Caring for biracial hair: how I keep my daughter's hair soft and curly

January 11 | Guest post by Angie

natural hair care for children

Serenity is my beautiful biracial baby girl, and one of the very first things people notice about her are her wonderful curls. Let me tell you — she doesn't jump up from bed every morning with her hair in perfect little ringlets. It takes a little time, effort, and some awesome products to create curls like this.

Serenity's hair was very soft and fine when she was a baby, but as she's gotten older the curls have definitely intensified. When her hair is wet, it actually reaches the middle of her back! People are always asking how I care for her hair — I've had black and white grandparents and parents ask me for tips. When people see her hair they usually assume her hair is easier to manage — it's not. It's not hard, either — it just takes a little more effort and care.

Every year it becomes more of a challenge to find good hair care products — traditional "black" and "white" hair products don't work on her hair. Luckily, after a bit of online research, I found a few products that I love.

Serenity's hair is very temperamental — some days it's extremely dry, and other days it's not. A product that has been getting awesome results for days on end will sometimes suddenly stop working! I suggest that you rotate different products and try new product lines regularly.

Here are my favorite products (editor's note: you can see the full list of products and items at Angie's blog — it's very detailed and long, so we just put a few from each category in this post):

Shampoos, Conditioners, and Moisturizers

Curly Q's For Kids

Curly Q's For Kids has some of the best biracial hair products I've ever found — the line has a wonderful light coconut scent that is perfect for kids. The downside? It can get pretty expensive. We've tried their entire line for kids and I love all of it, but my favorite is Curly Q Milkshake — this stuff is priceless. It conditions Serenity's hair, defrizzes her curls and leaves hair easy to brush and style. I usually order the larger 32 ounce bottle every three months.

Another favorite is Curly Q's Moist Curls Moisturizer/Detangler. My friend's little girl (who's Caucasian), has the some of the thickest, curliest hair ever. When she used Moist Curls, she had no problem combing her hair! Moist Curls works on ANY curly hair type — it's not just for biracial children.

It's A Curl

Curls is another favorite — I love the It's a Curl Itsby Bitsy Spirals line that's made for babies and young children — all the products are organic!

Mixed Chicks

Mixed Chicks makes wonderful products for biracial and/or curly hair — my favorite is their leave-in conditioner. If you're using it on your child mix it with water — too much left Serenity's hair kind of crunchy. The smell of their products is also a bit strong for kids, but they do have a kid-friendly conditioner.

Brushes and Combs

Use the best.


It's better to invest in a good brush and comb that will last for years, rather than a cheap one you have to replace over and over. You definitely don't want to use cheap hair brushes on your child's curly hair — a good brush is just as important as the products you put in your child's hair. I mostly use two different brands — the Tangle Teezer and the Denman's Tangle Tamer.

The Denman brush (I would recommend using a real one — NOT a copycat) is a high quality brush that's been around forever. I use this brush to put ponytails in Serenity's hair and for curl definition — but only after her hair has been detangled!

Watch the video below to see how amazing this brush is for curl definition:

The Denman Tangle Tamer is made specifically for kids and I think it does an excellent job. I've never had a problem with it and it goes through Serenity's hair fairly easily — it's perfect for ponytails too!

Hair Care Tips

I currently wash Serenity's hair with the 2 in 1 Suave Smoothers (I like Cowabunga Coconut) once a month. I then condition her hair with either HE Hello Hydration or TRESemmé Naturals. While conditioning I grab sections of her hair and sort of squeeze the conditioner into her hair and comb out the tangles in her hair using the Tangle Teezer or wide tooth comb. You leave it in for 10 to 15 minutes then rinse well in cold/cool water.

When drying her hair, I squeeze the hair so it's not drippy wet — but not completely dry. Then I add TRESemmé leave-in conditioner all over her curls. I like to brush Serenity's hair in sections. Starting on the ends of her hair, I brush sections of her hair using the Tangle Teezer (or a wide-tooth comb, or one of the other brushes I've listed above) until it's completely detangled. Then I warm a little bit of Olive, Jojoba or Monoi oil (starting with a dime size and adding more if needed) between my palms and apply it all over her hair to lock in the moisture.

