On a recent scroll through X, I came across a video of a man getting his daughter’s hair relaxed. The child looked no older than five years old.
The first thing that came to mind was how I wished he hadn’t done it. Many people who replied to the video shared the same sentiments. However, others didn’t see anything wrong with relaxing the toddler’s hair.
“Okes, 4C hair is hard to maintain as an adult, and kids shouldn't have to go through all that. Let the man relax his daughter's hair, there are toddler's products for that which I hope are less harmful,” commented @Ntombikayise_x.
And I agree with Ntombikayise, 4C type hair is challenging to maintain. However, cream relaxers are harmful, even the kiddie’s range.
According to research published in the South African Medical Journal by V N B SishiI, J C van Wyk, and N P Khumalo, it states that: “Relaxer use is associated with an increased risk of traction alopecia (TA), central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), hair breakage, scalp irritation, burns, scarring and allergic reactions.”
In addition to that, cream relaxers damage the scalp and hair follicles. I remember when I was in primary school, some girl had blisters and wounds on her head because a cream relaxer burnt her scalp.
It took a long time for her to recover and I don’t think she ever used relaxers after that.
In 2023, I don’t think there should be a parent who should be putting such harsh chemicals on their toddler's hair.
Yes, our parents did it to us, but they didn’t know better. They thought straight hair or perms were the standard of beauty, but as a more informed generation of parents, we know better and should do better.
The market is filled with thousands of organic products that parents can use to treat their children’s hair. However, not many parents know how to take care of their children’s hair, especially 4C type, and maybe that’s where the biggest problem lies.
To help you take care of your child’s hair, we have compiled a few tips you can follow.
Combing 4c type hair can be painful, more so because it’s coarse and can sometimes be dry. So the best way is to detangle it first.
In a spray bottle, put in a leave-in conditioner, and then add water and mix the two. Use that spray to detangle your child’s hair before combing and unplaiting.
Wash your child’s hair at least once a month using sulfate and paraben-free shampoos. Native Child, a local hair brand, has a kiddies hair range that you can use to nurture your child’s hair.
Don’t leave your child’s hair to be dry. Always make sure it’s moisturised. It’s always best to use plant-based moisturisers with organic ingredients.
Take care of the scalp
The scalp is the most important if you want your child to have healthy hair. Occasionally moisturise their scalp with lightweight oil and gently massage it to allow blood to flow nicely. Don’t allow the scalp to be dry and flaky, it may damage the hair.
Avoid artificial heat
After washing your child’s hair, it’s always best to allow it to air dry instead of using artificial heat like blow dryers, as they can cause multiple cracks on hair cuticles.
Alternatively, you can apply a heat protector spray to reduce the damage that may be caused by the heat.
Be wary of the protective styles you do on your child’s hair. Always opt for child-friendly styles such as twists or buns. Don’t make it too tight, as that may be strenuous on the scalp, causing irritation.
Also, let your child’s hair free every now and then to allow the scalp to breathe.
However, if you do decide that you want to relax your child’s hair, health professionals advise that you wait until they are 12 years old, but always keep in mind the health implications.