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Teach your Girls to Love their Curly Hair

Teach Girls to Love Curly Hair

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.

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. 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.

So with all this experience showing women how they could embrace their curly hair, 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, 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 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. 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:

  • 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’. And 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, follow her on Instagram @ukcurlygirl or visit her website at Ukcurlygirl.com


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Best Online Shops To Buy Your Mixed Race Curly Hair Products (UK)

Your first job in styling your little curlies is finding the right products. Once you’ve done that, you need to know where you can buy them!

And although mainstream outlets such as Boots and Amazon are starting to stock more products, it’s always nice to know there are independent retailers dedicated exclusively to your curly hair needs. That’s why we’ve brought you a complete list of UK curly hair retailers committed to finding you the perfect hair care products.

Mixed Kids Hair Care

mixed race curly hair products
Mixed Kids Hair Care

Offering a selection of natural and organic products quality hair care products, this shop stocks all the big brands that cater for little curlies. Each product comes with a complete list of all ingredients so you can be sure that each one is vetted before it’s added to the Mixed Kids inventory.

CurlyEllie

mixed race curly hair products
Curly Ellie

Boasting multiple awards and a pure natural ingredient list, Curly Ellie is perhaps my favourite curly hair product line for kids. An independent shop that was started by a UK parent herself, her products sell in most Whole Food shops as well as online. With just five products including leave in, shampoo, conditioner, intensive mask and detangler, it’s all you’ll need to style your childs’ curly hair. And the best part is you’re supporting a fellow mixed race parent.

British Curlies 

mixed race curly hair products
British Curlies

Perhaps the most comprehensive online shop for buying curly hair products, this site is both easy to navigate and reasonably priced. They usually have sales on (including the above in the photo at time of writing). You can shop by price point, kids products, brand, travel size, vegan hair products, skin care and accessories. They carry most well known brands and even show a list of ingredients in each product. As a bonus, they even sell kids curly books and dolls!

Only Curls London

curly hair care products
Only Curls London

Although this shop also sells its own line of hair care products, the site is probably best for buying your entire list of hair care accessories. From silk pillow cases to combs, silk scrunchies and towels, you’re bound to find what you need here. Don’t forget to purchase your “Curly Girl” badge which your curly kids will love!

My Hair and Beauty

mixed race curly hair products
My Hair and Beauty

They’ve got products for hair care, skin care, men’s grooming products, makeup, fragrances and more. They’re the online version of Europe’s largest black hair shop Pak (in Finsbury Park). Selling most well known brands of black or curly hair products, you’re likely to find what you need here. Sometimes I find it hard to navigate the site but it does allow you to search by brand or by popular product.

Mixed Streets

mixed race curly hair products
Mixed Streets

These guys are a small shop with an inventory that includes skin care, hair care, toys and books chosen exclusively for mixed kids. I love that there is a specialised shop devoted to serving multiracial families. Their hair care lines include Mixed Chicks, Curly Q, It’s a Curl and Shea Moisture- all the big names in curly hair care- and you can even pick out a book or two.

Antidote Street

curly hair care products
Antidote Street

Perhaps for the more grown up curlies, (there isn’t a function to search by kids’ care products), this shop sells a lot of the all-natural brands plus many more high end salon products. With video tutorials and blog posts to help your styling needs, this shop is great to buy your go-to product that you can’t afford to be without. Free shipping over £30 and kits put together to meet all your styling needs are added bonuses to shopping online here.

My Curls UK

mixed race curly hair products
My Curls UK

I’d never heard of this brand before I started researching but in the interest of representing all things local, I thought what better brand than hair care products exclusively for UK curls. Although they sell their own brand, the prices are all in pounds and you can even bag yourself a whole detangling set for under £100.

Afrocenchix

curly hair care products
Afrocenchix

If you care about what goes in your hair and want to support a Black British business this is the one. Afrocenchix was started by two British women who were on the natural hair journey and who were concerned about the chemicals they were putting in their hair. Watch their video to find out just how sustainable, fair trade and all natural their products are. With video tutorials, style ideas and a blog, they’re definitely my go-to for Afro hair.

To find your curly hair salon, click here for a complete list…

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London’s Curly Hair Salon Reviews: Curly Hair London

Curly Hair London Review

With over 20 years experience and a booked schedule that extends two months into the future, Stephanie Nik is truly sought after.

