The Doctor is In: Co-Washing and Children’s Products

Bridget Jelks writes: I’ve heard both good and bad things about co-washing and wanted to ask your opinion of it especially for children. I am also curious if, when maintaining my children’s hair, I should stick with children’s products.”


Dr. Kari Writes:

I am a big believer in the use of shampoo. I also think that co-washing or cleansing conditioners are great as a temporary solution for removing build up, but not as a permanent practice for cleaning the hair and scalp. You must include a shampoo as a part of your regular hair care regimen. Co-washing alone will not remove the dirt, sweat and product residue that can build up on the scalp. When the scalp is not clean it becomes a breeding ground for yeast, bacteria and fungus to grow and lead to itching, flaking and sometimes hair loss.

Using a cleansing conditioner on occasion or for special circumstances is okay. I describe these occasions and circumstances as times when:
• You are exercising on a consistent basis
• Use a lot of product on the hair daily
• Swimming on a regular basis

When it comes to children’s hair, the practice of using a cleansing conditioner is okay for the same circumstances I described above. If your child is 5 years of age or younger, I advise sticking primarily to products formulated for children. This is because your child’s first anagen (or growing phase) lasts 5-7 years. During these first years of your child’s life the hair is still maturing. Products formulated for adults may be too heavy for the hair. If you are not sure, you can always test the product on a small section of the hair to see how it works.

To get more information about caring for your children’s hair Download my EBook “Mini Tresses.” It is a guide for parents that is full of information about hair care for children.

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I know I’m gonna catch shade for this…BUT, Hushpuppy disappointed me.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a hot minute, but after the whole Gabby Douglas fall out, I’ve been nervous.

However, I’ve decided to say f%^& it and hit publish. This still makes me upset.

The issue at hand here is the delightfully adorable young actress name Quvenzhané Wallis, best known for her role as Hushpuppy in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’.

Now although I thought the film was just AIGHT (a whole other story), personally I was in love with the fact that she was rocking her natural hair throughout the film. It always makes me smile to see a little one with her natural curls. And on the big screen? Even better.


So, people loved the film. So much so that the Academy even loved the film and now Beasts is getting a whole lot of critical acclaim for its amateur actors and first-time directing. Awesome.


Once all of the premiers and accolades and debuts started, Lil Miss Quvenzhané started showing up on the red carpet with the straightest of straight hair. Yes, she is the youngest person to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. Yes this is a massive deal, just like Gabby Douglas winning Gold. BUT I honestly take great issue with the mentality that in order for a girl to look “presentable”, “formal”, and “award-winning” she has to straighten her hair.


It’s the same thing that happens with girls who have dance recitals, walk as flower girls in weddings, go to Easter service: the common tendency is to straighten their hair.

The message this sends is “for something special, your natural hair is not good enough. Straight hair is better.” It’s a lifelong lesson that sticks.

I know because I’ve been there.

For so many of my formal events, I wanted—expected—to have long, flowing hair because that’s what I learned and thought was glamourous and beautiful. The one time I went with curls, my junior year prom, I cried because I felt so un-glamourous.

I simply wish that Miss Wallis and her family/agents had thought about the message that her hair straightening may have sent to the young black girls of the world who are watching history happen.

Was it to separate her from the image of a “Beast of the Southern Wild” or to create an image of a polished young actress on the cusp? Either way, it doesn’t put natural hair in a positive and affirmative light. It would have been great to have her strut the red carpet with a bounce in her step and curl in her hair. Or with a flat-twist updo. Or a braid out. Or to choose some sort of natural style to send a message to our YOUNG girls, just like Viola Davis did last year, that natural hair is beautiful, glam, and Oscar-worthy.

viola davis oscar

For the record, I did think her acting was phenomenal considering it was her first time on screen and her nomination is very much deserved. It’s truly an impressive accomplishment and to that I say congratulations.

The point is: moms, grandmother’s, aunties, cousins, please think about this and resist the temptation to straighten a young girl’s hair for a special occasion. There are so many beautiful natural styles that are formal and beyond!

What do you think about Quvenzhané’s transformation from the big screen to the red carpet?

This Pissed Me Off. And They Made Me Really Happy.

Welp, just when we thought we were going to stop seeing black hair in the headlines, Hampton University MBA program has banned locs. Stating that the locs were a hindrance to securing a corporate job, Dean Sid Credle made a decision that the business school would no longer allow students with locs to enroll in their programs.

