What kind of hair products, if any, would you use for a four year old with long, curly hair?

This is such a loaded question! :) Thanks, Olivia, for the inspiration for this post. (If you want to read our guest post written by Olivia - click here! and chime in your advice, too!)

First, I would suggest reading as much info as you can get your hands on about curly hair in general! (www.naturallycurly.com, the Curly Girl book, www.beadsbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com, www.happygirlhair.com, and more!!) That will undoubtedly lead you to learning about co-washing and what they call "no -poo" hair care! Both of which I intend to write more about in separate posts! But for now, suffice it to say that for curly hair - forgo the shampoo!

Not exactly what you thought I'd say when you asked about products, right? But shampoo is SO overrated! :) Even for us straight haired folk, it's usually not necessary. And with curls, the added abrasiveness of most shampoos just really hinders hair "health".

Often, shampoos contain SLS, sodium laurel sulfate. This is a foaming agent and it is just TERRIBLE for hair! But check your ingredients labels - it's probably close to the top of the list. Even on products marketed for curly hair!

"Not only does it [SLS] act as a penetration enhancer (allowing other potentially toxic ingredients to slip into your bloodstream), but according to the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews”,  research studies on SLS have shown links to...
  • Irritation of skin and eyes
  • Organ toxicity
  • Development / reproductive toxicity
  • Neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, ecotoxicological, and biochemical or cellular changes
  • Possible mutations and cancer"

Water really does a good job of getting you clean - even without soap. After all, sweat is water-soluable! and conditioner alone (co-wash) can provide all the "cleansing" properties you need. Or you can forgo both and use baking soda and apple cidar vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner! (shall I mention how Cheap that is?! Love it!)

As for other products, I try not to use many. Ingredients are such a touchy subject! (see these posts for more info)  But my favorite thing  use right now for curly hair is Organic, Unrefined Shea Butter. I apply it to wet hair each day and it helps the hair retain moisture to stay soft and non-frizzy! Other natural oils can be used the same way. (However, for hair like your daughter's, Olivia, and my little Q - many oils can be way too heavy too fast leaving the hair looking greasy all day. I've found shea butter to be the best so far!)

I also enjoy using coconut oil and organic virgin olive oil as a "pre-poo" treatment. I drench Q's hair in water and oils and let it soak it up! Overnight is nice (use a sleep cap if you want to keep the oils off the pillowcase) and then wash it out in the morning. :) It leaves the hair SO nice and soft and frizz-free!  (I do use a mild shampoo or baking soda to get the oils out, but you could keep experimenting with co-washes and find what works.)

I hope this is a start! I'm just now getting interested (and as Q's getting older) in trying various "commercial products". You can read my first review HERE and browse this post on SHAMPOO in general, also visit the PRODUCTS page for more info on what I've been finding so far. (I am VERY picky when it comes to ingredients!)

As always, I advise checking all ingredients in any product you want to use against THIS list of things to avoid, as well as researching them at the cosmeticsdatabase.com - where they test for toxicity levels and potential hazards in cosmetics and hair products.


  1. Thanks for that! Of course, I have heard about "no-poo" before, but as you know, kids can get really dirty and have a nice mixture of sand, sweat, ice cream and play dough in their hair sometimes :). I have also heard of washing hair with olive-oil soaps. Does that work?

    I tried coconut oil before but as you mentioned, it makes DD's hair greasy, and then it looks like it has not been washed in years! I'll try the shea butter, that sounds good. Does that help with tangled hair at all?

    Have a great day!


  2. You're welcome! :D

    I've only briefly heard of olive oil as a hair "soap" once in passing - I'll have to look into it more. I would guess that it would need to be IN a product for us to be able to use it (rather than as the main ingredient) because when I've used it with coconut oil, it too, makes Q's hair greasy-looking. But I'll definitely see what more info I can find on it!

    Yes, I agree, I still use shampoo occasionally on Q! :D (The reason for my recent shampoo search!)

    Have you tried coconut oil as a pre-poo? Even if she didn't have it in all night, but just a few hours in the evening, or put some coconut oil on her hair before braiding it one day, then wash it out in the evening - I'd be really curious to see what that did for her hair.

    I am liking Shea Butter, but again, I have to be very careful not to use too much. I like to breathe on it on my fingers before I apply it to make it go on thinner, too. (warm it up a bit)

    I haven't really used it as a detangler, tho, so I'm not sure about that! My instinct says it doesn't have enough "slip" to be very helpful tho.

    Good Luck!

  3. I am kind of scared that I will not be able to get the coconut oil out, even with shampoo, and the same goes for olive oil. Don't you have that problem?

    What do you think is a good detangler then? We are using a curly hair serum-type spray, which I have added water to. It works fine. But my friend with long hair swears that anything that contains silicones messes your hair up in the long-term, and that it dries the hair out.

  4. It does sometimes pose a problem! But the only time it didn't come out all the way was when I tried using baking soda - and didn't use enough!

    The other times I've used Aubrey's Baby Shampoo and Original Sprout's Natural Shampoo and both worked great. There was no oily residue - just pure soft curls! (see my recent review of Original Sprout if you want)

    As for detangler, I've only used water up to this point. I'm definitely interested in trying some new products, though, so hopefully I'll have a recommendation for you before too long!

    (sometimes a good leave in conditioner can double as a detangler, too.)

    Your friend is right, silicones and sulfates are very hard on hair (any hair, but curls especially) - so look for products that don't contain those! (you can actually create frizz problems by using products with bad ingredients because they're so drying. Even the ones that the advertising says "moisturizing" can be bad - look at the ingredient labels before you buy!!)


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