“There’s definitely been more awareness from curly haired women that their hair has different needs and demand has been going up from there”.

We arrived at our appointment (all three of my girls hadn’t had a trim in years) just off Tottenham Court Road on Denmark St right on time. Stephanie rents a space in an existing salon and beckoned us over to the chair at the back.

A quick assessment of their hair types and Stephanie was eager to get the first one into the chair. Immediately she gave me some useful tips showing me just how- even within one head of hair- there can be three different curl types.

A dry cut later, she then proceeded to separate the hair into sections , soaking each section and generously applying leave-in conditioner to each. Her key tips:

  1. ALWAYS do your styling process with soaking wet hair. The moment your curls emerge from the shower, they begin the drying process. This means the hydrogen curl bonds (she took her time to explain this in full) will start to form and unless you apply the conditioner and detangle when it’s soaking wet, the hair won’t be able to absorb any product. I realised I had been doing this completely wrong- applying conditioner when it was already half dry.
  2. NEVER use a towel to dry curly hair. Use your shower room to apply conditioner and detangle, THEN you can use a cotton towel or microfibre towel to gently squeeze and hold the hair.
  3. Or, better yet, air dry.
  4.  Oils do NOT moisturise. If hair is especially dry, apply more conditioner and work it in to make sure it absorbs.
  5. Hair clips are much better for curly hair. Try to use these over hair bands to reduce breakage.

    Curly Hair London Review
    Recommended hair clips

Curly hair routine:

On wash day, wash, then apply leave in conditioner to detangled soaking wet hair. Leave to air dry and clip into a pineapple (if long enough) or a silk scarf overnight.

Day 2, 3 & 4, the hair shouldn’t need too much styling as the curl bonds should remain intact. Wet and apply gel or styling product as necessary.

Wash once a week and repeat.

Our experience at Curly Hair London was fantastic. Stephanie took her time to explain how to care for their hair and how each of their hair is different. Her style is ‘all natural’. She’s not into gregarious straightening or colours and rarely does anything with chemicals. She studied under Lorraine Massey, famous for starting the conversation on curly hair care and who is known as the Queen of curly hair dressing.

If you’d like an appointment to see Stephanie, her schedule is booking up fast. But stay tuned as she will be offering curly hair workshops for Mums with curly kids very soon.

Curly Hair London Review
Finished product

For more tips and advice for caring for biracial or curly hair, visit Help! How to do curly mixed race hair…

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Easy Boy Hairstyles for Mixed Race Curly Hair

So we recently featured easy hairstyles for curly mixed race girls but didn’t dare leave out the boys! There’s not as much readily available for boys to inspire new and creative hairstyles while keeping it simple. So I thought I’d do a bit of research hoping to inspire you.

For more where this came from, visit the Mixed.Up.Mama pinterest page featuring more new and creative hairstyles for curly hair


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Simple Easy Hair Styles for Curly Mixed Race or Biracial Girls

Simple Easy Curly Mixed Race Hairstyles

So I can admit I’m not one of those Mums who spends a tonne of time on my daughters’ hair. (I don’t spend a tonne of time on my hair either but that’s beside the point).

But with three mixed girls, all approaching the age where they want nice ‘do’s’ and not just the simple pony tail to which I’ve been known to resort, I needed to boost my repertoire.

Short of watching Youtube videos for days on how to cornrow intricate designs into my daughters’ hair, I have scoured the internet to find easy up dos for mixed race or biracial curly haired girls. The below should hopefully be inspiring and easy-ish to get done either the night before or early morning as part of your routine.

A key theme you might notice is that some of these do require the ability to cornrow. I can braid. I’ve even upgraded to french braids. So slowly, slowly… I will soon be able to cornrow.

If you can cornrow already, AMAZING! Keep it up! And if you are learning like me, take these easy do’s as inspiration to keep on trying.

Disclaimer: I haven’t actually tried all of these hair styles but I have tried variations of most and in the interest of sharing ideas, I’d love it if you could feedback on your experience trying any of these.

Visit the Mixed Up Mama Pinterest page for more inspiration!

 


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Find products and resources for your Mixed race Hair type…

Identifying your Curly Mixed Race Hair Type

When you or your children’s hair is entirely different from your children’s mixed race hair, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right products and hair care.

Welcome to the second of a series I am running focusing on mixed race hair care throughout February.

