Inside: A complete hair care routine with step by step instructions for curly mixed hair care
One of the most frequent questions I get in regards to my kids is “how do you maintain all that hair?”.
No doubt mixed hair is a whole different ball game than how I manage my own curly hair. When I was new to the game of maintaining my biracial daughter’s curly hair I was constantly looking up articles on how to care for mixed hair and what products I should be using.
I didn’t have help from my family because they wanted to treat her biracial hair like white hair, (brushing it out all the time, shampooing it every day) and her dad wanted to treat it like black hair, (putting grease in it).
That might work for some if your kid’s hair is super fine or super coarse but many mixed kids (mine included) have a mix of hair textures.
After trying out lots of different routines and many more products, I’ve put together helpful step-by-step instructions for mixed hair care with the products that I find work the best, to help guide you on your haircare journey.
To give you more useful information, I’ve also added a FAQs section towards the bottom of this post with commonly asked questions about mixed curly hair!
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Products To Use For Mixed Hair
- Sturdy, wide tooth comb
- Cantu conditioner
- Satin cap
- Cantu curl activator
- Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
You can also use these optional products that I have used and loved if they are in your budget!
In the beginning I had to experiment a lot with different products to find out what worked best with my children’s hair. Also as they got older and their hair became more coarse I had to change products.
There is a huge variety in biracial/multiracial hair texture so you may have to experiment with different products to find the best one for your child’s hair type.
Go here for the full list of products for mixed hair that I use for my kids currently.
I used to use Mixed Chicks hair products on my daughter’s hair when she was younger and her hair was more fine.
You can read here for more info on biracial hair care for babies.
Now that she’s older, her hair is literally a mix between my hair and her dad’s hair. She has some looser (in terms of her hair) curls on the top layer, tight curls on the bottom layer and one small section of Afro textured hair right in the back of her head.
Her hair is coarser now that she’s older so I use Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus curly line.
I had heard good things about Shea Moisture like they are organic, and free of parabens and sulfates, plus many people recommended this line for thick, coarse, curly hair so I decided to give it a try.
The Curl and Shine conditioner is thick and you need a good thick conditioner to hydrate mixed hair because it’s so dry.
I like the conditioner but it is on the expensive side considering how much conditioner you have to use on mixed hair. If it’s in your budget I say it’s a good option.
I recently started using Cantu’s hydrating cream conditioner because I was looking for a cheaper option and I’m so happy I found this!
It’s really thick, moisturizing, and cheap! So I can use a lot without feeling guilty about how quickly we go through it or the amount of money it costs.
The Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie is a leave in cream and you only need a little bit when you use it so the jar lasts a long time, (I use it on two kids and it still lasts me months)! The line smells great and people always compliment how great my kids hair smells.
The Curl Enhancing Smoothie is really affordable especially considering how little of it you need. This is great news for those of us on a budget!
I also use Cantu’s curl activator cream, in conjunction with the curl enhancing smoothie. This is another cheap option to help define those beautiful curls, keep them soft, and reduce frizz.
I’ve always avoided gel because they ended up being too sticky or too crunchy, but the Kinky Curling Custard is amazing!
Using this product helps keep her curls more defined for days and it definitely keeps the frizz at bay too.
You don’t need a lot of it at all and when it dries it’s not sticky or crunchy.
It’s my secret weapon for beautiful curls!
Now that we’ve talked about what products I use and love, let’s begin the process!
(By the way this is specifically how to manage my daughter’s hair but my son’s routine is pretty similar).
Instructions For Mixed Hair Care Routine
So first off, I don’t wash their hair with shampoo….ever. That’s right, I only use conditioner or Cantu conditioning co-wash and I cleanse with either of those.
So if you are unfamiliar with what co-washing is, you wash their scalp and hair with conditioner or co-wash instead of shampoo.
It still cleans their scalp, but it doesn’t dry their hair out like shampoo does.
Since I’ve started doing this (it’s been several months), I’ve noticed their hair is much softer and easier to comb through.
Cutting down detangle time is essential for me as my daughter HATES getting her hair washed and combed! I only go through this process twice a week as her hair is dry so it doesn’t need to be washed more than that.
Also because she hates having her hair combed out, having a routine is essential so she knows when to expect it.
I wet her head, scrub her scalp with conditioner or co-wash, wash it out, and then put another generous amount of conditioner all through her hair.
Your child’s hair should have enough conditioner in it that you can see it all through their hair (hence the need for cheap conditioner).
