Styles for African American girls do not require tension or harsh chemicals on their fragile hair. Select simple hairstyles with little maintenance. It is best to avoid using hair extensions, which tend to add weight and cause breakage. Extensions or adult hairstyles tend to make little girls appear older than they are at the time when they should embrace their natural beauty and youth.
Braiding, or weaving three hair strands together in intricate patterns, is a popular hairstyle for African-American girls. Braids provide endless styles. They last for up to a month without the need for chemicals. Stylists should be careful when twisting or turning braids because tight braids can cause scalp damage and headaches. Braids should be washed and conditioned at least twice a month to reduce scalp damage. Braids should not be left in the hair for more than two months. Additional time may lead to severe breakage as the hair begins to lock up and coil. Braids can be moisturized daily with a light oil.
A ponytail is a hairstyle in which a portion or all of the hair is pulled away from the face, gathered and fastened with a clip or band. Multiple ponytails are ideal for small children, who may appreciate the colorful hair barrettes and ribbons. Children 10 and older should have no more than two ponytails, however. Traditional ponytails can be enhanced with zig-zag or outlandish hair partings. Stylists can carefully draw zig-zags into the hair using a rat-tail comb. The hair is then gathered in separate pieces using a wide-tooth comb. Ribbons can be added to the bands. Preteens may prefer a more sophisticated look, such as one ponytail secured in the back of their heads.
Curls, whether natural or heated, are simple styles best suited for special occasions. Stylists can place sponge rollers into the hair by parting it into small sections and rolling the entire head. The rollers are covered with a satin cloth. Girls are then placed under a hooded dryer for up to 45 minutes. Curls can be achieved with a curling iron, as well. Setting lotion helps separate the curls and reduce frizz. Natural, unprocessed black hair is generally curly. Stylists can add water and gently comb through the hair. The less formal style is best maintained with light coconut or carrot oil.
- Short Hair Style: Braids for Kids
- "It's All Good Hair: The Guide to Styling and Grooming Black Children's Hair"; Michele N-k Collison; 2002
Nicole Newman is a Dartmouth College associate who works in Tiltfactor Laboratory, Dartmouth's premier game design center. Her research has included investigating the digital humanities through "Writing as a Dimensional Artifact" and "Evolution of the Ghetto: The Decline of America’s Inner Cities," a research initiative on urban design.