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Detangler for Kids' Hair

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Beauty & Fitness > Detangler for Kids' Hair


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Detangling bi-racial hair

Oct 2007

My babies are mixed (black/white). They have the most beautiful hair, but it is impossible to comb through unless it is soaking wet and has a ton of conditioner in it. I have tried many kinds and they are ok when, as I said, the hair is wet. Any suggestions for either wet or dry detanglers? Any other tips? Getting out of the house in the morning is becoming quite a chore and one of them now runs when she sees me take the (wide- tooth) comb out. Help! Afraid of the comb...


Every kid's hair is different, but this is what we do with our daughter, who has tight ringlet curls: we wash it about once a week with a conditioning shampoo (L'Oreal, I think)then while it's still wet, apply Aveda Be Curly conditioner and comb it out (with fingers and wide-tooth comb). Then every morning we mist it with a water sprayer, add a little more Be Curly, and just brush it with a soft baby brush (no more combing). Towards the end of the week it's in a ponytail most of the time. Good luck!
Your posting really brought me back, my mother always had a really hard time with my hair. So, you already know that you HAVE to comb it when its wet with leave-in conditioner, there's really no way around that. The only other suggestion I have is to braid it the night before so it's not so tangled in the morning. One of my daughter's inherited my super-curly hair and I always braid it before bedtime and then it's pretty easy to brush in the morning. Also, I found for my own hair that using a Brush with long,spaced-out teeth works much better than a comb. good luck! Midnight
Hi, I am African American and have two bi-racial daughters (dad is from India). They both have very long, thick hair. I do the same thing that you do to de-tangle it after washing it. But on a daily basis, I keep it braided in at least one or two big braids to keep it from getting too tangled. I also use lots of leave in conditioners to keep it moisturized.

I usually comb it out at night, and braid it so that in the mornings I don't have as much work to do. Keisha


As a black woman with ''natural'' hair, I have spent the bulk of my life trying to figure out what to do with the mop on my head. After years of chemically straightening (and severley damaging and breaking, a friend introduced me to : http://www.ylcf.org/gotcurl/ along with the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. It changed my life, well at least the life of my hair. The main thing that it talks about is how to clean your hair without the drying effects of shampoo. The curlier/kinkier it is, the less you need. I use shampoo maybe 3 times a year, but my hair is always clean. It now takes me a few minutes to comb my hair where it used to take me an hour.

Since the texture of hair can vary widely, a few general things that you already may know:

Always detangle the ends first.

Stay away from products that contain any kind of alcohol. I make my own detangler uding a bit of Aubreys swimming conditioner and purified water in a spray bottle.

Keep hair braided while it's wet.

Get ends trimmed every 8-10 weeks or when they become ''sticky''.