You’ll want to section your child’s hair out with clips if it’s long. I find 4-5 sections works best because you want to avoid sections that are too thick as combing through a thick section takes a lot longer. Plus any tangles you have to comb out are much easier to get out in smaller sections of hair.
Begin combing out each section with a wide tooth comb and make sure there’s still conditioner in their hair when detangling.
Once you’ve combed out each section, take the clips out and comb it all together one more time.
You’ll want to use a sturdy wide tooth comb or one of these brushes if your child has really curly hair, as a regular brush would completely frizz their hair, cause breakage, and ruin their curl pattern. Fine tooth combs would never make it through thick curly hair!
You also want to comb from the bottom to the top. So comb out the ends first and work your way up to the scalp. Again, this makes it easier to comb out tangles.
Depending on how long it has been since the last time I combed out her hair and how well it was maintained, this can take about 30 minutes.
My daughter is 4 years old so I can only imagine what this process will look like in another couple of years!
Once her hair has been combed out, I rinse the conditioner out (but not all the way out, I leave a little bit in to keep moisture in it) and right away I put in the Curl Activator Cream and Curl Enhancing Smoothie at the same time, and Kinky Curling Custard is the last product I put on.
How much you need to use will depend on your child’s hair, but I use about a nickel size of the curl activator and curl smoothie and about another nickel size of the gel.
I put them in my hands and rub my hands together and distribute it throughout her hair starting from the bottom and moving up towards the top. This ensures the roots don’t have too much product in them.
Once this is done, and she’s out of the tub, I have her flip her head over so her hair is hanging.
I use an old t-shirt and scrunch her hair in an upwards motion to get a lot of the excess water out. This also defines the natural curl pattern and gives the hair more volume at the top of the head. If your child has long hair, the top can sometimes get weighed down, so drying it this way gives the roots more volume.
Then I let it air dry. You should air dry as much as possible as this is the healthiest way to dry curly hair.
I find that this is the best way to get beautiful frizz free curls.
I only do this whole process though when I know I have a good 5 hours or more before she’s going to sleep, because if she sleeps on it while it’s still wet then all that hard work has to be re-done the next day. Something I want to avoid at all costs!
When it’s bedtime, I put my daughter’s hair in a really high ponytail (also called a pineapple) with a loose scrunchy and put a satin cap on her head.
I’ve been doing this for some time now and I’ve noticed that her hair is much less frizzy, and her curls stay defined when she wakes up.
Using the satin cap helps reduce tangles too because their hair isn’t rubbing against a cotton pillow case.
In the morning I can spritz her hair with a little water and I run just a little bit of cream and/or gel, (depending on what her hair is looking like) through her hair and let it air dry, which doesn’t take that long. Then I can leave it down for the day.
I do repeat the pineapple and satin cap every time she naps or goes to sleep.
Then after a few days of that short routine in the morning, I usually will put it in a pony tail or braid for a day or two.
Then it’s time to start the process over again!
The best way I’ve found to take care of mixed hair is find a good hydrating conditioner and products that work well with your child’s hair type.
Create a routine so your child knows what to expect because that hair is only getting thicker and longer! If your child is anything like mine, they need to know what to expect to cut down on the tantrums.
I’m sure as my daughter gets older the maintenance will change, but for now this is what works best for her beautiful biracial hair.
I’d love to hear how you take care of mixed curls! Leave a comment to share your routine or go to products!
The Ultimate Guide To Biracial Hair Care is now available! Everything you need to take care of different types of biracial hair is at your fingertips!
If you’re struggling with very dry, tangled, frizzy, limp, or unmanageable curls, don’t forget to grab the popular guide: The Secret To Soft, Healthy Mixed Hair!
Grab your printable version of this mixed haircare routine!
- Cantu Hydrating Cream Conditioner
- Cantu Curl Activator Cream
- Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
- Kinky Curly Curling Custard
- Cantu Co-Wash
- Shea Moisture Curl & Shine Conditioner
- Mixed Chicks Leave In Conditioner
- Stay On Satin Bonnet
- Sturdy, wide tooth comb
- An old t-shirt
- Completely wet the hair and use a co-wash to cleanse the scalp and hair. Thoroughly massage the co-wash into the scalp. Rinse the hair, and put in a generous amount of conditioner, (you should be able to see the conditioner in the hair). Leave the conditioner in as you detangle.
