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.
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!
Like all Mums to biracial girls, I want my girls to love their curly hair. 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 curly hair 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 their curly hair.
So I spoke with Shannon Fitzsimmons best known as Instagrammer and Natural Hair Enthusiast UKCurlyGirl, recently about her experience.
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 their curly hair. 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.
Quite 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 curly hair. 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 their curly hair:
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.
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.
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 their curly hair, follow her on Instagram @ukcurlygirl or visit her website at Ukcurlygirl.com
I swore I’d never be that Mum. The white mum whose biracial kids curly hair care looks like the Mum has no clue and her only attempt at ‘doing’ her daughter’s hair is to brush it– down.
Three daughters later and with all three sporting completely uniquely textured hair, I quickly learned that wash, brush-and-go would not work with my girls’ curly hair. A mountain of research, plenty of questions to friends and family and a motto to ‘learn as we go’ is the only way we’ve gotten this 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 I love that each one is unique in how her hair falls- a lesson I am constantly reinforcing. Curls are amazing.
But what I don’t love is how little I know about how to do it. I have straight hair and before having kids, I’d never heard of co-washing, 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 done my homework and then some.
So if you love your 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 20-30 minute routine, depending on how cooperative my girls are and the hairstyle they choose. (I definitely hate braids).
So I am offering some helpful tips, the best websites, hair tutorials from the experts and information to identifying the best curly hair products for your biracial kids curly hair care routine.
Figure out their 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 products recommendations and what would likely work on your child’s hair. So, to identify your biracial kids curly hair care type, check out these sites:
For morning routine tips and knowledge from other parents who can sympathise, visit: Curly Nikki
This Mama of biracial kids features curly girl hairstyles of the week and regular hair tips. Visit: Weather Anchor Mama
3. Get tips!
I’ve gotten so many helpful tips from blogs and articles I’ve read online about 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.
From detangling, hair regimens, and top styling tips for doing toddler hair, the UK based (hurrah!) British Curlies has it all. Not one to miss!
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 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:
Nothing beats a recommendation from a friend or someone you know. Every time you see another child with curly hair and you like what you see, ask the Mum 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 dresser they go to (it’s not every black hair dresser 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).
7. 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 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
You asked for it and here it is mixed race parents. London’s best mixed race curly hair salons. Let’s face it, if you’re mixed or your children have hair that’s a completely different texture, trying to do it on your own can seem overwhelming. A mixed friend of mine commented once that her Mum (perhaps because she had no clue) used to do her hair as if she was a cotton bud!
Jokes aside though, it’s important to get the right advice from professionals who can advise you on products, textures, hair styles and more. I will feature hair many time on this blog I imagine, but the best advice you’ll get is from a professional looking at your child’s hair and showing you what works.
***Disclaimer: this list is compiled through some dedicated research and existing reviews so I cannot vouch for all of these salons but they were often mentioned by people asking for the curly hair salons.
Unruly Curls– 2 Peoples Hall, 2 Olaf Street, W11 4BE, London
Likely London’s only curly hair salon that isn’t specifically for afro hair, it doesn’t get much more specialised than Unruly Curls. They are all about loose, tight, textured, you name it…curls. Beware though, I didn’t find many reviews about the rest of the staff but the owner, Michael Price seems to know what he’s doing and has received much ado. He also imparts his knowledge on how to maintain upkeep which is always a blessing. I’ve also heard the prices are reasonable.
So I had the pleasure of doing a full review of Curly Hair London and shared her tips and expertise here…“I follow the Curly Girl Method, and will dry cut curly types of hair and after will wash it and style. I always suggest non- sulphate and non silicone products to my customers as curly hair dries out very quickly.
I’ve had countless people come in with flat, listless curly hair or thick, frizzy, unmanageable curls and I take huge pleasure in restoring the natural shape of their curls and helping them understand how to make their curls work best for them.Curly hair is beautiful,and with the right cut and the right sort of care, anyone with a natural wave can have glorious, stess-free hair.” I can vouch that she is probably one of the best when it comes to mixed race curly hair salons in London.
“Whether your curls are fine, medium or thick we are here to help. We understand that your hair has different needs to straighter hair. We understand that the shape is very important to you, the texture is doing what you want, and we will listen and guide you through style, maintenance and home care. We can offer excellent curly hair advice using specialist hair products that will work for you. We love to give you great tips on how to get the best out of your curl using good techniques that aren’t difficult!Some clients have children with very different hair to their own texture so we can show you easy and creative quick ways to do your kids hair at home. Advice on mixed race curly hair is really helpful to keep all of you looking fab all the time. It shouldn’t be a chore and with some simple hints and tips, curls will be celebrated and shown off!”
