"My Curly Hair is Different"
I have three girls. Three types of curls. Oldest has long flowing curls that are admired and replicated in some of the most beautiful of mixed girl celebs such as Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) or Thandie Newton.
My youngest has wild, looser curls that have already passed her shoulders. Her hair will pass as ethnically ambiguous allowing her to pass as Indian, Latino, Middle Eastern or even Mediterranean.
My middle daughter has amazingly thick, short curly auburn hair. Her curls are tight and when it grows, it grows up and out. And although hers is unique because it is light in colour, her 4 year old self is already becoming aware that somehow her curls are 'different'.
I was always aware of the straight hair girl envy but within the confines of the curly hair spectrum I thought it was all the same.
I was wrong. Each morning now she insists that I brush her hair straight and braid it so it touches her shoulders, like DD1. When I oblige, she is frustrated at the outcome, pulling at her hair in all directions, unable to articulate her feelings of frustration.
It is different....
It's only recently that she's become more 'aware' of her hair, comparing frantically with her sister to have the same hair dos and frustrated that her's don't turn out the same.
I have to admit, the 'politics' that has engulfed my home over hair has surprised me. Perhaps I was naive, raising 3 girls, looks are bound to be important. But it's taken hold of my 6 year old and now 4 year old with a vengeance.
I'm done emphasising how beautiful my DD1's hair is. She understands it now as it's constantly reiterated by her cousins, her Aunties and even women in the street who stop and comment on how beautiful her hair is. She's grown to love her curls- perhaps because her hair is longer, perhaps because of all the outside admiration or maybe just because she's grown up.
But my middle daughter sees and hears all the comments intended for DD1 with long, loose curls. Just the other day, I met two Mums in the playground whom I knew from school. All of my daughters had their hair out that day and both ladies commented. "Oh I never knew DD2's hair was so ... different. Hers is definitely more Afro-like." That, in itself is not bad but always, I feel these comments are loaded with meaning.
What Can you do?
My struggle has been to acknowledge that her hair is thicker, it is more Afro-like and, it's beautiful. Each day, when we have battles over her hair as she pulls at it and screams in despair, I try to surprise my little one with new hairstyles, showing her the uniqueness and variety her 4a curls can offer. Puffballs, braids, cornrows are among some of these and helpfully, she's usually happy with the outcome.
Just the other day, I was amazed, after showing my girls a Youtube video of a natural curly hair vlogger sharing some hair tips, I could see the positive impact it had in showing my girls that their hair is beautiful. (Check out my fb post here...)
My partner and I both agree that straightening their hair is always on the table. So if they ask, we say they can- but why? And because it's never a 'no', the realisation that actually, they could have straight hair anytime, is liberating.
Truthfully, though what has had the most impact is a book called, 'Penny and the Magic Puffballs' by Alonda Williams whose experience wearing her hair up in puffballs gave her magical powers. For DD2, because her sisters can't wear their hair up in these puffballs, it offers her something unique and special that's just hers- putting a positive spin on the fact that her hair is different.
Books can be magical in so many ways but particularly in reflecting the image or experience of a child when it comes to hair or appearance. The list below is not exhaustive but it's a start to getting your biracial kids on the right track to embracing their curls. From children who just plain don't want curly hair to others who are embarrassed to leave it natural and still others who wondered why it was so... different.
These books have been liberating for my girls. I would encourage you to grab yourself a few to have handy when your kids need reassurance that different is good.
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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.”
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.
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.Read more
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. 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- One of our mixed race mother bloggers from over the pond, De Su Mama often features curly hair tips from a mum's point of view.
- Perhaps the biggest website out there for naturally curly hair, you can't miss this site if you want insight and tips, visit Naturally Curly Kids Hair: The Basics
- For more home grown tips for mixed race curly hair, the London Mums magazine features a top 5 tips for curly mixed race hair.
- With more from a real Mum about her daughter's morning hair routine and reviews on which products have worked for her. Visit Baby Making Machine.
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:
- How to Cornrow Naturally Curly Children’s Hair
- Mixed Hair: Moisturising and Detangling
- Curly Kids Night Routine
- How to Maintain Curly Hair for Kids: Wash Routine
- 7 Curly Hairstyles for Kids
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: https://www.ouidad.com/blog/curly-genes#sthash.isxITl2R.dpuf
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Because cutting curls is not the same as straight hair and we, as parents, need to recognise that straight away, I'm bringing you part 2 of Mixed.Up.Mama's guide to curly hair salons.
