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.
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.
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.
Quite 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.
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 there is one thing I get asked about constantly from parents of biracial kids, it’s which hair products are best for our babies and toddlers.
Increasingly, parents like us are looking for products which are all- natural, no parabens, no sulphates and no-poo. As we become more educated about the dangers of these poisons, we want to know exactly what is going into our baby products and what is going on their skin.
And yet, the difference between curly hair that’s moisturised, healthy and protected is big. We need to know the products that we spend money on, work. Products that moisturise, control frizz, keep our kids’ curls healthy and prevent product build up. An impossible request list? Not anymore.
More and more curly hair products are boasting all natural ingredients, giving parents an important choice. They’re also specialising in toddler and baby hair, containing gentle cleansers that are easy on the eyes and skin.
Here we’re bringing you an up-to-date list of the curly world’s most popular and effective products for babies and toddlers so you too can make an informed choice*.
My favourite product from Curly Q’s is their Curl moisturiser /detangler. Every morning, a few sprays of this into wet hair and it was like the comb slid right through. Their products also smell great as well as being super moisturising. Boasting a long list of certified all natural ingredients (no sulphates, paragons, petroleum or silicones), this line is perfect for your curly kids.
Mixed Chicks has nearly cornered the mixed race hair market just by virtue of their name. I use their shampoo and conditioner and both are great. They aren’t paraben free but they’re free from sulphates and don’t contain any dyes or perfumes or silicone. I’ve found their products reasonably priced and easily available as a selection of their products are sold in most Boots and Superdrug pharmacies nowadays.
I love their detangler. “This hair care product is nothing short of a magic potion that will bring bounce and life back in your child’s hair! An absolute must have hair moisturizer from SheaMoisture, this nourishing detangler contains certified organic Shea Butter, which is essential in keeping hair frizz-free and soft as silk. Slippery Elm Extract makes hair smooth to touch while Coconut Oil hydrates, and helps in defining curls. It also contains Hibiscus Flower Extracts to add lustre and volume to hair, giving those kiddie curls extra bounce! SheaMoisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Extra Moisturizing Detangler protects and moisturizes hair from roots to ends. Its natural ingredients make it completely safe for use by children of all age groups. Apply sparingly on wet or dry hair and watch as this product weaves its magic to transform your child’s wavy, curly hair to beautiful, frizz-free, glossy curls!We leave out these harmful ingredients: No Parabens, No Phthalates, No Mineral Oil, No DEA, No Petroleum, No Formaldehyde, No Propylene.” Good ethics. Good product. Nice prices. You can’t go wrong with Shea Moisture.
Why Curly Ellie came to be. “We need to look after our bodies, inside and outside and if it means using shampoos that sound like you are ordering a meal from the local health food restaurant… who can say no!Remember the phrase ”you are what you eat”? I am a believer. Ellie struggled with allergies for the first 3 years of her life. Seeing my little girl unable to eat the birthday cake at friends’ parties, having a specially prepared packed lunch when everyone else was gorging on sandwiches was testing, but we survived. This makes me even more conscious of what went in her mouth and went on her body.”
We use NO parabens, sulfates, SLS, synthetic fragrances or mineral oils in any of our products. We are vegan, gluten free and great on sensitive scalp so we can be used from early years when the scalp and skin is most delicate. The shampoo, two conditioners and detangling spray contain natural ingredients such as hair shaft-toughening quinoa and broccoli for added shine. This is in addition to the cleansing and moisturising qualities of aloe vera, abyssinian oil, shea butter and sweet almond oil.” It doesn’t get more all-natural than this. ”
**** We are currently running a promotion with Curly Ellie. Sign up to receive our newsletter on the right hand menu and you will receive your exclusive discount code for Curly Ellie products.
“When you start to see little curls begin to form at a very young age, you know you are in for a treat. There is no need to wait on these curls to fully take shape before caring for them because curly hair has different needs. No matter what age, curly hair tends to be dry and unruly, and sometimes hard to manage. With time, when you take care of your curly hair, none of these common traits will take over you.
Start your baby off on the right foot by using a product line of baby curly hair products specifically formulated to their unique hair type. Created by the curly hair product company CURLS, It’s a Curl, is the premier baby care line of products for curly hair. Your infants and toddlers are in great hands!