I’m a firm believer that in order to break down these stereotypes and preconceptions about what is acceptable and what isn’t, we must make our own definition of what is acceptable rather than letting us be told what is acceptable for our own hair. Just as flight attendants are no longer told what they should weight, corporations should no longer dictate that a person’s natural hair is not suitable for the workplace. In my eyes, kept hair is kept hair is kept hair–no matter what the texture.

It’s truly unfortunate that this is coming from a historically black university, an institution that should be on the front lines of promoting equality in the work place. Instead this rule clearly upholds and supports the concept that black men should be treated differently.

Le sigh. Two steps forward. One step back. Get it together Hampton.

Now onto happier things, DON’T STYLISH NATURAL KIDS JUST MAKE YA SMILE!!!????

I was sent a picture of this little chica from my special set of eyes and ears in New Orleans.

Once I saw her, I gasped because not only is she the cutest little thing, but I’m pretty sure I own that exact outfit. In fact, I just remembered this post, so I’m positive I do.

Then there’s this little dude who is Senor So Fly. I dig his style. Nuf said.

On that note, happy weekend, y’all!!!

Natural Hair Dolls for the Kiddos

Back home in Minnesota last week, I decided to check in with my sister Skya about the dolls with natural hair landscape. Awhile back, I wrote an Open Letter to American Girl about their complete lack of options for dolls with naturally curly or coily hair. Skya brought this to my attention because as a gal with locs she’s particularly bummed that there aren’t more dolls that look like her. Fast forward to now, and it look’s like she’s gotten a little bit closer!

In the video, Skya mentions that American girl now has a doll with hair more like mine so I decided to go take a peek and this is the one to which she was referring:

While I wouldn’t say it’s my texture, it certainly is a lot closer than two years ago when this was the curliest offering on their site:

Looks like they’re coming around slowly but surely. At this rate in 2014 we’ll be seeing some Lola-esque curls and locs yonder!!

Loc Week: Help a Loc’ed Sister Out!

Specifically my 9-year old sister Skya. Skya JUST hit her one year loc-i-versary (yayyyyyyy! wooo! get it Sky!!!) and she’s come a long long way since she first started her locs last November.



THEN (November 2010)


THEN (November 2010)



It’s really amazing how much her locs have grown in the past year!  She started them as braids, but they’ve really beefed up and…well…loc’ed and its absolutely gorgeous!!

Thing is, she’s kind of hit that in-between phase where her locs are too long to stay out of her face and too short to pull it back. Continue reading

Skya’s Back to School Loc Update!

It’s been a wonderful week of sun and fun here in Minnesota with the family.  As I promised last week, I’ve got some updates for you on Skya’s loc progress.  When I first saw her, I was totally impressed by how they’re looking.  Her locs were started from braids last November and they’re finally turning a corner where youre seeing less braid and more solid loc.

View of Skya's locs from the back when they were first started as braids


Skya's locs now! See how the braid pattern is a lot less noticeable (if at all)?

After three months of swimming and sun you can also really see how light her hair gets at the tips.  Mine does the same, but not to such an extreme.

Sharing a summery sister smile


Yesterday was her first day of 3rd grade and her hair is looking great!

I want to let her tell you herself.  So without further ado, a little vlog from little Sky on her first day of school!



I’ve also got a little update about our sister Keagan who I wrote about a couple months ago in a piece on natural hair for kids with special needs. Keagan wore two-strand twists for the whole summer, but kicked off her sixth grade school year with a loose and free fro!


Keagan and Mommy!


It’s been a great trip home and the sisters’ locs’n’curls are doing great!  Here’s to the start of a great school year for both of them!!

15 Year Old Hair Biz Mogul

Wow.  Just wow.  I’m so impressed by the story of Leanna Archer that I just watched and read.  When Leanna was 9 years old she decided to use her grandmother’s recipe to create her own line of haircare products.  She’s now 15 years old and Leanna’s company made over $100,000 in revenues last year.  She has since been featured on a wide variety of outlets including CNN, Forbes, Newsweek, and more.  Her 9-item product line includes butters, conditioners, pomades, and oils.  Unfortunately the ingredient list is not available on her website (a natural hair pet peeve of mine), but I guess you gotta keep g-ma’s cookbook in the family.

Check out this video of Leanna on CNN Money.


Skya’s 6 Month Loc Update Vlog!

Well, I must say that its pretty exciting/special to have my two sisters along on this natural hair journey with me. I’ve recently been talking about my sister Keagan’s hairstory and big chop, but we’re just hitting Skya’s 6 month anniversary with her locs. They’re looking good and a couple weeks ago when visiting home, I filmed a little video with her to update you on her progress. Check it out!

