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 hair.
Afro-textured hair comes in a range of curl patterns (sometimes 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 is moisturisation 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.
Of course, the right products also need the right tools to help you style your little one’s hair to perfection (however long that will last on the playground).
With brands such as Cantu, Shea Moisture and Bourne Beautiful Naturals making products specifically designed for your child, there’s literally something for everyone.
Wash day heroes:
1. As I Am: Born Curly Avocado Shea Cowash, from £5.00
– Best budget buy cleanser
Product type: Cleansing conditioner
Looking for a pocket-friendly options that’s still gentle on the head? Born Curly’s co-wash is a great option. As the name suggests, this is not a shampoo but a cleansing, conditioner combo. This non-foaming co-wash gives the same level of cleanliness as a shampoo, but keeps all the natural moisture.
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 avocado scent.
It’s sulfate-free, can be used on babies as well as young children and is ideal for hair types 3 and 4.
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2. KeraCare Dry & Itchy Anti-Dandruff Moisturising Shampoo, £8.99
Best for older kids with dry scalp
Product type: Shampoo
If your child is prone to dry and itchy scalp, it can be tricky to find a product that will alleviate the discomfort. Often ordinary shampoos won’t do the trick. KeraCare’s anti-dandruff moisturising shampoo was designed to tackle such problems.
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 compliment the shampoo with the KeraCare Anti-Dandruff Moisturising Conditioner for Dry & Itchy Scalp.
Please keep in mind this product is only suitable for children of 11 years plus.
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3. Cantu Care for Kids Conditioning Detangler, £4.99
– Best budget buy conditioner
Product type: Detangling spray
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 the holy trinity of moisture; shea butter, coconut oil and honey, meaning your little one’s hair will be moisturised and smell amazing.
4. Equi Botanics, Baobab Moisturising Sulfate-Free Cleanser, £25.00
– Best for a gentle wash
Product type: Cleanser
We all know how harsh and abrasive some shampoos can be, stripping the hair of moisture in an attempt to get it squeaky clean. Opting for a cleanser is sometimes the best way forward and Equi Botanics is a great pick.
With its blend of sweet almond oil, aloe vera and lavender oil this cleanser uses a gentle approach to cleaning. 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.
5. Equi Botanics Marula Oil Leave in Conditioner, £30.00
– Best for moisturising and detangling
Product type: Conditioner
Following on from the cleanser, Equi Botanics’ Marula oil-leave in conditioner helps to lock in all that moisture.
It can be used on dry or wet hair and has a wonderful citrus smell that will leave your child’s hair smelling luscious.
Like the cleanser it is suitable from the age of 2 and up. It’s creamy texture and wholesome 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.
Best styling products:
6. Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Curling Butter Cream, from £9.99
– Best for definition
Product type: Hair moisturiser
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 is 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.
The curl butter is also safe to use on infants, toddlers and big kids.
7. Bourne Beautiful Naturals Hair Too Balm, £10.00
– Best for moisturising hair
Product type – Moisturiser
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. Hair Too Balm definitely falls into the ‘better’ category. The vegan blend is comprised of coconut, shea, hemp seed and avocado oils and butters for a gorgeously light texture.
The balm has been specifically developed for children and so is kind to delicate hair whilst giving their locs moisture and shine without weighing it down.
Available from: Janet’s List
8. Bouclème Curl Defining Gel, £15.00
– Best for twist outs
Product type: Gel
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.
Best styling tools:
9. Cantu 2-In-1 Edge Brush & Comb, from £2.99
– Best for styling edges
Product type: Styling brush and comb
A good hairstyle relies not only on good products but on good tools too and Cantu’s edge brush and comb combo is not to be underestimated.
It’s the ideal tool for smoothing down those baby hairs for a sleek finish. With a touch of gel, the comb can be used to tease the stands into a more precise direction while the brush smooths and polishes off the look.
10. Cantu Extra Lift Double Row Pick, from £3.99
– Best detangling comb
Product type: Comb
This 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.
About the author
Janet is a qualified journalist with years of experience in consumer testing, including over 6 years at Good Housekeeping. During her time there she tested everything from household products to food, and is now freelance journalist who continues to put the consumer at the heart of her work.
As well as being knee-deep in the world of journalism Janet is also a mum to a wildly vivacious teenage daughter which keeps life interesting. When she’s not working or mothering the journalist likes to dabble in teen fiction too.