With a specialism in mixed race curly hair, “Darren Scott is a qualified hair stylist and make-up artist who has worked his magic on some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Following on from this success Darren opened his first salon in Maidavale. Darren Scott believes that a visit to one of these mixed race curly hair salons should not just be to get your hair cut, coloured or styled. It should be about the experience. Darren has personally trained all stylists to ensure great standards are always met, and new techniques are shared and delivered. You will be welcomed with a smile by our friendly and helpful staff. Our teas, coffee and hot chocolate are all fair trade, we buy coffee beans and use our burr grinder on the day to make you the freshest coffee available. Our aim is simple, to make you look and feel truly great.”
“Caring for natural curls requires the right product for your type of curl, your hair’s condition and your scalp health. At Afrotherapy, in addition to our professional London afro salon, we also stock and extensive range of afro, multi textured and curly hair products in salon and on our online store at www.afrotherapy.com. During your hairdressing appointment at Afrotherapy Salon, your expert afro and multi textured hair stylist will advise you on different styling methods and prescribe the perfect products for you to take home and maintain the condition of your hair in between salon visits. One of the best mixed race curly hair salons in London, we stock an extensive range of products from leading professional afro haircare brands including Mizani, KeraCare, Moroccanoil, CURLS, Design Essentials, Ferm,FRO, Mixed Chicks and many more.”
6. The Curly Way,mobile hairdressers in London, call to book an appointment: 07517 441 080 or 07450 247 365
This mixed race curly hair salon offers “a free consultation in order to assess your curls needs followed by an individually tailored drycut for your curl type. We respect the natural pattern of your curls and will give you hair that you can go home with, wake up and style yourself time after time with great results and ease.”
“Anastasia Chikezie is the founder of PURELY NATURAL one of the first natural hair salons to open in the UK. The first branch was opened 24 years ago, June 1990 to be exact! Purely Natural Contemporary natural Hair Salon is a multiple award winning salon, who specialists in Afro and Mixed Textured natural Hair. Ever dreamt of having healthy, beautiful looking hair, well you’ve come to the right place. From the moment you arrive at our salon, you’ll feel the stress of your busy lifestyle evaporate. Spoil yourself, relax and liven up in our contemporary natural mixed race curly hair salons. Purely natural have been providing first class services to the people of London and beyond since 1990, Styling some of the world’s celebrities and recreating fashionable styles for our customers, fashion shows and events.”
“Made the decision to stay natural or transitioning? We at 3thirty have made it our mission to reveal that no matter what trend hairstyle is set out there today or tomorrow whether its weaves or relaxed it can be interpreted naturally!The 3thirty hairdressing team have been carefully trained to an expert standard of styling and can confidently work with any hair type, from European, to Afro to Asian. Salon owner Tiff J’s passion is for transforming the way the way people look and feel about themselves and her talent and enthusiasm continue to inspire her team as the salon welcomes new friends into the 3thirty family.”
“In April 2014, we launched our first Natural Hair & Loc Bar on Acre Lane, Brixton. It’s boutique, it’s fresh and we’d love to have you with us soon. The current Adornment365 Salon team is highly qualified. We hold formal haircare qualifications and have nutritionists and trichcologists on team. We consider this level of expertise critical to partnering with you for your long term hair health. As a brand we prioritise hair and scalp health over styling solutions. But you will always leave looking great.”
“Fed up with curly hair that turns to frizz? Had enough of curly hair breaking off? Desperate to have healthy curly hair that behaves itself?
At Karine Jackson Hair & Beauty in Covent Garden, we are specialists in making curly wavy hair look sensational. One of the best mixed race curly hair salons you’ll come across, when it comes to colouring curly hair, Karine Jackson uses the superb Organic Colour Systems which delivers curl-friendly colour.”
At number 11, these mixed race curly hair salons had this to say: “Having been trained at the world renowned DevaCurl Hair Academy in New York and LA – and now, officially, an Advanced DevaCurl Specialist myself – I am passionate about celebrating your unique curls and giving all my clients curl-confidence.”
Although being skilled in working with all hair types, curly hair specialist Raquel Fernandes – founder of Beyond Curls, developed a passion for curly hair. Being a curly girl herself and having suffered bad haircuts, she felt that there were not enough hair stylists in the UK who understood curly hair. Raquel knew she wanted to make a difference and be able to help curly hair girls and guys feel confident about going to a hair salon.
Raquel decided to attend hair school and trained to become a fully qualified hair stylist. She took this further by enrolling at the world renowed DevaCurl Academy in New York, USA and gaining the ‘Deva Inspired Curl Stylist’ qualification. It was at the DevaCurl Academy where Raquel enriched her skill of working with curly hair by adopting the dry curl by curl cutting & pintura highlighting methods. Raquel also underwent the DevaCurl ‘Art of Texture’ speciality course for highly textured & super curly hair. This enabled Raquel with the skills to work with all textures and specialise in mixed race curly hair salons – from the loosest waves to the tightest curl.
For more resources about teaching your children to love their curly hair, read on…