The best start is to identify what your son or daughter’s hair type is. If you can get that right, the world is your oyster. Literally, many of the natural and curly hair blogs and sites can recommend products and methods based on hair types.

Believe it or not, there are about 12 so look at your child’s hair in closely and compare it to those in the pictures (or, even better, go and see one of London’s Best Curly hair salons for mixed race hair). But it shouldn’t ‘s be too hard to identify.

mixed race haircurly mixed race hair

Take a look at the curl types picture here and see which one resembles yours or your childs’. Notice how tight the ringlets are and the shape of the curls.

Once you’ve done that, you can go on to purchase products that are recommended by others with similar hair types. It’s that simple.

Click here to identify your child’s hair type…


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CurlyEllie Review: New Hair Products for Curly Hair Kids

Tried a new hair product recently and I think I’ve fallen in love. This isn’t a plug, don’t worry. But knowing where CurlyEllie came from and that the woman behind this brand is a mum of curly kids too, does help.

As many of you know, I’ve got three girls- each with uniquely textured and different-length hair. It’s difficult finding a product that works for all of them without being full of chemicals.

In the past I’ve used everything from Mixed Chicks to Deva Curl, Curly Q, Argan oil, Coconut oil and even my mother in law’s homemade mixture of shea butter and olive oil. It’s not to say that these products don’t work but I’ve always been on the lookout for a brand that I can trust and that EACH of the products works for my daughters’ hair- not just one.

CurlyEllie products came on my radar through my brother-in-law who knew the founder in Uni. I got in touch and found out a little bit more.

First off, all of the products are SULFATE FREE, PARABEN FREE, NO SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, NO MINERAL OILS and 100% Natural Fragrance.

For me, it’s important that the products I put into my daughters’ hair are 100% natural. I can see the build-up that results when I use other products and I admit, sometimes products that do contain alchohol or some enzymes can be effective but… not in the long run.

This is about teaching my daughters as well as showing them to value their hair and what they put in it. With so many kids suffering from exzema and allergies, it made me think a little more about what we put in and on their bodies.

Retailing at around £13 per bottle, they may cost more than just buying off the shelf at your local chemist.  I have 3 girls, I’ll be honest, I know the costs add up but to me it’s important enough. If you already recognise the importance of buying curl-specific hair products, this is not much of a step further.

CurlyEllie originiated from a Mum. The familiar scenario of “seeing my 2 year old daughter (CurlyEllie herself) wincing as I pulled the comb through her forest of curls each night.”
She says, “Her curls were so beautiful but so difficult and upsetting (for us both!) to manage.  I turned to friends, family and social media to find the answer. I would routinely stop other parents of curly haired children and ask for advice on hair care. The only consistent theme in the responses I got was that nobody was that happy with the products they were using. This led me to develop the CurlyEllie Hair Collection.”

 

curly ellie

The products themselves are easy to use, and come in the form of detangler, shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner. I would have liked some sort of moisturizer to define the curls as well so I added a little oil to keep it moisturized throughout the day. But the shampoo, conditioner and detangler have become an essential part of our morning and evening routine.

I use the leave-in at night after I wash it and it softens the curls- making a huge difference to how they feel in the morning. The picture below shows my daughter’s hair after I applied the leave-in and I could run my fingers through her hair easily.

After applying CurlyEllie leave-in conditioner DSC_1104

Using a hair product whose only ingredients are plant products such as quinoa, broccoli seed oil and sweet almond oil is fabulous. It means I don’t have to worry about their hair drying out or being damaged by the mess that goes into most hair products nowadays.

I love where it comes from. I love the ethos behind it and I love the products themselves. Definitely a convert for CurlyEllie.

For all you need to know about caring for your mixed race child’s hair, click here….

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Help! How to do curly mixed race hair!

I swore I’d never be that Mum. The white mum whose kids’ curly mixed race hair 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. 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.  But 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 here I am offering some helpful tips– not as an expert but as a person who has scourged the internet for the best websites that can help all of us parents that start out with no clue.

  1. 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 child’s hair type, check out these sites: 

2.  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: 

  • For products, hairstyles and style ideas, visit: Naturally curly 
  • 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. 

4.  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: 

5. Try different 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 child’s hair, it may be different for your other child. Because it 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:

6.  Ask around. 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

If you would like to know more about teaching your mixed kids to love their curls, read on….

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