Caring for your Child’s Ethnic Hair


adopt from africaEthnic hair describes the hair belonging to a member of an ethnic group. It is most commonly known to be hair that is coiled, curly or wavy in its texture.

Whether you are adopting a child from the DRC, Haiti, Samoa, Mexico or Honduras, your child will be considered to have ethnic hair; therefore, it will be beneficial to sign up for some classes or trainings on working with ethnic hair if you are not familiar with this hair care process. There are a variety of classes offered on ethnic hair which include but are not limited to educating parents on particular hair styles that are representative of the child’s culture, teaching parents how to do simple styles to maintain hair, and even educating parents on hair salons to take their child which specialize in working with their particular texture of hair. Partaking in these classes will not only minimize the stresses you may have due to not knowing how to maintain your child’s hair, but it will also facilitate in helping your child connect with their culture and be proud of their heritage.

Hair styles for afro-textured hair

Children of African descent have loosely coiled, tightly-coiled, or z-patterned hair textures that can best be maintained through wearing braids whether they are cornrows and dreadlocks (for both girls and boys), or individual braids for a girl such as micro braids, Senegalese twists, kinky twists or box braids. If you are wondering where to go to help your child obtain these hair styles, you can go on Google and search for local African braiding salons that offer these styles. A fun hair style that I notice younger girls enjoy the most are the crocheted braids that unravel into a voluminous Afro or even the two strand twist which is often done on natural hair. There are several YouTube tutorials that can also help you learn how to do two strand twists on your own here are a few videos that I use to help me maintain my two strand twists:

If you choose to go the natural route and have your child wear their natural hair it is important to know which products to use since certain shampoos and conditioners that you may normally use on your hair could be damaging to your child’s texture of hair.

Washing/Conditioning afro-textured hair

Prior to washing your child’s hair, remember to detangle the hair beginning from the bottom of the hair and working your way up to the root to prevent matting of the hair. When detangling, I recommend using a Denman brush when detangling to prevent snagged ends. When washing Afro hair, be sure to stay away from products that contain sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), Parabens, Mineral Oil and Petroleum, Isopropyl Alcohol. Since African hair textures are naturally dryer than most other textures, it is important to stay away from products that are likely to cause excessive drying to the hair. There are a plethora of hair products that are beneficial to natural hair that will help to moisturize and soften the hair, such as those listed below. After washing the hair, you can either choose to let the hair air dry or you can blow dry it yourself using any brand of a blow dryer, but letting the hair air dry will cause less damage because there is no heat being used. It is also crucial to moisturize hair after washing and drying it by applying oil to the hair, whether it is coconut oil that you already have stored somewhere in your kitchen, olive oil, or Aloe Vera juice. With natural hair, all of these products can safely and effectively be used on both girls and boys.

Stores that have products for afro-textured hair

Some stores that offer a variety of hair products geared towards African American hair are Target, local African beauty supply stores, Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS.

Recommended brands for Afro-textured hair

Cantu Shea Butter brand (shampoos, conditioners, oil, curling pudding)

Shea Moisture brand (shampoos, conditioners, curling crème)

Curls Unleashed brand (Shampoos, conditioners, curling crème)

Tea Tree Oil (Any brand)

Coconut Oil (Any brand)

Aloe Vera Juice (Any brand)

Dark and Lovely Au Natural

Elasta QP Olive Oil Mango Butter Curl Crème Pudding

As I Am Coconut Co. Wash conditioner


Helping your child pick out a hairstyle can be a fun way to bond with one another as well as a creative way to help them to feel connected to their culture. Moreover, feeling confident about how they look will increase their self-esteem.  MLJ Adoptions wants to help make your adoption journey as smooth as possible. If you have any questions regarding hair maintenance or would like more of a variety of hair styles feel free to email me at, and I will be more than happy to provide you with answers.


Tiffany Turner is in a yearlong internship program at MLJ Adoptions as part of her Bachelor’s of Social Work studies at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. Upon graduation in the spring of 2016, Tiffany hopes to work with children in the foster care system.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.