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Hair Care for an Active 3 Year Old

I would like advice - my 3 year old daughter has beautiful long hair that falls in ringlet curls. However, I am having difficulty brushing it because she screams the whole time I do this. We tried 2 different varieties of "no more tangles" and she doesn't like the smell. I am considering just cutting it until she is a bit older. Any ideas to help me keep my sanity in the morning? Thank you!

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Hi E., My kids are half Black, so my daughter always had a lot of hair, I used "Just For Me" products, it's made for childrens hair. It worked really good. J. L.

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My 4 year old has the same hair. i take one of those empty "no more tangels" bottles and put in a little bit of leave in conitioner and fill it up with water. I give it a really good shake. You can let her smell the different leave in conditioners before you buy one. My daughter likes the herbal essences one. Also in the bath I use conditioner on the bottom half of her hair and it helps prevent tangels. if she takes a bath at night and I brush her hair in the morning it still really makes a difference.

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OMG....***please*** tell me that you aren't brushing her hair when it's dry. Unless you have curly hair yourself, you can't understand how painful that is. Even when it's not "tangled" the physical shape of the curls makes it so that at least 10 hairs are pulling per curl. Typically a person doesn't brush hair a curl at a time, so you've hot up to a hundred individual hairs being yanked on hard enough to make your eyes swim in tears (and that's if someone is trying to be gentle, and I've got a "hard head" not a tender one)If there are tangles, then it's worse.

My mum tried to brush my hair (dry) until I was eleven, and yes, I cried every morning. (Screaming got me slapped in the face...so I stopped screaming early on). Wheeee...let's start of every morning with your hair feeling like it's being ripped out of your head, hating the person who's doing it to you, and the person who's doing it sweating and only hanging onto their temper with the barest of threads. The only parallel pain wise I've ever found was when my so was an infant and would grab hold and pull my hair with those sticky little baby hands, with all his strength. OOOOOooooowwwwweeeeeeeeeee!!!

Tips & Tricks:

- Curly hair doesn't usually survive the night. It CAN, if you braid it or use a 'do-rag, but it won't be those beautiful bouncy perfect ringlets you get right after the shower. Curly hair is best washed every morning. Skip the shampoo 2 mornings out of 3 if her hair starts drying out, but baby shampoo is gentle enough that it usually isn' t and issue.

- Use a good conditioner. Doesn't have to be expensive, just thick. Suave is borderline okay. Tres Seme is fantastic.

- Only brush hair when wet & slathered in conditioner. Use your fingers to comb through first, then a wide tooth brush. The brush will glide through like a knife through butter, or over silk. (I've had my hair straightened, & I know this who thing may sound nuts to someone with straight or wavy hair since straight hair breaks when you do this, but CURLY hair, brush in the shower.)

- Squeeze the excess water out, after you've arranged how you want the curls to fall, but do not "towel dry"...aka no rubbing...you're just creating tangles and destroying the individual curls if you rub. You can dab/squeeze with a towel.

- At this point, avoid running fingers through curls/combing/brushing/etc, like the plague.

- Mousse or Gel. My personal favorites are "Garnier Curl Construct Mousse", OR more expensive...bumble & bumble "Get Straight" gel (it doesn't). You have to use enough of either to saturate the hair. A dab on top (or worse run through with fingers), doesn't cut it. Put what looks like a ridiculous amount in your hand and SCRUNCH through hair from base to scalp. The mousse or gel keeps the curls from going "every hair for itself", otherwise known as tangling, throughout the day.

- Air dry or blow dry, as you like. Some curly hair products take hours to air dry, the two I mentioned above (in SoCal Sun) take an hour or two, tops for 18 inch long curly hair.

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I'd say "haircut" is your answer. It seems to me that often parents keep their kid's hair long because they, the parents, think it is really beautiful, not because of what the kid thinks. I have friends who have a boy but you'd swear it's a girl because they are so in love with his hair that they won't cut it. If your daughter screams when you brush her hair, maybe you should introduce the idea of short hair-- find some cute pictures to show her and see what she thinks. A short cut will help if she is active, too. Dora the Explorer has short hair, right? =D

1 mom found this helpful

I have the same issue. Conditioners (any kind) really help when used after shampooing. A little dimethicone or cyclomethicone helps with the detangling (I use silk therapy), but it's patience with a wide-tooth comb that is the most important part.
Also, I've found that using a regular bristle (boar bristle?) brush allows me to brush out her hair even when it's tangled and dry, but be patient. If I do this every evening, it's a good preventive measure.
good luck

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My nearly five year old daughter also has thick, curly hair that falls in ringlets (like mine), so I have had to deal with this sort of thing for a while as well! Here are my suggestions--first, patience it key, since curly hair does take longer to care for. I would suggest not using a brush, since it tears the hair and makes it frizzy. Instead, use a wide tooth comb, with water. I don't use the detanglers, though I have tried, because I have found they do very little in the way of actually detangling. I usually sit my daughter down with a video on, and slowly comb through her hair, using the water to wet the comb with each stroke. It's not a quick way of doing things, but at least it doesn't pull her hair, and it keeps the curls intact. There's also the option of bathing her in the morning, although that can make things pretty hectic when you're trying to get kids and yourself ready and out the door. Good luck!