Hope this helps. Feel free to email if you like. teeyahnee


You are doing it exactly right. It HAS to be wet and you HAVE to use conditioner. There is no other way around it. I wish I could say there was a short cut but there isn't. It's the nature of very curly hair. If you want to use a spray in leave in conditioner, that would work to. Anything like that will work. If you go to the black hair care section of longs or target or somewhere, they have sprays made specifically for kids. Those might help. Just as long as you get the hair wet and conditioned. lynn
Per my co-worker you should use Pony Tail and Mane Shampoo and Conditioner. Also, purchase Just for Me Kids Leave in Spray Conditioner for every day use in addition to TCB Lite Hair Grease for daily use. All of which you can get at Sally's Beauty Supply. Good Luck and reminder you do not wash every day. Once or twice a week is good enough. anon
Braids? Worth a try
I am also bi-racial and can give you some insight about my hair and my child's hair. Number one is this....you can only comb (not brush) their hair to get the tangles out immediatley upon coming out of the shower. You must not try and squeeze all the water out of their hair, just pat it dry so it's not dripping wet. Comb from the bottom up (very important). Unfortunately, most of us don't get the luxury of wearing our hair down except for very special occasions, unless they are teenagers and you let them get their hair pressed so that it's straight. I wash and condition my daughter's hair every 3 or 4 days, then I ask her how many ponytails she wants (1, 2, 3 or sometimes 4). Immediately upon combing her hair when she gets out of the shower, I put oil on her scalp, run a comb through again, make parts depending on how many ponytails I am putting in, put rubber bands in the sections I am not working on, run a fine tooth comb through the section I am working on so that there are no bumps, put in small amount of regular conditioner (I use Pantene-Classic Care), then brush with a brush with bristles that are extremely close together (any other brush won't work properly), put the rubber band on and braid the ponytail. Do that with each section. In the morning, all you need to do is take out one section at a time, wet the brush just a little bit for the top section on the head so it's not frizzy (don't get the ponytial wet), put in a little more conditioner, and redo. The morning after I wash her hair, she normally has to wear her ponytails braided that day, because her hair is still wet and will get frizzy and unmanageable throughout the day, but then for the next couple of days as long as I braid her ponytails before she goes to bed at night, she can wear her ponytails unbraided during the day until I wash it again. My daughter rarely ever gets to wear her hair down which is a bummer for her. As she gets older and her hair gets longer, it will be nmore manageable and she will be able to wear it down. I wear my hair down all the time nowadays, but it's almost to my booty now. The longer our hair gets, the more the curls loosen up so their not so tight and unmanageable. Although, it seems like it takes forever for our hair to grow. Well, I know it seems like a lot of information, but it's quite easy once you get a routine going. Let me know if you have any questions.....Good luck!! nsomavia
my kids are also mixed, and each one has a different kind of hair. The truth is that it will take more time to do thier hair and that is just a reality. Since I don't really know the texture/curliness of your kids' hair it's a little hard to say, but it sounds like you are on the right track. I just practically stand in front of the sink with my daughter who has long hair and put the brush in the running water and go, also use a leave in conditioner called Lanza leave in conditioner, I buy a huge bottle and put some of that in too and get it sorta diffuse it in the hair with water, using a combo of a oval brush with boar type bristles that can get through the hair but that are not the plastic kind with the bristles far apart. Also you can get some hair clamp thingees and section off the hair, I always do the underneath part first and do about three sections.....and whallah after about 5 or so minutes she is beautiful. Also you can braid their hair at night to avoid a lot of detangling in the a.m. You certainly can also go the route of braids (french) or dreadz---but the truth is the upkeep is expenisive if you can't do it yourself that is also time consuming (at least the braids are). I did my sons dreads and although I get lots aof questions regarding the amount of time needed to do his hair, it is by far the easiest and least time consuimg...however my daughter would not want dreads and they would be totally different since her hair is not as kinky as my sons.....so good luck and keep on doing what feels right...You will figure it out soon enough...another product is the johnson and johnson spray detangler...however I find the other conditioner leaves no residue and seems less like toxic-ish... hair stuff
As a black woman with hair texture similar to many blk/white interracial people, it took me years to learn how to love and ''tame'' my tresses.

So much of hair styling is cultural and if you didn't grow up with specific traditions, you'd have no way of knowing what to do.

Please don't be afraid to ask for help from a professional. Head to a local hairdresser (Ujima Hair salon on Piedmont Ave in Oakland is great) or find a black friend or family member who is ''good with hair'' and get them to help you out. Let them show you how to braid and comb the girls' hair so that you can comb their hair less frequently, but still create styles they will love.

Not knowing your daughters' particular hair type, it's hard for me to offer specifics on products you can use. I have curly-when wet-gets-frizzier-as-it-dries hair that is not too coarse. I use Infusium 23 to detangle when wet and I use Aveda humectant and anti-humectant (pricey, but good) to help keep things smooth and easy to comb. I use the humectant when I want to keep the wet-look curl and the anti-humectant on air-dried or blown-out hair. I also use Paul Mitchell's foaming pomade on my dry hair, which may be too oily if your daughters' hair is more on the fine side.

For my own daughter with hair similar in texture to my own, I try to wash and comb through her hair then braid it in sections. Depending on the style of the braids, I can usually go 2-3 days without having to recomb or as much as week. Then it gets frizzy and starts to look unkempt. When I have to comb it while dry I start by parting in small sections which is far less painful than raking through a whole head of hair. I hold the hair section at the root and comb up from the bottom. I seldom let her wear her hair loose b/c it gets super tangled.

I am sure I don't have to tell you this, but there is so much baggage tied to hair, particularly in the black community, that figuring out how to ''properly'' style your daughters' hair is not only an important practical matter, but a great chance for you to help your girls affirm their identities and build self-esteem. This begins by making hair grooming something that makes your girls feel loved and beautiful and proud of their particular color and texture, instead of having it be a painful, dreaded part of the day.

