15 of the best haircare products for children and babies with afro and curly hair
Keep these products in your bathroom cabinet to care for your little one's afro or curly hair for wash days, bed time and for general everyday hair styling!
With an extensive selection of shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, moisturisers, curl creams, detanglers and style gels available, it can be a little confusing when trying to select the right products for little ones with afro or curly hair.
Afro-textured hair comes in a range of curl patterns ranging from 2a to 4c – 2a being a wavy curl pattern and 4c being super kinky, tight coils. Sometimes you'll find multiple curl patterns on one head, and as your child grows their hair will likely change texture too. No matter what the texture of hair, the two most important things to look for in any product when it comes to afro hair are moisture and nourishment. Whether you're styling, cleansing or hydrating the hair you want a product that’s going to lock in moisture to prevent dryness and split ends whilst being kind to the scalp.
Loretta Acheampong, an afro & curly hair coach who specialises in children's hair, advises "TLC – Time, love and care," for curly and afro hair. "There is a myth that afro and curly hair is difficult to manage and that is not true. If you take time out to understand your child's hair you will love and care for it according to its needs. With a good choice of products, your child's hair care journey can great."
The right products also require the right tools to help you style your little one’s hair to perfection (however long that will last on the playground), but Loretta warns "tools like blow dryers, straighteners etc should be used with caution if you want to maintain your child's natural curls." Remember that brushes should be used with care: your fingers are often the safest tool for shaping and separating curls.
With brands such as Cantu, Shea Moisture and Bourne Beautiful Naturals making products specifically designed for your child, there’s literally something for everyone.
Best children haircare products for afro and curly hair at a glance:
- Best for older kids with dry scalp: KeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti-Dandruff Moisturising Shampoo, £9.99
- Best for a gentle wash: Equi Botanics Baobab Moisturising Sulfate-Free Cleanser, £27
- Best budget wash day range: Child’s Farm Coco Nourish Range, from £5 each
- Best dry hair treatment: Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner, £15.99
- Best for detangling curls: Cantu Care For Kids Conditioning Detangler, £3
- Best mixed texture curls: Curly Kids Curly Creme Leave In Conditioner, £3.99
- Best sealant oil: Afrocenchix Seal Moisture Locking Oil, £17
- Best lightweight cream: Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk, £11.99
- Best for twist or plait hairstyles: Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Curling Butter Cream, from £10.99
- Best budget cream: My Little Coco Curling Custard, £5.99
- Best for twisting definition: As I Am Long & Luxe Curl Enhancing Smoothie, £12.99
- Best for medium hold: Bouclème Curl Defining Gel, £13.50
- Best for preventing frizzy or dry hair: Cute Curlz Satin Bonnet, £9.99
- Best for brushing curly hair: Tangle Teezer Brush, £13
- Best styling tools: Cantu 2-In-1 Edge Brush & Double Lift Pick, £2 and £3
What to consider when buying haircare products for afro and curly hair:
Hair type and density – It's always best to know how to 'listen' to your child's hair: different hair textures respond in different ways to products used on them. Having tighter coils means your hair may be susceptible to breakage and needs maximum moisture and care. Looser curl patterns or finer hair types may require lighter products so as to not weigh them down.
Hair porosity – This simply means how well the hair absorbs water. One simple way to test this is to spray some water on your child's hair and examine how the water droplets react to the hair. High porosity hair is present when you spray water and the hair is immediately saturated and weighed down, as if it's taking in the water droplets. If the water needs to be massaged in order to be absorbed, this indicates low porosity. Low porosity hair needs extra moisturising products to boost and lock in moisture.
Formula consistency – Depending on what your child's hair type and density is, you may prefer products with richer consistencies if you need intense hydration. And if not, we have some products that are lightweight if your child's hair just needs normal hydration.
Hair regime – Most curly hair needs washing less often, but you may find you use more product when you do, so consider the size of bottle/pack that suits you best. Once you land on the products you love, larger value packs may offer better value.