When Serenity wakes up in the morning, her head looks just like fluffy cotton candy! It doesn't help that Serenity has a habit of twirling her hair around her finger as she falls asleep either. So here's what I do to tame that mane.

I NEVER brush or comb Serenity's hair dry, and I always add as much TRESemmé leave-in conditioner (mixed with water) as needed to detangled it. I also add a little bit of Olive, Jojoba, Monoi oil or Juicy to the ends if they are really dry. If she's having a very dry period, I lightly apply the oil all over her head too. Starting on the ends of her hair, detangle using the Tangle Teezer (or Tangle Tamer). It takes about 5 to 10 mintues. If needed, I'll add about a dime size of oil over her hair to lock in the moisture.

Depending on what style I do in her hair for the day, I can get awesome curl definition by using the Denman brush — or just throw on a pretty flower headband!

Join our community!

  1. Thank you thank you thank you! This is SOOO helpful. I'm cooking up my own little biracial baby right now, so it'll be awhile before we meet him/her and find out about his/her hair. But it's one of the things I've been anxious about. Of course my husband is perfectly capable of styling our child's hair, but I need to know what I'm doing too. Your instructions are concise and this is the first time I feel not-intimidated!

    Oh and your daughter is GORGEOUS.

    11 agree
  2. My daughter isn't biracial. She is full African American but her hair is natural. Meaning no relaxers. I LOVE Curls!! Another good company is Kinky-Curly.

    5 agree
  3. I'm a white girl. My mom is also a white girl. My dad is a black guy. My mom met my dad when she was a hairdresser, doing his hair. The smell of relaxers is one of the smells of my youth. Throughout my childhood (25 years or so ago) my mom would sometimes shake her head sadly when she saw white moms with mixed race kids whose hair was all wonk. "Those women really should learn how to do their children's hair."

    Ignoring for a moment my mother's sexism, I just needed to say how awesome it is that you've posted this, for white mothers of kids-who-aren't-white-and-who-have-curly-hair everywhere.

    18 agree
  4. Yay for this post! Having what I affectionately refer to as a "Jewfro", and having cared for two biracial girls who had a complicated relationship with their own hair (their mother, who was black, had chemically straightened hair and made them feel pretty ashamed about their own — she even took her THREE YEAR OLD to a salon where she got it flat-ironed, and showered her with compliments afterwards :-/) this is super-relevant and helpful. Despite being blonde and not "mixed", I use Mixed Chicks and love it. I suppose that now I need to invest in a Denman brush! It would be great to see a similar post for boys. Between my Jewfro and my husband's course Sicilian locks, I'm pretty sure that my son Matteo will have quite a head of hair himself.

    5 agree
    • Yup, I've got the Jew hair. My husband has some of the curliest hair I've ever seen on a blond man. Pretty sure our little boy is destined for curls.

      1 agrees
  5. it took us forever to figure out how to take care of my sisters hair. I have very curly hair, but i'm white and it's not the same. Now that we got the inside scoop, she is FAB and her hair has grown alot!

    4 agree
  6. I just have to say, your daughter is gorgeous! I love that picture.

    9 agree
  7. I have tried so many more natural / organic products with not much luck. My favorites right now are mostly the KeraCare natural textures for my biracial twins. But, above and beyond products, styling tips have made the biggest impact. Hours of Miss Jessie's Hair Product's(another favorite of ours) youtube tutorials later, we've got a good system. Twists left my girls' hair with strange parts and kinks and frizzy ends, but coils were the holy grail of styling tips. Success, and it only took four years to figure it out. 😛

    3 agree
  8. I would also love to throw my 2 cents in for the WEN hair care line! I love it.

    I myself am a great mix of races and have crazy curly super tight curls and WEN has been one of the only things that works or does anything for me.

    I am so glad to be able to share this article with my friends on Facebook. It will help so many people for sure!