Check out Skya’s previous posts for a little glimpse at her loc-story.

2 month update
New locs!
Skya First Goes Natural

Natural hair for people with special needs (part 2): a fresh start and a new look for Keagan!

Last week, I shared with you all the history and hair story of my sister Keagan, an 11 year old with special needs and natural hair. As I mentioned in the closing portions of the piece, Keagan’s twists-turned-locs were in need of revival and a new direction.

After much deliberation, my mom decided that it would be best for Keagan to have a big chop and start anew! Like many of us who consider a big chop, there was a lot of discussion and worry about what Keagan would look like afterward. One of her conditions is called microcephaly, which means that her head is smaller than average. The thickness of her locs added to her overall head circumference and gave her the appearance of having a larger head. To cut them off would be a large adjustment and when you’re dealing with a pre-teen, there’s no way you can ignore the potential ramifications to be had in the classroom. As we have all experienced, kids have a way of teasing and making fun of things that are different, of things they don’t understand…in Keagan’s case it would be her smaller than average head. In the end, the quest for healthy, manageable hair won out and my mom set out to chop her locs. Like many of us, Keagan’s big chop was just a way of rocking what she was born with!




After all the locs were chopped and done, Keagan peered into the mirror and said perhaps one of the best ways to describe a TWA I’ve ever heard: “I’ve got small hair.”  And ever since, Keagan has proudly exclaimed that SHE!  HAS! SMALL! HAIR!!!  At school, when the other kids were still getting used to her new look, she bounced happily over to them to show her excitement about her new small hair.  I think we can all take a page from the book of Keagan on this one: change is change, so you might as well embrace it; your excitement about it will be contagious!

Keagan takes a quick peek in the mirror right after the chop to check out her small hair.

So while her small hair was exciting and cute in the short term, for the long term it was unsustainable for Keagan.  There was no way she would sit for long enough periods of time to have her hair detangled, combed, and styled.  Of all possible styles, twists and locs had already proved themselves to be a great, low style option for maintaining her hair.  The final result is now a set of two-strand twists.  I think they look great and I can’t wait to watch this next chapter of her natural hair life unfold!


Natural Hair for Kids with Special Needs: The Story of My Sister Keagan (Pt. 1)


That’s my sister Keagan.  Like many 11 year olds, she rides the bus to her 5th grade class room every day, loves to read, and enjoys playing on the computer.  She also has a killer jumpshot.

But unlike many 11 year olds, when Keagan was born, the doctors told our family that Keagan would most likely never walk or ever talk.  You see, Keagan was born with with microcephaly,  schizencephaly,  cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and visual impairment.  That’s a whole lot of big words to describe a little girl who just came into the world.  I was 15 when Keagan was born, but by the time I was 17 – when Keagan was 2 – she was walking and using sign language to communicate.  When our sister Skya –  who was born a couple years after Kea – started to talk Keagan started to say her first words along with her.

To this day Keagan has continued to go above and beyond all previously established medical predictions of her physical and mental capacities.  While her developmental delays still play significant roles in her day-to-day activities, she’s extremely intelligent; you’ll never meet a more inquisitive, talkative, active gal!  I am not shy to admit that she beat me playing P.I.G. on the basketball court a couple weeks ago.  So, suffice it to say that my family and I are extremely proud of her and how far she has come along.



Keagan on the court! For most activities, Keag relies on her right hand. Her left hand, which we call her "Pretty Hand", is more difficult for her to use.

But we’re here to talk about hair natural hair.

For a kid who is in and out of doctors offices, frequent procedures, and has had several surgeries, the added task of maintaining a head of hair is extremely difficult to say the least.  In Keagan’s case, she would never let anyone touch her hair nor did she have the attention span to sit and have her hair done.  Keagan’s doctors recommended, like they do for so many kids with special needs, that her personal maintenance be done while she was under anesthesia for her various procedures.  And it so it was that five years ago my mom and Nana went into Keagan’s post-op room to 2-strand twist her hair.  They were so cute, we all agreed.  And over time, Keagan’s twists morphed into locs.

For Keagan, not having natural hair was never an option.  Locs were a great choice for her (as well as for our sister Skya) because maintenance was simple and minimal.  But now, Keagan’s in need of a change.  Her locs have grown too long, too unwieldy,  and they are uncomfortably hot in the humid summer.  She also has this habit of untwisting her locs at the roots to put herself to sleep and now has a patch of loose, broken hair at the front of her head.  Stay tuned as we join and support Keagan on the next step of her natural hair journey!


Me, Skya, Mom, and Keagan - May 2011

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