Hairstyles – If you style your child's hair a lot then you'll require certain products to help achieve those hairstyles. We have products listed below that go well with twisting and plaiting hairstyles as well as detangling curls. A wide tooth comb and other tools may also be needed to finish the style.
Here's our pick of the best haircare products for children with afro and curly hair:
Wash day heroes:
1. Equi Botanics Baobab Moisturising Sulfate-Free Cleanser, £27
– Best for a gentle wash
Product type: Cleanser | Used for: Washing hair
We all know how harsh and abrasive some shampoos can be, stripping the hair of moisture in an attempt to get it squeaky clean. This hair cleanser from Equi Botanics is a great pick if you're looking for something a little more gentle, free of those stronger cleansing agents that often don't work well on curlier hair types. With its blend of sweet almond oil, aloe vera and lavender oil this cleanser offers a gentle approach to cleaning.
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"The Baobab Moisturing Sulfate Free Cleanser is lovely to use on my daughter’s 3a/b curls (so I’d recommend including this product in a round up). It’s quite thin so easy to rub into her scalp especially when you add a bit of water, and washes out easily too.
"It doesn’t leave her hair with that damaging “squeaky clean” feel so I feel it’s more protective than foaming shampoos. It also smells like a spa which makes bathtime easier as she enjoys me using it" commented our Reviews & Consumer Editor, Christy who tested this with her daughter.
Suitable for children aged 2 and above, the cleanser will leave your little one with soft, moisturised hair. The price point is a little eye-watering but can be used for the whole family as well, not just your toddler. You can also purchase a bigger-sized 1 litre bottle if you're planning to use it with the whole family.
2. Child's Farm Coco Nourish Range, from £5 each
– Best budget wash day range
Product type: Shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner | Used for: Washing and conditioning | Used for: Detangling | Paraben & sulphate free: Yes | Water based: Yes
Known for its formulations designed for sensitive skin, the Child's Farm Coco Nourish range keeps your child's hair hydrated and nourished thanks to the addition of coconut water.
Parent tester Tricia tested the products on her 5-year-old daughter and found they left her hair "nourished, bouncy and full of colour" after swimming. "I found the best results on my daughters hair when I used the shampoo to wash her hair twice," she said. "Her hair is very thick and she swims a lot so washing it twice left her hair full of colour and her curls bouncy and soft."
You can also use the Coco Nourish leave-in conditioner as the last step in your child's hair wash routine, but Tricia advises "just be careful not to use too much or it looks a little too shiny!"
3. KeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti-Dandruff Moisturising Shampoo, £9.99
– Best for older kids with dry scalp
Product type: Shampoo | Used for: Washing hair
If your child is prone to dry and itchy scalp, it can be tricky to find a product that will alleviate the discomfort. Ordinary shampoos won’t do the trick, and many popular dandruff shampoos are notorious for stripping the hair of moisture. KeraCare’s anti-dandruff moisturising shampoo was designed to tackle such problems while maintaining moisture.
It works preventatively as well as curatively to tackle flakiness whilst nourishing the hair with its mix of apple, green tea leaf and lemon peel extracts alongside aloe leaf juice. For an extra boost of soothing goodness, you can complement the shampoo with the KeraCare Anti-Dandruff Moisturising Conditioner for Dry & Itchy Scalp. Is it us, or do products just work better when used with complimenting products within the same range?
Please keep in mind this product is only suitable for children of 11 years plus.
4. Camille Rose Algae Renew Deep Conditioner, £15.99
– Best dry hair treatment
Product type: Deep conditioner | Used for: Deep condition treatment
Deep conditioning is not needed every day, but it is useful once in a while especially if you have tight coils or dry hair in general. With the make-up of curly and afro hair, we're more prone to dryness so treating it with deep conditioner is much needed TLC now and again.
