One Mom's journey to raise empowered mixed-race children

A Complete Guide To Multiracial/Biracial Hair

This guide was written as a resource tool for the many parents out there that are at wits end with caring for their MixtKids hair and are tired of buying product after product just to find that it’s not what they were looking for. After doing extensive researh, I hope to give you a little education on biracial and multiracial hair care and answer some of the questions you might have. I’m not a professional stylist, but I’ve interviewed, researched and taught myself what works for my daughter, whom is half Hispanic and half black. 

These tips and suggestions should help you develop and learn the easy way to maintain healthy hair for yourself or your child. We’ll start first with the tools you’ll need:

Tools for multiracial / Biracial Hair Maintenance

  • Wide tooth comb or pick. For me, the wider the teeth, the better. If hair is short, you may use a natural brush made for African American hair.
  • Very Important – A good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that is also detangling. I love Mixed Chicks products, but I’ve also found that Loreal and Neutrogena make good Deep Conditioners that work well and are readily available at both Walmart and Walgreens. I have friends that swear by Creme of Nature (moisturizing shampoo). I just started using this and am pretty impressed.
  • Moisturizing solution or spray. Personally, I mix my favorite detangling conditioner with water and use that. My daughter has super thick hair so spraying isn’t much of an option for us. With thinner hair, moisturizing sprays and leave in conditioners work great. For thicker hair, be prepared to wet hair more thoroughly and apply a GOOD leave in, such as Mixed Chicks leaveIn conditioner and comb through or work in with fingers.
  • Deep conditioning treatment or hot oil treatment for once a month application – this a must for summer, especially if you swim as much as my daughter does.
  • A Microwaveable or professional conditioning heat cap for deep conditioning days
  • For children especially, a good moisturizing oil/creme for braids and ponytails. I use Olive Oil since it’s water soluable and does not weigh down the hair. It also does not have an over powering smell and does not leave a film on the hair. Remember, a little goes a long way. You will have to experiment. We need quite a bit, but my daughter has a ton of hair. I’ve used on other kids and a dab was quite enough.
  • A MUST HAVE – Silk or satin sleep cap and a satin pillow case

Getting out those tanglescomb

For those of us dealing with kinky hair, this section will be very important. Never, I repeat, never try to comb out kinky hair while it’s dry. Apply a moisturizer or detangler mix to the hair first and be sure you use a wide tooth or ‘detangling’ comb. In general, the farther apart the teeth the better. I don’t use brushes because my daughter has super thick and very tightly curled hair in parts. Plus, I find that brushes will grab the hair and create “poof” as opposed to detangling.

First and foremost, be patient and gentle when combing kinky hair. I prefer to comb my daughters hair out in the shower or immediately following and prefer the hair to be very conditioned and very wet. If I do it in the shower, I do it while conditioner is thoroughly saturated and then rinse after completely detangled. You can also do this outside the shower and use a detangling spray or moisturizer as an aid.

Begin by working in sections. Depending on the amount of hair you or your child has, a minimum of 4 sections is best to start with. I part the hair and tie off the parts I’m not working with at the time. Then, I gently hold the section of hair I am working with near the scalp with my free hand and work the comb against that hand. Comb gently, beginning at the ends and work your way up to the root. until all knots are free. Tie the detangled section off and start on the next one.

Washing Multiracial/Biracial Hair

I typically wash my daughters hair about once a week, although she gets a good rinse at least every other day and good conditioning and detangling treatment on those days as well. Every persons hair will be different, so start out by washing hair about once a week and see how your hair reacts. In the winter this might stretch out a little longer and summer might be a little shorter. For us, summer is harsh on her hair as my daughter is a sweater and swimmer. Deep conditioning might also need to be increased during the summer months as well as trimming.

I’m sure many of you have Caucasian friends that wash their own hair daily. I’m hispanic and I do this because my hair is naturally oily and if I didn’t wash it every day, it would be heavy and greasy looking. In my biracial child, overwashing leads to dryness, dullness and breakage. For multiracial/biracial hair care, you typically will not want to wash more than a couple of times a week. I have 3 moisturizing favorites: Creme of Nature, Neutrogena Triple Moisture Shampoo and Mixed Chicks Moisture.

Again, one way to stretch out the time between washings is to just rinse the hair with warm water, recondition and detangle. Last, but not least, when you dry, do so gently with a towel and blot the hair. Do NOT rub vigorously and avoid heat as much as possible. Allow the hair to air dry and you will be so happy with the results.

Styling multiracial/biracial Hair – it’s easier than you think!

For kids, minimum styling products are needed since they are usually in ponytails, braids, etc. But, I have found that to help hold the hair and keep the frizz down, two products have been very useful. One is Olive Oil Moisture Lotion and the other is Mixed Chicks Leave in Conditioner. When braiding or in ponies, I used a dab of Olive Oil in my palms and rub into hair, starting from scalp down to ends. This keeps away frizz and helps maintain moisture throughout the day. If I’m doing ponytails and want natural curls to stay all day without frizzing up, I use Mixed Chicks leave in and start at the ends and work my way up to root. I then style as desired and allow to air dry. Hair will maintain that pretty ringlet curl and frizz will be tamed. You can mix with water as well to help when restyling through the day. I love these two products because they are not heavy, great moisturizers and gentle on kids and adults alike. Plus, they do not have super fragrant smells. I don’t know about you, but I like my daughter to smell like a little girl, not a beauty salon.

