The Pot is Definitely Mixed
America is definitely a melting pot and it is becoming increasingly evident. The number of biracial children grows significantly year after year. Unfortunately, one thing that has not grown over the years is the education on how to groom and maintain biracial or mixed African American and Caucasian hair.
Biracial hair is sometimes viewed as a nuisance in both African American salons and Caucasian salons and this is due to lack of education; education which in the industry seems to be lacking. Most stylists that have become well versed in biracial hair have achieved this through practice, experimentation and good old-fashioned trial and error. Those stylist that are proficient with biracial hair will all tell you, though there are similarities when comparing biracial hair to both African American and Caucasian hair there are enough differences to make it virtually impossible to treat it like one or the other. Therein lies the problem.
The number one complaint we get about biracial hair is that it looks dry or dull, followed closely by complaints of “frizziness” and difficulty in combing. Before you go too far to make your natural hair full of sheen and shine, it’s best to have the proper expectation. Natural Black or African American hair will not be as shiny as permed hair or Caucasian hair. A major part of what makes hair shiny is the structure of the hair, not just the amount of oil or moisture it contains.
If the cuticle lays flat (smooth hair), the hair will reflect light better (translated: will appear shiny). If the cuticles are raised, the hair will absorb light (translated: will appear duller). Without changing the structure of the hair (as in getting a perm or relaxer for African Americans), the hair will only be so shiny. By applying a lot of grease to make it shinier, you could end up damaging the hair; having said that, natural African American hair can appear healthy, smooth and have a nice healthy sheen.
As I said, the second complaint we get most often about biracial hair is that it is too curly or too frizzy. There are some things you can do to control frizziness and curliness. But, if you want to effect “permanent” (permanent until it grows out) changes, you are looking at a chemical process. One thing we often advice mothers though is please do not expect your child’s hair to be like yours. And, please do not make her feel as though something is wrong with her hair because it’s “frizzy” or curly. You should picture your child’s hair as a collection of fine fibers. You should treat it as gently as you would fine silk. The better you treat her hair, the easier it will be to grow and the better it will look.
You should be aware that African American hair and biracial hair tends to be drier than Caucasian hair. The structure of African American hair and biracial hair makes it more difficult for the oils to work their way from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Because African American hair and biracial hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more and pulling these tangles out can cause breakage. Despite appearances, African American hair and biracial hair tends to be more fragile than Caucasian hair. The lack of moisture and elasticity and the kinks that get grabbed when styling or combing make for hair that can be broken easily. To avoid damage to biracial hair here are a couple of tricks.
Tips for Washing Biracial Hair
You should begin by washing biracial hair about once a week. In the winter, this might stretch out a little longer. I recommend washing more often in the summer when the kids are playing outside and sweating. But, one of the commonly made mistakes non-African American parents of Biracial or African American children make is to wash their children's hair too frequently. Many of my Caucasian clients wash their own hair daily because they have fine hair that gets weighed down with their natural oils, in a biracial child, over washing can lead to dullness and dryness. For biracial hair care, you may want to consider washing a little more often than once a week, but, you will rarely want to wash biracial hair more than a couple of times a week.
In Between Washings- If your child swims or gets a sweaty scalp, you may be tempted to wash too soon or too often. One way to stretch out the time between washings is to just rinse the hair with warm water, condition and go from there.
Tips for Moisturizing Biracial Hair
The most important key to healthy African American or Biracial hair care is moisture. Because of the structure of our hair, it tends to become dry easily. Dry hair lacks elasticity and therefore is brittle. Moisturize with good products and do it often. Moisturizing is not necessarily the same as oiling the hair. And it is certainly not the same as putting on what we used to call “grease” as petroleum based products actually dry the hair. I recommend moisturizing at least twice a week. You should moisturize whenever you style and often in-between, if you happen to be wearing a leave in style for several days.