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I've tried a variety of products to try to tame my daughter's curly hair. She had gotten to the point that she liked her hair tangled and just to leave it alone. I kept her hair short for a while, but the tangles were still there along with the fights. I finally found a detangling spray I like. It has no scent (yeah!!!), sprays thinly and evenly so it's not concentrated in one area, and works very well. It's part of the Paul Mitchell Kids line. I have to buy it at a beauty supply store and it's more money. But, it lasts a long time and is worth every penny minimizing tantrums about hair.

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I might have something for you could work. I have two girls and they are half black and half mexican, they too have curly hair..one of them has shirley temple curls and the other very tight curls. What I use for them is the Beautiful beginnings detangler spray, it comes in a hot pink bottle and smells like candy..it smells awesome and works great. It is geared to black hair but it works great on all types of hair and you can find it in Walmart for like 3 dollars. hope it helps

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Here is the link for it:
(it does not "make" hair grow longer... it just makes the hair healthy, therefore, it "helps" the hair to grow and not get split-ends and hair breakage).

This is a great product, by Garnier Fructis....
it's called "Length & Strength- weightless anti-split ends treatment" which is a leave in conditioner (not heavy, very light and does not feel greasy), and it helps split ends as well (which is what makes her hair tangled and hard to comb, which my daughter has), AND it makes the hair nicely shiny and conditioned and healthy.

My daughter has fine long hair which constantly gets tangled.. and this product is the only one so far, which works so well.
I use it too even though my hair is thick and waved... so it's real versatile.

** You can get it from www.amazon.com or, I get it from my local Long's store.... or grocery store.
Or, perhaps you can get it online.
I bought it for only like $5, so it's real reasonable and just a drop goes a long way.

I find, the kids "de-tangler" products don't work real well and just coats the hair. This product I mentioned, does not and the hair feels real soft and not greasy and not coated.

You just apply it on damp hair after it has been washed and towel dried. You do not have to apply it everyday. Just after each shampoo. It keeps my daughter's hair tangle free & conditioned, even if she does not wash her hair every single day.

Tangled hair happens from dryness, split-ends or hair texture... this product works with my daughter's hair AND my hair even though we have different hair types.

Good luck, hope this helps,

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E., My kids are half Black, so my daughter always had a lot of hair, I used "Just For Me" products, it's made for childrens hair. It worked really good. J. L.

1 mom found this helpful

I have the same kid! ha ha
We use Circle of Friends (from Ulta) the smells are amazing, each is a yummy flavor. They are made from a local company in Santa Monica with kids in mind. They have a detangler, but I tend to use the leave in conditioner as a favorite over that. I glob a handful of the regular conditioner on in the bath and pick at it with a big tooth comb while it is in there still. I just hold it tight and do one section at a time.
Another option...(which I haven't tried but am about to):


1 mom found this helpful

My 4 year old has the same hair. i take one of those empty "no more tangels" bottles and put in a little bit of leave in conitioner and fill it up with water. I give it a really good shake. You can let her smell the different leave in conditioners before you buy one. My daughter likes the herbal essences one. Also in the bath I use conditioner on the bottom half of her hair and it helps prevent tangels. if she takes a bath at night and I brush her hair in the morning it still really makes a difference.

My daughter is 2 1/2 and has very curly ringlets (not too tight). I use Johnson n Johnsons Buddies easy comb conditioner when I wash her hair. Loreal has a kids detangling spray that smells like pear that I use every morning (after spraying her hair wet with water first) which makes combing easier and makes hair look very nice. Suave also has a detangling spray that smells like dutch apple, tear free that works very well. It has a purple octopus on the bottle. My daughter loves the smell of both and I've gotta tell you that I it makes combing less stressful!

Our youngest has very curly hair and gets the snarls at the back of her head every morning. I have found some products that work very well for her hair and smell good too. We use the Johnson & Johnson shampoo for curly hair. I found a really good conditioner at Sally Beauty Supply - L'Oreal Nature's Therapy Moisturizing Crème (about $8). I use it once a week on her hair and only need about a dime size. When she gets out of the shower I towel dry her hair and spray It's a 10 Miracle Leave In (salon product) before I comb her hair. I have also used Biotera Leave In Treatment also at Sally's before I comb her hair.

I have been very frustrated also with her hair but, have not cut it yet. I've been debating about cutting it lately due to the length of her hair is weighing down the curls. I hope you find something that works for her hair in all the responses you have received.