Products to Avoid

This is very important as many products are on the market claim to be great for curly hair. Do not be fooled. A caucasian with curly hair is very different than a multiracial or biracial person with curly hair. So, avoid any styling products that might be drying to your hair. These include, hair sprays, mousse products, gels and any product with a lot of alcohol base to it. There are a few aids you can use for certain hair styles or to provide hold or aid in straightening. Pomades and gels that are aloe based and shea butter or olive oil based softeners and lotions are great. Thermo sprays are great for heat styling and to protect when flat ironing. There are so many on the market, it’s hard to recommend one. I prefer to flat iron my daughters hair without any aid, but that’s my preference. Since I don’t do it often, I can get a way with it. I just make sure it’s been well moisturized or deep conditioned recently.

How to go “Natural” – Ringlets in Multiracial/Biracial Hair

Many MixtKids have beautiful curls when their hair is wet and we would love to keep that look once their hair dries, right? If you have natural curls and want more definition, here are some great tips:

  • Wash hair at least once per week (the other days, rinse well and recondition)
  • Detangle every day (in the shower, while reconditioning, is best)
  • Put in a leave in conditioner (Mixed Chicks LeaveIn is my favorite). Apply thoroughly to hair, starting with ends and working your way up to the top of the head.
  • If you need to add a little shine, Olive Oil Root Stimulator Spray or Sheen can be used, if necessary. I generally do not need to do this with my daughter. However, it helps if I’m redoing her hair for the evening and just want to add some shine without redoing her hair completely.
  • If you are in a hurry and cannot allow to air dry, use a blow dryer on the lowest temp WITH a diffuser. This will gently dry hair without creating frizz. Again, air dry is usually best, but not always practical. Especially in winter.

Perms and Relaxers – Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Now, this is tricky one. I’m a firm believer that children should maintain their natural hair until an age when they are fully aware of the impact a “permanent” change, such as a relaxer, will have on their hair. To me, it’s just that, “permanent” and is a very serious decision. Also, perming and straightening send the message that “straight is great” (especially a permanent change) and can lead the child with natural hair to believe that their hair isn’t pretty enough or popular. If we want to empower our mixtkids, we must teach them to treasure their natural beauty first. Our six year old is so proud of her natural hair and gets compliments non stop. She swears she will never permenantly change it. But, she still loves to have me flat iron on occassion and twirls her head around rejoicing in how long it is when fully straightended. I want her to know, she can have the best of both worlds. It just takes a little extra work.

In fact, we know a woman with hair a similar texture to my daughter and she has always maintained that her natural hair is the way to go. She told me on one occassion that she wished her hair had been kept virgin as a child. Because it was so thick and hard to handle, her mom chose to relax it. As an adult, my sister in law has spent a lot of time getting her hair back to a more natural state and still maintains that it never went back to what it was when it was virgin hair. So, when your child is old enough, they can decide on their own. Until that time, use this guide to make your life easier in handling your child’s hair and keeping it naturally beautiful and healthy.

Ponytail and Braiding – The Do’s and Don’ts

pj_cornrollsAs we all know, these styles are the mainstay in most of our households. They are easy, look great and keep the hair from going wild and getting all tangled. Plus, you can often get a few days out of one style, as opposed to combing and styling every day. This can be a great timesaver. But, these styles can lead to hair issues and even permanent damage and hair loss. Below is a list of things you should be aware of when using bound styles often:

  1. Don’t use bands that are rubberized and/or ones that have metal clips. These will grab the hair and break it. Use covered bands. Buy plenty as you should throw away the ones that show too much wear and tear or become exposed to rubber. This to will grab and break the hair.
  2. Do remove any bands from the hair that are nearest the scalp before bedtime. For sleeping, it’s best to braid the hair and only use the bands to hold the braid. Ponytails can cause breakage if slept in.
  3. Don’t pull the hair too tight. Not only can this be uncomfortable for your child, it can also cause hair loss around her hairline and scalp.
  4. Do, give the hair and scalp a break! While bound styles are great and make life easier, your hair needs a rest at least once a week. I try to give my daughter one day or two where no bands are in. On those days we do head bands and barrettes. If you can’t go a whole day with hair down, try giving it a few hours in the evening and rebraid for bedtime. I find that this also helped my daughter’s hair to grow as well. Not to mention, she loves it!
  5. As mentioned above, remove tight bands from hair before sleeping. Braid loosly if hair is really long and make sure and use a satin pillowcase or sleep cap.
  6. Do trim the ends of hair regularly. We do a trim at least every 60 days, but more often in Summer. If you don’t trim the hair, the ends will begin to split and cause damage all over the hair shaft. Split ends are the major reason for tangled and hard to deal with hair so keeping it trimmed is in your best interest. I promise, if you keep up on the trimming, you will have healthier, easy to manage hair that grows faster and looks great.

As I said before, I’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars trying to find the best and most useful products for multiracial/biracial hair. I’ve spent countless hours researching african american hair, biracial hair and caucasian hair care and put it all together to come up with this guide. I’m confident, if you follow these tips and guidelines, you will learn how to properly care for multiracial/biracial hair and keep that natural look both healthy and manageable. And, of course, if you have more questions or comments, there’s always the forum. For every hair problem, someone has a solution.

Renae Valdez-Simeon
Sr. Editor, MixtKids.com

3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Hi, good post. I have been woondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.

  2. Michele

     /  June 25, 2009

    Just found your website from the CNN article. I also have biracial children (hispanic and black). I totally agree w/ the products you have listed in your post. I use Mixed Chicks on my daughter’s hair and love the product. I will be back to your website.

  3. Michelle C

     /  June 25, 2009

    So happy to have discovered your site. I’m african american and my husband is czech. my daughter has curly hair but is fine. i have been using the hair care line hair rules leave in condtioner for her hair. I emailed this lind to my friend who is white and has been very perplexed on what to do with her biracial daughters hair.