- Use clips to separate the hair into smaller sections, (this makes it easier to detangle). Use a wide tooth comb and begin detangling from the bottom of the hair, up to the scalp.
- Rinse most of the conditioner out and apply your moisturizing products to the hair. Apply the leave in conditioner first, then the cream, and finally the gel. Apply the products starting at the bottom and working up to the scalp to avoid too much product saturating the roots.
- Flip hair over the head and gently scrunch the hair in an upwards motion towards the scalp. Let air dry.
- At bedtime, put the hair in a pineapple with a loose scrunchy and put a satin bonnet on.
- For non-wash days, spritz hair with water, apply a little product and let air dry.
- Not all the materials are necessary to have at one time, these are suggestions for products based on what I've used for my kids and recommend.
- The amount of money it costs varies depending on what, (if any) products you need to buy.
- Prep time is based on gathering the products you'll need.
- Active time is an estimate. The time it takes to cleanse, detangle, and moisturize your child's hair may differ depending on their hair length, how thick it is, and their temperament.
- Additional time is an estimate. This is based on how long it takes to for your child's hair to air dry, which again is different for each individual.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I only recommend products I use and love.
Wide Tooth Detangling Comb [Gift Box] - pureGLO No-static Natural Wooden Comb for Curly Wavy Straight Dry Wet Thick or Fine Hair, Detangler Combs for Men Women and Girls
Stay On Satin Edge Bonnet Womens Hair Wrap for Sleeping, Black
SheaMoisture 13 oz Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner
Mixed Chicks Curl Defining & Frizz Eliminating Leave-In Conditioner, 10 fl.oz.
Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream, 12 Ounce
Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Hydrating Cream Conditioner, 13.5 Ounce
Kinky Curly Curl Custard Gel, 8 oz
Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Complete Conditioning Co-Wash, 10 Ounce
Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie-12 oz
FAQS About Mixed Hair
What is mixed race hair?
While there isn’t one specific hair type that’s considered mixed race, generally when people are talking about mixed hair, they’re referencing thick, naturally curly hair, (between curl types 3b-4a).
Of course there’s always going to be exceptions to this because not everyone with mixed race hair has the same exact curl pattern, or texture.
Mixed race hair falls somewhere between white hair (usually fine textured) and Black hair, (Afro-textured or kinky).
Generally people with mixed race hair have several different curl patterns and may have different hair textures throughout their hair too. Meaning they may have some hair that’s fine, some that’s coarse, and some that’s in between.
People with this hair type usually need a hair care routine and products that’ll put, and keep moisture in their hair, (mixed curls are prone to damage and breakage if not taken care of properly). They also need hair products that’ll define their curls, and reduce frizz.
How often should mixed hair be washed?
Many people I know who have fine textured hair wash it every day, or every other day because it starts to look greasy.
However naturally curly hair doesn’t get oily, (because the natural oil from the scalp doesn’t make it all the way down to the ends of curly hair) so don’t have to wash it as frequently. You can wash it once or twice a week, depending on how dry your child’s hair is.
I think the longest I’ve gone between washes for my kids is a week and neither of them have ever had oily or greasy hair!
You want to make sure you aren’t washing it too often though because curly hair is dry and that will make it lose more moisture, making it susceptible to damage.
Can mixed hair get lice?
If you’ve ever heard Black people can’t get lice, that’s a myth!
Although uncommon, they can, (which means mixed people can too). Here’s what you need to know about how to treat lice on mixed curly hair.
Can mixed hair grow long?
While there are definitely things you can do to help promote growth, how long your child’s biracial hair will grow is determined by genetics and their hair type.
But these tips to grow longer curly hair will keep the hair healthy, allowing it to grow to its potential.
What do you do for very dry mixed hair?
This is a common issue for people who have this hair type, but it’s not impossible to fix! These tips will explain why this happens, and how to fix dry mixed hair.
What shampoo should you use for mixed hair?
You may have noticed in the beginning of this post, that I said when my kids were younger I didn’t use shampoo on them, (instead I used co-wash). When I first wrote this, my kids were several years younger, and their hair needs have changed since then.
Recently, I’ve discovered using shampoo to cleanse mixed hair has several benefits. However, you shouldn’t use it too often because it’ll dry the hair out, making it prone to breakage.
I still use co-wash on my kids in-between shampoos to avoid drying out their hair.
These tips can help you determine when you should use shampoo, and which ones are the best clarifying shampoos for mixed curly hair.