This is not the cheapest product, but worth the investment for something you're not going to be using on a daily basis. It has a thick, creamy consistency and is jam-packed with 65 vitamins that are good for you or your child's hair. The rich consistency will help offer that intense conditioning and leave you with nourished and hydrated hair. Though not necessary for babies, it's great for kids from 2 upwards, especially when their true curls come through.
5. Cantu Care For Kids Conditioning Detangler, £3
– Best for detangling curls
Product type: Dentangler leave-in conditioner | Used for: Detangling, leave-in conditioner, moisturiser
The spray bottle makes this product by Cantu so easy to apply – especially if you have a toddler who doesn’t like to sit down! Although it’s billed as a detangler, it works great as a leave-in conditioner and general moisturiser. It’s filled with some key moisture ingredients including shea butter, coconut oil and honey, meaning your little one’s hair will be moisturised and smell amazing.
Parent tester Anna-Louise uses this on her son Kyan who has 3c and 4a hair type, as part of his haircare routine "I spray his hair with liberally with water, then spray the Cantu Detangler spray and brush through. Add cantu curling cream and brush through and let dry. The results are lovely soft coils, and it takes maybe 5 minutes. I use the styling cream too when I’m doing plaits or twists."
MFM Marketing Manager Emma also likes to use this on her daughter Mariella who's almost 3, "I use this on a daily basis as a leave-in conditioner to restyle my daughter’s hair and keep it moisturised between washes. It’s not sticky like some other leave-in sprays and smells lovely."
6. Curly Kids Curly Creme Leave In Conditioner
– Best for mixed texture curls
Product type: Leave-in conditioner | Used for: Locking moisture | Free from: Paraben, sulfate
Curly Kids Curly Creme can be used on dry or wet hair and will keep your child's hair moisturised for the day. It’s creamy texture and combination of south African marula, Moroccan argan and organic jojoba oils work to leave the hair smooth, and tangle-free to make the combing process easier on the strands.
Parent tester Nichelle has 3 children and they are "mixed with Jamaican and Mauritian heritage and their hair ranges from 3a curly and 4a coily hair." She shared some information on their curl type and how she uses the creme on their hair. "Ethan, 4 the oldest has 4a coily hair which is tightly bound and low porosity. It absorbs water quickly and works well with the product when the hair is wet. Arielle, who is 2, has 3c hair and high porosity. Water and products tend to sit on top of her hair. This product works better with damp hair as opposed to dripping wet. It adds moisture and conditions the roots right down to the ends. I like this product because it is lightweight and has no sulphates or parabens. My youngest, who is 8 months at the moment, seems to have the straightest hair resembling the Asian side of the family. I also use this product as it is mild enough for a baby and a perfect moisturising all-around product."
Available from: Black Hair Care
7. Afrocenchix Seal Moisture Locking Oil, £17
– Best sealant oil
Product type: Oil | Used for: Sealing moisture | Free from: Sulphates, parabens, silicons, parfum/artificial fragrances
After washing, conditioning and applying a leave-in conditioner you may want to use an oil to seal in all that moisture. This will also be a good product to complete your liquid, cream and oil (LCO) routine. It's made up of olive, castor, coconut, wheatgerm, jojoba oils and lots more goodness! It's not the cheapest but it has a very decent price tag and will last you a while as you won't need too much of it. This is a brilliant sealant oil choice for afro or curly hair and can be used for all ages.
MFM Digital Journalist Janet loves this oil, she uses it on her 1 year old daughter Milana's hair (pictured). "I love that it comes in a pump dispenser bottle as opposed to a normal screw top one. Reduces the amount of little feet knocking over the oil whilst getting dressed! It has a lovely runny consistency but still thick enough to seal during our LCO routine. It has a lovely scent and truly leaves my daughter’s hair moisturised for the day when I apply it after wetting her hair and applying cream."