So many of my best childhood memories are of me sitting between my mother's knees getting my hair done. In those moments I learned not only how to care for myself, but had my head filled with all sorts of nuggets and tidbits that have helped me to become the woman and mother I am today. I hope haircombing becomes this type of experience for your girls too. Good luck. loving me, loving my hair


You sound like my mom did when I was young. My asian mom was desperate for ways to manage our blasian manes. And there were four of us! She would just put our long hair into two big buns on top of our heads after pulling through the tangles with some wrath. It wasn't fun for us and there were many teary mornings. Not all biracial hair is the same so what works for me now may not work for your child.

I never ever attempt to comb my hair dry. If you need to comb it, just do it when it's wet and moisturize it when it's still a little damp. My mom used to buy all kinds of detanglers and they were all a waste of money. None of them worked well. You can control tangles and frizz with coconut oil or sleek beauty products marketed for biracial hair like ''mixed chicks'' hair cream (http://www.mixedchicks.net) which Sheila Head at Head Designs in Emeryville sells. Also, you don't need to wash their hair everyday because our hair needs those natural oils.

Also as you may now know very well, hair can be a really big deal in our identity and there are tons of websites devoted to this. Here's one: http://www.intermix.org.uk/pzone/FEA_07_hair.asp Viva la tangles!


I have very curly hair, but am not biracial. Still, my hair gets tangled and unmanageable if I don't use leave-in conditioner spray. I use giovanni's vitapro leave-in conditioner spray. You can buy it at whole foods or elephant pharmacy. It's better than Infusium and doesn't have any nasty chemicals in it. happy hair
There's a great website out of Canada for bi and multi ethinic hair. It was lots a great tips and products gently enough to use on babies and kids. http://www.blendedbeauty.ca/types.html#1 also a mom of a biracial beauty
Some things that help w/ my bi-racial (African- American/Caucasian) 5-Y-O daughter's long fine curly-tending-to- frizzy hair:

* NO shampoo ever. We ''wash'' with ordinary conditioner about twice a week, which leaves it clean, soft, and easy to brush. Current favorite is Suave Strawberry. Cheap conditioner actually seems to work better than the fancy stuff, maybe it's the wax. We use a LOT & rinse it out.

* We use a plant mister w/ordinary water when brushing her hair in the morning. We don't use leave-in conditioner or detanglers. They just make her hair sticky & stiff. Her hair must be wet to brush it, but using the mister lets me just wet the section I'm working on.

* The Goody ''Ouchless'' brush (we got ours at Safeway) is miraculous.

* She never goes to bed w/ her hair loose. If it's not in at least a loose braid at night we pay the next day. She wears braids to school 3-4 days/week.

* We listen to stories on tape so she doesn't get restless & bored while I'm working on her hair. Good luck!


Natural detangler for kids

Nov 2006

I am looking for a natural alternative to the commercial detanglers we've been using on our kids' thick, course hair. I just shelled out $10 for a bottle of California Baby detangler (we love the soap/shampoo) but find that it doesn't quite do the trick. Any alternatives? In Knots


First, don't laugh. But after spending $12.95 on a ''natural'' childrens detangler that was full of silicones and parabens, I have found the greatest spray detangler for kids.

Buddy Splash Conditioner for Dogs. It is by Cloud Star and you can get it at drugstore. com - 4 oz is $5.69 and it smells great - like lavender. Here are the ingredients: Deionized Water, Natural Conditioner Base, Aloe Vera Juice, Essence Of Lavender, Essence Of Mint, Wheat Protein Extract (Natural Deodorizing Agent), Vitamin C, Vitamin B 5

Luckily my kid can't read yet and thinks the dog on the bottle is cute. anon for my kids' sake


Can't get all the tangles out of daughter's waist length hair

June 2006

Hi. I was wondering if anyone can recommend any good children's shampoos/conditioners along with any lotions? The drug store stuff just doesn't seem to get all the tangles out of my daughter's waist length hair. Washing her hair and conditioning to drying and combing is a nightmare!!! Any recommendations/suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance good health and beauty product seeking mommie