Following on from the highly sought after and recently updated London guide to curly hair salons, we thought, what about the rest of us in the UK?
So without further ado, here is a list of the UK's best curly hair salons.
After all, it can't hurt to consult with a professional even it's just to get some advice about hair type, products specific to your child's hair texture and how to keep it moisturised, how often you should wash it, what products work and what doesn't...
So give them a call today and make an appointment. And do let me know if I've missed any! This list is only as good as you, my readers comments!
Matthew James Hair, 181 Corporation St, Birmingham, West Midlands B4 6RG.
If you’ve got curls, coils or waves, then Matthew James is your go-to stylist!
Matt specialises in cutting, styling and caring for naturally curly hair.
In fact, he loves curls so much he focusses solely on cutting and styling textured tresses – the first stylist to do this in the UK.
Matthew is committed to giving his customers the best experience possible and will always start every appointment with a thorough consultation. If you love colour ask Matthew about the bespoke, curl-by-curl colour service to really make your curls pop!
Curl specific products are used in the salon to cleanse, hydrate and style – so no need to worry about harsh sulphates stripping your curls or silicones sealing out moisture!
At Klassic Koncept we are very happy dealing with all types of mixed race hair and have a wealth of personal experience and expertise to pass on to you,
Mixed race hairin particular and curly hair in general can vary in curl pattern and texture all over the head. Hair at the nape maybe very different from hair at the crown. What is required is attention to detail and careful analysis as the various areas of the hair will need to be treated and conditioned in different ways. We are confident that how we work with your hair will allow you to manage it and wear it with pride.
Whether you want to "Embrace your bounce", straighten or colour we can guide you in the right direction. We won't be judgemental about whether you want to be curly or straight - it's your hair and a beautiful accessory, not a political statement. We also don't get too hung up on curl types, it makes no sense when the hair varies from one area to the next. It's sometimes useful as a general description but serves no purpose in the actual decision with what to do with your hair. Far more important is the texture and with mixed race hair a common error is that often density is taken for coarseness, when in fact the exact opposite is true. Each head of hair is individual and what works for one may not work for another.
Nuala Morey Hair and Beauty, 178 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol, BS7 8NU
Need help with your curly hair? Here at Nuala Hair Studio, Bristol's best hair salon, we love cutting, styling and colouring curly hair. 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!
Cococheno, 17 Nelson Street, Bristol, BS1 2LA
Cococheno hair salon is Bristol’s leading multicultural Afro/European hair salon outside of London. We are a reputable salon committed to providing the best product and excellent service to all our customers.
Our friendly team has over 20 years experience constantly staying in touch with the latest trends and learning new techniques. With a reputation for excellent service Cococheno strives to maintain a high level of customer care with an in depth consultation and achievable styles personalised for you and top tips to maintain your style at home. Experience pure pampering in stylish and friendly surroundings.
Our creative team has a vast knowledge working with Afro, European, curly and multicultural hair. We offer a full range of hairdressing services including styling, cutting, colours, relaxers, texturisers, perms and the Yuko hair straightening system.
The Hepburn Hair Project, 340 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9NG
It is important to take into consideration the individuality of each client, such as their facial and features shape, life style and fashion style. Each cut needs to be made to suit these personal attributions along with an easy styling maintenance to suit a busy life style.
Belle and Blackley, 205 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2UP
You'd be amazed how often clients with naturally curly hair have come to us in despair of ever finding someone who can deal with their hair type. The level of bounce and the texture of naturally curly hair can throw a few curve-balls at you!
However, we LOVE curly hair and all its challenges. In fact if you know what you're doing it's not so much of a challenge.
Scott - our resident curl expert says : " With curls you have to take into account that the overall shape of the style may change depending on how curly the hair is on that particular day and also that the client might want to also wear their hair straight so you still need precision cutting - I often cut curly hair dry, so I can see the shape that I want to end with - then I get the hair cleansed and treated and go for the detail of the cut."