    2 agree
  9. My husband and I are supposed to start getting young foster children next month! We signed up for all types, so we may get biracial children.

    One of the things my case worker stressed is to ALWAYS find somebody who knows how to take care of ethnic hair and get them to help you. Don't just let the hair go, or go to whoever is cheapest. Since you can't usually change a foster child's appearance, it's helpful to know how to take care of their natural hair. This was super helpful! :)

    4 agree
  10. My daughters are African-American and I LOVE the curly q's products, though I use the ones that are targeted toward hair with a tighter curl or kink. I also have really liked Oyin products for moisturizing braids and twists and have had good luck with a few other brands. There is actually a lot of good stuff out there. The thing about bi-racial or black hair is that there are no two heads of hair that are the same. When my oldest daughter had enough hair to begin to style I took her to a local natural hair salon for a consultation and made sure to buy product from them. I'll do the same when my baby has more hair. We'll go back for trims as they get older and it's my hope that both my little ladies will be able to grow up seeing grown women with hair like theirs doing the natural thing.

    1 agrees
  11. I heart Mixed Chicks conditioner. I also second the recommendation for Oyin — we use Greg Juice plus Hair Dew for everyday maintenance, and like the author of this post, folks are always asking me for hair tips. (I keep thinking I should start offering an hourly rate to comb curly kids' hair without tears…)

  12. I wish i had seen this, this summer when i had a sweet little biracial foster baby. That child had the prettiest hair but it took me forever to figure our how to care for it.

    2 agree
  13. Thank you for posting. We love the CurlyQ's products as well. Great to see other suggestions. :)

  14. thank you for posting this! As a curly haired child of parents who didn't have a clue of how to manage my hair, I can tell you you are doing a great thing for curly haired children everywhere.

    2 agree
  15. SO thankful for this post. My (4 yr. old)daughter's hair is SO different than mine, though we both have very curly hair. My products DONT work, and I don't even know where to begin looking for something different! And you thought of including BRUSHES on your post! I needed those too!! THANK YOU!!!

  16. As a biracial (Latina and Black) woman myself, Carol's Daughter is FANTASTIC for curl definition, Mizani is a great moisturizer and Cantu makes a great (and inexpensive!) leave-in conditioner. Garnier Fruitis regular line doesn't do much for my dense curls, but their organic and natural line in the dark green containers has a great, non drying, nonflaky hair gel and mouse!

    Love this post! My mother had experience with hair textures different from her own, so the only trouble she had with my hair was finding the right products. A confusing (and expensive) task, but my siblings and I all have beautiful, healthy hair as a result 😉

  17. THANK YOU for sharing this! My partner and I are adopting transracially this spring (!!!!) and this mama-to-be (with fine, straight hair) wants to be in the know for good hair products for my future wee ones! I am literally taking notes from this thread! <3 Thank you again!

    1 agrees
  18. I'm Jewish with crazy curly hair that my mom just didn't know what to do with. I spent most of my childhood with two french braids going down my back. We'd wash and condition my hair and then my mom would comb it out wet and braid it. I didn't even realize that my hair was curly and that there was a term for it until I was 10 or 11. I've always used normal drugstore brands and my hair has always been fine. Here's some tips I've learned the hard way:

    1. Don't brush to eliminate tangles. Most dry styling can be done with a combination of finger combing and a spray bottle of water. When the child wakes up with sleep tousled hair finger grooming, water and time can restore curls.

    2. Comb to detangle while conditioning. If the hair is particularly snaggly start a few inches from the bottom and comb down and then reset to a few inches above the starting point and repeat until hair is detangled. A firm grip on the tress above where you are working can eliminate tugging.

    3. I recommend the braid and forget method for active kids like I was. If you have a tomboy who loves playing in the woods and getting in to trouble, the french braid is your best friend. It will contain the hair and keep most leaves and debris from your child's hair while keeping it neat and detangled. Plus once she gets frustrated and removes the braid it's a pretty wavy/crimped style.

