Home Maryanne's Tales Friends To Moms with Daughters, How do you Manage your Girls’ Hair?

To Moms with Daughters, How do you Manage your Girls’ Hair?


I have good friends who are moms to daughters. Like Mama Tutu & Wema, Mama Renee, Mama Tasha & Jessie, Mama Michelle, Amanda & Neema, Mama Faith & Hope, Mama Tash, Mama Kwavi, Zainabu & Nyambura, Mama Shani, Mama Charlotte & Alexia, Mama Natalie…

What do these friends of mine have in common? That I have all heard them talk (repeatedly) about their little girls’ hairs.

This post was inspired by Mama Ella who writes her blog the green calabash when she tweeted this: “So mother’s of boys –with a quick brush of hair you’re out of the house, huh? Must be nice.”

When I saw her tweet, I smiled. I smiled because she was quite right. Very on-point. Kitty’s hair is just a few hairs, so I don’t even bother combing it. Once I dress him, we’re out of the house in a flash.

But I guess not so for moms with baby girls.

I always hear my friends wonder what to do with their girls’ hair –what hairstyle to put and all.  Our African hair is absolutely beautiful, but admittedly sometimes quite stressful to manage. Especially when you’ve just unbraided it and it tangles and you have to wash it. Combing it is the equivalent of pulling out a tooth!

Now imagine washing, untangling and combing your little girls’ hair and you’ll be lucky if both of you are not in tears at the end of it all. Mama Renee tells me that many are the time she gets so stressed about her daughter’s hair that she just wants to sleep and wake up when it’s all grown, smooth and silky. Many are the times she’s been tempted to cut it altogether. Many are the times she holds her chin in her hands shaking her head about it.

These are just some of the questions I’ve heard my friends with daughters ask:

1.    Will I manage to untangle the hair and straighten it without the comb or blow-drier breaking?
2.    Should I unbraid and wash her hair at home or should I just take her to the salon and let them do everything?
3.    How much time will they take at the salon?
4.    Will I find a good hairdresser who understands my girls’ hair and won’t cause her too much pain and handle her roughly?
5.    Will my little girl cry if I leave her at the salon alone while I rush for some other errands? Will she be able to sit still? Will she cry? And if she cries, what will happen then? Will the salonists let her cry herself sore or will they comfort her? Should I leave her with some snacks?
6.    Or should I work on her hair at night when she’s in a deep slumber?
7.    Which color of braids is in fashion this time? Is it purple, pink, white or blue?
8.    Should you put ribbons, beads, rubber bands or colorful headbands on her hair? Which are the ones that will cut her hair?
9.    Or should I braid those cute school girl lines or matuta’s instead?
10.    Or should I just perm the hair? Is she too young to have chemicals on her hair? Are there side effects? Will the chemicals cook her brain cells?
11.    Or should I just put baby dreadlocks on her? Are they allowed at school? In church?
12.    How much maintenance will be required for the hairstyle, and will I need to keep revisiting the salon or touching it up at home or will it last for a month?
13.    Or do I just cut the hair altogether?

The questions are endless. Pretty much I guess the same story my mum had when my sister and I were little girls.

But you know what? I always look at little girls hairs and I feel jealous. Because they always look so pretty and adorable with their cute ribbons and colorful bands and jolly attitude as they walk with a spring in their step in their flowered little dresses. But I’m made to understand that getting them to look like that –there are lots of tears that have been shed in the process –both by the girl and the mom.

Taking photos while her daughter is being braided is one of the distraction techniques Mama Renee has learnt to apply



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. First let me say i would not perm my girls hair ever…lol.
    I have had my hair relaxed since high school then had it permed and after 15 years chopped it all off and now i love the feel of my own hair kinks and all :).
    My 6 year old has always loved her hair and we started with loosely plaiting matutas then putting colorful hair bands.
    She started going to the salon at just over 2 years and with her own comb too,when we forget a comb we make sure they clean the combs at the salon.When she was 3,we forgot to carry a comb and she got mashilingis we had to cut off her hair ….. she really cried over her lost hair… so mums be very careful.

