in the morning put through a frizz serum and leave it down (which daughter hates) it’s now just a mass of frizz and I have washed and conditioned to get the curls back.

It’s early morning maintained before school I struggle with. any tips for morning routine would be great.

Ps your page has been the most information I have found. Thanks for taking the time to post your links and reviews etc 😊

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mixedupmama January 31, 2021 - 10:51 pm

Hi Julie, thanks for getting in touch! The first thing I would say is that you should never be washing your child’s curly hair everyday. I wash my daughter’s hair every two weeks and the most frequent I’ve heard of people washing curly hair is once a week. If you’re washing everyday, that explains the frizz. Once that’s cut out, your early morning routine should include just a spruce up to get your child’s curls feeling alive and defined. It could be by using a curl serum, creme or leave in conditioner. But you should always wet the hair first. If your child doesn’t like it down, you should probably respect her wishes. She’ll get there. Loving her curls is a journey and she needs to be shown images of other women with similar hair who sport their natural curls. If you’ve been advised to plait the hair to protect it everyday, make sure to condition it ( a lot) so it stays moisturised. The mildew-y smell is not uncommon in thick hair, it’s easily treated by applying tea tree oil to kill the mildew and making sure to let the hair dry before she sleeps.

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Julie Green February 13, 2021 - 5:56 pm

Thank you so much for coming back to me. If I plait the hair before bed does it need to be dry or with a leave in conditioner?

I shall be looking at satin cap/pillowcase too!

I will spray it down and comb through in the morning and put through a serum or leave in conditioner at this point?

Kind regards:)

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Rebekah Higgins March 24, 2021 - 10:06 pm

Hello, I’m looking for some advice. My mixed race daughter is only 3 months old but her hair has gone very frizzy. From reading your post I’ve obviously been washing it too much (every 2 or 3 days). I will reduce this down. Would you suggest I use some of the products you’ve recommended or is 3 months too young?
Thanks 🙂

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mixedupmama March 24, 2021 - 10:15 pm

Hi Rebekah, I would say that her hair is probably frizzy due to naps and so on. I would just use coconut oil or olive oil on her hair and that should help to keep the curls in. She’s likely too young for anymore products. Hope that helps:)

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mixedupmama June 2, 2021 - 9:56 pm

At 3 months, I’d just stick to oil- coconut oil or macadamia nut oil. The hair is so fine at that age that anything else is probably too heavy

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Hazel Anderson June 2, 2021 - 12:01 am

Hey lovely wondering if you have any tips on headlice on mixed race hair. My little one has super tight curls and super frizzy, I always tie it up but she has caught headlice a couple of times at nursery. What do I do?

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mixedupmama June 2, 2021 - 9:55 pm

Hi Hazel, it’s a good idea to tie up her hair as a first step. Tea tree oil is also known to prevent lice. I used to drop a few drops on my daughter’s pillow and into her hair every morning. You can also buy tea tree oil shampoo.

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Kait July 17, 2021 - 2:57 am

Hi my daughter is 7 months old and her hair is gets super dry really fast. What would you recommend? And at what age should I start using products like you stated in the article?

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mixedupmama July 30, 2021 - 6:47 pm

I would recommend some sort of oil to start with. Her hair is so soft as the moment that oil isually does the tricj

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Fran October 4, 2021 - 7:29 pm

Hi! Thanks so much for post. Perhaps I’m being really stupid but the 3 step routine comes before the washing part. Do you wash and condition first and then follow 3 steps or are they separate to wash day? Xx

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mixedupmama October 9, 2021 - 11:16 am

Hi Fran, not at all! This really is a journey to understand how to do hair that’s a bit different to your own. The 3 step routine is after you wash or as part of your daily routine even if you don’t wash. When your child wakes, you can wet their hair (generously) and then detangle, apply the leave in or curl activator and then oil. Good luck!

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Kerry October 8, 2021 - 8:51 am

I’m really struggling to keep my youngest’s hair smooth when I’m a bun etc. Her hair is slightly thicker and dryer than my eldest and no matter what I do. Once her hair is up, curls start pinging up all over the place. Why is this happening? Is there anything I can use to prevent this from happening?

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mixedupmama October 9, 2021 - 11:11 am

Hi Kerry, thanks for getting in touch. Without seeing her hair, it’s difficult to know but it may be that her hair is too short to go into a bun and there are too many flyaways, in which case, you could try putting her hair into 3-4 smaller ‘knots’, braids or buns all over her head so you have a higher chance of keeping her hair inside the bun. The smaller the bunch or braid, the better chance of keeping all of the hair inside.

Some also use gel to keep the flyaways down but I find that only lasts half the day and then by the end of the day, it’s all out again and looking messy. Again, some try edge control (a thick sticky paste) that keeps it down but also quite crusty (I’m not a fan). Hope that helps.

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Jesse December 14, 2021 - 10:24 am

Thanks for sharing! This is a really great article, thanks for sharing a detailed and welll- explained article,. I follow iahas.com for all the great remedies on haircare, but these are unique, adding yours to the list.

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John Carston December 14, 2021 - 11:41 pm

I like how you mentioned that it is important to make sure to take care of the hair. My cousin mentioned to me last night that they are hoping to find reliable mixed kids hairstyles for kids and asked if I have any idea what is the best option for them. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell her that it will be much better if she consults a trusted mixed kids hairstyles for kids service as they can answer all her inquiries.

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Soren Panckeri February 3, 2022 - 5:45 pm

Heya! I was wondering if I could reach out to get your advice as a mixed/biracial individual myself. I’ve had issues with my hair for my whole life, to the point my mother (who IS POC) didn’t know how to take care of my hair. I’d start a new shampoo, use it for maybe a few years, and then realize the damage and switch the shampoo- only for the cycle to repeat. I have very thin, but extremely wavy hair (We’ve deduced somewhere between 2A-2B but we’re not quite sure). I also have a tendency to dye my hair in fun colors. My hair as a result has become very patchy, very damaged, and very confused. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not CURLY curly, as much as I wish it was. I have reason to believe it has very intense waves however, when its cared for right. I’ve only recently come to realize how damaged it’s become, as with even my best efforts it has become an unruly short mess. It has no shine or proper volume to it, and no sense of direction. So, I’ve been looking into proper natural hair care so my hair can become somewhat healthy again (although I might still dye my hair because that feels more natural to my soul than my natural hair color :’D) But everywhere I’ve generally looked has been for more curly long hair rather than my short, wavier hair. If you have any product ideas or advice on the matter, I would greatly appreciate it!

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Anthony Walton February 14, 2022 - 3:31 am

this curly hairstyle is so stunning

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