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Instill Pride In Black Children's Hair

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Dear Dr. Levister: Combing my daughter's hair is giving me a headache. Now she is asking me for extensions. How can I care for her natural hair, remain sane, and keep her happy? E.B.

Dear P.A.: Instill self-empowerment and pride in your children and their natural hair. Check out “I Love My Hair!” - Natasha Anastasia Tarpley (Author), E.B. Lewis (Illustrator). This whimsical, evocative story about a girl named Keyana encourages African-American children to feel good about their special hair and be proud of their heritage. A BlackBoard Children's Book of the Year. Full-color illustrations.

When it comes to very young heads, try to remember that less is more. Caring for a Black child's hair may seem difficult in the beginning. The coiled, highly textured hair that many Black children have can be prone to breakage and dryness, but that does not mean the hair is unmanageable. Black children's hair is very fragile and sensitive, so protecting, moisturizing and strengthening hair are the most important things to remember when caring for it.

Twirling and pulling the hair will cause breakage and split ends, so the website Daily Glow recommends that you try to keep highly textured hair in simple, kid-friendly protective styles like braids, buns or twists.

Dry hair is a common problem for Black children. Hair dryness can be a result of chemical treatments, inadequate moisture, harsh shampoos or hair styles that don't protect the ends of the hair. A Black child's hair should always be conditioned after shampooing. According to Daily Glow, conditioners can be used in place of children's shampoo because they gently cleanse and deep condition the hair without stripping it of necessary oil. Apply leave-in conditioners or a thick cream like shea butter to the child's hair after cleansing for extra moisture.

A toddler doesn't need the volume of products on her hair that her mother might. There's no need for relaxers, gel, pomade or even curl-enhancers. Instead, let a child's hair flourish on its own with a daily brushing (with soft-bristle brushes), combing and a small amount of hair oil or conditioner. A spritz from a water bottle can help work through tangles if necessary. To finish off the style, one or two barrettes are fine, but avoid: tight braids, extensions, rubber bands and multiple ornaments.