As far as hair care goes, we are in the same boat. I have stopped buying children's products for my daughter's hair, and now just use grown-up, dry-hair conditioners on her hair. (For drugstore brands, try Dove or Neutrogena; Essential Organics makes a nice dry hair conditioner, too.). Also, I comb through the conditioner for her in the bath or shower. That really works it through and it is very easy to get the tangles out that way, while the conditioner is still in th hair. One important tip: NEVER let your daughter dip her clean hair back into the dirty bath water! We learned from a hairdresser that the soap scum and other stuff in the water coats the hair and makes it nasty and unmanageable again. So, now we make sure her hair gets washed last, just before she get out. That trick alone really made a difference.
I don't have a specific brand recommendation, but regarding the tangles in long hair, here's a simple and effective technique that I have used on my long hair and my niece's waist-length hair. All you do is wash the hair, then put in the conditioner, then comb through before you rinse out the conditioner. The conditioner makes the hair slippery, and the tangles come right out. This has worked with pretty much any moisturizing conditioner that I have used, and I often buy the cheap brands. Linda
My daugher has long curly hair that she hates having washed or brushed, so I feel your pain. I have many high-end beauty products in my home (for myself) and have tried most of them on her, without much luck. It surprised me to find that the best solution was a drugstore product: Neutrogena Triple Moisture leave-in conditioner. Now I just wash her hair with a no-more- tears shampoo in the bathtub, then apply the leave-in conditioner, liberally, while her hair is still dripping wet. Then we turn the TV on while I comb out her hair. I start from the bottom and work my way to the crown. The Neutrogena really makes it so much easier to comb, and once her hair is dry, there seems to be no residual sticky or greasy feel. I like it so much I have abandoned my Bumble & Bumble and use it myself. It can be hard to find in local drugstores so I've been ordering from drugstore.com, but I did spy some in Walgreens the other day. FYI: We never use a hair dryer because that adds to the tangles. Hope this helps curly girl's mom
My daughter has long curly hair. My quest for the perfect hair product is over. I use MOP Pear Detangler. You can get it in most of those discount beauty supply stores. I found mine at the one in Montclair. A bottle is $12 I think...but it lasts forever and it works. I also use a tiny (about a nickel in size) dab of Curlfriends leave in conditioner on the ends of her hair after I wash it. They sell that there too...it's in the $15 range and lasts forever as well. I spend more on my kids hair products than I do on my own...but its worth it just to tame the beast! Mother of two of hair challenged girls
Hi, My own daughter's hair, though only mid-back length, also caused many tears during the comb-out process, especially during the summer months with near daily swim activities. What finally helped us was not a change in product (to my knowledge) but a change in process. We shampoo first (we use Ultraswim during the summer, and just plain Suave the rest of the year), and after rinsing we apply a generous amount of conditioner to her hair, from root to tip. Because we use conditioner liberally, we buy a very cheap but effective product, White Rain conditioner, which is 86 cents for a large bottle at Target. The next step is key: we comb out the hair with a wide tooth comb WHILE it is wet, in fact often while we are rinsing out the conditioner. It is much easier than trying to do so after towel drying. After all the conditioner is removed, we pat the hair gently with a towel but don't rub, so that the detangled hair essentially remains that way. The next morning, we have some tangles again, so we spray with a detangler (Target brand, I figure most products are very alike in composition, you're paying for packaging for many of the cosmetic brands) on the dry hair before brushing. Usually no problem as long as I am patient in brushing! Hope this helps. We've been there! carolyn

Detangler for Asian child's long hair

Feb 2005

Can anyone recommend a good detangler/rinse for our adopted daughter's long straight hair? She is Chinese, has beautiful long hair, but it frequently tangles in the back after sleeping. She is 4 years old and hates hairwashing. I have wavy hair and have been using a Paul Mitchell product to make it easier to comb through her washed hair, but lately it is leaving her hair semi-oily because she will not allow me to rinse it well. There are probably lots of products that women with similar hair can recommend. Please help. Want to do better