You can feel super comfortable using this product line for each step of the hair care process, starting with the shampoo. “Peek-A-Boo Tearless Shampoo” is gentle enough, even for sensitive skin and scalp. Its powerful ingredients include Calendula Extract, a cooling yet gentle antiseptic and Allantion, a botanical extract from the Comfrey plant that treats irritants of the scalp.”
“CurlyKids Hair Care products have been specially developed for children with curly hair and all of the wonderful textures that make up this incredibly diverse hair type. From hair that is curly-kinky, curly-coily, curly-wavy, curly-frizzy, or a combination of textures, our products satisfy the specific conditioning, moisturizing, and detangling needs that all of these textures share, without being sticky, tacky, or greasy. CurlyKids products are always sulfate and paraben free and contain the most effective ingredients to address the specific hair care needs of all our CurlyKids Cuties!”
“Tough on tangles but gentle on delicate curls, with fun fragrances that will make you wish you were 10 again. Gently loosens even the most difficult tangles. Leaves curls soft, frizz-free, and manageable. Leave-in/rinse-out formula makes caring for kids’ curls fuss-free”. Their products have great reviews for being gentle and effective (even boast multiple awards from Naturally Curly) but I couldn’t find anything about whether they are sulphate free so just how ‘natural’ they are.
Perhaps the most accessible, reasonably priced curly hair product out there, you will find Cantu at most drug stores or pharmacies. And at £2-5 a bottle, it’s super reasonable. And with no sulphates, parabens or minerals, they’re my go-to product line when I need something that can do the job without the frills. That’s what Cantu does. It is a great product line and their curling cream and leave-in conditioner have both easily become my favourites.
More popular with our neighbours across the pond, I’ve not had much experience with Aunt Jackie’s but I know lots of people who use their products and swear by them. Sulphate free, no parabens, no silicones and no petroleum, their Curling & Twisting Custard is a moisture rich anti-frizz formula that helps curls, twists and waves stay springy and smooth while elongating and providing lasting definition. “Natural curls, coils & twists spring to life with Aunt Jackie’s special “anti-frizz” formula. The Anti-frizz formula helps curls, waves & twists stay well-defined & springy, elongates and fives curls long-lasting definition, helps leave hair feeling super soft to the touch with no sticky, crunchy feel!”
So there you have it. A complete list of the best baby and toddler-friendly curly hair products. Do get in touch if you can use another product and think it deserves to be on this list!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Or, better yet, air dry.
Oils do NOT moisturise. If hair is especially dry, apply more conditioner and work it in to make sure it absorbs.
Hair clips are much better for curly hair. Try to use these over hair bands to reduce breakage.
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.
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.
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. (For ideas for boys, click here!)
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.
On top of my skin being a whole shade lighter, my hair is dead straight. And with media, magazines and friends sporting this same look, sometimes the curls can just feel too much.
If only she knew, I kept saying to myself… to others. She is the object of so many admirers when we go out. Her hair can attract comments from strangers everywhere and yet she doesn’t want unique hair. She wants straight hair.
My daughter’s journey doesn’t end there. I made it my mission not just to subtly show her curly haired role models but I point them out everywhere we go. Beautiful white, black, brown skinned women with short, long and all types of textured curly hair. Her books, music artists and the shows she watches all sport curls. I talk to her about being unique, about having the confidence to be different, to be proud of how God made her. And to be more than just her curls. To be unique in every way because it’s better to be a leader than a follower.
Today she told me in no uncertain terms she doesn’t want straight hair.
Otherwise she’d be like everyone else. She said she likes her curls and can’t wait to be able to grow them and twist them and try out new hairstyles. She said she likes herself the way she is.
I smiled and knew she is beginning her journey to understanding and loving herself. Curly hair and all.
There is no prouder moment for a mum than when your daughter can look in the mirror and say she loves who she is. My daughter is ultra sensitive and, I’d like to think, mature for her age. So perhaps it was an early internal switch that just happened at the age of 5. And perhaps she was already on this journey without any intervention. But for any girl, all girls, it’s so important for them to know, love and accept who they are.