    Always look for specific people at the salon who will not pull your girls hair too much and are gentle with kids,that way it makes going to the salon fun.
    For detangling which i do with my hair too..after unbraidng use conditioner,massage through out the hair wait 5-10 minutes then use a wide toothed comb.Afterwards you can co-wash i.e use conditioner to wash the hair then rinse off .This leaves the hair soft and managebale.If there is a lot of dirt or you have used hair oil then shampoo and use conditioner.

  2. Where do I start? Sometime last year i had decided she is going the dreadlocks way. Then i decided its perming her hair… but my hairdresser said she is too young. SO now every two weeks we r at the salon spending almost a thousand bob on a 5-year old. I have to buy her hair products for kids and may i say they r not cheap!!!!! And should i mention now that she gets in-grown toe nails so she has to get a pedicure atleast once a month??? I think employers need to pay mums with baby girls more than those with baby boys… i mean… 20bob at a barbers???? Really?? 20??? In a salon it cant even get ur pinky finger polished!!!! – Mama Renee Woes

  3. Im mom to Olivia who just turned 4 and Ivy who is 20 months old. Well, Ivy has very scanty hair so it doesnt worry me much, all i do is use colored rubber bands and redo them every weekend.

    On the other hand, Olivia has alot of hair and its getting quite long too. Since shes also a kindergartener, shes mostly in lines or cornrows and they are done at the salon every 3 weeks! I try to undo them at home on a friday evening so she can sleep and then go to the salon first thing on saturday morning for a shampoo and a light blowdry…then she’ll stay whole of saturday and have the salonist come and braid her at home on sunday afternoon, that way she doesnt have to endure long hours at the salon trying to have everything done all at once…

    Funny thing is that the salonist complains that when im around, Olivia sumbua her so i try to be in a different room or if all else fails i let her take her to the salon which is a few meters away.

  4. Although I do not have a daughter, I have experienced the frustration of having hair that is not chemically processed. Mommies, instead of taking your baby girl to a salon, you can do her hair. You can use this time as a time to bond and get to know how your baby’s hair works. This experience may lead to years of an established tradition, but also an education to your daughter on how to manage her hair (many of us simply gave up on how to manage our hair and succumbed to the perm).

    I see a lot of little girls with relaxed hair and it breaks my heart 🙁 Like anything love and patience is needed. You brought up some good points. I would say the key to getting manageable hair for your child is moisture. Avoid using shampoos with harsh chemicals on your little one’s hair (no sulfates) and make sure to deep condition. Once a week, while your little princess sleeps, you can put some conditioner mixed with oil (pure extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, pure castor oil, jojoba oil)in her hair (any 100% natural essential oils will do). After the application, cover her hair with a shower cap reinforced with a scarf and let her sleep till morning. In the morning gently wash her hair with conditioner.If possible always just wash her hair with conditioner instead of shampoo unless you have product build up. Detangling can be a nightmare, but the stress can be alleviated if done when the hair is wet. If your little one has long tresses then detangle with conditioner and put hair in two strand twists as you finish each section.Only detangle wet hair. If you are in a bind, and can’t use conditioner, atleast use a spray bottle of water to wet the hair before detangling. Because your little one may have a tender scalp I would recommend using your fingers to detangle. Use your fingers to feel and ease out the knots. If you have to use a comb, use a wide tooth comb or a shower comb. Once you are done conditioning,washing and detangling, you can put some leave in conditioner and seal with your favorite oil or shea butter. Avoid using products with petroleum/petrolatum or minerals in your babies hair. These products will clog the hair follicles. You can then do easy style like two strand twists, pailts, single braids (we use to call them matuta, I don’t know what they are actually called) or just simple cornrows. You can put ribbons and bows galore! If using beads,just make sure the beads are not too heavy as this can lead to breakage.