Available from: Afrocenchix and Curl Care
8. Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk, £11.99
– Best lightweight cream
Product type: Cream, leave in conditioner | Used for: Moisturising
Gone are the days when thick hair grease was the answer to dry hair. Innovation has swept the hair-care market, leaving parents with better options for your children's hair. The Curl Love Moisture Milk is a creamy blend comprised of rice milk known for its benefits of vitamin A, D and B12, plus macadamia seed, avocado, castor oils and more for a gorgeously light texture.
Mum of 2 and MFM's Digital Journalist Janet commented, "I use this religiously as well as Camille Rose's other products on my daughter's hair (pictured). As she's only 18 months, her true curls haven't fully come through so I think this lightweight cream works well on her kinky, coily baby afro. This cream is kind to delicate hair whilst giving her afro moisture and shine without weighing it down."
Style and twisting creams:
9. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Curling Butter Cream, from £10.99
– Best for twist or plait hairstyles
Product type: Styling cream | Used for: Styling and twisting
Not only does this smell amazing, but it’s the perfect protective styling aid for creating soft holds and teasing the strands into a smoother more polished look. It's hydrating and nourishes the hair whilst having a great consistency – thick enough to leave hair feeling coated, but lightweight enough not to leave it feeling greasy.
This works great on thicker curls – such as 3c type curls and up – and as a curl activator after washing hair. For those juicy, healthy-looking plaits and twists, incorporate this before plaiting or twisting and your child's hair should have the moisture and shine it needs. The curl butter is also safe to use on infants, toddlers and big kids.
10. My Little Coco Curling Custard, £5.99
– Best budget cream
Product type: Curl defining product | Used for: Defining curls | Free from: Sulphates, dye, fragrance and paraben
Looking for a pocket-friendly options that’s still gentle on the head? My Little Coco's Curling Custard is an affordable option. As the name suggests, this is useful for helping curly have the moisture and definition it requires. Not only does it smell amazing, but it’s also very light on the hair, which means if your child has looser curls, it won’t be too heavy on the hair and will give the strands a deliciously coconut scent. It’s sulphate-free, can be used on babies as well as young children and is ideal for hair types 3 and 4.
Parent tester Karen used this on her son with 3c curl type, "I like the My Little Coco products, they smell lovely from the natural oil and leave a light smell after using them. They’re simple to use and don’t weigh his hair down at all. The detangling spray is effective but there is a risk of using it up quickly so I try to use a spray with water & a bit of conditioner in first so that his hair is already damp before using the spray which definitely detangles better. The curling custard gives real definition to his curls without them looking heavy or feeling crusty!"
11. As I Am Long & Luxe Curl Enhancing Smoothie, £12.99
– Best for twist definition
Product type: Curl cream | Used for: Defining curls | Free from: Sulphates and paraben
The satisfaction of getting a big afro into neat twists is something else! And this As I Am curl enhancing smoothie will leave you with defined luscious twists. And if you opt to unravel the twists for a twist out style, you'll still have the lovely definition we all love. Simply apply on slightly damp hair and work it into each section of hair before twisting.
Parent tester Sian tested this on her daughter's 4a and 4b hair "After using this product on my daughter's hair it feels moisturised and brings out her curls, her hair will still feel moisturised after a few days so I don’t have to use too much of the product."
Best styling products:
12. Bouclème Curl Defining Gel, £13.50
– Best for medium hold
Product type: Gel | Used for: Defining curls, holding hairstyle, smoothing edges
If you’re looking to create the perfect twist-out, this product is a must-have. It creates the most beautiful, well-defined curls with none of the flaky, stickiness of other gels on the market. Its serum-like consistency will leave your child’s hair feeling super light and has a long-lasting, medium hold to ensure the style withstands much of the rough and tumble of kid life.
It is packed full of nourishing, essential oils but these can irritate children with sensitivities so remember to do a patch test.
