No way. Uh-uh. You can’t make me.
Surviving lockdown with small children is about choosing your battles wisely, a rather wise friend recently told me. Still, some battles just can’t be avoided. If the words ‘let’s wash your hair’ spark terror or defiance in the hearts of your little ones, then this is a great time to discover ways to turn the battle into bliss.
But how? Brushing out tangles can be painful, especially on those gifted with luscious, curly or coily hair. And then there’s the torturous brush tugging that accompanies blow drying or heat styling. The whole process can bring on tears and tantrums - and not just theirs!
To answer this, we’ve probed well-practiced parents for their drama-free detangling and styling secrets. Hopefully, with these tips, the only battle surrounding washing hair will be you insisting ‘no, not again today!’
As with any job, first make sure that you are using the right tools. Typically, a wide-toothed comb (try one with rounded tips) is best for detangling hair. They are gentle and don’t cause damage whilst working through knots. There are also brushes specifically designed for wet hair and detangling if your child is sensitive to a comb.
Having a set of clips on hand to section hair is also a good idea. Sectioning hair breaks down the detangling into less painful pieces - key to working with kids’ hair. It will save you time in the long run causing less aggravation and pain from which you’ll both need a rest.
Finally, the last tool for your arsenal - a GOOD detangling hair product! Attempting to brush through the matted tangles of a long day at play without a detangler is not a recipe for success.
Next step? Detangling! First things first, make sure that your child is distracted and comfortable. We know that this is half the battle.
Parent Pro-Tip: Engage them in the process! If the child feels included in the detangling and styling, they’re less likely to anticipate, and then resist, what they think will be painful. Give them ‘important jobs’, like handing you clips while you’re sectioning or holding the brush in between pieces. Alternatively, keep them distracted and entertained with a book, tablet or phone. Ask lots of questions and keep them talking as you work through each section so they are less focused on the combing and more on chatting.
Once settled, part their clean, wet hair horizontally from ear to ear clipping the upper section onto the top of the head to keep it out of the way. Spray the bottom section of hair liberally with your detangler of choice. Separate a single section (about 1 or 2 inches) and hold it firmly near the ends. The key to detangling painlessly is to start combing from the end of the hair, not at the roots. Brushing or combing a tangle downwards from the root will only push the knot down into one huge clump! So, start at the end of your section and work your way upwards, little by little, to the root.
Parent Pro-Tip: Grasp tangled section just above the snag to prevent tugging at the scalp when you comb - the main cause of pain and tears. Work your way through the bottom section of hair, a little bit at a time. Once the bottom is fully detangled and soft, let a bit more hair down from the section in the clip. Repeat until tresses are tangle free. If you come across any tangles that need extra help, spray a bit more detangler, right onto the knot.
Parent Pro-Tip: End your detangling with a hug! Making the experience as positive as possible will make them less weary in the future.
Now that you have a freshly washed and detangled head of hair in front of you, it is time to face the next step: drying and styling. There are several options, from heat styling to simply letting the hair air dry.
Depending on the hair type and texture, you may opt for a protective style. If your little one is off to bed, try styling their hair into loose braids or ponytail. This helps them to sleep comfortably without the worry of creating more knots as their dreams toss and turn them.
It’s a good idea to braid or style the hair in an updo if they are going to do any physical activities. This helps cut down on knotting throughout the day. You may want to opt for a tighter hairstyle if it is going to be worn all day long.
If your child hates sleeping with wet hair or wants to rock some sleeker strands, give RevAir a go. RevAir gently dries hair straight or stretched using low heat and automatic tension (reverse-air). In the process it seals cuticles for a smooth finish. The tension is customisable with 7 different settings, none of which will pull and cause pain like a hair brush and blow dryer.
It’s super easy to use! Kids love to Rev (with adult supervision, of course) because it is so simple to master. It’s a good bit of fun too!
Want to hear more from real parents – take a look at these online reviews: