God Help Me

Your Kids Need To Know How To Wash Their Hair. Seriously.

Here’s how we manage the haircare chaos.

Written by Natasha McKee
Father doing daughter's hair at home
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Another day, another shower, another 20 minutes I spend wrestling with my two daughters' beautiful — yet wildly different — hair. If you are or ever have been a mom of tweens, you know the struggle is real: Their bodies are changing and they’re asserting their independence, but you’ve still got to help them out, whether they want it or not. The result, in my house at least, is chaos.

One hops out of the shower, and I send her right back in because she still has product in her hair. No matter how much dry shampoo I use or how little conditioner, she always seems to have a greasy sheen to her locks. And I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve explained that over-washing can be just as bad as not washing, but my plea always falls on deaf ears. Every shower, we do this again. But honestly, out of the two, she’s my easy one.

Her sister, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. No matter how gently I shampoo her scalp or how much conditioning and detangling product I use, when it comes to combing and drying it’s a knock-down-drag-out fight, every single time. It always looks like she’s gone through the carwash, strapped on the rooftop. Her hair is tangled, it’s knotted, and I absolutely do not understand why, or more importantly how, it happens.

Wrangling each individual daughter’s hair (and emotions about it) would be enough of a project, but I’m juggling two wildly different hair types: one’s got a head of thick, full, dandruff-prone hair, and the other has wavy, fine, and easily tangled hair. What's a mom to do? Well, here’s what works (at least enough to get us out of the door) for me.

The Basics

We know the basics of shampooing and conditioning regularly, but it's also a fact that one size doesn't fit all. I mean, I could use the same product for my kiddos that I do for myself, but our hair has different needs.

I've routinely colored and highlighted my hair for the past 17 years, and I also use flat irons and curlers (when I'm feeling fancy). Using my shampoo and conditioner technically could work for the littles, it won't give them the healthiest hair and scalp they could have.

"One thing I really wish moms knew about their tweens (and teens) is the correct amounts of products to use. So many kids come in with buildup from using too much product or not rinsing correctly," Cut The Crap salon stylist Maddie C. says.

Must-Have Products

While some of these seem obvious, we want to help you cover all your bases so dealing with your tween's hair doesn't leave you pulling your hair out.

Shampoo: While they probably don't need the same heavy-duty hydrating, thickening, and strengthening product you use, it's still important to read the labels. Cleaner labels are typically better for hair and scalp health. Maddie reminds us that, "washing hair is VERY important. While, yes, there has been a huge influx in the anti-shampoo movement, using a good quality shampoo and giving your scalp scrub is so important for skin and scalp health!"

Conditioners: Who doesn't love silky smooth luscious locks? I'd say everyone, but for those who don't apply the right amount of conditioner in the right places, they aren't getting that magical (slow-motion twirl) result. The important thing to know is that you don’t need to slater the conditioner from root to ends. Especially with the hormonal changes your tween is already going through, adding more hydration to the roots of their hair is asking for greasy glam by 2 pm sharp.

Detanglers and Wet Brushes: I can't even begin to count how many times my fine, wavy-hair child has had an absolute meltdown when it came to brushing out her knots after a shower. Using a detangler and wet brush ended up being a lifesaver for my frustration and for her tender head. Detangler is self-explanatory; a wet brush helps you comb through tangled hair but has more flexible bristles to be more gentle on wet hair.

Scrub Brushes: This little gem is probably the most exciting thing I've heard of since my tweens have started washing their own hair. All it is, is a small plastic scrubber with flexible bristles that your tween can use in the shower to stimulate their scalp while ensuring they're getting all the shampoo out of their hair.

"If parents feel like their kid's hair isn't getting clean enough, use a scrubber. These also help out with those forehead pimples. Usually, the ones that run right along the hairline are from excessive oil in their hair. Tweens and teens sweat more and create more sebum." Maddie also suggested using a scrubber to help reduce product build-up, which can result in flaking later on.

While this isn't an exhaustive list, these essentials have been a total game-changer for my tweens. As they move towards more and more independence making sure they know how to take care of their hair is an underrated step.

Take it from someone who has put their hair through a lot of wear and tear over the years. Empowering your tweens to take their haircare into their own hands is an important milestone. After all, hair can be a powerful tool of self-expression and lots of fun.