13. Cute Curlz Satin Bonnet, £10.99
– Best for preventing frizzy and dry hair
Product type: Satin bonnet | Size: Small, Medium, Large | Used for: Protecting hair at night time | Colour: Pink, Purple, Baby blue, Turquoise, Yellow, Hot pink, Hot pink/tangerine
Looking after coily hair doesn't stop at wash day and creams, even at night time all that hard work of moisturising can be gone if hair isnt protected at night with silk. For younger babies they can simply sleep on satin sheets where their hair lays but toddlers and older kids can use a satin bonnet.
This keeps hair neat and prevents frizz and drying. Cotton does a good job of absorbing moisture upon contact and keeping your body dry and cool as possible, but this isn't the desired effect when it comes to afro and curly hair. Silk or satin will help keep the hair retaining moisture and allows all the kinks and curls to simply glide across it without snagging or stripping the hair of its moisture.
Parent tester Fi uses this with her daughter Naima with hair type 4a at the back and 3c at the front, "We dedicate a lot of time to looking after her hair properly. We double up on the silk to give her extra protection. We use a silk pillow case and she uses a silk bonnet. Silk is so much better for curly hair than cotton as it tames frizz and prevents big tangles forming while she sleeps. We get all her pillow cases, bonnets and afro pick from cutecurlz.co.uk, an amazing independent curly haircare brand."
Available from: Cute Curlz
Best styling tools:
14. Tangle Teezer Brush, £13
– Best for brushing fine curly hair
Product type: Satin bonnet | Size: Small, Medium, Large | Used for: Detangling | Colour: Navy/light blue, Purple/lilac, Burgundy/pink, Hotpink/orange
The tangle teezer has been a game-changer product for so many, not just people with curly hair! Mostly suitable for curls rather than tight kinks or coils, this comb glides right through moist curly hair and performs great when detangling in the bath or on damp hair.
Parent tester Guilia commented "We use the brush with the handle which is easier to grip when untangling. In our experience it’s more gentle than other brushes, and detangles hair quicker. We mainly use it in wet hair drenched in hair conditioner as dry brushing is way too painful for his 4c hair! Also I don’t see particular hair breakage when we use it, which is definitely a plus."
15. Cantu 2-In-1 Edge Brush & Double Lift Pick, £2 and £3
– Best styling tools
Product type: Styling brush and comb | Used for: Precisely brushing baby hairs into place, Styling and combing afro and curly hair
A good hairstyle relies not only on good products but on good tools too and Cantu’s Edges brush & comb combo is not to be underestimated. It’s the ideal tool for smoothing down any left out baby hairs for a sleek finish. With a touch of gel or edge control, the comb end can be used to tease the strands into a more precise direction while the brush end smooths and polishes off the look.
The Cantu double row pick is useful for detangling from root to tip in a kind-to-the-hair fashion. Its wide teeth make it ideal for slipping between the locs with ease whilst the double teeth design helps to add extra lift to the hair for a volumising look. The comb has a non-slip grip too, making it easier to get through any knots.
How we chose these products
When testing products and tools for afro and curly hair we considered hair type and density, hair porosity, formula consistency, hair regime, hairstyles and size.
Our Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Janet is a Digital Journalist for MadeForMums. Over the years, she has developed a keen eye and passion for creating online media content. She writes and creates visual content sharing her journey of motherhood, fashion and beauty looks and encouragement for new mums via her Instagram page. During her time as a Content Creator/ Influencer she has worked on several brand partnerships with Garnier, Superdrug, Next, iCandy and more. She is a wife and mother to a boy and girl under 4 years old, both with afro and curly hair.
About our expert
Loretta Acheampong is a mum to 3 girls all with luscious afro hair. With the many tips and tricks she's learned over time with her daughters, she provides professional hair consultations and useful online tips to parents on Instagram. Loretta is on a mission to equip mums and dads with how to become familiar with and care for their childfren's afro and curly hair.
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