You didn't say which PM product you use. We use Paul Mitchell's leave-in conditioner, which is a blue gel, after hair washing. In between washes we use Paul Mitchell's hair tamer, which is a leave-in detangler with a pump sprayer. It has a little yellow happy face on the bottle. My (white) daughter has long hair and it really helps keep the tangles away. I also invested in a boar's hair hairbrush because it pulls less on her scalp. Sometimes I am tempted to cut her hair so it will be easier to manage, but it's so much a part of her identity by now that I can't bring myself to do it. Luckily her brother has short hair so I only have one head to worry about. Good luck! Fellow Hair Wrangler
Have you tried loosely braiding her hair at night? This worked wonders for a friend's daughter who had rear-length hair. I also have used the spray detanglers instead of conditioner (which weighed down my son's hair). Of course his hair is not as long, but mine is fairly long and I've actually used his detangler, as well as Aussie's leave in spray on conditioner. When I used to babysit as a teenager, the little one I sat for the most had VERY long hair, we played ''mermaid'' to get her hair rinsed. I would have her sit in the tub, leaning back on her hands, and I would use this big half shell her parents had to repeatedly pour water over her hair while we playacted mermaid together (Mermaids have VERY long lustrous hair you know, and you have to rinse it *just right* to get that mermaid shine..). Hope some of this helps. Karin
I don't know of any specific detanglers that work, but I also have long hair that tangles (not asian hair, just plain old white lady hair). I use regular conditioner and it works fine, but I also braid my hair at night so that it doesn't tangle, and perhaps a quick, loose braid would help your daughter's problem. Make sure it's low on the head because sleeping on the start of the braid might be a little uncomfortable. I use coated nylon bands that don't have a metal connector, too, because it won't rip my hair in the morning when I take my hair down. This works for me. Also tangled
I have long asian hair. I hope this can be of some use to you: Part her hair and put in 2 loose braids for sleeping (or 1 if hair is very long). They must be loose, so she can be comfortable. Make sure there are no single hairs pulling. Use silicone ''rubber'' bands to fasten the ends and wrap around as many times as necessary to not fall off. The tangling will be greatly reduced. When detangling, be gentle. Start by detangling the ends, then move up a few inches and detangle that section, repeat until you can finally comb from scalp to ends without tangles. Use a wide toothed comb without seams and ridges. If you brush, use one with soft bristles and do not try to penetrate the thickness of all the hair. A brush is only a polishing tool, not a detangling tool. Simply smooth down the hair gently. This can be a nice, relaxing, bonding time for mother and daughter.

As for product recommendations, I would be concerned about putting strong ingredients on her delicate skin. If you are using Johnson & Johnson's Baby Shampoo, this is a rather drying shampoo. Maybe look into Free & Clear Shampoo and Conditioners. They are fragrance free to minimize sensitivity reactions. The drugstore should have them; perhaps call first.

For rinsing, a shower sprayer works really well. Have your daughter hold a folded washcloth over her eyes while you rinse.

When your daughter approaches puberty, her hair texture will probably change from fine and thin to thick and coarse; if it does she will need more emollient, heavier conditioners.

You may find the following link helpful: http://www.longhaircommunity.com/ This is a very warm, welcoming community who would love to answer your hair questions! HTH! J12


Need a detangler that really works for 7-y-o's hair

Jan. 2004

Does anyone have a recommendation for a detangling spray that really works for very fine long hair? My seven year old really wants to keep her hair long, but I don't like the drama every morning trying to comb her hair. We've tried Suave and J&J, but someone told me there was something that worked even better but I can't remember the name. Thanks for any help detangling


The detangler that works for us (self and daughter, both with long hair)is Paul Mitchell Lite Detangler. It is a pump spray that goes on wet (or dry) hair before combing. I periodically check for it at beauty salon places with the same company's products but it is hard to find this particular product. I stock up when I see it and haven't had to purchase any in a while so I can't recommend where exactly to find it. Paula
I just put a couple of dollops of conditioner in a spray bottle, fill the rest with water and it works well. Also I glob conditioner over the knots before washing my daughter's hair or at the same time as the shampoo, which also helps. Lastly I don't remember the name either (possibly California Baby) but I know it was grapefruit-scented and from a health food store- tried a few years ago and it seemed to work very nicely. Except the grapefruit smell got to be too much for me after a bunch of sprays (however I am quite sensitive to smells so it may not be too strong.) Chris
We have had good results with L'Oreal Kids Tangle Tamer. Put it on dry hair - really saturate the snags - and let it soak for a few minutes before brushing. Really bad snarls require repeat applications, but it doesn't leave the hair sticky or unpleasant at all. Good luck. Janie
You should ask your question here: http://www.longhaircommunity.com/ You will get lots of great advice!
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