Alan Edwards Salon, 56-58 Wilson street, Glasgow, G1 1HD
Building an Artistic Team is something that Elaine and Alan both feel very passionate about. With accolades such as Scottish Hairdresser of the Year and L'Oréal Colour Trophy winner, Elaine's expertise is paramount to the success of the Artistic Teams shows, seminars and photographic work.
Having great vision and natural ability to create stunning hair whether it be in front of or behind the scenes, Elaine's Art Direction is second to none within the teams' international recognition. Latterly, it has found Elaine working closely with Fiona on shows and shoots for Vogue which has created another dynamic duo within the artistic team.
Faye Lawless, 122 South Road | Waterloo | Liverpool
Faye Lawless Hair are the curly hair experts. Frustrated curlies fear no more. We are here to help you manage and celebrate your curls. We offer the complete curly hair care experience from cutting curly hair in the right way, colouring, curl smoothing and the all important home styling and after care advice.
Mojo Hair Design, 69 Heaton Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 5HH
Our out of town hair studio in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne is a place of creativity and style, and possibly the friendliest professional hair salon in Newcastle. We are confident that you will find no where better for your personal and professional hair design solutions for men and women young and old; hair styled, hair cut, hair up, hair perm, hair straight, hair curly, dry cut, blow dry, roots or hair colour, coffee or tea, at your hairdressers Newcastle.
Jon Kinsey Salon, 259 Harrogate Road, Leeds, LS17 6PA
Our style team are chosen for their expertise, passion and creativity. Our hair is as individual as our fingerprints, and we know it is important that you get the cut and colour that enhances your style. Our ladies’ and gentlemen’s hairdressing services are tailored individually to give you beautiful, natural and manageable hair every day.
Made Hair and Beauty, 294-296 Glossop Road, Sheffield, S10 2HS
We are proud to say that we are rapidly becoming the curly hair specialists of the north, with clients that travel far and wide to visit it us. Our main aim is that you enjoy your experience our relaxed, but professional approach to hair and beauty. Lead by multi award winning, and Avlon educator, Serena Giscombe, the Made family are approachable, empathetic and knowledgeable.
The Cutting and Colour Room, 36 Sunbridge Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 2AA
Every client of “The Cutting & Colour Room” is a real life testament to our professional craft of cutting, shaping, and styling hair in way that reveals our clients natural good looks. Curly, thick locks, or fine and straight – “The Cutting & Colour Room” has the creative talent and exceptional skills to help you look amazing.
Michelle Marshall Salon, 12 Beulah Road, Rhiwbina, Cardiff, CF14 6LX
Hair salon specialising in curly hair.
Kate Preston Hair, 70 Arundel Drive, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7NU
We know what it’s like to struggle for YEARS with curls until you learn how to embrace them and look after them. That is why at Kate Preston Hair in Fareham (Hampshire) we made it a priority to become Curly Hair Cutting Specialists.
We understand curly hair has special needs and it takes a special skill to cut it well. You must know how to look after your curls. So many people just don’t have a clue how to manage them well and are left struggling with their hair!
If you want to trade your frizzy unmanageable curls for drop dead gorgeous sexy curls then Kate Preston Hair and Beauty in Fareham is the place to come.
*Disclaimer: I haven't tried each and every one of these salons but I did scour the internet for good reviews and recommendations from fellow curlies. Leave your comments below if you've tried any of these and what your experience was like.
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"I'm a Pretty Little Black Girl" by Betty K. Bynum is the newest in our series of mixed race book reviews.
At first glance, it appears that this book is not really for biracial or multiracial kids. But, going with the one drop rule in American culture, the term 'Black' refers to all racial mixes who are part black.
The book's illustrations are lovely. Full of images of little girls doing what they love- playing, running, skipping, holding hands. Being who they want to be and loving who they are.
All the girls are different shades with different hair colours. My girls love choosing which ones they think they look like. One girl has her hair in braids, one in ponytails, another with her curls out and proud and still another with straight black hair. All show the diversity of girls-whatever their racial background.
That's why we read it as "I'm a Pretty Little Girl" and skip the 'black'. Because it's really about the diversity of girls, about being proud and loving each and every one regardless of difference.
I can't recommend it more. Even just for the images. It's lovely.Read more