Haircare Products for Preschoolers
It seems like you don’t get many of these anymore, but I have an old-fashioned beauty question for you. My daughter is 4 years old and has the most beautiful long blond hair (a true towhead). The only problem is that it’s just like mine – straight, superfine and unbelievably prone to tangles. For the longest time I’ve used the Johnson’s 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner plus the leave-in detangler, but it is just no longer working on her hair. It’s not as soft and by the end of the day it can look like a stringy, tangled mess. I could brush it every hour, but let’s be honest – that’s just not going to happen. We generally wash it every other day, and by the end of the second day it’s really a mess, even if it’s been in a ponytail all day.
Since she’s so young, I prefer to stick to a natural product, but I’m really clueless as to what to look for. I use a regular store-brand and using that seems like overkill, but the baby products clearly aren’t appropriate anymore. Can you provide any recommendations?
Hey, how about that! Your daughter’s hair sounds just like mine! And an awful lot like my kids’ hair — ESPECIALLY Ezra’s. While Noah seems to have inherited a LITTLE wave and natural texture from his father, poor Zah got his mother’s wispy-fine super-straight hair. Both of ’em, however, are prone to the tangles and that sort of stringy look you’re describing.
But, of course, allow me to state the obvious: They’re BOYS. With short hair. Or…short-ish, depending on how long I feel like going between haircuts. Even when I’ve let their hair grow “long” we’re still not really dealing with hair length like your daughter’s. Therefore, take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt and a side of “I Don’t Think Amy Really Knows What She’s Talking About.”
If I could take a wild guess, I’d say that it probably isn’t the BABY shampoo bit that’s the problem for your daughter — it’s the 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner combo deal. I despise those on my own hair, as they seem to exacerbate every problem I’m prone to: Not condition-y enough to deal with the tangles and keep my hair manageable all day, but still product-y and heavy enough to weigh my hair down and leave it kind of dull and stringy and oily.
We still use a baby shampoo on both boys — and Noah’s going on six! They simply aren’t ready for a non-tear-free formula (especially since hair-washing has only JUST become less of a battle), and I am not ready to stop being generally wigged out and suspicious of every unpronounceable ingredient in “real” grown-up shampoos and haircare products. So for now, that all still trumps any quibbles I may have about whether I’m using the absolute best product out there for their particular hair type.
Not that I’m going to let them run around with stringy-looking rats’ nests on their heads, though! We use California Baby Calming Shampoo and Bodywash on all three boys. It’s a really nice lightweight wash that rinses away super easily and doesn’t leave any residue behind (that’s a killer for us ultra-fine hair types). Then I like to use the separate Calming Conditioner, since I feel like it packs a more longer-lasting punch than the combo dealies without being too heavy duty for young hair and scalps.
For Ezra’s wispy, baby-fine hair, I let it sit on his hair while he plays in the tub and rinse it out right when bathtime is over. For Noah’s longer, stringier, tangle-prone hair, I use a little less product, apply mostly to just the ends, and then I don’t rinse it out. You could maybe experiment with both approaches for your daughter and see if one works better for her, and yes, California Baby does make a spray-in detangler. And it’s a detangler that can be used on wet OR dry hair, so in between washes you could use it to help keep things from getting so messy. (I’m thinking of trying it on Noah before school, because the kid is waking up with INSANE-O bedhead and howwwwwwls whenever I try to brush it and encounter even the barest of knots.)
For the record, I have used the California Baby stuff on myself, in a pinch, and was pleasantly surprised at how soft and clean it left my hair, even for a “baby” shampoo. And while I insist on 100% natural everything for my kids, I’ve typically been less than thrilled with the results when I try to go that route for my hair. So. Again, I don’t have experience with long little-girl hair (other than remembering using the classic brownish-orange Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo on myself until practically junior high), but I can attest that it works very well on my kids’ hair AND my own long, temperamental, annoying, high-maintenance, arrrrggh-why-don’t-I-just-cut-it-all-off hair.
Published September 12, 2011. Last updated December 13, 2017.