    4. Stay away from gels and mousses because they dry hair out like nothing else. Look instead for "Styling lotions" or "Curl Lotions" sometimes try products made for volumizing as they are lighter and less likely to damage hair.

    5. Look for "Weightless" or "volumizing" shampoos and conditioners because they don't contain the heavy waxes or silicons that "curl enhancing" conditioners do. It goes against common knowledge but the curl enhancers usually end up weighing down the curl, dulling the shine, and requiring the use of more curl enhancers. Most curly hair curls just fine on it's own. It just needs to be released to do so. I tend to use Dove's "Energizing" line because I like the smell… Though their entire line is nice and light.

    6. Be aware that the curl changes over the head. The hair that hangs down in front of my face is the tightest curling and the frizziest. The hair by my ears is very silky and barely curls. The back of my head is coarse with bigger curls and sometimes frizzy. If I can convey this to a stylist then they know to take the least length off the front and the most from the back. They also know how to shape it so that my hair isn't triangular.

    4 agree
  19. I think the most important hing you note is wash infrequently!! I'm a white girl with fine but super curly hair and tons of it, and I wish I/my mom had figured out the whole don't wash your hair everyday thing before 16, changed my life. I have a little boy on the way and I really really hope he has my hair (never though when I was a kid I would think that) I love kids (and grown ups) with curly hair, I LOVE it!

  20. Side tip: Because kids like to bring home lice, and a lot people think there's nothing you can do about it except use pesticides when it happens.

    Curly and kinky hair is not conducive to the lifestyle of North American head lice. However, this is partially due to the fact that the insects do not like two products that are most commonly used in "black"/kinky-hair products: Olive oil and coconut oil.

    So those products that are great for the curly hair are also great for reducing your likelihood of lice infestation, and FANTASTIC for treating it if she brings it home to those folks who are more prone to colonizing. Fun fact.

    [Explanation of my soap box: I got pesticide poisoning when my step-daughter brought lice home and we had 10 people to shampoo and comb. I ended up doing all the spraying of furniture as well. All you need is a good vacuuming, and some olive or coconut oil based shampoo/conditioner to get rid of them. For fleas, a good salting of the carpet will do. Please don't poison yourself, your family or your babies using unnecessary pesticides.]

    4 agree
  21. Hello, just wanted to thankyou so much for this it was and is truly helpful. I have a 22month old biracial little girl and another lovely little girl i am currently carrying and will meet in Feb 2013 so again i will get these products and thankyou again:)

  22. For all of you straight haired people learning how to deal correctly with curly hair, my hats off to you. Girls and boys with curls will be forever grateful to you.

    I got my curly hair from my dad, but mom is super straight haired… I spent my childhood with brushes stuck in my brillo pad poof of hair, getting it straightened, never having curl definition. I'd shower and then just coil my hair in a bun because I had no idea what to do with it and almost had my hair rot because of it. I spent so much money buying products, and had a giant collection of hair products in my shower in the hope that this time I'd find the magical product that would "fix" my hair.

    As an adult the Curly Girl book fell into my hands and MAN it changed my life!!! I now have CURLS! And I don't need mountains of products! I use only two things: Tresseme Naturals conditioner and Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Smoothie . When my hair seems to get "tired" of the products I do a re-boot with a baking soda + conditioner mix to clean my scalp and rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and then continue with heavy conditioning and it is back to behaving.

    Who would've thought that less WOULD be more?

    1 agrees
  23. im biracial my dads white my moms black my hair isall over the place and i use motions and it dosent do any thing

    1 agrees
  24. My hair is thick, course and blonde and highlighted. I have been using Kerastase for years and it has gotten to the point of being so dry I can barely wash it – it is hard and brittle even when wet. Silicon build up is the culprit. It doesn't wash away and takes a while to wash out, even with a silicon free shampoo. But after one wash with the Shielo Hydrate Shampoo, my hair is back to feeling baby soft again! I love Shielo and I have never even heard of this brand! I am going to use this as my regular shampoo until it is gone. Its from the Shielo brand, called Shielo Hydrate Shampoo.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.