    Water is your friend! Water, water, water, water! I can’t stress this enough. Spray her hair with water to awaken her tresses. A proper diet also plays a big role in hair health. Have her eat lots of nutritious foods (green leafy veggies and fruits)- limit the processed foods and have her drink lots of water!

    I know it is time consuming and I know it will lead to melt downs and crying fits for both mommy and princess at times. Use bribes to get through this stage, you heard right…use bribes. Put on her favorite cartoon show or something that she likes. You want her to be able to associate getting her hair done with something positive. Always use a soothing voice, a gentle hand, never tug pull or tightly braid your sweet baby’s hair. This could lead to broken or damaged edges or permanent hair loss. Let her know how beautiful her hair is. If you are stressed and she is stressed and you are shouting or frustrated and pulling her hair she will associate getting her hair done with those negative experiences. That being said, always be sure to do your little one’s hair when you are ready and not tired (mom’s you know what I mean…you have to give it your all or nothing).

    Mommies, this may be a trying time for you but know that it gets easier with time. The tantrums will stop and the princesses will actually start to like getting their hair done. Teach them that they are beautiful and that their God given hair is wonderful and they in turn will grow up into confident young ladies!

    Happy mother daughter bonding time!
    Petite Diva

  5. The last time I took my twin girls to the salon I spent the whole day there, I held one as the hair dresser did her thing, she cried slept n by the time she woke up she could’nt stop admiring herself on the mirror. Then I held the other one till she was done. It was a long day, their dad was soo happy that his girls were now neat. Its worth the pain, watazoea tu.

  6. Growing up my mom always kept mine and my sister’s hair neat. Either shampooed and pressed (hot combed)at home then tied with pretty ribbons or done elaborately with uzi or rafia those Ghanaian hair dos or shampooed and blow dried at the salon then plaited. My father never allowed us to braid extenstions and I never tried it until I was married. lol. I followed in the same tradition of keeping all my daughters hair neat. Zainabu 9yrs, Nakwavi 7 yrs and Nyambura 3 yrs. I must confess tho that it hasnt bn without tears. Infact just this weekend it was my 9 yr old causing hell at the salon! And before that my 7 yr old at one time cut all her hair off as she waited for her turn to be plaited and ended up at the kinyozi. I was the one in tears. She was so pleased with her new hair do and even wanted it dyed red!
    Tips I can give are:
    1. Be careful with the hair line. Insist that the hairdresser leave that fine/baby hair alone or that tight plaiting or braiding around the hair line will result in hair loss.
    2. Don’t always opt for the “back-to-school” or lines going back which are popular for their convenience as it causes breakage of hair at the back of the head.
    3. Let them be part of the hair maintenance process whether it is helping to undo or detangling or choosing a hair-do. I love to see my 3 yr old get excited when a style she choose materializes on her head.
    4. Finally, Let us also teach our daughter to take care of their hair and to love it. Don’t refer to it as “bad hair”. Perms or relaxers are not the only solution to “good hair”.
    One thing I can say to you mama Kitty is that boys aren’t always that “easy”. The first hair cut can be a challenge so make sure you prepare him well for it. Some boys don’t exactly enjoy going to barber shop either. My 12 yr old son Azizi as he’s gotten older experiments alot with his hair. From showing up at home with a blow out to growing an afro and even getting abuja/Ghanaian lines! I decided to just let him be so long as when its time for school he gets his hair cut. I also don’t want to deal with a rebelious teen down the line 🙂

  7. lol, yup at the time he was in awe of basketball players and rappers. he’s now into growing it long and not combing it. drives me crazy but like I said so long as when school is in he knows to clean up his act and get serious.

  8. To all moms, Mummy Tales reader Alison tells me there’s a salon located on Ralph Bunche rd, next to upper hill medical center, where your daughter’s hairs can be done. The name of the salon is Styles O Tomorrow. Maybe you could check it out.


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