The previous lady had it right...in the tub with lots of conditioner. My 7 year old niece has very curly hair down past her waist and I only comb with a pick or wide-toothed comb this way. When she sleeps over, I braid her hair to keep it from tangling. Another thing that keeps away tangles is a satin pillowcase. My daughter has curly hair too, but only halfway down her back and it is not as thick as her cousin's. I only use a pick-like comb or her special brush that has very few soft tipped bristles. The conditioner I use is Herbal Essence for curly hair
(and it's purple, my girl's favorite color).

will she sleep with it in a braid at night? this will help it not get soo tangled. also use a wide tooth comb and start from the bottom up. good luck!

My son is 1/2 black and has a mixture of my hair and pops so it's TIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT curls all over the place. What I do is wet it down and then put in a lavendar leave in conditioner by Nature Baby. I use a wide comb on it to losen up the curls and then i use a fine tooth comb after that to separate and distinguish the curls.

E., you got some great advise here, and Riley has it right (being a curly haired myself, I can attest lather with lots of conditioner and comb w/ wide tooth brush in the shower).

Now, what about the day after if you don't want to wash it again? my best trick: noodle and boo has a spray detangler that works wonders and smells great. The key is to spray a lot, and comb with same wide tooth brush (the ones with the little plastic ball on top of each plastic bristle are best, plastic platform where the bristles are located. Avoid the 'gummy feeling ones' as they yank my hair out). Plastic or metal lets hair smoothly flow in between bristles.

Good luck! E.

Cut it if you must, but the ringlets will not grow back. If you and she want to keep them, try having her shop with you for a nice smeelling cream rinse that you both like, and just use that. If it is scent in general, find a good unscented brand at a health food store. Try having her look in the mirror (get a special booster chair where she can see herself) while you do her hair, like at the beauty salon. My baby hates to have her glasses on, or wear hats, but if I have her look in the mirror (and see how cute she looks) she will leave them on for a while. Or you could try "Hare Cuts for Kids" on Los Alamos, in Murrietta. Actually I think it has a new name, but the same great people and the same kid friendly atmosphere. It is behind the McDonald's when you get off the freeway, at Los Al and Hancock. Great place, have them try to work with her on a good style (maybe a few inches shorter) that will still show off her natural curls. And always comb the hair as soon as the shampoo & rinse is out, if it dries even a little it will tangle terribly. Good luck. I have expereiced the loss of ringlets after cutting, once they are gone, they are gone for good.

Hello E.,

My 4th child has ringlets too. I use a detangling/conditioning hair spray in addition to the shampoo. The best time to brush the hair is right after washing. Towel dry the hair...spray the detangling spray then brush. This worked guite well with my own little curly topped princess.

My 3 year old daughter also has very curly ringlets. I find that if I generously use conditioner on her that is the easiest. I use Melaleuca products and I use their ultra hydrating conditioner and that will usually be enough. If she has some large tangles, I use their spray leave-in conditioner/detangler. I only brush her hair after I wash it. If we don't have time to wash her hair it goes up in a pony tail. Hope that helps!

I don't have the curl issue with my little girl, but when she was 4yo she literally got to the point to where she wouldn't let me brush her hair without a fight or a huge tantrum. So one day I told her that either we brush it or we cut it. Well I ended up taking her to a nice kids salon place and her pretty hair got cut. It was never really that long, just past the shoulders.

Well she's 10 yo now and still loves her little pixie bob! LOL, I'd so wish she would let it grow out, but she really hates the hassle of having to brush out long hair. Over the winters she'll let it go to her shoulders but once it starts warming up again I start getting pestered by her to be taken to the salon to get it cut again.

In the end, she's happier and I'm happier.
Sometimes we gotta do what's easier.
best wishes.

Hi E.,

My girls (2 & almost 5) have very tight curls and what I do is when they shower at the end of the day I use an adult leave in conditioner and comb it through their hair with a LARGE tooth comb while they are in the shower. Then when they come out of the shower I spray in some detangling spray and braid their hair (it could just be 2 simple quick braids)and they sleep with the braids in. In the morning their hair is MUCH more managable!

I hope this helps!


The conditioner that we all(5-curly,3straight) like is Pantene for curly hair. I use in the shower w/oodles of conditioner a hairbrush that is called Ouchless, and it is 95% ouchless. Also we use olive oil root stimulator, got it at walmart, not expensive, comes in a little squatty round container w/green lid(works well for frizz control too) and John Frieda (?spell) serum Frizz Eaze. It comes in a little pump type bottle, it is expensive, but it works great, the knock off's I have trouble w/drying out hair and causing a dandruff type affect. For a detangler, a squirt bottle with conditioner and water mixed..alot cheaper and it is great. I braid or pigtail/ponytail at night for the little ones, dont always have time to shower everyone in the am. Squirt he hair down well in the am and let it air dry. I understand the frustration, my 4 1/2y old has hair down below her bum, the 3y old has hair to his waist w/wonderful ringlets! Hang in there, she will want it cut, and at that point it will be hard enough on you.:)but a relief at the same time.

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